I hope you are all as well as well can be these days. It’s bitterly cold here after such a mild and gentle winter. “In like a lion, out like a lamb” as my mom always says about the month of March. I’m crossing my fingers and hoping (but for now more bundled up against the cold than in the midst of January).
We have been so busy with some big changes in our lives but I wanted to take some time to write to you about my latest knit design! MIÐALDA (Icelandic word for Medieval) is a tunic style Icelandic pullover that I designed for Tolt’s Icelandic Wool Month 2021! I was so incredibly happy to be asked to do this (thank you Tolt!!) and really hope you like what I created. Tolt put a lot of work into perfecting this design <3 It has been many months since I worked on this project so let’s go back to the beginning….
Last summer, I completely put away social media and basically stopped working on our shop. In a lot of ways, this was a pretty wonderful time for just remembering what it is to not be looking at my phone or thinking about *what should I post* when I’m trying to be fully immersed in real life. I made some good progress on my mandolin skills and did a lot of gardening and hiking. My e-mail associated with my blog was completely overlooked. I mean, I forgot about it >.< Come the cooler weather and somehow, in with that crisp wind, I remembered that e-mail and thought I should probably check it (expecting a lot of spam). Sitting there for a good 2 months was an e-mail asking me to design a sweater for Tolt. I wrote back immediately apologizing for my very tardy response and saying I would have loved to but assumed it was far too late. To my complete surprise and excitement, if I could come up with a design in the following month, the offer still stood so I immediately jumped on the opportunity – so grateful that they took the chance on me!
I often have a lot of ideas of the clothes I’d love to create. Dancing around in my head for a very long time has been a medieval inspired Icelandic Tunic/dress. I imagined wearing it over tights for fall hiking as well as a cute style dress for wandering around town / country side / sea side – wherever! I never took the time to make this pattern because I have always had long list of projects for the past 5 years which stopped me from reaching these distant dream projects. When asked – I thought it was the perfect moment for tackling this one! We also made an option for a regular sweater size in the case that you don’t want to make it a tunic 🙂
So, while reading Sigrid Undset (a Norwegian novelist who wrote about life in Medieval Norway) and wandering the beautiful fall landscape of Prince Edward Island….. I started knitting….
The MIÐALDA sweater is made using Léttlopi wool, which is a light 100 % Icelandic wool. It is by far my favourite wool of all time!! I have discussed this many times but just a little bit more about my love for Icelandic wool…. it’s coarse, sturdy and soft at the same time time. When I was a teenager – I was slightly obsessed with Iceland. My sister in the mid-90s loved Björk. I use to go in her room and just stare at photographs of Björk with ram horns on her head, thinking she was so strange but so cool! When I was 4, I would watch Björk videos (my favourite being Human Behaviour). All while my mom would dress me up in Icelandic wool cardigans to go play outside. I obviously never made the connection as a child but as a teenager, Sigur Ros and Björk were consistently in my disc-man, with me on the way to school or out on night walks. When our internet got a little bit faster, I started to collect photographs of Iceland and sweaters. I was amazed that it seemed to be a culture of knitters everywhere! A culture so defined by the amazing natural landscape, in love with literature and reading, knitting… a dream place (many people ask if I have Icelandic ancestry when in fact I have none, I’m Canadian of Irish, Scottish, Basque ancestry).
Anyway, to make a possibly long story short, my love for knitting and Iceland naturally saw me knitting Icelandic sweater after Icelandic sweater with my favourite wool – Léttlopi. I never followed knitting patterns because of the way I learned to knit (my mom just taught me and guided me through making garments) so it was only natural that I started to design my own yokes for my re-imagined Icelandic sweaters. I’m so happy I did because it has been a real joy in my life.
And perhaps I went off on a little tangent, so back to this specific design!
The colours used are ROUGH SEAS for the body, OATMEAL for the small design, BEIGE for the main colour in the yoke and RUST for the runic / tree design (I’m always adding these designs – I think they remind me more of traditional designs in folk clothing. I like simplicity in knitting with Icelandic wool but I also like that throwback to designs found in medieval manuscripts. In university, I studied art history – my favourite topics being medieval manuscripts as well as Celtic/Nordic design. My designs generally are always inspired by the images and craftsmanship that I use to pour over. I also decided that the ribbing would be in a different colour and for this particular sweater, I chose Black. It’s pretty subtle but the possibilities are of course endless 🙂 I love these colours together but imagine so many more.
There are 2 options for the shape of the sweater. The first is the tunic/ dress style that you see featured in the photographs. This design features a bit of shaping around the waist. The second option, is more in line with a regular Icelandic sweater without any body shaping. This second option uses less wool.
After many hours knitting and planning… I finally completed the sweater at the end of October 2020. Due to using my wrists for so many other things – I can’t knit as much as I use to since it does take me a bit longer to knit a sweater. Because this sweater has an extra long body, it did take me around a full month to knit it and write the pattern. Writing the pattern was a real challenge for me so am very grateful for the hard workers at Tolt. The sweater came out really just as I had dreamed up back during my school days, surrounded by books about Medieval art and Celtic history. My hope is that you enjoy making this sweater and that it will serve you or the wearer along many meaningful moments in life.
I really hope you enjoyed this post and that you like the design I knit up for you. The pattern can be found on the Tolt website or you can search “Icelandic Wool Month Tolt” on google to find the pattern if the link isn’t working for you.
I will have to be self-isolating for the next 2 weeks on PEI after spending time in Nova Scotia so will be definitely (this time without a doubt!!) getting Pangur Ban up. We just have a few tweaks to make and for the most part, the pattern has been written. Look out for that post on instagram for the announcement in the coming weeks 🙂
Many, Many blessings friends. Wishing you a peaceful end to this season.