Knitting a Folkloric Lopapeysa

My Sketchbook :)
Sketching away to keep the winter blues at bay

 M A K I N G   A   L O P A P E Y S A

March!  Oh March!  The month I feel the most conflicted over.  Here on the East Coast, it is a time balanced between spring and winter with winter as her favourite.  This winter has been inconsistent – a constant tantrum between freeze and thaw.  I am so ready for spring, eternal spring.  A lasting thaw.  March has left me unmotivated, uninspired and lethargic.  My fingers are itching to work with plants, with the soil so I have been re-potting the indoor plants and starting some lavender and pumpkin seeds… because I am desperate.  My creative world is only now slowly beginning to peak above the sleeping soil, I am ready.

I thought I would start by sharing with you my latest Lopapeysa sweater.  I quite honestly made this one blindly without any idea of what would emerge.  It’s a result of a deep winter longing for spring.  It began during a snow storm in early February.  I just wanted to knit and not think about anything, let myself rest with the earth. I started with the sleeves since they are so quick and I enjoy finishing them first.  I made just a basic design at the cuffs and used the oatmeal heather since I didn’t think I had enough of the main colour for a whole sweater (planning ahead ;))!

The sleeves took I think about a week to finish, maybe even a little less. It’s strange remembering time frames in the winter, my memory gets hazy and often all I can think is either “that went by so quickly” or obviously, the opposite.

I started the body during a week of storm after storm after storm.  We were house bound for around a week and I accomplished a lot during this time!  The white landscape inspired me to make a flower based design (perfect sense, right?).  I actually had some difficulty with some of my wool – it kept on tearing which drives me absolutely crazy.  I was splicing again and again (what are you doing to your wool Istex?).

This sweater went on a small trip with us as well.  I made sure the sleeves were attached to the body before we drove to Nova Scotia.  We rented a cabin in Cape Breton and then I stayed an extra week at my parents house since my sister was visiting from Toronto. There, I made much of the main design in the yoke – a flower reaching toward the sun. During this time, we had such mild weather.  Lisa and I sat on our front steps having our morning tea, basking in the sun and feeling the warm wind from the sea.

Below are some photographs I took of the process.  Including my colour inspiration, blocking and my sketchbook!  I am planning to put this sweater up on our Etsy shop; however, it won’t be until I have my vlog post ready (if that works out) and get some photographs of it out in the big wide open world rather than just my house.  This weekend, the wind is cutting right through our windows and I have no intention of going outside except to check on the chickens (it’s around minus 20).  My skin is chapped and I have a chill right in my bones.  I’ll be spending the full moon day right by the fire, chapping my skin more but at least my bones will thaw ;).

First Sleeve
In the beginning, a sleeve
Lopi Sleeves
And then there were 2
Closer Look
Snow, tea and knitting
One ball of this lett lopi kept on tearing so splicing away!
Spliced wool
These stitches have been spliced together, can you tell?
Storms Witch
A lot can be accomplished when you’re working with a storm
Joined before setting off to Nova Scotia
February driving
Starting the colour work
In Nova Scotia, I started the yoke. This is the only early photo I took!
Knitting outside during a thaw
During late February, the temperature reached plus 10 degrees! Here, I was knitting on the clothes line platform in the morning.
The river is breaking up
Walks along the river during the thaw
Shelf Fungi
Pretty pretty pretty Shelf Fungi
At home on PEI
Finishing up!
All the weaving and grafting left
a Simple finish to this flower power inspired sweater
Loose ends
Weaving in those ends – so close to being finished!
Kitchener stitch
Kitchener Stitch
Underarms grafted together!
Colour Inspiration
Colour inspiration – Tangerine Quartz found near my parents home in Nova Scotia – The colours of the quartz match so perfectly!
Tangerine Quartz
Close up with wool pieces in the background!
To be blocked
Working location
Sleeping Baby
A helper
Washed and blocked – now to dry
All blocked ❤
After a long day of work on the thistle farm
My sketchbook detail – a gnome walking home after a long day at work on the Thistle Farm
Details from my sketch book – a guardian and her plants
The final sweater and Pangur
Pangur and the finished sweater – now to be tucked away until someone claims it.
Just put it on to share with you the fit! and of course my mug 😉

F I N A L  T H O U G H T S

In my head, I was imagining floral designs based loosely on old world Scandinavian embroidery.  I didn’t have anything really to model it on so just began to sketch away and make a thistle like design (influenced by my Scottish ancestry and the thistles that abound in the East Coast).  I wanted it both delicate and blocky in the yoke.  The simplicity actually came from not having enough black wool to make a full detailed yoke!  Meaghan gifted me with the rust heather which I am so very grateful for – I love the contrasting colours!

