Icelandic knitting saga

It would be overstating it to say that I’ve always wanted to go to Iceland, but the desire certainly dates from the time I knitted my first Icelandic jumper. This was back in about 1980 when I discovered a shop in Camden Town which sold Álafosslopi wool and patterns. Immediately smitten, the pattern and yarn for a blue version of jumper by Astrid Ellingson were acquired and soon knitted up.

lopi pamphlet 52

I wore that jumper for nearly a decade (but I like to think with more style and panache than the models on the cover) and then, in about 1989, handed it on to a friend whose need – in an unheated house on the Yorkshire moors in winter – was greater than mine. I knitted another version more recently intended for a son but have ended up commandeering it for myself. This isn’t in the astonishingly light and lofty lopi but an English plied chunky yarn.

lopi jumper 2

More recently still I have been loving Beth‘s posts about her trip to Iceland last year and, to bring us right up to date, I’ve been knitting along to various Icelandic sagas.

And now… a competition on Ravelry with the first prize of… a knitting tour in Iceland! The challenge – to complete a pattern by designer Hélène Magnússon starting at the beginning of the Olympics opening ceremony (9pm London time on Friday 27 July) and finishing by midnight on the last day of the games, a mere 17 days later.

Now it just so happens that I’ve long, and I mean loooong hankered after one of Hélène’s designs which I saw her wearing back in September 2010 at I Knit London. I was so smitten I asked to take a picture of it:

iknit london sept 2010

It was the as-yet-unpublished cardigan now known as Brynja, an updated take on traditional Icelandic patterns and style. I was still ummming (think of the heat, think of the amount of knitting to be done in such a short time) when quite by chance I came across the recommended yarn, létt-lopi, on offer at a UK outlet.

For the Icelandic (knitting) saga

So the die is cast. Preparations are underway (an actual tension swatch! gathering of materials!) and the challenge has been taken up.


10 Comments on “Icelandic knitting saga”

  1. […] too shall be busy, soon. I’ve taken up a rather overambitious challenge. But I’m sure it will be […]

  2. lucy B says:

    Seems like the stars have lined up nicely for this busyness to be.

    Lopi yarn is almost always single-ply and so soft and lofty, it must be a pleasure to spin. There are Icelandic sheep living in the next valley. I shall investigate.

    • frizzyLogic says:

      Yes, it’s lovely to work with. It can pull apart if not gently handled but of course it’s similarly easy to reunify. The lett-lopi has a slight twist and is an aran weight and, having completed my swatch, I can say that it’s more resilient to rough treatment than the lopi but retains that gorgeous loftiness.

      I can’t even begin to imagine what alchemy you could work on such fleece.

  3. lucy B says:

    Well, I think I might be wrong about the singleness which is an illusion…it is probably many-plied without a lot of twist. Always reminds me of something called “pencil roving” , a luxury pre-spun (and knitable as-is) roving product which has the fibers all lined up, is transparent and soft… ultralight.

  4. Pica says:

    You’re much more ambitious than I — I’ve finished swatching for a vest but row gauge is way off. Oh well. There will have to be calculations (gulp).

    • frizzyLogic says:

      The calculation is the bit I like, but that’s not to say I ever get them right! I think “wildly over-ambitious” is more like it. I don’t expect to succeed but will give it a go.

  5. […] Icelandic knitting saga […]

  6. I too would love to visit Iceland but, unlike you, I don’t think my knitting skills are quite up to the challenge of Icelandic knititng unfortunately. 🙂

  7. Beth says:

    Just saw the finished piece — fantastic! And I am so impressed you finished ir so quickly!

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