Taken from LIFE magazine, 27 Jan 1947 (incidentally, did you know about the LIFE magazine archive on google books? How great is that!).
Susan Dannenberg of Los Angeles ("who liked sweaters but did not have a sweater figure") knitted herself some sweaters in the early 1940s. In an effort to distract from her portly figure by drawing attention to the sweater itself she added wacky felt appliques. Friends liked her designs so she made some for them, then started to sell her work.
By the time of this LIFE magazine feature in 1947 "Suse" (pronounced Susie) sweaters were in great demand - Dannenberg counted Hollywood stars including Barbara Stanwyck and Esther Williams among her best customers. With price tags equivalent to five or six hundred dollars in today's money, the hand knitted sweaters had cult appeal.
The captions on the LIFE archive photos are from the original magazine feature.
"Jezebel" has red bleeding heart pierced by jewelled dagger. This, "Suse's" most popular design, comes in a variety of colors but the heart is always red.
"Buzzing Bees" is an evening sweater with honey-colored felt bees dotted with gold beads. Skirts to match sweaters are a recent "Suse" innovation.
"Roaring Lions" is a short-sleeved royal blue sweater with a frieze of white felt lions. Outfit costs $100 [that's nearly $1,000 in today's dollar]. "Suse" designs both the sweaters and the motifs.
"Giant Daisies" has an oversize spray spreading from shoulder to waist. All "Suse" sweaters are made to be worn over a skirt, not tucked in.
It was coming across this original "Suse" sweater on ebay that first brought the name to my attention.