Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Reggie's (Not) Holiday Sweater

Reggie has what some people refer to as a Holiday Sweater.  No, Dear Reader, he doesn't own one of those awful, lurid acrylic ones—covered with images of cheery Santas, candy canes, wrapped packages, and reindeer—favored by mittelklassen women of a certain age or worn ironically by post-collegians to Ugly Christmas Sweater parties.

Reggie's sweater, made by Dale of Norway

Reggie's sweater is an authentic, classic wool Norwegian one made by Dale of Norway.  It is not a holiday sweater at all, but rather a sweater made to be worn during the winter, ideally while the wearer is engaged in an athletic outdoor activity, such as skiing.

A vintage poster for the Norwegian America Line
Image courtesy of PosterTeam.com

Dale has been making sweaters and other knitted garments since 1879 and is the best source today for traditional Norwegian sweaters, as far as Reggie knows.

A full view of Reggie's traditional Norwegian sweater

Dale is named after Norway's Dale River, where the company's factory sits and where it still makes its sweaters to this day.  Dale takes great pride, and rightfully so, that its sweaters are—and always will be—Norwegian-made, versus farmed out to a factory in China.

A family of skiers, entirely outfitted in Norwegian sweaters, ca. 1960s
Photograph courtesy of Vintage Ski World

Dale is correctly pronounced Dah-leh, and not Dail, as Reggie used to pronounce it until he was corrected by a Norwegian woman who laughed out loud when she heard him bungle the pronunciation of the company's name.  Needless to say, he never made that mistake again.

A ski sweater knitting-pattern-book cover from the 1950s
Image courtesy of Etsy

Reggie has been a fan of Norwegian sweaters for many years.  He got his first one—the classic Norwegian fisherman's sweater from L.L. Bean—when he was a student at Saint Grottlesex.

While not necessarily made in Norway, Reggie
is generally fond of traditional ski sweaters,
such as the one shown here
Photograph courtesy of LIFE Images

Reggie always hankered after a traditional Norwegian ski sweater with a knitted design spread across the shoulders.  He admired similar sweaters worn by his classmates at Saint Grottlesex and at Yale.

Gary Cooper and Claudette Cobert
in Sun Valley, Idaho, in the 1940s
Image courtesy of Sun Valley Guide
(and thanks to Slim Paley!)

It was only ten or so years ago, though, that Reggie stepped up and bought the beautifully made, intricately knitted Norwegian sweater shown in the photographs at the outset of this essay.  He bought his from Gorsuch, which has stores in Vail and Aspen, Colorado.

A vintage ski poster for Aspen, Colorado
Image courtesy of Swann Galleries

Reggie is a fan of traditional, "native" clothing, especially garb from Scandinavia and Germany.  When he was a little boy in the 1960s, Reggie owned and wore a set of lederhosen that his father bought for him (along with a set for his brother, Frecky) on a trip to Germany.   

Another vintage ski-sweater knitting-pattern-book cover
Image courtesy of Handmade by Mother

One of Reggie's most treasured possessions is a Tyrolean hat, complete with all the trimmings, that he bought on a ski vacation in Cortina, Italy, a decade ago.  He plans on featuring it in an upcoming post.

A vintage ski poster for Cortina, Italy
Image courtesy of Vintage Ski World

One of Reggie's regrets is that he no longer owns an authentic, vintage Loden jacket that he bought twenty or so years ago, only to give it away shortly thereafter in a fit of temporary insanity when purging his wardrobe.  Ah, well.

A vintage postcard of the Mormon Temple
Image courtesy of The Postcards Project

Reggie's Norwegian sweater was made by Dale to commemorate the 2002 Olympic Games held in Salt Lake City, Utah.  Dale has been making sweaters for Olympic teams since the 1940s.  It was only in writing this post that Reggie realized that his sweater features an image of the Mormon Temple in Salt Lake City in its knitted design, right below the sweater's zipper!


At first it made Reggie somewhat uncomfortable that his sweater incorporated an image of the Mormon Temple.  But once he thought about it for a while, he actually liked it.  He now appreciates the somewhat bizarre humor of owning a traditional, classic Norwegian sweater that incorporates such an image; the fact that it does so does not detract from his pleasure in owning the sweater one bit.

Tell me, Dear Reader, do you have any traditional "native" clothing in your wardrobe?  If so, what kind?

