Icelandic Stitch Knit

Nordic Pattern

MITTENS WITH TWO THUMBS

Pattern-knitted mittens from the western fjords are called laufaviSarvettlingar. "leary-wood mittens") which evokes vegetation tr—s and leaves. Both dyed and undyed yams were used in the wavy patterns which are similar t: those in the old pattern books.

SigriSur Halldorsdottir, rector of the han-±-craft school in Reykjavik, reports that sa:I: r f mittens had a cross on them for protection - hue they were at sea. Wavy patterns have been use: for mittens since the middle of the nineteenth century and are still knitted, sometimes with : r.e thumb and sometimes with two. Two-thumbed mittens were very practical for work because th e could be turned around if one thumb bee ami - et or worn out.

SigriSur Halldorsd6ttir also notes that newer mittens are knitted with heavier yam -than previously. To maintain the correct pr: ::-tions, the patterns have been simplified. N; ; - T stitch is used for a square in a pattern where there used to be four (two by two).

KNITTED SOLES

Inlaid soles with eight-pointed-star are called rosaleppar. Other names for the 5: ;; are bar&ar, illepar, and leppar. These were knittei in garter stitch on two needles with star patterns in several colors covering the whole sole Children who were learning to knit began striped soles in garter stitch. The soles ran als be knitted in the round by doing two at the ; ame time and cutting them apart afterward. Circular knitted soles are fulled and reinforced v.- an edging and an extra cloth undersole sewn : n Slyngdir leppar is the name of a special Ieelan a.: technique in which bands are woven and in directly onto the sole at the same time.

The soles and knitted stockings were ~ :rn together inside soft shoes sewn of ox. sheet-seal-, or fish skin. It used to be that the length :: a journey could be measured by how many p aire of shoes were worn out. Seven or mere pairs might be needed for a trip across the fells between

Lace-knitted, wool handstukur, or wrist warmers, worn by both men and women. The pattern is called krônuprjôn (crown knitting) or rosastrengsprjon (rose-path knitting). Eisa E. Gu&jônsson has written the instructions on page 115 using a pair from the early twentieth century as a model. Photo: Susanne Pagoldh.

Most knitting was done with natural-colored yarns, but those who had the means decorated finer clothing with embroidery and dyed yarns. Those who were well off wore clothes of foreign materials such as silk and velvet. Silk stockings were common.

There are eight pattern books with hand-drawn graphs for embroidery or weaving in the National Museum in Reykjavik. The oldest book is from the seventeenth century. In two of the eight books, the patterns are also suitable for knitting. Three patterns in a book from 1776 seem to be for knitting brjostadukar, men's vests. Although no pattern-knitted vests have been preserved, it has been assumed that they were knitted in several colors, according to Elsa E. GuSjonsson, director for the textile division of Iceland's National Museum.

It is uncertain how the sweaters knitted for export really looked. Not a single one remains. Elsa Gu6jonsson suggests that they were knitted simply in stockinette stitch with one color. Old photographs sometimes show Icelandic men wearing single-color sweaters that have ribbing as the only embellishment. Although the slant and stick pattern (see picture, page 24) has sometimes been connected with Iceland by other Scandinavians, Elsa is uncertain whether it was actually knitted there. It is possible that the Icelandic sweaters got their name from the Icelandic wool.

Clothes Iceland

Most knitting was done with natural-colored yarns, but those who had the means decorated finer clothing with embroidery and dyed yarns. Those who were well off wore clothes of foreign materials such as silk and velvet. Silk stockings were common.

There are eight pattern books with hand-drawn graphs for embroidery or weaving in the National Museum in Reykjavik. The oldest book is from the seventeenth century. In two of the eight books, the patterns are also suitable for knitting. Three patterns in a book from 1776 seem to be for knitting brjostadukar, men's vests. Although no pattern-knitted vests have been preserved, it has been assumed that they were knitted in several colors, according to Elsa E. GuSjonsson, director for the textile division of Iceland's National Museum.

