European Fashion Heritage Association

Journal Fashion & History

Bohus Stickning: National Pride, International Style

fashion historyknittingswedish fashionwinter fashion

Charming, recognisable, cool. But what is Bohus Stickning exactly?

The image shows a Female model wearing a patterned cardigan and mittens in Bohus knitting at Nordiska Kompaniet in 1944.
Bohus knitting, or better Bohus Stickning was a Swedish knitting cooperative active between 1939 and 1969. It was founded September 12th 1939 by Emma Jacobsson, wife of the governor of Bohuslän, in 1937, convinced by a group of women willing to help low-income families during during the Great Depression. The association started as a cottage industry to provide income for poor families in Bohuslän, a region of Sweden, where the designs developed by Jacobsson and others were handknit and sold to department stores, boutiques and fashion houses both in Sweden and internationally.

The knitting did not require any special equipment or training; the first items produced were mittens and socks. From 1940 onward, Bohus Stickning also produced scarves, hats and items of clothing such as dresses and sweaters, mainly for women. Thanks to the artist and designers involved, these creations became so recognisable that a characteristic style emerged, made of colourful patterns in combinations of knit and purl stitches.

The Bohus Stickning became a brand, admired and promoted by many notable clients of the likes of fellow Swedish actress Ingrid Bergman, and also Juliette Gréco, Eartha Kitt, Grace Kelly.

In the 1990s the interest in Bohus style was revived by many books and projects aimed at recovering the history of the association and its role in the development of a national style for Sweden, appreciated throughout the world.