Knooked Icelandic Jersey

Who gave me the idea

When it comes to crocheting, knitting, or knooking, men’s garments have been most appealing to me. So I feel happily surprised when the younger generation comes up with inspiring me for something to knit, especially if it is a 25-year-old guy from my family who likes knitted cardigans and jerseys that are either trendy or have never got out of fashion. My relative was quite excited to tell me that he had seen that awesome kind of jersey on the web, showed me a picture on his phone, and asked me whether I could make something like that for him. The guy in the picture wore an Icelandic Jersey that had that typical and rich fair-isle pattern yoke, and both the jersey and the guy looked nothing but gorgeous. I was all in for it!

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Finding the right pattern

There are tons of various Icelandic fair-isle patterns out there. I did some research on the web and eventually bumped into Tandaradeii’s blog (German) where I could find an Icelandic Jersey design that I really liked. The blogger used that lovely “Afmæli” knitting pattern created by Védís Jónsdóttir (Ístex). It offers fairly comprehensive instructions and a clear colour chart for the yoke as well as for the hip and wrists detail. It includes versions for men, women, and children, and can be downloaded from this Ístex Lopi Ravelry page for free.

Transferring the pattern on Knooking and making adaptions

Before making a jersey for my 25-year-old relative, I decided to first make one for myself as a trial run based on the information for size M of the men’s version. My challenge was to transfer the knitting pattern on knooking. Also, the pattern provides instructions for working the jersey bottom-up while I preferred making it top-down, so I had to use the colour chart upside down and basically read the instructions from the end to the beginning.

As I do not think that you can buy the Icelandic wool used in the pattern here in South Africa, I tried to find a suitable local uni-colour yarn based on the gauge and needle size information of the pattern. Eventually I chose Harmony from African Expressions. It is a nice and affordable 100% lambswool yarn that comes in a great colour variety, too.

After having completed the gauge, I realized that the width matched with the pattern, but that I needed to work two more rows for the height. However, that was not really a problem. Roger from Orion Wool & Crafts shop in Oranjezicht (Cape Town) where I bought the Harmony yarn said that the most important thing was that the width was right, so the garment will not be too tight or too loose, while the height was easy to adapt on the go. So for the fair-isle yoke pattern I just followed the information on the M version for the width and on the XL version for the height. After having done my maths, this worked out perfectly.  I tweaked a few more things, such as the collar which I didn’t work double length to fold it up and sew it onto the flip side. I also needed more rows to get the necessary length of sleeves, so I adapted the decrease scheme for the sleeves to meet my needs.

Features and challenges

The Islandic jersey of this pattern is worked in the round, both the torso and the sleeves, so the fair-isle pattern can seemlessly cover chest and shoulders. It is basically made in one piece, and you will not need to sew any parts together. You first knit the torso and the sleeves separately, until you reach the underarm, and then you join the three parts by just knitting over them. Any holes created can be closed later by using the thread of the ends which need to be sewn in anyway. So the most challenging part of the pattern was indeed the passage that is about the transition from the sleeves to the yoke. First I needed to understand the way you would knit it. I had to read it over and over again, until the penny had dropped. Also, I had to transfer the concept of the transition to working top-down (and using knooking at the same time). I eventually figured it out and realized that coming from the top would actually save me grafting underarm stitches together, which you need to do as one of the finishing steps when coming from the bottom. However, I have no clue how Tandaradeii, as she says in her blog, managed to complete a whole Islandic jersey within one week. That is amazingly quick! As far as I am concerned, it took me a couple of weeks to finish the jersey in my sparetime.

This trial was really fun, and I am pretty proud of the result. I am definitely looking forward to making another one for my relative.

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