Freydis Eiriksdottir and a new Lopapeysa

If you’ve ever had a course in creative writing, you’ve probably heard of the adage “Show, don’t tell”. This time, however, I simply have to tell a little story before I can show you my new sweater…  

In the first decade of the 11th century, something remarkable happened. European colonists, long before the famous Columbus would even be born, found a mysterious, vast and rich continent to the west of the Ocean. These events are described in The Saga of Eirik the Red, whose main character is, you might have guessed it, not Eirik the Red. Though Eirik does discover Greenland over the span of a few chapters, the mainland Americas are left to another generation. Instead, Eirik is the common link between the five protagonists who actually do discover America: his sons Leif and Thorvald* Eiriksson, his son-in-law Thorfin* Karlsefni, his servant Thorhall* the Pagan, but most remarkably, his daughter Freydis.

*There’s a nice rythm to these names, isn’t there?

After Leif Eiriksson is blown off course by a storm and thus accidentally discovers Vinland, it’s Freydis and her husband Karlsefni who instigate a new expedition to find and colonize the land. They leave together with Thorhall and Thorvald, and a great group of men and women. After a long quest, they find a suitable place to settle. There, they are surprised to find Skraelingar already living in this new land. Swiftly, the Norse settlers manage to set up trade with these natives, trading Norse red-dyed cloth for fur and food. One day, however, a Norse bull, driven mad by the constant waving of red cloth, escapes and attacks the native traders, who promptly flee the scene.

The Skraelingar come back, this time to wage war on the settlers. The bull, they reason, was one of the Norsemen and attacked them on purpose. The fight is fierce: the natives, though lightly armed, have an overwhelming numerous advantage over the settlers. The fierce Vikings are routed and turn to flee, until the first lady of the expedition, the by now pregnant Freydis, comes out of her hut, scolding her male relatives: “Such gallant lads as you, I thought you would have knocked them on the head like cattle. Why, if I had a weapon, I think I could put up a better fight than any of you!”. Freydis proceeds to pick up the sword of a fallen Viking, and indeed puts up quite the fight. When she is finally in danger of being overwhelmed, she put up a final show of defiance: according to the saga, Freydis “pulled out her breasts from under her clothes, and slapped the naked sword on them, at which the Skraelings took fright and ran of to their boats”.

Through this unconventional act of heroism, Freydis saved the Norse settlers. Deciding however that this land was apparently already ruled by a foreign people, the Vikings turn homewards to Greenland. Although the pattern is actually named after a different Icelandic Saga, I thought it fitting to name my latest Lopi-sweater after this rare Viking heroine.

Pattern: Grettir
Designer: Jared Flood
 Collection: Brooklyn Tweed Winter 2013
Yarn: Istex Lett Lopi
Raveled here

I made this jumper in Istex Lett Lopi instead of the Brooklyn Tweed the pattern calls for. Mainly because I take any excuse to make a jumper in my favourite yarn, especially when the Icelandic inspiration jumps at you from the pattern. In any case Brooklyn Tweed yarns aren’t available in mainland Europe so I had to use a different yarn anyway. I used a beautiful deep dark red shade from lett lopi that I had in my stash for quite a while. I initially planned to use it for a different sweater, but that design lost its appeal to me. I saved it waiting for the appeal to come back. Unfortunately it never did, so I just embraced it and finally busted it out of its box to be used for this design. I’m so glad I did! I can’t get over how gloriously red the colour is! It also convinced me that I need more red sweaters. Because of the striking main colour I opted for a subtle yoke. I’m absolutely besotted with the sweater and have worn it almost non stop since I casted it off.

I have made many Icelandic jumpers before, but this one was a bit different. It incorporates some less traditional techniques in the designs that I have not encountered in  in any of the (more traditional?) original Icelandic patterns. Some I of these I adopted for my version, such as the short-rows. Other design elements I left out or altered because I did not like the look of them, or because they seemed a very difficult way of achieving something relatively simple, such as the tubular cast on method. I left the of the high collar off, as I dislike dislike sweaters with a cowl attached to it. Instead I knitted a ribbed neckband.

The pictures of this sweater were taken after a particularly heavy snowfall earlier this month. Here at the Treehouse we made the most of this glorious occasion by having lots of magical walks in the snow under a starry night sky, having even more snow fights, getting epically stuck in train traffic and seizing the opportunity to take project pictures in the snow. Sadly it was already on it’s way out when we took these, but ah well, you can’t have it all. Aside from this particular snow week  and the snow we had during Christmas, our winter has been confusingly mild. Since January, February and the beginning of March are usually our coldest months it may well be that we’re in for some more snow later. We’ll see.

I hope you liked my little story about Freydis Eiriksdottir, if you are into (old) literature of the legend and myth kind, I definitely recommend it. I certainly plan on reading more of the Icelandic and Scandinavian Viking sagas. Similarly I plan to make many more Icelandic sweaters during the rest of my merry life, but that should come as no surprise.


12 thoughts on “Freydis Eiriksdottir and a new Lopapeysa

  1. What a gorgeous sweater! I might have to add that to my rav queue. Your colour choices are perfect, I love the stunning red with the more subtle yoke.

    And what a great story! Thanks for sharing. šŸ™‚

  2. Prachtig, wat een mooie kleuren en patroon. Het staat je erg goed en super mooi gemaakt. En voor deze heerlijk warme trui een prachtige natuurlijke achtergrond met de sneeuw.
    Groetjes Margot

  3. Thanks everyone!

    I didn't think I could pull off red hair and a red sweater, but now I'm convinced that I need to make more knits with red yarn! šŸ™‚

    Thanks Heather! I loved making this sweater and I recommend the pattern! It was well written and easy to follow. Let me know if you decide to make it!

    xxx Nisse

  4. Lovely sweater! The red suits you very well. I still have hope for colder weather as February is supposed to be the coldest month here in Germany as well. So far winter has been a bit disappointing – and way to warm for Icelandic sweaters… Very interesting story btw.!

  5. Good morning. Just landed on your blog. Just starting out learning fair isle and will return to read your wonderful posts. Thank you.

  6. That's really nice to hear, you're very welcome šŸ™‚
    Colour work has been my absolute favourite thing to do ever since I learned it, I hope you'll enjoy it just as much!

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