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Blog / Lopi

  • My Skógafjall Color Inspiration

    I fell in love Dianna Walla's Skógafjall sweater design as soon as I saw it. The pattern was not released yet, and still in the test kitting phase, when I started picking colors for my version of the sweater.  

    My husband and I visited Iceland in March two years ago. In March, Iceland is not the lush green place that you see in all the photos, it's winter and the land is either white with snow or black lava rock with muted golden lichen or grass.  Still absolutely beautiful in it's winter glory.  This was the Iceland I saw, and the color inspiration behind my Skógafjall. 

    For the main body of my sweater I chose a charcoal Léttlopi, color 0005, and colors 9426 and 0054 for my contrast colors. Dianna added something very helpful to this pattern, along side the motif chart she added a  little chart indicating which color was held dominate in each row.  If your not familiar with color dominance I highly recommend reading her blog post about it.   

    I cast on for my Skógafjall in mid February and was finished a couple weeks later. A great thing about most Lopapeysas, is that they knit up quickly (and even faster if you have a broken leg and can't do much else but knit). It's been a cold and wet winter here in western Washington so my newly finished Skógafjall has already gotten a lot of wear.

    We love to see your finished projects and if your working on your own Skógafjall we would like to see the color you chose, be sure to tag us on Instagram with #toltknits and #tolticelandicwoolmonth .




  • Guest blogger, Colleen Diamond

     I first started following Colleen on Ravelry.   I loved her finished projects and she seemed to be "favoriting" knits that I was also drawn to.   Not only does Colleen have an amazing style, she is also a very talented photographer.   All the photos in this post are hers.  Be sure to follow Colleen on Instagram and her Ravelry page.

    Colleen wearing her finished Telja sweater by Jenn Steingass from By Hand Issue 2

    Hello, My name is Colleen. I live on the Southern Shore of Lake Ontario. I'm an avid photographer who enjoys documenting my creative projects online.

    I've been making things with my hands all my life, so it was only natural I wanted to learn how to knit. My mother taught me to knit as a young girl, she showed me the basics, and I knit my first garter stitch scarf using a pair of vintage aluminium needles and acrylic yarn. Many years later (in 2004, to be exact) I revisited knitting after being inspired by Debbie Stoller's Knitters Handbook: Stitch'n Bitch. Knitting sort of became a way of life for me after that. There is not one day that goes by without me knitting or daydreaming about it.

    Lately, I've been putting my ideas on paper and writing patterns for my own designs. I'm much more confident at following a pattern than being in the design seat, but it's nice every now and then to switch gears and push myself out of my comfort zone. I'm often test knitting for designers that I know and admire their work  It gives me a better understanding of what it takes to be a good designer.


    If I'm not knitting, I love to naturally dye wool fibres with plants and kitchen scraps. I love the process of harvesting plant matter to make into a dye — I'm always stunned by the beautiful shades that nature can produce. Some of my favourites to dye with are black walnuts, black turtle beans, marigolds, avocados and European buckthorn. 

    Holding a basket of Léttlopi and wearing her Afmæli sweater by Védís Jónsdóttir for Ístex.

    As a Canadian, I spend half the year being extremely cold! For that reason I need to find ways to keep as cozy as possible!

    Icelandic wool is like no other wool. For starters, it's incredibly warm and insulating, thanks to its two types of fibres. It is lightweight, breathable, water repellent and hard wearing. All of those qualities, plus the rustic feel of the yarn, and the wide array of saturated and natural colours make me choose it whenever possible, it's also very reasonably priced. 

    I always block my finished garments with a mild wool wash, in lukewarm water before I wear them as it softens the wool and blooms the fibres to a beautiful fabric.

    Wearing Grettir by Jared flood, knit in Léttlopi .

    Wearing her Aftur sweater by by Védís Jónsdóttir for Ístex.

    The back of her Afmæli sweater by Védís Jónsdóttir for Ístex.

    I'm often drawn to the traditional designs of Icelandic patterns for their beauty and function. Usually the patterns blend Icelandic nature and landscapes into their designs which appeals to me as a knitter/designer.
    With a wide range of Icelandic patterns to choose from, my favourite is the bottom-up yoke. I love how quickly a lopapeysa flies off the needles — for me, it's the anticipation or reaching the yoke that makes me knit a lot faster!

    Ultimately, I love the task of picking colour combinations and watching the magic unfold as I knit. Each lopapeysa is like a work of art with the possibilities being endless. 
  • Blær


    When you think of an Icelandic sweater a delicate and feminine lace cardigan may not come to mind, but Blær, our sweater for last year's Icelandic Wool Month is just that.   Designed by Beatrice Perron Dahlen, Blær , which is Icelandic for a gentle breeze, is the perfect sweater for cooler spring mornings and evenings or for those that live in warmer climates.  Knit in Istex's Einband, this lovely cardigan is knit from the top down with a lace yoke inspired by traditional Lopapeysa motifs.  

    From the designer,  Beatrice Perron Dahlen: 

    “Icelandic wool lives up to its reputation in every way. It is light, warm and very resilient—an experience that every knitter must give themselves the chance at. Einband is all of those things, but even softer and lighter. It’s like wearing a divine cozy cloud. This piece was designed with the iconic Icelandic sweater in mind, but rather than bold colorwork on the yoke, it has a simple, elegant lace that evokes the diamond shapes so often found in a lopapeysa yoke. It is knit top-down and seamlessly, because I do love a top-down seamless yoke. Increases for the yoke are incorporated into the lace pattern. The neck and hems have a subtle ombre color change that could be tweaked for a different look, or omitted altogether. This timeless design will become a wardrobe staple and heirloom knit.” 


    Beatrice Perron Dahlen of Thread & Ladle is a knitwear designer from Maine.  Her newest book, Maine Knits is available here.

  • 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.
  • Icelandic Wool Month at Tolt - Thank you!


    It's been such an amazing month, thank you to everyone that participated in Icelandic Wool Month at Tolt.  I loved reading all the blog posts by our guest bloggers, Kathy Cadigan, Dianna Walla, and Cirilia Rose and seeing all the Instagram posts (#tolticelandicwoolmonth).  Be sure to visit Beatrice Perron Dahlen's  blog post about her experiences in Iceland.   

    My husband and I had an absolutely wonderful time in Iceland!  We drove around the whole island on the Ring Road, visited a couple of sheep farms, floated in hot springs, visited a yarn dyer and an amazing wool center, toured Istex, met Hélène Magnússon and had lunch with Ragga Eiríksdóttir.  



    I wore my Dalur sweater almost everyday and it kept me warm and toasty in the ever-changing weather.  I knit this sweater two weeks before we left using Álafosslopi.  This bulky yarn knit up quickly and I love the way it turned out.  My Moon Sprites hat was perfect for keeping my head and ears covered and with all the color options in Léttlopi, I think I might need to knit up a few more.  I even managed to knit up some fun swim trunks for my husband after seeing a video on Iceland Air's website that showed some Icelandic men swimming in lopi.  My poor husband modeled them in freezing temperatures at the shores of Jökulsárlón with the snow and wind blowing around us!  


    We hope you enjoyed Icelandic Wool Month at Tolt as much as we did and can't wait to do it again next March.  I might need to visit Iceland again for this special occasion ; )

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