Wool Maker Lane

knitting, spinning and life with alpacas

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Happy New Year…Happy New Jumper

Icelandic Sweater

Yes miracle of miracles I have completed my Icelandic yoke sweater in what, for me, is super quick time .  There is a reason for this….I have fractured a bone in my foot and have been under strict instructions to “Rest up.”  Easy for a consultant to say when you’ve just limped in the door but a pretty hard task when you have a busy life that doesn’t stop for broken bits and pieces .  While this ‘inconvenience’ did not prevent me from going to work it did allow me to take it easy the rest of the time with leg raised and needles clicking.  Every cloud…

This has meant that I have had lots of time to focus on the yoked sweater that I returned from Iceland enthusing about.  I had never knitted one before and really wanted to learn about the construction of such a garment.  Whilst in the Hand Knitting Association of Iceland shop in Reykjavik  I bought nine 50g balls of dark blue Léttlopi, and two 50g balls each of pale pink and sea green.

I used the Anniversary Pattern from Ístex which I downloaded for free on Ravelry.  I found the instructions to be really clear and easy to follow including the chart for the pattern.  As usual I went off piste slightly by changing some of the design.  At the base of the pullover, I simplified the colour work by using a two by two pattern in the contrasting shades.  This was because I was worried that I hadn’t got enough wool.  In fact coming up to the end I hurriedly ordered some more balls from Iceland which eventually weren’t required (hats, mitts….?)

Every part of this project seemed so easy.  My major worry was the joining of the sleeves to the body to form the yoke but it actually all worked out fine.  It did seem to take an age to get around the 272 stitches that were on the needle at one point but it was only for nineteen rows as on row 20 the first of five sets of decreases commenced.

I must say that I really loved making this jumper and work started taking a go slow towards the collar as I didn’t really want it to end.  I now have no ongoing knitting here at the moment as I try to decide whether the next pullover will be a traditional gansey style or a pullover with a yoke.


Coats are a growing


Albie and Bootsy’s coats are starting to grow back now as it has been four and a half months since they were sheared.  Luckily, for them, we have had a really mild winter up to now.  I found it very hard to get down to the field to feed them with the bad foot so one particularly dark, muddy evening I decided to put their feed in the boot of my car and drive down to them.  All was going well until I got the car stuck in a ditch and had to get a local farmer to pull the car out the following day.

Left legged spinning


As my left leg is now the main shaker around here I have had to train it to work the treadle on the spinning wheel.  I’m getting better at it I must say as the spinning wheel now remains stationary rather than being pushed towards the middle of the floor by an over zealous foot.  I would really love to make my next knitting project from Albie’s fleece so there will be plenty of spinning going on now that the left leg is as good as the right used to be!



The Woollyness of Iceland

For a wool enthusiast Iceland is a very interesting place to visit.  Firstly the sheep seem to be sporting a phenomenal amount of fleece on their backs which no doubt they will need for the coming winter.


Having so many of these woolly beings means that Iceland produces a lot of wool.  The greatest thing about this is that it is so easy to buy.   Most supermarkets that we visited had an aisle dedicated to wool crafts.


All of the wool that I saw was indigenous.  The most common wool on sale was Icelandic Lopi and  for the most part it was extremely cheap.

Wool could also be bought at the Handknitting Association of Iceland in Reykjavik. This very busy shop is full of tourists who come here to buy their yoke sweaters.


As you can see from the picture there are hundreds to choose from in all colours and sizes and each one has been handknitted.

I decided to take the plunge and have a go at my own yoke sweater so I bought some Léttlopi (which means light lopi) and made a start on the plane back to Belfast.


One thing I was a little surprised about was how coarse Lopi wool is.  It’s not too difficult to knit with although it is two ply and occasionally the needle will just knit into one of the plies and I find myself undoing the stitch and starting again.  This means that I really have to watch the knitting and not go into autopilot when carrying on a conversation or watching t.v.  Once knit up the jumper should be fine if it is over a layer so that it doesn’t feel too ‘scratchy.’

Knitting away from home

My hands certainly weren’t idle during the long car rides that we made.  I brought over a cabled swatch that I had started in the summer time.  I enjoyed making it so much that I couldn’t stop until I had thought of something to do with it….and yes of course it became a gorgeous hat which I am now crazy about!


I knitted this using Blarney Woollen Mills Aran Handknitting Wool.  The cabled band was made with size 4.5 mm needles.  I sewed up the ends and then with 5 mm needles I picked up the stitches and knitted away merrily decreasing when I came to the crown.

Although I was miles away it felt good to still be working on something from home.



Iceland- What a geography lesson..

Last week, for a very special birthday, I was treated to a trip to Iceland. We took a two hour flight from Belfast to Keflavik, which is about 40km west of Iceland’s capital Reykjavik.  The first thing that we were struck by was the difference in the landscape.   As we’d expected it seemed very rugged and quite barren but never short of a natural feature to interest the eye.

We stayed in an apartment in the centre of Reykjavik.  Like all capital cities this is a very busy place.  There was lots of construction going on and many many tourists even for the month of October.  Most of the visitors seemed to hail from the U.S. and China.  Occasionally we heard an Irish accent or recognised faces from our plane trip over.


Being based in Reykjavik was great.  We hired a car which meant that we could visit lots of the interesting geographical features of the country which were close by.


We visited Geysir which is basically a large field full of bubbling geysirs of varying sizes. All of the geysirs have different names and varying time lapses between each eruption e.g. the one shown above, which is the original geysir, only erupts about once every ten years.


It’s nearby neighbour, Strokkur, erupts about once every 7 minutes.  We sat on a nearby bench and admired it’s spouting burst of boiling water a number of times during our visit.


Waterfalls are a common feature of the Icelandic landscape.  When we came across the first waterfall we were totally in awe by the sheer size of it.  The volume and the speed of the water was breathtaking.   We took numerous photos from all angles.  By day two we realised that waterfalls were everywhere and although we enjoyed looking at them the cameras stayed in our pockets.


The Thingvellir National Park is a rift valley where the North American and the Eurasion tectonic plates are drifting apart.  It was here that the first Icelandic Parliament took place, where laws were passed and (very nasty) punishments carried out.


Volcanic material was in evidence in many places that we visited.


At this spot, in Laufskálavarda, a farm was destroyed by volcanic activity in 894.  By tradition everybody passing by for the first time picks up a stone and places it on one of the mounds.


During our short time we walked on glaciers in the dark hence the lack of photos (absolutely not to be recommended safety wise), and we chased the Northern Lights, catching only a teasing glimpse…

Iceland is one incredible place.

More to come…