Tuesday, 10 February 2015

FO: Riddari, with an acceptable amount of buldge

I have spent way too much time on this beast.  

The actual knitting took me no time- maybe two weeks start to finish?- and it looked just dandy until I took the scissors to it.

The idea of it was an Icelandic-style jumper done in 100% British Wools:  it was fascinating to combine these wools, to get a feel for each one.  The Black Welsh was the roughest to work with- it's rustic and full of lanolin, but it will look like new forever.  The grey Suffolk was a bit softer, but I obsessively picked wires of guard hairs out of it.  The moorit Shetland, lovely and lofty, the BFL silky and soft.  Each is their natural color, making a nice sample of the natural variety of colorful sheep.  I dubbed this "the Cod Wars" sweater- the UK had a series of bullying encounters with Iceland over fishing rights in the rich waters around Iceland, and from the 1950's to the late 70's, the UK would send trawlers there under the protection of warships to fish around Iceland.

 Like I said, the problems started when I took the scissors to the front.  See, the pattern was written for a much lighter weight yarn, but I loved the yoke pattern so much that I did the math and followed the instructions for a child's extra small size knit in a rather tight gauge.  The fabric is dense and impenetrable to wind and water, but perhaps a bit to warm for anyplace but Iceland.  A bit of air conditioning was in order and I decided to run a crochet steek up the front, snipped it into a cardigan and installed a vintage brass zipper.  That's when I started having big problems.

The zipper would not lay flat, creating big lumps and bumps up the front.  Huge ones.  After twice hand-picking and trying to ease the lumps out, frantic calls to tailors and friends were made.  I debated trying to sew it back up and save it as a cardigan, but the colorwork would have looked all wrong.  I decided to outsource, and took it to Susan at Sharpworks down in Herne Hill.  Susan wouldn't do it for me, but advised me to take out the crochet steeks, which was adding a tight line of stitches and extra fabric that was distorting things.  She also advised me to stretch the fabric taught along the zipper to minimize the zipper tape bunching.

I went home, took out the crochet steeks, and eased the zipper in one more time, trying to stretch out the lumps without turning it into a dress.

Ta dum!  An acceptable amount of bulges!  Since I had to stretch the fabric, it's a bit longer then I intended- I could have stretched it more and ended up with a dress.  It's not perfectly flat, but it doesn't look like a tumor is growing under there either.  Oh!  and it's warm enough to be outerwear.  And you know, now that I've been struggling with this for more than a month now, I've noticed that a fair amount of commercially made zip-up sweaters have zippers that don't like perfectly flat as well, so instead of drowning in a river of tears of frustration, I said this is good enough and walked away.

The kicker?  No way no how are Icelandic Lopapeysa traditional to Iceland.  They were developed in the 1950's to make use of the abundance of Icelandic wool, and they are based on styles of traditional knitwear from far-off places suck as Turkey, Sweden, South America, and Greenland.  They quickly became a favorite of tourist and locals alike.

 I do need to clean up my edges a little bit more- I don't have a perfectly clean line running up the front.  What's a few more hours with needle and thread?  I promise you I won't un-pick the zipper again.  Part of the raggedness around the edges are due to the fact that I've tinkered with this way too much and edges began to fray at the same rate as my temper.      

 It's not going to get cold enough here in the South of England to ever need something this fantastically wooly.  A trip to Iceland is in order, or perhaps, one day, a Maine winter will be endured.

The pattern is Riddari.  The yarn is Rowan British Sheep Breeds Chunky, a yarn much bulkier than what was called for in the pattern, but I've been determined to knit down my stash instead of reaching for my bank card every time the urge to knit a sweater hits.


  1. Oh well done you!!! Look at that zipper! Very glad you found someone who could give useful advice on how to proceed :)

  2. Bravo. Well done for persisting. It looks great.

  3. Thank you both! It feels really nice to have it folded up and tucked into the closet, and not strewn across the chair giving me the hairy eyeball, angry about its unfinished state.