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Blog / Icelandic Wool

  • Skógafjall by Dianna Walla


     Photo courtesy of Dianna Walla

    We are thrilled that Dianna Walla was able to work with us again, this time designing, Skógafjall, a gorgeous Lopapeysa for this years Icelandic Wool Month.   Dianna is an amazing designer and we have been so fortunate to work with her in other projects, she designed our Hearth Slippers and also the lovely Aspen Socks from Farm to Needle book.   We also featured her other lopi designs during our previous Icelandic Wool Month celebrations, Moon Pulls and Moon Sprites.

    You can find Dianna on Instagram @cakeandvikings and her website, Paper Tiger.

    Photo courtesy of Dianna Wallla
    Where are you from and what brought you to Norway?
    I grew up in North Carolina but I've moved around a lot since I finished my undergraduate degree. I moved to Seattle, where my husband is from, in 2009 and it's definitely my second home. But between a semester abroad in France and a year of teaching in Hungary, I recently realized that Norway (where I've lived since 2015) is the fourth country I've lived in! We moved here for the master's program I'm currently in, but there are many things that drew both of us to the country. The language, culture, and history have been a big part of the fabric of my life for years. The incredible natural beauty, the climate, and the textile traditions based in wool are a big part of the draw as well.
    Photo courtesy of Dianna Walla
    When did you start knitting?  Designing knitwear?
    My mother taught me to knit when I was a child, but knitting didn't become such a big part of my life until I around the end of high school. In college, I knit my first sweater, had my first experience buying local yarn from a farmer's market, and I kind of never looked back. By the time I started my first graduate degree in 2009, I was getting interested in designing, initially by making larger and larger modifications to existing patterns. In 2010 I designed my first sweater from scratch (which ended up being the prototype for my design, Sundottir) and I learned a lot about swatching and how much math was really involved in the process. A round yoke is such an excellent blank canvas for creative expression. I kept experimenting, coming up with my own designs, and by 2012 I really became "a designer," in the sense that I started taking it seriously, building a portfolio of work and submitting to magazines and other third parties. I love that however proud I am of the work that I've done in the past several years, I'll always have a special place in my heart for Sundottir, the first sweater I designed.
    What inspired the design for this sweater?
    Since moving to northern Norway in the summer of 2015, I've garnered a new appreciation for Icelandic wool and its wonderful properties. Tromsø is farther north than the entirety of Iceland, but Tromsø and Reykjavík have very similar climates, and their northern latitudes mean the seasonal shifts in terms of both weather and light are very similar. Historically, the traditional calendars of both Iceland and Norway only recognized two seasons: summer and winter. I feel a kinship between Iceland and (especially northern) Norway. So as I've been learning more and more about the heritage sheep and wool varieties native to Norway, I've been thinking about their similarities to the Icelandic sheep. All of this makes Icelandic wool a great match for the climate here in Tromsø, so it made sense to draw inspiration from my own locale when it came to designing this sweater. I've experienced two Augusts here now, and in early August the surrounding mountains are still very green. Because we're so far north, the tree line is relatively low, so the deeply-colored mountainside greenery often gives way to lighter scrubby brush and finally silvery-grey rocky peaks. It forms a beautiful gradient of color and I've wanted to knit that into a sweater since my very first week here. This also provided the inspiration for the name, Skógafjall, which is roughly "forest mountain" in Icelandic. 
    Dianna's other guest blog post with us:
    It’s hard not to fall in love with Iceland -From March 2015, our first Tolt Icelandic Wool Month
    You can also read more about the Skógafjall sweater on Dianna's blog.
  • Why We Love Icelandic Wool

    At Tolt Yarn and Wool we love Icelandic wool, for it's wearable durability and the tradition of color work associated with it. Icelandic wool has special qualities being composed of both a longer outercoat called tog and a shorter, lofty undercoat called þel, or thel.  It is incredibly lightweight and insulating, perfect for winter sports. Léttlopi and Einband can be knit at larger gauges for lighter garments suitable for spring and early fall. 

    We love Icelandic wool so much that we host Tolt Icelandic Wool Month for the month of March.  We feature Istex's Léttlopi, Álafosslopi, Einband and Plötulopi

    This article is something of a love song to the Lopapeysa, or Icelandic style sweater. Typically yoked and featuring three to many colors in yoked color work.

    Some of our favorite Lopapeysa designs:

    Strokkur by Ysolda Teague

    This is Rachel's Strokkur, we love the beautiful shaping that Ysolda includes. It is knit in Léttlopi colors: MC 0052, CC 0085 and CC 9426.

    Iðunn by Ragga Eiríksdóttir

    Ragga's beautiful top down Lopapeysa cardigan is striking in its two colors.  It is knit in Léttlopi, colors MC 0058 and CC 0051.

    Stopover by Mary Jane Mucklestone

    Rachel is wearing a Stopover knit by our friend Sandy Blue. This fun sweater, knit at a loose gauge, also incorporates shaping. It is knit in Léttlopi colors MC 9423, CC 1406, CC 1404, CC 1409.

    Gamaldags by Hélène Magnússon


    Gamaldags means old fashion in Icelandic. There is so much scope for color in this pattern, we find it beautiful and inspiring. It is shown as both a pullover and as a cardigan, it has shaping and a scoop neckline.

    Dalur by Hulda Hákonardóttir

    This is Anna in her Dalur sweater, knitting in Iceland on her trip last March. Dalur is knit in Álafosslopi, Anna's colors are: MC 9974, CC 0051 and CC 0005.

    Moon Pulls by Dianna Walla

    Jenny's Moon Pulls.  Moon pulls is a less traditional Lopapeysa and incorporates deliciously soft cashmere at the cuffs and collar. Jenny's is knit in Léttlopi colors MC 1420, CC 1406, CC 0086, CC 1404.

    Through the month of March join us in a knit along for Tolt Icelandic Wool Month. If you are near our brick and mortar store we will be meeting on Thursdays from 10:30 am - 12:30 pm through the month of March. If you are not able to knit with us in the shop, please post on Instagram with the hashtag #tolticelandicwoolmonth or in our Ravelry group in the "Tolt Icelandic Wool Month KAL" thread.


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