Iceland: Knit Inspiration #2

I love Iceland! As I was saying in Iceland: Knit Inspiration Part 1, it’s an amazing country full of amazing vistas, creative people, and of course, lots of knitting. While I was there last summer I was thumbing through a tourist guide our lovely hosts Angela & Starki left in our room, and had a little gasp of squee when I saw an ad for “Icelandic Design” that featured this image:

lopi30

Lopi 30 pattern book picturing the ‘Reatur’ sweater on the cover.

So I went on a mission to find the pattern book (Lopi 30) that contained this design called Reatur. Turns out the mission wasn’t too hard as there’s a knitting shop every 50 yards or so in Reykjavik and they carry books in both Icelandic and English. I must admit I cheated a bit on the Icelandic factor for my version; I didn’t use Icelandic Lopi yarn but instead bought some heavily discounted 100% cashmere yarn during the annual July sale at Romni Wools in Toronto. I used Romni’s own brand of cashmere — Romni Wools Cashmere Aran — which I got for $12 per 50g ball, and used just over 9 balls. That still adds up to an expensive sweater but I prefer to look at it as a ‘relatively inexpensive luxury’. The yarn doesn’t seem so lovely in the ball — it’s 4 plies very loosely twisted together, and it appears that it would give a textured or almost slubby look to the finished piece. Which may explain why it was in the bargain basement (and there’s still lots of it there, one year later — I just checked). But when knitted up it produces a perfectly smooth and very soft fabric.

Here’s my completed Reatur:

reatur1

My Reatur sweater

I was really pleased as punch about this one, although there were a few pitfalls and a couple of things I would do differently in retrospect. Firstly, the pattern sizing starts at a 37″ bust, which is really freaking big (I usually knit a 32″). But I was getting 21 stitches instead of 18 stitches on my gauge swatch so I figured if I followed the directions for the smallest size, it would come out smaller than 37″. It seemed to work, although I do find this sweater overall too big.

reatur5

I made the mistake of using a knitted cast-on instead of a long-tail cast on. I normally use a long-tail cast on but I figured since I had to cast on a LOT of stitches, it would be easier to use a knitted cast-on…no underestimating how much yarn you’ll need and then having to start over again with more yarn and all that. I had no idea that a knitted cast-on comes out really unstructured! You can see what I mean in the picture above. It’s very loose and little messy looking, and I really wish I had used the more stable long-tail cast-on. I suppose I could tighten the hem up with a crocheted chain stitch edging, but I haven’t gotten around to it yet, and not sure if I will bother.

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I was terrified of steeking this. Steeking, if you’re not familiar with the term, is when you knit the whole thing in the round, doing a couple of purl stitches along the middle of the front, and cutting it open along that purl line to create a cardigan. Before you cut, you have to either machine-stitch or do a crochet edge along either side of the purl stitches so that you don’t wind up with a huge pile of useless scraps of yarn at your feet. The idea of cutting your knitting is truly terrifying, but it worked out ok.

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Obligatory cat picture

I used Noro Silk Garden for the yoke pattern, which gives the same striped effect but without having to buy one whole ball of each different colour as called for in the pattern, which adds up in price and leaves you with lots of leftover yarn from each ball. Noro really solves that problem, as well as eliminating the need to weave in a lot of ends as you change from one colour yarn to another.

reatur2

As a reward for sitting through all those pics of my Reatur sweater, here are some more pics of my trip to Iceland last year for your viewing pleasure!

stykisholmur

The groovy looking church in the town of Stykkishólmur, on the Snæfellsnes peninsula.

bluelagoon

The famous Blue Lagoon, where bathing in the effluent of a geothermal power plant seems like a good idea.

horses

Some Icelandic horses, much smaller than ‘normal’ horses. They don’t gallop, but just trot really fast, which is kinda ridiculously cute.

sculpture_reykjavik

The Solfar (Sun Voyager) sculpture by Jón Gunnar Árnason on Reykjavik Bay.

thingvellir

Waterfall in Thingvellir National Park. Like something right out of Game of Thrones.

gulfoss

The amazing Gulfoss waterfall.

Harpa

The Harpa concert hall at the edge of Reykjavik bay.

sunset_Reykjavik

Late-night sunset in Reykjavik

puffin

A puffin! On Reykjavik bay.

iceland010

And if you go to Iceland, don’t order the fucking whale, ok?

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