The Berroco design team obviously has a lot of love for Ístex Lopi yarns, but it’s one thing to just talk about the yarn. Today we’re going to talk about the sweaters—specifically, the first lopi sweaters that three of us have knit so far.
I knit my first Lopi sweater four years ago—I’d seen Lopi sweaters around before then, but for whatever reason, hadn’t really fully embraced the idea of knitting my own. The pattern is Ragga Eiríksdóttir’s I∂unn Cardigan from Knitty, Winter 2012. Knitting this was mostly a matter of timing—my parents had gone on a trip to Iceland and purchased two balls of Léttlopi for me in a yarn shop in Reykjavík. So I had a bit of yarn in my stash and really wanted to knit it, and then Ragga’s pattern was released. I fell in love with the simple two-color yoke and just had to have it, so I ordered additional yarn and cast on with the few balls I had in my stash. My personal style tends more towards pullovers and not cardigans, so I did a little bit of converting (the pattern calls for steeking, so the whole thing is written to be knit in the round—I just adapted the colorwork section to be worked continuously.
I really loved knitting with the yarn—and I tend to shy away from single-spun yarns. But knitting with the Léttlopi was really enjoyable—the yarn flowed very easily, but because it’s a wool, is also very sticky, so if I dropped a couple of stitches, they stayed put. It also helped when knitting the colorwork, as the fibers tend to cling together, avoiding any holes that can sometimes happen when knitting colorwork and catching floats (we’ve got a great post about how to catch floats coming up tomorrow, so be sure to check back). My sweater is lightweight and really warm—even though I knit the sleeves to be elbow-length, I find that it’s quite warm enough to wear without a coat through most of winter (obviously on really cold days, I wish I had longer sleeves).
Alison, our Design Department Co-Ordinator, just knit her first Lopi sweater after seeing a trunk show sample of Afmæli by Védís Jónsdóttir arrive in the office. Here’s Alison to talk about her knitting experience:
“I’ve always loved stranded knitting. I got hooked on it knitting crazy hats from Anna Zilbourg’s book 45 Fine and Fanciful Hats to Knit, and later became obsessed with Alice Starmore’s wonderful Fair Isle sweaters. I’ve also knit several stranded yoke sweaters including one by Meg Swanson that is very much in the lopapeysa style. But I had never knit an actual Lopi sweater in actual Lopi wool until now!
One of the things that is nice about the bottom-up construction is that you get to save the fun yoke knitting for last, the opposite of a top-down yoke sweater. The plain stockinette stitch sections go fast knitting in the round, anticipating getting to knit with all those colors.
I’m not usually one for knitting a pattern in the exact colors called for, but when I tried on the sample of this sweater when it arrived in our office, I couldn’t dream of a more fun combination. It’s kind of rainbow-colored, with the charcoal grey main color balancing out all those wonderful brights. But I did decide to make one little tweak to the pattern. The neck was a little high and tight for my taste, so I stopped the yoke a few rows early, did fewer decreases for my final decrease row, and omitted the fold-over neckband, opting to simply bind off after about an inch and a quarter instead.
I love my Lopi! The first of many, to be sure.”
The biggest story since we started distributing Ístex Lopi yarns, however, has to be the story of Caroline, our Vice-President. Initially, Caroline was reticent to try knitting with Lopi, because (as we hear all too often), she thought the yarn felt itchy in the ball. No amount of pronouncements to the contrary would sway her… until she saw Alison working on her Afmæli sweater and felt how the sweater was knitting. Shortly after that, Caroline chose a pattern—Aftur, by Védís Jónsdóttir, a free sweater pattern—and choose her yarns and started knitting.
Caroline is a Lopi convert now! She knit this sweater over the Christmas break and came into the office shortly after the new year, proudly displaying her finished sweater… and picking out yarn colors to go into her next Lopi sweater. In the span of one sweater knitting experience, she became a Lopi sweater fan, and has plans to knit at least six more sweaters. She called the knitting addictive and loved how fast it went—even the colorwork yoke!
All of the patterns that we’ve knit so far have been free patterns, and Ístex Lopi has a good selection of free Icelandic sweater knitting patterns on their website (you can find Afmæli and Aftur there as well as on Ravelry). There’s even more if you delve into the advanced search on Ravelry—just put “Léttlopi” or “Álafoss” (for starters) into the Suggested Yarn Name field to see what options are available through Ravelry!