Hazel Afmaeli Yoke

For the final project I’ll share this year, I want to show you this autumnal lopapeysa. This jumper has been finished for a while, patiently waiting for a day when it finally was cold enough and the idea of wearing an Icelandic jumper didn’t seem anywhere between mildly ludicrous or remotely preposterous. Due to our absurdly mild autumn both it and I had to wait a lot longer for that day than anticipated or hoped for, but finally on a cold day at the end of autumn the time had come to give the lopapeysa a first outing. Over here we are well and truly through the end of autumn now and winter has made her presence felt with December frost and a fleeting snow visit. Trees have shed their coloured leaves and more and more canopies have become empty and bare. These photos though were taken at the beginning of that transitional period of autumn ending and winter being on the doorstep but not quite over it yet. So most leaves were on the ground but still splendidly coloured in orange, red, brown and yellow, and there were also quite a few still clinging on to the branches. Because of the increasingly cold weather there are fewer mushrooms to be found on this end of autumn, but in many other ways this still represents peak autumn to me. By now the forest floor has a thick, layered carpet of leaves that softly bounces along, and on wet days squash, under travellers’ feet. Many tree stumps that usually stand out from the grounds are almost hidden or levelled with the many fallen leaves. Perfect circumstances to show you this most perfectly chestnut coloured lopapeysa!

Unlike in my sewing, I don’t do a lot of repeat makes in my knitting. Part of the reason is because I have a long, long list of things I want to knit and crafty plans I want to realise so it’s very busy on the islands of project planning and cast ons. Another reason lies in the style of things I knit and the type of knitwear I like to wear. I like stranded colourwork yokes, fair isle allovers, cabled jumpers… In terms of visual impression, these often are stand out pieces. It’s a very different story with my sewing, where I don’t shirk making a beloved piece of clothing multiple times. I’m more into sewing basics and the type of sewn pieces that are easily hackable into variations. Once you have a couple of sewing patterns that you really love, it makes sense to turn to those time and again. With my knitwear on the other hand my taste is very different and I like to go all out with all the colourwork, cables, colours and knit traditions. I guess I like to dress up my sewing with my knitwear and for that I need a more basic canvas. I think I’m pretty consistent at this point with both my knitting and sewing preferences, they are just different compared to each other. That said, while I only tend to knit the exact same pattern once in a blue moon I do knit a lot in a similar style, because the heart likes what the heart likes.

This however, is a repeat make. I made my first Afmaeli jumper a few years ago in almost the exact same colours as the black adult version of the pattern. I love that particular jumper and it is hands down my most loved and most worn lopapeysa of the whole bunch of them that is residing in my wardrobe. I only took to the idea to make another version of this well loved yoke a few days before I cast on! Most of my grand making plans have to wait a bit longer for their turn because, well, I’ve… ahem… a lot of grand making plans. This one found its way onto the needles when I was slowly crawling out of a slight craft rut, when I was still making things, but less than usual and I didn’t really feel inspired or motivated. Lopapeysa have long been a sort of comfort knitting for me and they have gotten me out of much deeper ruts before so I thought it be a good project to steadily ease me back into it when my creative inspiration and motivation sprouted out of hibernation again.

Afmaeli is a free pattern by Ístex, released 10 years ago to celebrate the company’s 20th anniversary. That is the date at which a collective of mill employees and farmers bought the old Álafoss company that was collapsing at the time, the roots of their Icelandic yarn producing company go back much further, to 1896! Happily things have turned around since the 90’s and that near collapse and they recently released a special hardcover edition of their annual pattern publication to celebrate their 30th birthday!

The Afmaeli is a quintessential Icelandic jumper with stranded yoke, plain knit body and colourwork accents at the cuff. The lopapeysa is knit in the round and the pattern offers the choice of either a minimal yoke colouring with 3 colours or a multi coloured striped yoke background that uses 9 colours in total. As with my first version, I went with the multicoloured striped yoke and contrast coloured ribbing for this new version.

