The Story of the Selbu Mitten – Selbuvotten

Norway has a long knitting tradition with many internationally renowned patterns, like Setesdalkofte, Marius sweater, Fanakofte and Selbuvott.

The Selbu mitten is unique in many ways, but especially because its origin is well-documented.

The history of Selbuvotten started on a cold winter Sunday in 1857, when shepherd girl Marit Emstad and her sister arrived at the regular Sunday church service. The girls were wearing homemade knitted mittens, something that attracted no special attention, but it was the mitten patterns and expression that virtually revolutionized Norwegian knitting traditions.

The mittens had beautiful two-colored star patterns – a totally unknown trend at that time. They became very popular among the locals with attempts to outdo each other in the beautiful design work. The different patterns took names from people, farms, activities or things of daily life: “The Emstad Rose”, “The Whiskers Rose”, “The Coffee Bean Rose” and “The Tree Rose”.

The development of new patterns would not end. Today, about thee hundred different Selbu patterns are registered most of which are variations of the “Eight Leaves Rose” or “Star Rose”. The Selbu mitten is a masterpiece. The graphic pattern blends with the shape of the hand and in addition the colors and the development of the pattern elements are basic.

Selbuvott, verdens største. NRK

In 2010, Selbu Husflidslag sat a world record: The world’s biggest Selbu mitten! It took three years and forty five people to knit the 6.5 feet (2.4 meter) long mitten. The Selbuvott has meant a lot for the little village of Selbu in Sør-Trøndelag County. Earlier, the mitten was used as a payment method, where they were exchanged against other goods. Any day soon, the world’s biggest Selbu mitten will get a partner.



Text by: Anette Broteng Christiansen, ThorNews

Source: Hifa, Selbu Husflidslag

Photos from top:,

Categories: Culture, Knitting

12 replies

  1. That’s awesome. My grandfather used to send us mittens when we were little, after he moved back to Norway. I love knowing the story behind the beautiful patterns.

  2. It’s almost big enough for a sleeping bag! I wonder if it’s mate was ever completed? 🙂

  3. I went to visit Selbu in 1976. My Great Grandfather was Ole Hoiby and immigrated to America from Selbu. I have a sweater that was made for me by Maria Hoiby with the same pattern. It was so wonderful to see the mitten from this beautiful area.

  4. There is an ongoing exhibition in Trondheim, Norway, showing newly knitted Selbuvotter:

  5. This pattern is not something special, “only Norvegian”, most of the Scandinavian/North Europe countries/folks have similar “ancient” patterns. One example from Kihnu:,34

  6. I understood that Karin Langli Draxton from long before Marit in the late 1600’s is credited with creating the Selbu rose. I visited the home farms and was told about this from the heritage center.

  7. This is a similar tradition and not dissimilar patterns to the ‘Sanquhar’ gloves & mittens in Scotland


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