It is uncertain how the sweaters knitted for export really looked. Not a single one remains. Elsa GuSjonsson suggests that they were knitted simply in stockinette stitch with one color. Old photographs sometimes show Icelandic men wearing single-color sweaters that have ribbing as the only embellishment. Although the slant and stick pattern (see picture, page 24) has sometimes been connected with Iceland by other Scandinavians, Elsa is uncertain whether it was actually knitted there. It is possible that the Icelandic sweaters got their name from the Icelandic wool.

Lace-knitted wool handstiikur, or wrist warmers, worn by both men and women. The pattern is called krônupijôn (crown knitting) or rôsastrengsprjôn (rose-path knitting). Eisa E. Gubjônsson has written the instructions on page 115 using a pair from the early twentieth century as a model. Photo: Susanne Pagoldh.

MITTENS WITH TWO THUMBS

Pattern-knitted mittens from the wesrerr fiords are called laufavibarvettlingar. "".ear -wood mittens") which evokes vegetation rrer-and leaves. Both dyed and undyed yarns « ere used in the wavy patterns which are similar :: those in the old pattern books.

Sigri8ur Halldorsdottir, rector of the handicraft school in Reykjavik, reports that sa:I:rs mittens had a cross on them for protection • .- • they were at sea. Wavy patterns have been us; d for mittens since the middle of the nine-trr.: -century and are still knitted, sometimes wirr : re thumb and sometimes with two. Two-thu— ':e: mittens were very practical for work becaus e:r; could be turned around if one thumb became or worn out.

Sigri8ur Halldorsdottir also notes tfca: :re newer mittens are knitted with heavier yarrs than previously. To maintain the correct prorations, the patterns have been simplified. X: •• re stitch is used for a square in a pattern where there used to be four (two by two).

KNITTED SOLES

Inlaid soles with eight-pointed-star pa-errs are called rosaleppar. Other names for the soles are bardar; illepar, and leppar. These were kr:r .e d in garter stitch on two needles with star per err. r in several colors covering the whole sole. Children who were learning to knit began ~r:r. striped soles in garter stitch. The soles car also be knitted in the round by doing two at the sane time and cutting them apart afterward. Cimlar knitted soles are fulled and reinforced «ith er_ edging and an extra cloth undersole se^r :r Slyngdir leppar is the name of a special Icelar:... technique in which bands are woven and se-sr directly onto the sole at the same time.

The soles and knitted stockings were ~ :rr together inside soft shoes sewn of ox. sheep-, seal-, or fish skin. It used to be that the lerrrr. ::' a journey could be measured by how mar; pairs of shoes were worn out. Seven or more pairs might be needed for a trip across the fells ber~ eer

Lopi Knitting

The pattern for this lopi sweater comes from the Alafoss Wool Spinnery. The style is not old, bui it has become a classic. It is easy to knit quickly in thick, soft yarns. It took only a few evenings to knit the pictured sweater. Instructions, page 92. Photo: Susanne Pagoldh.

one farm and another. These soft shoes were worn daily by both men and women well into the twentieth century. Now they are usually worn only with traditional costumes.

WOMEN'S KNITTED JACKETS AND CAPS

The knitted jacket, or peysufot, is a simple, everyday form of Iceland's traditional dress worn by women. It got its name from peysa, a dark blue (and later, black), stockinette-knitted wool cardigan. The most unusual feature of these sweaters is the fitting. They are knitted seamlessly to follow the shape of a woman's body. The back piece is finished with a short flap. The body has raglan shaping at the shoulders and sharp decreases toward the waist. A combination of increases and decreases forms the shaping for the breast and elbows. The form is so well defined that these sweaters do not lie flat when stretched out on a board. A small blue or black knitted cap with a long silk tassel called a skotthufa is worn with the outfit. Now, both the peysa and the skotthufa are usually sewn from fabric.

LACE KNITTING

Lace knitting came to Iceland sometime toward the end of the nineteenth century via foreign women's magazines, pattern books, and handwork courses. For the most part, lace knitting was used for women's triangular shawls, mittens, and wrist warmers. Both men and women wore wrist warmers which were sometimes knitted with beads threaded onto the yarn and worked in patterns stylish at the time. Shawls were worn with the ends crossed over the chest and tied behind the back. Most shawls were coarse, everyday textiles knitted in garter stitch with two- or three-ply yarns and occasionally decorated with stripes in a contrasting color. Now shawls are spiderweb-thin, triangular or rectangular, and lace-knitted in either a single color or several shades of a color. Shawls knitted in yarn spun only from wool from the sheep's long and lustrous outer coat are certainly magnificent. Lace-knitted shawls are both everyday and holiday apparel.

