This week, the Pangur Bán sweater will be bound up with twine, placed in a cloth hand-sewn bag and shipped to Germany. Across the Atlantic Ocean, leaving behind its humble beginning on Prince Edward Island.
This original sweater was made during the summer of 2016 using Létt-Lopi that I purchase online at Alafoss. What you may ask is LOPI? Lopi is the term for Icelandic Sheep’s wool. Icelandic Sheep are very beautiful animals that are direct descendants of the first settler’s sheep brought from Norway in the 9th and 10th Century! How neat is that! They sport a unique dual layered fleece, which helps to protect the sheep and keep them dry and warm (aww). I grew up with little Lopi sweaters that my mom knit, however they were infinitely bulkier than the sweaters made with Létt-Lopi. The Létt means “light” and is actually half the weight of the old Alafoss Lopi. It creates a garment that is.. well.. light and delicate, yet hardy all the same. I don’t think it really needs stating that I love this wool… the colours, the texture the end result! It’s so perfect <3
Anyway! This sweater saw her beginning on a ferry crossing the North Atlantic from Sydney, NS to Argentia, Newfoundland. I purposefully started the sweater just before the trip so I could work on it during the 16 hour ferry ride and long car rides crossing the province. I packed very little on this trip, some clothes suitable for camping and a backpack for my cotton wool bag (filled to the brim with wool!) so I could work on the body of the sweater and mittens for market. This suited me well until our car troubles began… and our stay was extended 5 extra days in a campsite with no drinking water or transportation (I may have been cursing my bag full of wool at that point :P…).
No worries though, both Rachel and I returned unharmed in Nova Scotia with a new found knowledge of Mechanics and Garages (who knows what you may learn when you go on a trip!). Also of course, a love for that giant, wild province out in the Atlantic ocean.
The sweater, as you can imagine was put on hold during our trip. I think I managed to complete most of the body while I was away but the rest was completed on PEI. My intention was to display the sweater at the Etsy Made in Canada Market which was at the end of September. I had about a month before I could complete not only a sweater but other items for our market table. And so I got to work…
My pattern for the yoke was not really set in stone. I didn’t write anything out. I actually just kept tabs on when to do my decreases and what made sense with the decreases and the pattern. This is the first time I actually hadn’t even drawn out a chart. This is how I knit my mittens, from memory and without a chart, so I felt like I could do a yoke too. I was really uncertain about how this one would turn out, but I trust the elves that they will look after me ;) My vision was that it would be similar to the old style lopapeysur so my whole intention was to keep it simple, focusing on the diamonds and triangular mountain peaks (I tried to search for pictures of vintage Icelandic sweaters and came up with our sweaters… not quite google, not quite).
And there you have it! My completed Pangur Bán sweater. It’s my more subtle take (with a lighter more flexible wool) on the 1970s/1980s designs. It is also a much closer fit than the older lopapeysur, but that also is due to the nature of the wool.
You may have questions about the name, which I am more than happy to answer! My cat’s name is Pangur Bán. His namesake is an Irish poem written in the margins of a manuscript in the 9th century. The author was an Irish monk, living in Austria at the time. He penned a poem detailing how his cat Pangur Bán (meaning literally something along the lines of “white fuller”) and him are quite alike in how they work, silently side by side while he searches for knowledge, Pangur diligently hunts mice. It’s a beautiful little poem. But why did I name the sweater after my cat/9th century Irish poem? Well, when I chose to use the gold as a contrasting colour, Pangur actually jumped up beside me looking for pets and I was struck by how similar the two were! A good friend of mine pointed out the similarities as well and I thought it would be the perfect name 🙂 I suppose you could also say that we worked silently side by side, however he is a terrible mouser and I am binge watching Tales from the Green Valley or Tudor Farm.
Lastly, I want to share with you the sweater all bundled up in our handmade packaging. Creating packaging for knit goods has taken us years. We have finally created handmade cotton drawstring bags to allow the wool garment to breath and just offer a unique little detail when receiving a specially made sweater. This was always on our “to-do” list but both Meaghan and I were busy as Masters students when we started this shop and then lived in different provinces. As you can imagine, it was difficult to get those details ironed out and put into action. I also often wrap things up as well in my hand-carved stamped, brown paper but the sweaters are now sent in bags.
I always feel a little withdrawal when I finish a project that I have put quite a bit of time and thought into. So I look to future knits so I can be a happy house elf.
ARAN PULLOVER: Using leftover yarn (only 20 per cent wool) from last year. I’m planning to just make up a combinations of cables and have it loose fitting.
ARAN STOLE: I’ve been dreaming about making a thick, earthy cable-knit stole/shawl/scarf (whatever you want to call it). In the winter, I basically live in a lace stole that my mom made for me several years ago, so I’d love to have another one to give my lace a break. If anyone has any suggestions for wool (looking for aran weight, pretty durable and earthy… I hope that makes sense), please let me know!
ARAN SOCKS: a couple of months ago, I bought a vintage sock yarn that is Oh so nice. It would be perfect for one small, cute pair of aran socks. Now, I just need a pattern. If anyone knows of any small, aran sock patterns please let me know! I’m hoping to do a love knitting order soon, so if I need new needles for these I can get them then 🙂
LOPAPEYSA: I don’t know if I need to even add this, but of course I have some in mind and have already ordered wool. I have joined my sister to make some custom order ones again so I will be making my Winter Woodland in Ash for a customer as well as 2 more this winter that will likely have original designs and then be put up on the Etsy (wait until you see the colours!!)
And of course, I am making mittens, etc. while I wait for wool orders and find out where my mind is before I can start making. Can you tell I have a preference for Aran and Icelandic knitting…. 😀
I hope you enjoyed this post, please send me a message or leave a comment if you have any questions!
*Title of blog post is taken from Robin Flower’s English translation of Pangur Bán