Thanks to Kay Gardiner, over at Mason-Dixon Knitting for A.) having a very vivid imagination when it comes to what our lovely author Vedis Jonsdottir might look like. (Just for the record, here’s Vedis’s author photo—she’s even wearing an Icelandic sweater in it!) And B. for posting this super-fascinating blog post by Pam Peterson discussing the past and present of Icelandic sweaters! Icelanders really do wear lopi sweaters or lopapeysa—aka circular yoked sweaters featuring patterned borders like the one pictured above. Check out Pam’s blog post photos for proof. (The guy playing the accordion is my favorite!)
It turns out the history of lopapeysa does not go very far back. The rise of this iconic sweater began in the 1950s when the wife of the Icelandic Nobel-prize-winning author, Halldor Laxness, brought the pattern back from Greenland and replicated the design, which would go on to become a national symbol. Lopapeysa are traditionally knit using lopi yarn, which is 100% pure wool yarn that is lighter, warmer, and more water-resistant than yarns from elsewhere, as lopi comes from long-coated Icelandic sheep that have developed over time to ensure as much protection as possible from the harsh northern climate, giving the wool its special properties. Mmm…sounds so warm and fuzzy!
If you want to learn more about Icelandic knitting, our book Knitting with Icelandic Wool has an excellent introduction discussing its origins as well as a history of the wool industry. It also includes over 65 gorgeous designs for a range of garments that are perfect for the whole family—from variations on the traditional lopi sweater to smaller projects like wooly hats, socks, and scarves.
Knitting with Icelandic Wool (click on cover to buy)
by Vedis Jonsdottir
$29.99 / $34.50 Can.
264 pages, paper over board