The Tale of Selbu Knitting: Marit Guldsetbrua Emstad

Aug 18, 2023

In the tranquil Selbu village of Norway, Marit Guldsetbrua Emstad, born in 1841, has knit her name into history as the "Mother of Selbu Knitting." Her work has become a testament to creativity and innovation that has left a deep mark on the world of knitting.

In 1897, Marit's knitting led her to Husfliden* in Trondheim where she as the first person ever presenting a collection of mittens with Selbu rose. This marked the beginning of a tradition that would captivate knitters and enthusiasts alike - far outside of Norway. 

The Selbu rose motif, characterized by its intricate elegance, had been nurtured by Marit's deep connection to older crafting motifs, woodwork carvings, and various crafts.

Similar patterns have been discovered in old pattern books from Italy, France, Switzerland, and Germany, dating back to the 16th and 17th centuries. But the rose itself has been found in work in the middle and far east from as much as 4000 years ago. And from there it has traveled by sea and to the west of Norway or over the Caucasus and into Sweden before it ended in Norway. 

Selbu Husflidsentral

The establishment of Selbu Husflidsentral in 1934 paved the way for a new chapter in Selbu's knitting history. In a short span of time, an astonishing 90,000 pairs of Selbu mittens were produced, with a significant portion finding their way beyond Norwegian borders. The Selbu mittens not only featured the iconic rose pattern but also showcased depictions of people, animals, and plants.

Beyond Norway's borders, the Selbu rose became a global symbol of Norwegian culture and craftsmanship. It has been embraced in international knitting communities under various names, including Selbu star and Norwegian star. Even Den Norske Husfliden proudly showcases the Selbu rose as its emblem, a nod to its enduring significance.

A legacy

In the beautiful stitches of the Selbu knitting and patterns, Marit Emstad's name and spirit live on. Her contributions have not only carved her name into history but also united generations through the rich language of knitting. 

During Norwegian Wool Month we have been diving into Selbu knitting and there is so many fascinating “rabbit holes” to dive into when we start digging into this subject. In so many ways the  Selbu rose is more than just a pattern. It's a thread that weaves together history, culture, and creativity not only in Selbu and Norway, but  around the world.

Have a woolly knitting Sunday! 


Knitting love from,

Anne, xx

The mitten on the picture is not a Selbu rose, but a Mountain rose surrounded by traditional Selbu motifs, and it is available as the bonus in the NOOK membership in August 2023. You can read more about the Nook HERE

*Den norske husfliden = The Norwegian Folk Art and Craft Association

Resources: (14 SEP 3032)



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