Photographs of Reggie's sweater by himself

68 comments:

  1. Lovely! I'm lucky enough to have the sweaters knitted in Norway by my paternal Great-Aunt and Great-grandmother, as well as those made by my grandmother here. I also have several Dales, which are wonderful. AND I have the bunads (traditional Norwegian folk outfits) I wore as a child. From my mother's side I have beautiful Irish tweeds and Aran sweaters. So, I'm prepared for the cold weather!

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    1. Hello JES, thank you for your comment. It sounds to me that you are a fortunate in your "native" clothing, indeed. While I can claim ancestry in the British Isles, there's not a drop of Scandinavian blood in my veins, so I can only pretend when I wear my Dale. Thanks, Reggie

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  2. That is a lovely sweater. If only it would get cold enough here to justify one!

    To answer your question, I have a lehenga choli, worn to a friend's wedding,and two cheongsams, worn at mine.

    (Thank you for the link!)

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    1. Hello Merry Wife -- I should thank you, as you were the inspiration for my writing this post. Not quite sure what garments you are referring to, will need to Google them... RD

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  3. I am certain you will look very handsome in this beautiful sweater! Warm holiday greetings to you, Boy Fenwick and Pompey from a very cold (at the moment) Norway. Wonderful blog.

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    1. Hello Golla, Thanks for your kind words -- from Norway no less! Reggie

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  4. Funny, I just bought my daughter a Dale sweater for Christmas. She enters college in upstate NY next year and I want to acquaint her with the concept of wool (something that for whatever reason has escaped most kids under 20).

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    1. Thank you Sir. I wish my father had bought me a Dale when I was off to college, you must be the best father ever! I'm not really complaining, though, as FD bought me a couple Press Shaggy Dogs back in my college days, and that ain't so bad! BTW, just read your profile and see that we have MUCH in common. Best, Reggie

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    2. Okay, now I remember -- we had lunch together at '21 with Maxminimus during the Ivy Style symposium!

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    3. Yep that was me alright. Best for the new year.

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  5. If you & your readers are interested in learning more about traditional Norwegian knitting, you might want to look at Annemor Sundbo's books. She is the Norwegian National Treasure who taught the mitten class I took at the Nordic Heritage Museum this past October. I am including a link to her book about the 16 ton (!) ragpile she owned.
    fondly, Camilla

    http://www.annemor.com/books/EverydayKnitting.htm

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    1. I could not agree more, she is a gem! Can't wait to show her this post!

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  6. I attended the Winter games in 2002 with my wife and kids. One of the best trips ever.
    I coveted the Dale of Norway sweater from that event. Based on what we spent for the trip and the Olympic tickets that year, I could not justify the cost at the time. I have been hunting one on Ebay since. If I ever visit Darlington House and your sweater turns up missing...I will be a prime suspect.

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    1. Hello MLS: If you can stand the wait, I'll be sure to leave it to you in my will... In the meantime, try Gorsuch, they may have some still stored away. Just a thought. Reggie

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  7. A very good looking Norwegian sweater for a very discerning man! Shall we see an image of you wearing it?

    xoxo
    Karena
    Art by Karena

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    1. Thanks Karena: Someday, after I leave the Investment Bank where I work, I shall be more forthcoming with images. Until then, though, I cannot, as I must preserve the barrier between my professional and personal lives... Thanks, Reggie

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  8. Hello Reggie, I guess that winter-patterned sweaters get classified with Christmas sweaters in the same way that sleighing songs unfortunately always get lumped in with Christmas carols.

    Now that you mention it, I don't own any native clothes, unless you count the fact that jackets purchased in Taiwan zip the "wrong" way.
    --Road to Parnassus

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    1. Hello Parnassas, you raise an interesting point about sleighing songs and carols. Never thought of that, but once I did it was a bit of an "aha!" moment. Thanks, Reggie

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  9. Love this post Reggie! All you are missing is a shot of Gary Cooper skiing in my beloved Sun Valley.
    I proudly own two Cowichan sweaters from British Columbia, where I grew up, which I love to death despite their itchiness.
    xxSP

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    1. Thanks Slim, If I'd known of that shot of the Handsomest Man Ever to Grace This Earth skiing at Snow Valley I'd've used it for sure! Fondly, Reg

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    2. Slim, my dear, I have since updated the post to correct for the ommission of said Mr. Cooper wearing a Norwegian ski sweater. Thanks so much for the tip!! Reggie

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    3. 'Handsomest Man Ever to Grace This Earth' - I totally agree Reggie!! Was saying the very same thing just the other night.

