The knitted, lice-patterned Setesdal sweater was originally a part of the men’s traditional costume of this region, and came into use in the 1850s.
In the 1930s the Setesdal sweater was presented in modern knitting magazines, and it has gradually become our foremost national garment – for children, women and men alike. The pattern is beautiful, classical and timeless. The original colours are black and white, and the base colour shall be uniform.
The decorative embroidery has long traditions, with a variety of stitches and distinct colours. However, there are some strict rules to be observed.
A common trait is that red shall be the predominant colour.
There are quite a few copies of the Setesdal sweater where the embroidery, the fabric and the colours are not according to tradition. The genuine sweater – as well as knitting pattern and yarn – may be purchased at the store Setesdal Husflid in Valle.
The women’s traditional costume, the Setesdalsbunad, has been used since the late 18th century. It consists of two skirts, one white with a black on top. The white skirt was for everyday use, whereas the black skirt was put on top for more formal occasions or during cold weather. The black skirt is never worn alone. A headdress is always used. This is a woolen scarf with a rose pattern.
The men’s traditional costume has a back part which is partially made of leather, hence the local name “skinnfo” (“leather seat”). The pants have rich embroidery, and like the Setesdal sweater, red is the predominant colour. On cold days the sweater accompanies the costume, or you have a short, embroidered jacket on top. The men’s costume has been in use for about 150 years.
The Setesdal valley is often called the Silversmith Valley, and Rysstad is central for the region's production of silver jewellery. The first silversmith came to the area more than a hundred years ago. Today there are two smiths left; Sylvbui in Rysstad and Hasla in Valle. Here you will find silversmiths at work all year round, and you are welcome into the workshop to see how the jewellery is made.
Why not bring home some souvenirs from Setesdal. The silversmiths have a wide selection of traditional and modern products for sale.
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The Setesdal valley has raised a number of nationally renowned artists within traditional music and dance. As a visitor you may get the opportunity to enjoy concerts and performances by local musicians and dancers.