Saturday, July 23, 2011


From my earliest memories, I've always been interested in the wide world.  As a small child I would draw maps of the world and see how many countries I could locate, I would draw the borders and label the maps.  I could draw a map of South America or Africa, for example, including all the countries.  I couldn't do that any more, but my passion for all things global continues.

I love to travel and wish I could do more.  I'm interested in the people, food, culture, history... and, of course, the knitting.  I've purchased DVDs about Portugese knitting, the Sweden's Bohus industry, knitting in Britain and more, and I watch them often.  So, knowing that, when I discovered the DVD "knit your own lopapeysa", I wasn't able to resist. 

A lopapeysa is a traditional Icelandic sweater.  The video is in Icelandic and English.  While I watched it in English, I did enjoy listening to the Icelandic language in the background, which I'd never heard before. I may never visit Iceland, so it was nice to see the scenery in the program.  The DVD 82 minutes in length.

The DVD starts out with the Lopi sweaters and scenes of Iceland, then goes to the shearing of the sheep.  From there, you're taken to a factory where the washing, dyeing, carding, spinning and winding into skeins, cakes or balls for the stores takes place.  So much beautiful yarn!  It reminded me a little of the tour I took a number of years ago at The Brown Sheep Company in Mitchell, Nebraska.

After leaving the factory, the charming hostess goes to her great grandmother's house to talk about the sweaters and the techniques to make them.  I was particularly interested in the cast off/bind off methods used at the neck as I'd never seen them before, especially the one where you split the knit and purl stitches onto separate needles and then graft them together.  I'm definitely going to have to give it a try.

I made a number of Lopi sweaters in the early 1980s, using whatever yarns I could find that fit the gauge.  On a trip to the Eastern Townships of Quebec I found a shop that sold the authentic Lopi yarn.  I bought enough for a sweater and quickly knit it up into a gorgeous design.  Unfortunately, while I loved the pattern, I really didn't care for the yarn.  Even with a blouse or turtleneck top underneath the sweater I found the yarn to be itchy, picky and irritating.  I'm guessing that it's just me, however.  I know that others like this authentic yarn and I did like the look of it, just not the feel.  In the video the suggestion is made to rinse a sweater with hair conditioner.  Perhaps I'll try again as I love sweaters to be as authentic as possible.

If I ever make a dent in my stash and knit up all the sweaters that I already have the yarn for, then I will have to knit another lopapeysa.  Perhaps the wool is softer these days, or I can substitute.  These sweaters are just too strikingly beautiful to ignore.

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