      PS. You might want to pop back to SP to read my reply to YOUR comment. Cheers! :-)
      xx
      SP

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  10. Agreed! Norwegian sweaters are super cool. I own four: two sold under the LL Bean name (I'm wearing one right now that's 20 years old)and two by Dale. These have it all over those awful "holiday" sweaters.

    Best Regards,

    Ulrich von B.

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  11. My 'native' clothing is primarily with a RALPH LAUREN label, though anything over 5 years old these days seems to be 'vintage'. But I have a few choice Western pieces from my late father that are rather archival quality so I have been hesitant to wear them often; that should be re-thought, however.

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    1. Hello TDC: Most amusing, dear fellow. You have a point there, to be sure... Thanks, Reggie

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  12. Beautiful sweater. I have a tendency to buy native clothing from wherever I'm traveling. The Masai wardrobe has been a big mistake. Love your blog, not sure how I've missed it until now?

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    1. Hello Kathy, I would imagine a Masai wardrobe is somehat challenging to carry off in these parts. That is, unless one is attending a session at the UN, and actually is Masai...

      So glad you've stopped by, do visit again soon! Thanks, Reggie

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  13. Dear Reggie -

    The interesting thing about the image of the Mormon temple on your sweater is that it appears to be an otherwise very natural design element.

    My own native clothing is a Japanese ukata, which I wear instead of a bathrobe.

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    1. ditto on the ukata. Also am keeper of my sister's red cheongsam she had custom made in Hong Kong, pre hand-off. Fits neither of us now but at one time it did and beautifully so. Wore it with my red and white YSL sling backs or red Charles Jourdan pumps. Yes, I'm vintage!

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    2. I had a Ukata for years that I bought on a trip to Japan. Also wore it as a bathrobe. No idea whatever happened to it. Isn't life like that? RD

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  14. Eep! My husband has that pattern...never noticed the temple either. I'm in the never ending process of knitting one for myself from a Dale's pattern. I finally broke down and bought one. I've (like Sister) made lots of Norwegian mittens.

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    1. Hello Patsy: Kindred spirits! It was a bit weird when I figured out about the Mormon Temple, I must admit. Now I think it is a hoot! Good luck with your knitting project! Reggie

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  15. I have a longhi, made at a market in Yangon in Myanmar, I bought the material and it was made up in about five minutes. A longhi is the traditonal long skirt everyone wears there.

    As a child in the 1960s my sister and I could have formed a team with you in our green and white checked Austrian dirndls.

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    1. Hello smr: I love the way girls and women look in dirndls. I wish people wore them more here in America. Reggie

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    2. That would be: I wish more women and girls wore them more here in America...

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  16. A nice post Reggie,

    I own a Swedish winter jumper hand knitted in central Sweden. At the same time that I purchased it I also bought a hat and matching mittens for when it gets really cold.

    I wear the gloves and hat more often than the jumper because to be honest with you it makes one jus that little bit too warm! I am however still taking it with me on hols next week - as there is something nice about wearing it at Christmas time.
    Kirk

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    1. Hello Kirk, thank you for reminding me that the Brits (and those from the commonwealth) call sweaters "jumpers." Brings back memories of my year at Sherborne Scool in Dorset, England, where it took me a while to translate all of the English names for things into American English. "Plimsole" for "sneaker" and the like! Reggie

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    2. Sorry to correct you, Reggie; should be plimsoll. And pants are what you wear under your trousers!

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  17. Oh Reggie, I am a middle classic woman of a certain age but would not be caught dead in one of those ridiculous holiday sweaters. No insult taken though.
    My family was in possession of an authentic regional costume of Brittany. We collectively decided that is was better enjoyed by those dear family that actually lived in Brittany, so off it went. I do have a number of Norwegian sweater too.

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    1. Hello Kerry: Brittany traditional costume is gorgeous. There was a story a year or so ago in WOI about a museum of it in, well, Brittany. I was transfixed by its beauty! Reggie

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  18. Let's see:

    Dale sweaters, check. One red one that's like steel and one blue one like yours. with just a nice cashmere t-neck underneath, they're warm enough for almost anything.
    scroll down: http://pigtown-design.blogspot.com/2009/12/weekend-update.html and you can see the blue sweater.

