Sorry it’s been a bit since I last posted. Busy period at work… a 40+ hour work week leaves less time for knitting and writing.
Now, yes, this is “Confessions of a Male Knitter.” But today I don’t really have any confessions to make, except perhaps that I didn’t knit a stitch the past 4 days… I think that’s a record. OK yes, I’ll confess something — I don’t feel “right” if I don’t knit at least an hour every day. I know, an hour isn’t much (trust me, I usually will knit 8-12 hours a day on weekends). So this week, I’ve been out of sorts a bit. But here’s something to cheer me (and you) up a bit: a Designer Spotlight.
If you haven’t heard of Lars Rains, you will. His design work is taking off, and I hear rumors there’s another book in the pipeline. I first “met” Lars through a men’s knitting group on Facebook. We messaged, we shared posts and I have to confess, I enjoy meeting so many men who knit, even virtually. I feel like I belong to a loving community. So supportive!
As fate would have it, I had the great good fortune to meet Lars in person, or as they say on Twitter, IRL, haha. Stitches West, an enormous knitting/crochet show held annually in Santa Clara, CA is a great outing for those of us who tend to be reclusive. Lars attended SW this year to sign copies of his first book, Modern Lopi: One. I spent a lovely hour or so chatting with Lars (not always about knitting — all that was lacking was a nice cocktail and some good music and it would’ve been a great night out for friends!). For the first time, I got to feel some traditional Icelandic wool. Now, I know the stories: Icelandic wool is very scratchy against the skin; it’s hard to get in the US; it’s expensive, yadda, yadda, yadda. Well, Lars clued me in on several of these. Icelandic wool will soften up with washing and wear… And let that be a lesson to you who don’t bother to block your pieces (yes, I’ve talked to way too many knitters who never block!) — WASH YOUR KNITTING! Give it the full-soak with a good wool wash made for handknits. That Icelandic wool will soften up nicely (remember, don’t agitate it — it will felt).
Now, finding Alafosslopi, Lettlopi, etc. in the US is not a quick run to your LYS (unless you’ve somehow convinced your dealer to carry it). However, you CAN order these great fibers from stockists in the US and Canada (couldn’t really tell you about other countries, but that’s what Google was made for). Istex in Iceland will ship to the US. Yes, international shipping/postage is pricy, but isn’t your knitting worth it? I ordered my first Lopi book directly from Istex and it arrived very quickly and if I recall, was reasonably priced.
Lars has been knitting 20+ years. Terrifying to think that his very FIRST knitting piece was a Lopi cardigan! In his words:
I had no ideas you weren’t supposed to start with something so complicated; I just figured that all I had to do was follow the instructions and I’d be fine.
Confession time: How many of us have done the same thing at the beginning of our knitting careers? I know I did. Knit 3 swatches and sin no more.
We’ve all seen those gorgeous Icelandic sweaters (and the hunks who wear them). But damn, don’t they look complicated? Now, if you haven’t ever attempted one of these, make a vow to yourself to give one a try. Lopapeysa is probably one of the EASIEST sweater constructions to knit! If you can knit in the round, do the basic shaping stitches, and do stranded colorwork, you can knit a lopapeysa! I knit one up about a year ago (my first time doing stranded colorwork and first time working a sweater in the round) — let me tell you that was the most fun I’d had knitting at the time! That sweater flew off my needles, and I finished it up in record time. Now, if I didn’t work full time and could devote myself to just knitting, I could’ve finished that sweater in a couple days or so. So don’t panic when you see some gorgeous lopi sweater pattern. Dive in and fall in love! I should mention that I knitted that first lopi in a superwash wool. I get more compliments on that sweater, and more offers to commission one like it, than any other sweater I own (purchased or made).
Lars has divided Modern Lopi: One into 4 sections; each section containing designs using one of 4 weights of Icelandic wool (Léttlopi (worsted), Alafosslopi (chunky), Bulkylopi (bulky), and Einband (Icelandic version of lace weight). There are beautiful designs for men and women, as well as accessories. In my opinion, some of his “women’s” sweater designs would work just fine and dandy as a man’s sweater.
All of the pieces in the book are modern takes on traditional Icelandic designs and constructions. There are construction notes for the garments and any special techniques have their own section. I loved the designs, of course, but having any special techniques (and some very common things as well) explained clearly and thoroughly is a special bonus.
There are gorgeous color photos by Gale Zucker throughout the book (not to mention, gorgeous models), and full-color charts for the stranded colorwork. In my humble opinion, this book will make your first lopapeysa easy and fun; a great introduction to the world of Icelandic knitting.
To Purchase Modern Lopi: One visit www.modernlopi.com
Lars Rains is a retired New York City police officer, now working as a special education teacher in Queens, NY, and teaching knitting. He can be found on Ravelry as ModernLopi.
But Wait! There’s MORE!
As a special gift to one of you lucky devils, Lars has offered to gift a digital copy (PDF) of Modern Lopi: One. To enter, simply comment on this post (or if you like, ask Lars a question and I’ll send it to him) by JULY 31, 2016. Please include your Ravelry ID in your comment. Winner will be chosen at random from all comments. And while you’re entering to win, be sure to follow this blog. Keep up with all the latest confessions, techniques and tips, and some humor too! And if you like these ramblings, please share with your knitting friends, or the knit-curious in your life.
Until next time, Keep Knitting!