Sunday, October 09, 2011


A flock of lopapeysa (traditional Icelandic yoked sweaters) caught on the fly during a community inspection of rams.






Check out the size and spacing of some of these motifs. Notice that strands are often carried for far more than five stitches–and nobody died. No weaving on the wrong side, either. When I asked about this, I was told that Icelandic wool felts so readily to itself that with very little wear, the long floats pretty much disappear into the fabric.

The longer I knit, the more I realize that Elizabeth Zimmermann was right: there are no rules in knitting that cannot be broken.

The tour company that brought me here has produced a thoroughly charming instructional video about these sweaters. Highly recommended.


Mel said...

I love to watch that DVD in Icelandic, because I'm convinced it's the language of the Elves. No matter what Tolkien says.

Overstap said...

Did you cast on one for yourself already??? I have the plan to knit one this winter....

rosesmama said...

In high school, cash poor but rich in time not spent doing school work, I made one very much like the first one pictured. Now I want one with animals! Sheep? A seated kitty with his tail curled around himself? I could make several! (They go really quickly with the bulky weight). I so envy you right now.

whirlybird said...

Are you *sure* no one died? Maybe they just hid the bodies really well.

Winterhart said...

I love the cheerful flock of sheep in the penultimate sweater and the little front-facing rams in the bottom one. I must chart that motif!

Unknown said...

Even if the floats don't felt, you can always secure them along the back while you knit.

Anyway, wow. Awesome motifs. Might have to pass them on in my mittens.

Yvonne said...

Ahhhh! Gots to make me one of the sheep sweaters!

Linda said...

Great info - love your blog, always puts a smile on my face.

Anonymous said...

"I may just stay here forever and ever and ever". That's the right label for a post on Iceland.
-- Gretchen

Cory Ellen Boberg said...

The one with the little flock of sheep across the back is ridiculously charming.

Anonymous said...

sheepies and horsies and KITTIES, oh my. my stash of lopi is calling me...

thnak you so much for the wonderful, charming pics (and to the folks with the sweaters, too!)

carys of the dozen cats

Emm said...

Gorgeous sweaters. There was a time, about 25 years ago, when Icelandic sweaters were extremely popular here in North America. I knitted a carload of them at the time, each one different and each one beautiful. I say: Bring 'em back!

Anonymous said...

"...and no one died." That is one of a friend's favorite sayings. So true.

If Icelandic wool were not so darned WARM I would knit one of those sweaters for myself. Even here in northern Wisconsin, we post-menopausal woman could heat the earth just by ourselves.

Patience said...

Erly Baker, who grew up in Norway, would talk about children taught to put their hands into fists before putting them in the sleeve, in order not to get fingers caught.

We are overprotective in America.

laura said...

it was refreshing for me to NOT see squirrels on any of those gorgeous sweaters. can someone tell me when and WHY they're featured in stranded work now??!?!

Harpa Jónsdóttir said...

Fore those who want to make a slightly less warm lopi sweater, single ply plötulopi might be a good option. They don't last quite as long as the heavier weights, but they are wonderfully light and airy. Einband (Icelandic laceweight) is also great for lighter sweaters, but the do take a while to knit.

Amanda/PrincessRuffian said...

Wow, these are fantastic! Thanks for showing them to us.

Strix said...

I don't even like cats but I love that cat sweater. I like the way the gent wears it/it wears he :^)

If only I could float in the manner of lopapeysa; sadly, plant fibers don't mesh so well.

Michelle said...

Ooh, I don't suppose you could point me toward a pattern for that one with the prancing ponies? I love making Icelandics... but I need a new pattern; I've made this one three times in a row, in different colors ~

Naycha said...

I thought that was a fox, not a kitty. Either way, love them all!

Aubrey said...

I love the Sheepy yoke!!! Could we get a close-up for charting purposes? I'm enjoying your adventures (and belatedly, loved meeting you at SS, so many moons ago...)

LunabudKnits said...

Being a Kentucky girl, I am thoroughly in LOVE with the horse sweater! The wearer is lucky I was not there to attempt a sweater

Bonnie said...

Visions of a sweater with sheep around the yoke are dancing in my head.

CeltChick said...

I want the sheepy yoke sweater!! But you know, I'd have to have one all-black sheepy on it.

Torhild (from the NL) said...

oh how fab! visiting Iceland! it's been on my list for years. i would try summertime i think as it's still light. the sweater reminds me of my own iclandic sweather wich sadly is no longer with us. oh i lived in that one for endless winters till it was totally worn out and i had to let it go; a sad day... but hey ho thanks to u i can now knit my own!! have a blast!

Miranda said...

Love the sweaters! The top one with the double helix spiral motif was actually the first thing I ever knit. Yes, I was blissfully ignorant. He was also 6'2", 220... also, therefore, yes, blindly in love. Turned out beautifully, and 26 years later we still speak to each other, and he still wears the sweater.

Anonymous said...

The sweaters are great. Looks like you are having an incredible trip - so many interesting things.

MVI said...

Oh my! Lovely sweaters, and at a ram viewing too! You must have been in heaven. I can attest to the felting aspect. I have 43 Icelandic sheep for their wool. Gorgeous animals and special personalities.

Seanna Lea said...

With my most recent stranded sweater I had floats longer than 5 stitches. I just didn't care. I was careful, I kept everything pretty loose and while it might have been slightly better with more catching of the floats the key for me was "might." It looked pretty good for a first stranded and steeked sweater and that was all I cared about.

danielle said...

So beautiful! I want one - will you make one for me??? LOL

Stones and Findings said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gecika said...

I've never seen sweaters like this before, it makes me want to learn the technique like NOTHING I've ever seen before!

LeslieD said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
LeslieD said...

Where, oh where can one get these patterns?? I absolutely love them.

LeslieD said...

I want that sheep-across-the-yoke one badly and have been scouring Ravelry and the internet for it to no avail.

Cathy-Cate said...

Very late at blog catch-up, but I had to chime in to say that the very first lopapeysa is the first colorwork sweater I ever made (but in Delft colors). I taught myself Continental to do it, to be able to carry the 2nd color in my other hand, at the encouragement of my mother who was even then watching Elizabeth Zimmermann's TV shows on Wisconsin Public TV while I was away at college. Yes, this dates me. Sadly, I made it rather short, because it was the early 80s and we wore things at our waist, and because I was a new knitter and optimistic about length. But it's still wearable otherwise, and a damn fine sweater. It just may get lengthened some day.

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