All in all, I am really happy with the final design of this folkloric lopapeysa!  It really for me encapsulates this winter – frigid temperatures interspersed with warm thaws  – extremities free of stiff wool to flirt with the wind!  The promise of spring dangled before us on a string.

T H A N K  Y O U & B L E S S E D  B E

Thank you so much for taking the time to read and look at the pictures of my latest sweater.  It has been around a month and a half in the making.

This morning our clocks sprung forward while the moon waxes for the last time of her cycle.  Another turn of the wheel, this time hopefully for a change in season (despite a warning for a blizzard this Wednesday!).

A birch
Beautiful birch bark

31 thoughts on “Knitting a Folkloric Lopapeysa

  1. Wonderful blog, as usual. Such a beautiful sweater!! I love your drawing and the idea of the gnome coming home after work on the the thistle farm!


  2. Julia, this is absolutely gorgeous! That touch of rust makes the entire sweater SING! (Grateful for your sister’s contribution 😉). What a wonderful story! Tangerine quartz is a favorite of mine…such a wonderful provider of creative energy. What a blessing to find it near home. And I do love how you capture the sweater’s story in your sketch book (journal). I’ll check it out on Etsy…if the size is right…


    1. Bonnie,

      Thank you so much for your inspiring comments! They really brighten my day.

      I have to agree with you about the added rust! I originally was going to make the yoke with a rose pink but didn’t actually have enough wool so I chose the rust when my sister gave it to me! I also couldn’t believe the striking resemblance to the tangerine quartz! We have many of them in Eastern Nova Scotia, they are so beautiful so I understand completely why they are one of your favourites! I actually only discovered them this past fall and think they are definitely a favourite of mine as well! Next time I go to Nova Scotia I will see about finding more and hoping to turn into little pendants.

      Thank you for the encouraging comments on my sketchbook! Since I sell the original sweaters, I really love having a little piece of them in the form of my sketchbook and now the blog posts and photographs as well!

      Be well,

      PS. I am so sorry I have not got around to responding via instagram! I just realized this, I am taking an on again off again break from social media so will respond as soon as I’m back on for a longer stretch!


      1. No apologies, my dear, about the IG reply. I, too, am finding that I need to take regular holidays from technology to keep my energies vital and balanced…and it gives me more time for creativity to flow in the grace of Spirit. We will connect when the time is right for us both. I trust that. 😉


  3. It took me three tries to see flowers in your lower yoke motif. On first glance I saw trees and mountains, then dancing women, and finally flowers. I rather like the idea of the motif not being instantly identifiable as only one thing. It is beautiful!


    1. Hi Janet,

      I completely agree with you! I like motifs that can look like a myriad of things as well – so much more scope for the imagination (lol, the words of Anne of GG). And you are definitely right, it’s not completely identifiable as a flower!

      Thanks for leaving your thoughts!



    1. Hi Anne,

      I have thought of it! My only problem is that I am honestly terrible at math and I have no idea to create different sizes of my patterns without actually going through and making them in all the sizes through trial and error which seems like an awful lot of work. It is something that is on my radar though and when I just get that inclination I will hopefully come out with patterns! So much of my knitting is basically intuitive so it doesn’t translate onto paper very well 😦 I could come out with the charts and decreases and necklines though, just need to figure out sizing!

      Thanks for your comment! And I am very excited that you even thought of knitting something like my pattern 🙂



  4. I remember those winter days on the Island. When you thought it would never come spring again! Winter is still long in Maine, but not quite so bad. Here’s hoping the weather forecast for Tuesday (here) and Wednesday (there) are overblown!!!!!


    1. Hi Jennifer,

      Oh goodness, are they ever long! This is only my 3rd winter living here – the first was in 2015 and that is now known as Snowmageddon – we had 30 foot walls of snow heading out into the country and it was honestly insane!

      Definitely hoping this storm isn’t bad at all! If it is stay safe and make sure you have candles/batteries/water!! Hopefully it will be our last before spring!

      Stay warm!


      1. Oh I do remember those drifts. We lived out in the country and it seemed like we would never be able to go anywhere! That’s why I live in a small town now although Bangor doesn’t seem all that small compared to Montague! When we left there were only two stop lights there. That was the hardest thing I had to get used to! but having high speed internet and snow plows that use salt make all the difference!


  5. Hi Julia,

    Your blog is so genuine and inspirational, and the sweater is just beautiful ♥
    Your design is so delicate and natural, and I love how you describe the creative process.
    I design my own sweaters too, and this month I have been knitting a Norwegian-Icelandic sweater/lopapeysa with Icelandic wool 🙂
    I thought this would be an easy sweater, but I have unraveled it twice already and it has been
    a lot of work, but I think (and hope!) this third effort will be the last and final version…
    I used alafoss lopi, but I would like to try lett lopi next time for a lighter feeling.

