About a year ago I went to visit a friend in Iceland and ever since I came back I’ve been slightly obsessed with the idea of knitting myself an Icelandic jumper similar to those I came across in Reykjavik yarn shops. Being from Basque Country – where the need for heavy knitwear is pretty limited – and relatively new to knitting at the time, it was the first time I’d seen so many beautiful yoked jumpers in my life.
Like the Swedish, Norwegian and Shetland yoked jumpers, the lopapeysa would have been inspired by the nuilarimut, a beaded collar worn by Greenlandic women for formal occasions. Despite its commercial origin, the lopapeysa also gave Icelanders the opportunity to explore their national identity by creating stranded yokes that distinguish themselves from those produced in the rest of the North Atlantic region. After WWII lopapeysur rapidly rose in popularity and by the 1970’s it became one of the most popular jumper in the world. Today it is considered as an integral part of the Icelandic folklore.
It took me a few months to find a pattern that I really liked. This was partly due to the fact that there was 4 colours of Jamieson & Smith 2 ply Jumper I really wanted to use together, and that most of lopapeysur are designed with heavier weight yarns. I finally set my mind on Atlas, a children pattern designed by Jared Flood in fingering weight yarn. Atlas goes up to a size 33 3/4” around the chest, but to fit me properly – with 3”of positive ease – it needed to be at least a size 36”. My gauge was also slightly off, so I had to completely size up the pattern. Fortunately a really good article on Vogue Knitting gave me a lot of clues on how to make it work; first re-write all the measurements of the jumper and then calculate the number of stitches required according to the gauge. To write the new measurements, I based myself on an old jumper of mine, making sure the number of stitches around the chest would work with the repeat in the stranded motif. After making sure several times my calculations were rights, I was ready to start.
I thoroughly enjoyed knitting with the Jamieson & Smith 2ply Jumper. The colour palette is so varied, it truly allows you to be creative and experiment with different combination of colours. The snow melted only few weeks before we arrived in Iceland, and in most places the grass kept the yellow/orange tint caused by winter burn. Iceland dramatic landscapes shaped by its high volcanic and geothermal activity, looked at the time extremely arid, almost lunar. Thus I really wanted to pick up colours that would echo my experience of visiting the country. To the original three shades required to knit the yoke, I added a fourth one – a yellow – which completely brighten up the whole jumper and brought a bit more contrast to the stranded motif.
The quality of the 2ply Jumper is also incredible; it is really hard wearing but at the same time soft enough to be worn next to the skin. Overall I am super pleased with the result. I was a bit concerned that my calculations would go wrong and fortunately everything went just fine. The jumper fits nicely and because it is only made of 4ply yarn I can wear it to more occasions than if it was made from Aran yarn, as lopapeysur often are.
Until Next Time… Happy Knitting!