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Knitting with Icelandinc Wool

Sweaters and Beyond

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Knitting with Icelandic Wool by Vedis Jonsdottir.

St. Martin's Griffin.

The words Icelandic knitting probably bring to mind visions of bulky circular yoke patterned sweaters, but the truth is much more varied than that. The mills of Iceland produce yarns of many different weights that can be used for sweaters, of course, but also comfy, warm hats and socks, delicate lace scarves and fingerless gloves.

Védís Jónsdóttir gives knitters the world over a broad look at knitting in Iceland with her massive and lovely book Knitting with Icelandic Wool.

About the Book

  • Pages: 260
  • Format: hardcover
  • Number of patterns: 65
  • Skill level: none given, but range from beginner to intermediate
  • Sizing: a variety of patterns are offered in a range of sizes to fit children and adults; usually between 3 and 5 sizes are offered
  • Illustrations: full-color photographs
  • Knitting lessons: none, but a few techniques are explained in an information section in the back
  • Publication date: January 2013
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin

The History of a Classic

The interesting thing about Icelandic knitting is that the sweater design that's become most associated with the country is actually a pretty recent invention.

An essay at the beginning of the book by Elsa E. Gudjónsson says that hand knitting with the local unspun lopi yarn wasn't common until the 1930s, and what' now widely known as an Icelandic sweater was actually originally Norwegian, and the round yoke stranded knit design first caught on in the mid-1950s.

Even so, this is the garment and the style most associated with Iceland, and it is the design that dominates the patterns in this book.

The Patterns

The book includes a whopping 65 designs, some original and some adapted from classic patterns of the past.

There are many circular yoke sweaters, in pullover and cardigan style (which, yes, involves steeks), for kids and adults. There are sweater and coat-length garments, as well as a few dresses.

There are also some projects without colorwork, a bit of lace (on sweaters, a scarf and some fingerless gloves) and even some allover ribbing.

In addition to sweaters for people there's one for a doll and one for a small dog. You'll also find boot socks, hats, legwarmers and mittens. A few of the projects seem a little odd to me, but most are pretty, classic designs that will get your hands itchy to pick up your needles.

Lest you think classic is code for boring, there are plenty of patterns that use fun colors even within the classic shapes you expect from Icelandic garments.

It's hard to pick favorites in a collection so vast, but a few standouts for me include

  • Ása, a hooded sweater for girls that can be made coat length and features bright hearts and flowers
  • Bláklukka, another pattern for kids that features flowers on the yoke section
  • Endurreisn, a brightly colored, allover patterned sweater worked with two different kinds of yarn to a long length
  • Fjara and Vormorgunn, a coordinating top and skirt worked in black with white and gray accents
  • the colorful Handtak mittens, a great stash-busting project
  • Kedja, a black dress with bright ribbon-like accents
  • Land, an ombre-stroped sweater jacket with a wide collar
  • Lappi, a cute cardigan for kids accented with dogs, mountains and birds
  • Varmi, slipper-like cozy socks with classic star motifs that look like you'd want to live in them

Bottom Line

This book is an excellent guide to Icelandic knitting and will provide you with lots of patterns you'll want to explore. It will open your eyes to all that you can do with the wonderful yarn that comes from Iceland and will encourage you to bring a little of this knitting tradition to your needles.

Publisher's website

Projects on Ravelry

Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the publisher. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.

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