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  • Icelandic Wool Month at Tolt : Knitting with Icelandic Wool by guest blogger, Kathy Cadigan.

     Pictured above (along with sheep and horses from the West Fjords in Iceland) is "Riddari," an Icelandic Round Yoke sweater (Lopapyesa) I recently completed from the wonderful book Knitting With Icelandic Wool. The yarn is Lettlopi, milled in Iceland from Icelandic sheep, a pure breed that's over a thousand years old.
    From Seattle, Iceland is a mere 10 hours away on a direct flight. I traveled there a few years ago and fell in love with Lopi sweaters. The traditional construction is very basic: knitted in-the-round from the bottom-up. The yarn itself is perfect for colorwork. A lightly twisted single, it blooms so much with blocking, the stitches practically melt together. As a relative beginner to stranded knitting, I found Lopi colorwork to be very forgiving and lots of fun, too! Even though Lopi yarn may seem rough to the touch compared to yarn made from other fibers, it softens a great deal with washing and blocking. Both the outercoat and undercoat of the animal is blended to make the yarn. I think it's like having the best of both worlds! The fine undercoat blooms while the longer fiber of the outercoat gives the yarn a ruggedness that makes it very long-wearing and durable. The resulting sweater is extremely lightweight and incredibly warm!
    For this particular sweater, I decided to use a three-needle bind-off at the sleeve join instead grafting because I find the bind-off easier to do. Also I like that it gives a bit of reinforcement to 'the pits.' That part of the garment can receive stress from putting on and taking off the sweater.
    In order to drop the front of the neckline, I added some short rows on the back neck as pictured above.
    I knitted Riddari as a gift for a dear friend. Anna mentioned that Riddari is the next Lopapeysa she'd like to knit for herself! This wouldn't have anything to do with an upcoming trip to Iceland, would it Anna?
    I hope to go back to Iceland someday but in the meantime, how lucky are we to have Lettlopi stocked in abundance at Tolt Yarn and Wool?!!
    If you've never knit with Lopi wool before, I hope this blog post will encourage you to give it a try! And if colorwork isn't your cup of tea, take comfort in knowing that not all round yoke sweaters involve stranding. Here is another lovely pattern from Knitting with Icelandic Wool:
    Happy knitting!

    (photos and text by Kathy Cadigan)

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