LOPI

Icelandic sheep are usually shorn in February so that the wool won't felt so much and will be loose and easily processed in today's modern wool factory machinery. Previously, wool was not shorn—it was plucked off in June. The outer coat is called tog and the undercoat, el. It is easy to tell the difference between the two coats in spring fleeces, but the wool is more blended in winter fleeces, and it is difficult to tell them apart. This doesn't really matter if you are going to handspin the wool. Lopi, a soft, unspun, and untwisted yarn, contains both tog and el, which makes the yarn stable.

The pattern for this lopi sweater comes from the Alafoss Wool Spinnery. The style is not old, bui it has become a classic. It is easy to knit quickly in thick, soft yarns. It took only a few evenings to knit the pictured sweater. Instructions, page 92. Photo: Susanne Pagoldh.

Patterns suitable for knitting are found in a hand-illustrated pattern book from 1776. The book is in the National Museum in Reykjavik. Graphed by Elsa E. GuSjonsson.

Traditional patterns for soles. Here every square is a stitch and two rows in garter stitch. At left—jurtapottur, or flowerpot, graphed from a sole in Iceland's National Museum. At right— a stundaglas, hourglass, graphed by Sigribur Halldorsdottir.

Earlier, "lopi" was the word for carded or combed wool which was drawn out into a thick strand for spinning on a spindle or wheel. When the first wool spinning mills came to Iceland, some of the farmers left fleece which would be carded and drawn out as lopi, ready for spinning. During the 1920s, Elin GuSmundsdottir Snaeholm tried to knit lopi without spinning it first. Working on a small handknitting machine, she managed to knit a scarf for her husband. She wrote about her experiment in a booklet on handwork in 1923 and the method became popular. It wasn't until the 1930s, though, when knitting became a popular hobby for women, that lopi was used much for handknitting.

Free Lopi Coat Patterns

One way to make lopi yarn stronger is t: skein two or three strands together. Skeining the strands together twists them lightly around each other. Another way is to knit one strand of k>p: with a strand of spun yarn. The yarns which are currently sold as lopi are slightly twisted ar.: ready for knitting.

ICELANDIC SWEATERS

Until the Second World War, it was fash:: liable use lopi to knit lice-pattern sweaters. s:m ilar to the Norwegian patterns. The sweaters had broad pattern bands from the shoulders d : ••=•— t: the sleeves. The first Icelandic sweaters ■sdth patterns around the shoulders like large ccliars appeared at the end of the 1950s. Elsi GuSjonsson mentions that she saw just such i sweater in 1956 in an issue of a Swedish knitting book published by ICA. The sweater had a circular knitted pattern in red, blue, and white : ver the shoulders and was called an Iceland:: sweater.

She thought that the sweater looked nice an t published the pattern in 1957 in Husfreyjz r. the Icelandic Women's Union newsletter. Elsa GuSjonsson considers Anna-Lisa Mannheimer Lunn's sweater model, presented to Bohus Knitting in 1947, to be the first circular knitted yoke pattern. Similar patterns also appeared in 3-er-man and Danish magazines and were sometirr.er called Greenland designs. They do show similarities to the Greenland beaded collars in pattern and placement (see page 35).

Lopapeysus, lopi sweaters with circular kmt-ted yoke patterns, are still knitted, usual.; m natural sheep colors, although other colors — a; also be used. Patterns are usually new but : a;; t on traditional Icelandic models.

GerSur Hjorleifsdottir, director of the Icelandic Handicraft Union, has more than a hundred knitters (both men and women) who produ: e sweaters for sale. Most of them are older pecple and parents of small children, who knit at h: me Once again, knitting is the source of extra m-come. The work is not well paid, but the income is tax-free.

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