    I really love the “shallow” yoke on your sweater. How many rows did you have in the yoke?
    I have designed a pattern now with 38 rows (counting from the sleeves and up to the neckline)
    so I hope this will be enough for the yoke “height” with lett lopi yarn…

    Best regards from
    Oslo, Norway


    1. Hi Katrine,

      That is so great that you are designing your own patterns! I design my own, simply because I find that my brain thirsts for it! I just like having that creative control and seeing what will emerge!

      When I make my yoke charts, I make them have 50 stitches, however I skip probably about 7-10 rows (I make the charts so it will be compatible with a large sweater). I tend to just kind of “feel” it out as I’m knitting but I think they tend to have around 42 rows. I also knit them to fit myself, just so I know that it is a garment that will at least fit a certain body type, I’m also a very small person. Also, when I say they have around 42 rows, this is not counting the couple of rows before the cast off.

      It definitely takes trial and error to figure these things out! The first 2 times I knit Icelandic Sweaters… they didn’t fit over my head and I had to take the WHOLE thing out 😐 Twice!

      I’m sure yours will be beautiful ❤
      Best of luck!



      1. Thank you, Julia. Yes, designing and creating is just something I have to do… to survive I guess 🙂
        I have just finished the sweater now (knitted with alafoss lopi), but I am so unsure about whether to wash and block it!?
        Some years ago when I carefully washed my first hand knit alpacca sweater in water, the fibers really stretched out a lot so the sleeves became too long :/ So after that I became sceptical…
        I see that you washed and blocked your sweater, so I was wondering if you would recommend it?
        Does this alafoss lopi wool change or stretch after being soaked/washed? Do you use any soap or shampoo in the water? Sorry for all my questions… Thank you 🙂


      2. Hi Katrine!

        I did wash my latest when I finished it simply because i am selling it. I find it actually helps the garment fall into shape after it has been washed (if that makes any sense). It really isn’t necessary to wash it before blocking it so it’s up to you! To wash it, I put tepid water in a very clean basin with no rinse wool soap (we use a brand called Eucalan) then I soak the sweater in the water for about 15 minutes – take it out of the water – roll it in a towel to remove the water and lay flat to dry. One way to possibly harm the fibers is if you agitate it while it’s being soaked, it really needs to be handled as gently and little as possible because lopi wool has a tendency to felt.

        Sorry if there are weird spelling errors, I’m writing on my phone and autocorrect is a wee bit crazy!

        Hope this helps and don’t worry about the questions! Glad to help 😊


  6. Julia, it seems that many are asking if you will publish your patterns. It’s really up to YOU to decide whether your heart is moving you into that direction. I sense a bit of reluctance? Though I do knit from other people’s patterns, I too love the creative energy in designing and knitting (or weaving) my own work for my own body. I know my gauge and size and what looks right on me, but don’t feel called to write up patterns for others. I’m not trying to convince you to write and sell patterns, but allow me to share two thoughts, if you please. First, there are computer programs available that enable you to type in your base numbers and then crunches them out to other sizes. Second, some patterns are written with a loose general framework, and given gauge, the knitter can figure out the specifics for their body. I am reminded of the belated Elizabeth Zimmerman, who years ago gave many of us knitters the license to freely knit without strict pattern dictates. Most knitters, except for the very beginners maybe, have the ability to follow this way. Recently, Sarah Swett (@sarahcswett on IG), posted a pattern for a sweater in this way. It is as more of a guideline, rather than a detailed map, for the journey of knitting her Magic Medium Sweater. I trust that you will know in your heart what is best for you to do. In the meantime, it is for me a real blessing to merely see your creations and hear the stories behind them. It’s been years since I’ve knit a lopapeysa, but you have inspired me to create my own for next winter. Blessings to you, Julia!


    1. Thanks Anne!

      I am trying my hardest to get these up! The first will be Pangur Ban and if I can manage it, it will be this month (although I’ve been saying that for SO LONG but I’m doing by best!)


  7. i just found this blog…….and its a true inspiration…..your note book…….i love owls…..!!!! Knitting a lopapeysa while i try to read here and not mess up


  8. I would love to buy this pattern, but unfortunately you don’t have it on Etsy. Are you going to ever put it on Etsy?


  9. Hi there!
    I’ll chime in and say that I would also love to buy a pattern for this. I hope you’ll take it as a compliment rather than pressure 🙂 Lovely design and lovely blog!
    Best wishes,
    Tromsø, Norway


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