Knitting Farfuglar “Migrating Birds” Icelandic Wool Sweater Pattern

This new sweater pattern is from the Lopi 40 book which I bought along with some Lettlopi yarn recently. I want a light blue sweater with white accents and Farfuglar is the pattern I chose. It means “migrating birds”. The sweater shown in the book uses my same choice of colors (air blue and white) as I chose, but in the opposite way. The yoke can also have more colors in another version.

Lopi 40 is full of Icelandic designs knit with Lopi wool and apparently it is one of the newer books.

This Farfuglar pattern, and other patterns in the book, can also be purchased separately. (This link goes to Ravelry.)

The Farfuglar Learning Curve

I purchased bunches of the Lettlopi yarn variety which is aran weight. The first pattern I chose was one by Jennifer Steingass. After beginning the sleeve twice, and not being happy, I gave up and moved on. That is when I chose this pattern from the Lopi book: Farfuglar, or “Migrating Birds”.

I knit a flat gauge swatch which matches the required gauge for the sweater. I know that garments knit in the round should have swatches knit in the round, but oh well, I didn’t do that.

The pullover is knit bottom up. I have begun knitting one of the sleeves and really like the way this yarn looks and feels. The pattern uses the same two colors I chose, white and “Air blue”, but the sample sweater is mainly white with blue accents whereas mine will be the opposite. The colorwork chart is in five colors because there are two ways to knit this sweater. As I knit the chart I will convert it to two colors in my head.

The patterns in Lopi 40 are Icelandic and measurements are given as centimeters. Needle sizes are also mentioned in mm except at the beginning of the pattern where they give the US size also.

Increases and Decreases

After the sleeve ribbing is finished, we are told to increase around evenly to end up with correct stitches for the colorwork. I had to go from 42 stitches to 50. I don’t know why, but this was hard to figure out. I will have to do something similar at the neckband except it will be decreases! Oh Boy….

Had to decrease at the neckline from 100 to 84 stitches evenly around. This strained my brain, but I did it.

Learning New Things

Two new (to me) types of decreases are also mentioned: KRPR (right leaning) and SKP (left leaning) – both links go to pages at the New Stitch a Day site where videos show the process.

I’m not a super experienced sweater knitter, but I have finished a few. Most have been top-down knits, but this is a bottom up. The underarm stitches need to be grafted together when finishing, which I’ve never done, that I recall. The pattern doesn’t say how to accomplish this, but I found this page at Laura Chau that explains Grafting Underarm Stitches. It uses the Kitchener Stitch, which I have done.

Joining Sleeves to Body – Notes for the Inexperienced (Me)

I’ve only knit one other sweater bottom up which means the sleeves and body must be joined. It’s not difficult, but for me, drawing out a diagram while reading the directions was helpful. I got a better picture for how this would happen. I also placed a pink marker on the front section so I would know front from back.

I’ll keep this for future reference and noted needle sizes and other hints to the paper.

Notes I made: After finishing the second sleeve, leave stitches on the needle (I used a 9-inch circular). When beginning to join, I used the longer (body needle) to knit off the sleeve needle. When I got around to the second sleeve, I put those stitches from the holder yarn onto a smaller (size 4) needle and then knit off of it. Once that happens, the whole sweater is now combined into one piece.

Needle lengths: Begin knitting the whole yoke with a 40 inch (The pattern says 32, but I found the longer needle to be easier). Changed to 32 inch farther up, and ended up with 16 inch for the neck.

Four places are on holder yarn and stitch holders for the underarms. Those will be grafted together using the Kitchener Stitch when I’m done knitting.

Now I have begun the colorwork yoke. Some of the yarn carries are quite long, so knowing how to catch floats is definitely necessary for this design. I was very excited to see the birds emerge!

Yarn Used For Size L

  • Blue Yarn total used: 8 skeins – nearly every bit of 8, so 9 is better just in case
  • White Yarn total used: less than 2 skeins

October 29th and the Sweater is Finished! See My Photo Shoot Below

At this point I was still trying to decide if that high front neckline would be okay. Without any type of short rows, the front and back of this one are exactly the same. This makes the front neckband ride on my neck. I would probably have a shirt on underneath, so I decided I could live with the neck as it is. Also, I didn’t want to risk ruining things since I am not experienced at changing knitwear designs!

The hat photos were taken in “winter” when the temps dropped to the low 40’s here in Florida. I went out to feed the birds bundled up in my woolies! (Triple-patterned watchcap, mittens, Woolfolk cowl) All other photos were taken before I washed the sweater.

I will be writing a separate blog post about how I finished off this sweater.

Learning About Lopi Wool

The sheep who provide this wool live in the harsh Iceland landscape. If their wool can keep them safe and warm during winters spent outdoors, certainly the wool in your Icelandic sweater will do the same. The yarn comes in lots of pretty colors (if you can find them in stock!) as well as natural colors such as white, gray, tan, brown and black. It comes as heathered, solids, and tweeds in various weights, including unspun yarn. The yarn is a combination of insulating and water repellant, not to mention very warm indeed! If you are not a knitter, the sweaters can be purchased already knit up.

After knitting with the Lettlopi, I found there were quite a few knots to deal with. More than most yarn I knit with, but maybe that is just the nature of the yarn.

I don’t yet have a sweater or other garment to try on so I can’t comment on the scratchiness of this yarn. Some people think it is exceptionally scratchy, but many people say the wool softens over time and gets better and better.

Finding Lettlopi and Alafosslopi Wool to Buy

As is unfortunately true these days, finding yarn can be challenging, and especially in the popular color ways.

The Lettlopi (aran) and Alafosslopi (bulky) yarn in my stash has come directly to me from Iceland and is from the Istex company. It was ordered from The Icelandic Store where they still have quite a few colors in stock. The low price of the skeins, compared to prices in the US for the same yarn, made it worth paying the high shipping rates.

My order of Alafosslopi arrived in four days..!!… and came with a little candy surprise. I have already knit up a swatch and plan to knit the Carbeth Cardigan by Kate Davies, but that plan could change.

For instance, many places in the US have Alafosslopi for around $10 a skein, or close to that price. When ordering from Iceland, each skein is $5.99, which is a big difference, and especially if you need many skeins to knit a sweater. The Lettlopi costs about $5.75 in the US compared to $2.99 each in Iceland.

Webs yarn offers big discounts if large amounts are bought, and the cost can be less in the end, but many of the colors are out of stock at the time of this writing.

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    1. Pam

      Thank you. I’ve never heard of plutonium yarn. I really love knitting with wool, and only wish I lived in a climate with a real winter season!


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