    Tyrolean wear, check. Loden jacket, a bit snug, but i can't imagine getting rid of it. Had another one, but gave it to a niece.

    Also, somewhere there's a picture of my siblings and me in tyrolean dresses and lederhosen, as the result of a trip to Austria. My nieces and nephews have all worn the lederhosen. I think they were made from deer hide.

    I also have a great irish fisherman's sweater, knitted by someone's gran which i picked up at a carboot sale in wales for about 50p. another item that wears like iron.

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    1. Hello Meg, of course you have these as we are both cut from the same cloth, aren't we? And don't the Dale sweaters wear like steel? I can't imagine mine wearing out, and it certainly is warm. I wear it in the deepest winter without a coat or jacket, as I would boil if I did, even at below freezing temperatures! I wish I still had little Reggie's lederhosen, but they are long, long gone. Reggie

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  19. Unfortunately, (or fortunately if you frequent Goodwill), last year I went through a MAJOR purge of any/all decorative items in my closet. All gone, regardless of class, creed, or label. And most were Dale of Norway sweaters and one sweater coat that I'd give my right arm to have back right now! WHAT WAS I THINKING? No one would have picked the items up for 'an ugly christmas sweater' party but hopefully someone was savvy enough to recognize a quality label/product when they saw it. I was in a state of madness :( Reality has now set in - it's not pretty.

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    1. Hello Anon: I still regret getting rid of my Loden jacket, complete with horn buttons and a velvet collar. Very Sound of Music it was! Reggie

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  20. Love Norwegian sweaters but alas I don't have one these days. What I do have in the closet and wear on occasion are Scottish plus fours, a tweed culotte skirt also from Scotland, and a hunting jacket I bought years ago in Hungary. Some Masai bangles bought years ago in Tanzania, a couple of well-worn yukatas, and some Shanghai Tang jackets, which I think count as native stuff.

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    1. Hello Anon, It sounds like you have a marvelous wardrobe! Thanks, Reggie

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  21. As a knitter myself I love your choice. Dale of Norway and Oleana for me ;)

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  22. Your sweater is beautiful. I never knew I was mispronouncing Dale. I have four of them, and two Norwegian ski sweaters with traditional motifs such as reindeer, snowflakes and lice ( the little dots). I was given the Dales, but bought the others at the thrift store.

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    1. Dear Anon: Yes, isn't interesting to learn the correct pronunciation? I had my sweater for years before I learned it. Good for you for finding wearable sweaters at the thrift store. My biggest score at one was a waxed Barbour in my size, barely worn! Reggie

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  23. My little native Norwegian heart goes "boom, boom" - because, alas, I do remember what those nasty sweaters (and the little knitted trousers that went with them)would do if they got in contact with ice (yes, I know, you were not supposed to go camping, but skating - but you see, some of us lacked the grace to occupy a bench, and would simply sit smack on the ice during "intermission"). We were stuck. Dale or no Dale, stuck is stuck - as is wet. Wet wool does wonders for itches and scratches.....

    It could be that I was a particularly boisterous little girl, but I have to say - I'm a fleece kind of person- with Dale patterns an'all.

    Does that count as native at all?

    Merry Christmas from Heidi in Oslo

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    1. Dear Anon: Thank you for your comment, right from where it all began -- Norway! Your persepctive is very much appreciated. Reggie, like everyone on the planet, is also a fan of fleece as it is wonderfully comfortable, soft, and sportif. He doesn't know what he thinks of fleece as masquerading as knitted wool, though. He prefers it when it is what it is. Thanks, Reggie

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  24. Hmm, who knew the Norwegians would incorporate the Morman design into the sweater... love it. Happy Holidays to you and yours!

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  25. Very nice. For some reason, I always think of Andy Williams when I see those types of sweaters. Possibly because of his Christmas specials years ago, but the sweaters make me nostalgic.

    Maybe I'm missing something here, Reggie, but I fail to see the hatred of Christmas sweaters. Sure some aren't as nice as others, but I gave one to a friend years ago that still garners compliments wherever she wears it from young and old alike. Nor would I call her middle class. On the contrary. She is from a very prominent family and grew up with all the advantages life has to offer: sorority girl, Jr. League, cotillions, country clubs, trips abroad, masters degree, professional career, etc. It seems to me that the group who hate Christmas sweaters is the self same group who hate anything brass and spray paint rosewood and mahagony furniture. I cringe at the thought. They also call anything "Granny" that doesn't have chevron patterns or that horrid mid century modern/Hollywood retro tag attached. Give me a Christmas sweater any day to compared to that mind set!

