We went back to Iceland! My twin sister and I decided that we didn’t want to spend our 30th birthday on the separate coasts that we live. We came up with various plans, but when it came down to it realized that we actually wanted to go back to Iceland and do it right this time. Not time our trip to the end of Airwaves, when the good citizens of Reykjavik have had more than their fill of tourists. Get out of the city and see more of the landscape. Interact with more people, avoid the paid tours and stay in a variety of places. We shuffled days and planned work absences and managed to get 8 glorious days driving around the ring road. Inspired by the rather fantastic tourism campaign Inspired By Iceland (and particularly this video) we thought it’d be fun to make a goofy video while we drove around the country.

We took a ton of photos, too. The whole album is up over on flickr, but here are a few of my favorites.

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Please ignore darkness and mess in the background

My Icelandic Sweater is finally finished! I made it with wool bought in Vik, Iceland, and combined various patterns from the book “Knitting with Icelandic Wool.’ I cast on the Regla pattern, made the bottom and cuffs with the design from Bára and finished off with the yoke from æði.

Lopi

I just want to say, knitting with Lopi s a dream. Sure, it sheds a bit, but the stuff sticks together really nicely and the weight I had knit in a flash. So fast, in fact, that when I decided to rip out a whole bunch of my knitting to nearly start over (I went back to the bottom ribbing and re-did the pattern with a more even hand) I didn’t even really mind the re-knitting time. I added some shaping to the pattern- waist shaping on the sides and a few rows of a short-row bust increase just below the yoke. In hind sight I probably didn’t need to add those, since the sweater blocked out kind of bulky, but I’m still glad I experimented with it. I don’t understand some people’s resistance to short row shaping. Its really not that tough! And adds shape in specific spots instead of in the sweater overall, which is nice.

The sleeves probably took me the longest, because I knew as soon as I finished them it was time to decide what yoke pattern to use. Eventually I settled on the æði, copied the page and stuck it in to my bag of knitting. Which of course I didn’t check when I went to my Mom’s over Christmas, and ended up stalled with no more white Lopi, and a fresh new skein of it mocking me at hope. Alas. Probably would have blasted through the whole thing over the holiday!

Almost finished….

Got home, dug out the rest of my yarn and knit away. I thought I’d have tons of time what with the holidays, but turns out freelance work picks up when the end of the year is near! Curled up and finished over the weekend with one important step left- the dreaded STEEK! For those unaware, steeking is when you knit something in the round (often patterns that would be frustrating to purl) and then cut it apart to add button bands or sleeves or a neck hole. So yeah. You cut into your knitting- a very definite point-of-no-return. I don’t like those. I’ve had projects that were ‘finished’ that I frogged and re-made…. and this wool was from Iceland! I can’t exactly pop over to my LYS and get some more to fix it. So I fretted. I googled steeking for reassurance. I slightly freaked out because everthing I found mentioned a 5-stitch pattern to contain the steek. I had one purl stitch. I tried a line of sewing to reinforce, as most of the sites I found suggested. Unfortunately, I couldn’t really tell where my purl stitch was on the wrong side because of the floats from my pattern, and ended up sewing a terribly wonky line. Some care with a seam ripper and I was back to square one- freaking out. Honestly I would have even left it as a pull over, but that one line of purl stitches would have driven me crazy. Eventually I found the delightful Ragga’s video over on Craftsy. Icelandic wool! And one purl stitch!

The Dreaded Steek

No mention of what to do about my floats though. So I did the crochet reinforcement she showed. Perhaps I should have used a smaller hook, it was a bit bulky, but I was impatient and couldn’t find a better size. Not content to have the reinforcement, I followed Kate Davies’ instructions for the “Steek Sandwich” as far as I could before cutting. Then freaked out some more. Finally took a pair of shears to my dear knitting. They say once you steek you realize how easy it is. I don’t know that I had quite that reaction. I diligently finished the button bands and did a nice I-cord bind off/button hole. And then… tired it on and felt like I was going to be ill. The whole thing fit so nicely before I cut it and added the extra width the button band! Wanted to cry, babbled a lot to Chris and then dumped it in a bowl of water to block. Those damn button bands took AGES to dry but once they did I tried it on again. The sweater had settled into itself nicely! Still kinda bulky, but not in a bad way. Wearing it is like wearing a nice warm blanket. The buttons are a bit oddly spaced, but oh well. Finally finished!!!