The Marius design is a unique Norwegian pattern that has been adopted as the design of Norway. In Norway’s knitting tradition, Norwegian patterns are highly regarded, and the Marius has become the most famous.
The beginnings of the pattern are somewhat controversial. There have been several claims to its ownership. One claim is that the pattern of the Marius sweater was inspired by the Setesdal pattern, which features four diamonds instead of one big one, and as such it is supposed that the sweater was originally designed by Unn Søiland in 1953.
However, Bitten Eriksen, the mother of Stein and Marius Eriksen, has also claimed that she was the creator of the first knitted Marius sweater, but it was first called Cortina II. Eriksen’s family maintains that the sweater was first knitted by Bitten for her husband Marius. The pattern was then developed before it was given as a sweater to her son Marius when he came home from World War II. In 1960, Bitten began selling the sweater at her store in Oslo, calling it the Marius sweater after her husband.
The Marius sweater (and most other Norwegian designed sweaters) are copyrighted. Private persons are allowed to make the sweaters for their own use but no products with the Marius design are allowed to be sold without explicite agreement by the now owner of the design, Lillum AS.
In 2002, Unn Søiland Dale was awarded the King’s Medal of Merit for being a lifelong pioneer of knitwork and for her efforts in making Norwegian woolen and textile design international.
The way that you know you are getting a true Maruis design is by the classic symbol on the label.
Nowadays the Marius pattern is not only for sweaters but everything else. (The Marius Inspiration book even thinks woolen Marius G-strings are a good idea.) Since the 50s, the design’s popularity has been a roller coaster. A couple of years ago the Marius pattern was not as trendy, but in 2014, Marius is everywhere! Even in my little northern city, Alta:
Marius cupcake molds – too sweet:
Marius lunch box:
The traditional Marius colour theme is red, white and blue, same as the Norwegian flag. However, a solid blue or white background is the custom.
Tea towels, mittens and even synthetic wash cloths:
Sheets, cushions and candles:
Black is a popular background, though not traditional.
There is one other famous design especially for mittens… for another post ;).