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    1. Dear Anon: Thank you for your comment. I apologize if I wasn't clear: I don't loathe all holdiday sweaters, but rather the nasty, cheaply-made (i.e., in China) fake-o, aggressively cheerful ones that are sold at big box retailers and places like QVC. There are, indeed, lovely ones to be had, handmade of wool, and worn proudly by ladies such as your friend. My mother, MD, had a German-made, boiled wool holiday jacket that she wore for years and looked marvelous in. I loved it. Thanks, Reggie

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  26. Ah, those lederhosen! Such an unwitting fashion statement we made back then. I commend to you so-called Grandfather Shirts made in Lee Valley, Ireland. They are collar-less flannel pullover shirts and are as comfortable as all get out. In fact, I think I'll put mine on right now! All the best, your brother Frecky.

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    1. Hello Frecky, did you hold on to your lederhosen? I wish I still had mine, just to look at every now and then. At least I have our grandfather's school blazer from Mill Hill. I'm planning on wearing my own native garb today: blazer, OCBD, gray flannels, and Alden slipons, all from Brooks. Am having lunch at the Yale Club with an adored college classmate. Should be a lot of fun. Reggie

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  27. Reggie: the blog reminds me so much of days at Dartmouth in the 50s when all those sweaters were part of the territory.

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    1. Dartmouth: the original outdoorsy Ivy! Reggie

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  28. I have an old, old Thanksgiving sweater with felt applique Pilgrims, but the elbows wore out so now I just use it to wipe my ass.

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  29. It does seem that the traditional items of clothing do age best. My husband has his Father's tux and my Father-in-law still has his morning suit and top hat. I would love a sweater like that for skiing. I always love the illustrations of these sorts of classics. I always wonder how in the heck they can tuck it in and get away with looking so svelte.
    Oh bother, I shall "slim it" in 2013 as I steal another cookie.
    pve

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    1. Hello PVE: Aren't you wearing some form of "native" frock/smock in your blogger photograph? I always assumed as much. And, here's to a slimmer 2013 for all of us, Reggie in particular since he can't bear to look at himself in a full length mirror these days due to the violent onset of middle aged portliness. RD

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  30. Every time we go skiing, I peruse the Dale sweaters at Gorsuch. Haven't bitten yet, but they are indeed lovely.

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  31. Loved the Norwegian sweater story.
    Coincidently, I had planned to suggest a story on Christmas sweaters, but later when I started reading your very first blog, Welcome to Reggie Darling, I had second thoughts after reading that you planned to write about dressing well, amongst other things....so there and then I hastily decided that you probably would not deem it a worthy topic, no matter how much fun you could have with the subject!

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  32. Wonderful sweater! And found the story of the pronunciation very interesting and informative. I have debated on a Dale sweater for a number of years, but worked in an office where it was always too hot to wear it and truly appreciate it. Now that I'm no longer working there--hmmmm............

    My native clothing is a collection of quite a few Aran sweaters that I have purchased in Ireland. In fact I'm wearing one of them as I type! On our last trip there I promised my husband I wouldn't buy another as I had so many already, but this lovely green zip front hoodie style was calling my name!

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  33. About a decade ago my husband gave me a Dale of Norway sweater for Christmas--it is beautiful, a creamy white with a traditional reindeer design in various shades of blue. I am wearing it right now, as the thermostat is currently set to 62 degrees. But I also wear it to go birdwatching and snowshoe hiking when temperatures are in the mid-twenties--it is actually warmer, lighter, and less bulky than any of my winter jackets. Who needs Goretex?

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  34. Lovely memories from the post. We lived not far from Cortina in my teens and my favorite memory was getting a ski suit which was the same close fitting design as the Austrian Olympic team which was very different to the usual late 60s outfits. My mother found it as I was just finishing up a long tacking back on the lake at Garmish-Partenkirchen and I got to try it on still in my 2 piece bathing suit. Then we moved back to the USA and skiing was never quite as fun. I had lederhosen and my father had his Londen-Frei hat with the boar bristle and a green loden coat. I have Icelandic sweaters which now just get pulled out of mothballs for trips north from Texas.

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