Freyja (English, íslenska)
This lovely lopapeysa (Icelandic for the classic woollen yoke sweater/cardigan). It is knitted from the lightweight and versatile unspun Lopi. The pattern is an old eight petal rose taken from the Icelandic “Sjónabók”, a collection of old patterns found in Icelandic art and handcrafts through the ages.
Freyja was the goddess of love, beauty and fertility in old Norse mythology. In modern times Freyja is often used to poetically symbolize Iceland, the nature and the earth. Freyja is also a common Icelandic name.
The use of wool has followed Icelanders ever since the settlement of the vikings around 870 ad. The Icelandic sheep breed has remained the same ever since and the North-Atlantic climate produces a very special kind of wool. It consists of two types of fibers, the þel (pronounced thel) which is the fine and soft wool found closest to the sheep’s body, and the tog, long and glossy water repellent fibers on the outside. This unique combination of fibers makes it possible to knit from the wool without spinning it first.
Working with lopi is a different experience for many knitters. Unspun, it can easily be pulled apart but just as easily joined together again. The fibers stick really well to each other which also makes steeks very doable when making lopi cardigans.Thus cardigans are knitted in the round and steeked afterwards with only a single stitch added for the steek. With lopi, steeking is a much less scary process than with many other types of yarn.
When knitting with unspun lopi, gauge can vary a lot between knitters. So PLEASE check your gauge before starting this project…
About the pattern
The cardigan is knit in the round, starting from the bottom. All stitches are knit, except for one purled stitch in the middle front. This is the steek stitch. A slight shaping of the waist is incorporated and a few short rows are used to increase the length of the back piece and the height of the back of the neck for a more flattering look. When the body is knit up to the underarms it is set aside and the sleeves knit separately. The three pieces are then joined together on a circular needle except for a few stitches for grafting under the sleeves. Then it’s time to knit the yoke and incorporate the yoke pattern using fair-isle colourwork technique. All the while continuing with the single purled stitch in the middle. In this sweater there are only 2 colors so the pattern knitting is very doable. After casting off at the neckline, the underarm stitches are grafted together using the Kitchener stitch. Then it’s time for steeking. A sewing machine is used to make two double seams in the front on each side of the purled stitch. Keep the stitch straight and short. Don’t ever use zig-zag for this… disaster could happen! When the seams are in place, find a sharp pair of scissors and cut along the purled stitches in between the seams. Be brave… this is lopi so it’s ok. Voila! You have a cardigan. The last step is to crochet 2-3 rows of edging all around the opening. Consider adding a strand of kid-mohair or some other strong and fuzzy (or even glittery) type of yarn for this. The buttonholes are made in the crochet edging – so after this there’s nothing left but sewing on some cute buttons and donning the nice cardi.
A little more info
Tip: print out the pattern and highlight all numbers for the size you are going to knit.
Yarn: unspun Lopi wheels. Grey No.9102 - 5 (5) 5 (5) 6 (6) 6 (7) 7 (7) wheels, White No.0001 - 1 wheel.
Optional for crocheting the edge: Rowan kidsilk/ Shibui silk cloud / BC kidmohair or another variety of fine mohairsilk yarn.
Needles: Circular 80cm/32” No. 4.5mm/US7 and your preferred type of needles No. 4.5/US7 for knitting smaller diameters (double pointed needles or a shorter circular needle or same needle using magic loop)
Other: 4 stitch markers, darning needle, 4 pieces of scrap yarn, button(s) for your cardigan