The size range for this pattern is not good. It might be because it is a free pattern or simply because it is an older pattern (or both or neither of course) but the range is not great. I checked the latest Ístex publication that I own (issue 40) and the size range offered there is a lot better at least. If you have your heart set on this pattern but are sized out of it at present it should be fairly straightforward to put the yoke pattern on another well fitting (Icelandic) yoke sweater and adjust the yoke as needed. The Tundra jumper could be a good candidate for such an effort I think.

I made the jumper in Ístex Léttlopi, one of my most favourite yarns. I used partial balls and leftovers from previous lopapeysa projects on all but one of the contrast colours. The main contrast colour, the black heather, is a leftover from the main colour of my first Afmaeli jumper! So that is a nice sort of echoing. The dark pine was a tiny leftover from my first lopapeysa: Var, and the same leftover has since been used in my first Riddari as well as my Telja jumper! Truly a well travelled bit of yarn! The brick red was leftover from my Grettir jumper, the golden heather was used in the same jumper as well as the original Afmaeli. The oatmeal was part of my first lopapeysa as well as my Tundra jumper. All the other colours are contrast colours that have been used in multiple lopi projects. It’s quite fun to connect them all to these older projects of mine and see them intertwined in all these different projects I did over the years. Truly a yarn that sees a lot of projects and shows how even one ball can get you a long way on different lopapeysa.

I stuck to one of the pattern’s suggested colour schemes in my first charcoal Afmaeli version but for this one I put my own colours together. I was largely guided by the colours I had in my stash of leftovers and wanted to make something work with what I already had. When I picked out these colours I was loosely guided by forest colours which later evolved to tree inspired colours. So the idea is that the body is the trunk and the background colours in the yoke are the leaves colours throughout the year and seasons. The black main contrast colour could then be the soil or dark tree bark or beetles or mushroom spores. I initially had a bright orange picked among the lot of background colours which looked nice when the balls where laid together but knit up I really didn’t like how it looked and how it gelled with the other colours. It kept pulling me out of the design. In the end I frogged those rows and replaced the orange with the oatmeal colour which I instantly liked a lot better. It still fits the theme as well as it is the colour leaves get in late winter when they are at almost the final stage of disintegrating and going back to the earth.

I worked with stash yarn for this jumper, which is nice but in this instance also a bit sad as it made me realise that quite a few of them are discontinued colours. My main colour -hazel heather, the rich red toned brown- is one of those discontinued colours as is the beautiful sage green colour. It’s super sad as they are both such beautiful and useful colours and looking at the colour range now, there isn’t a similar colour you could replace them with. It joins a small rank of colours that have been discontinued since I started knitting – Ístex’ colour range has definitely gotten a bit smaller over the years I’ve been knitting with them. I’m sure they have their reasons but as a colourwork knitter it makes me a bit sad as some of them really leave a bit of a colour void within their range and there were some beautifully and unique complex heathered colours among the lot.

I made some small changes to the colourwork pattern on the cuff, mainly to end with a completed pattern repeat and have the cuff motifs line up. In addition I shortened the neck ribbing which I did on my first Afmaeli versions as well. I didn’t make any other changes to the pattern.

When I was finished I was honestly not all that taken with the jumper. I kind of felt it coming while I was working on it and felt a bit underwhelmed about it. Not bad mind, just sort of okay, where I had expected and hoped to love the garment. As always, I enjoyed knitting with Icelandic yarn and I loved the richness of the heathered colours but that was sort of it. I was mostly going just through the motions of knitting it and I wondered, or hoped perhaps, that this feeling was still a remnant of shaking of my stagnant creative mood which I struggled with at the time of knitting. I was feeling increasingly meh about it while I was doing the finishing on the jumper and didn’t even try it on before blocking it (unheard of!). I was surprised at this, especially because this amazing colour palette suits me so well and I just wasn’t loving it.

Until I put it on that is! My feelings about the jumper made a complete u-turn. I loved it on me. It is as if it came more alive when worn or something. It’s so weird and not something I remember having felt before, certainly not so strongly. Yet, I can only be glad about it! I think the colourwork on this one, because of its dark charcoal flowers and with the more natural coloured background stripes of moody and heathered greens, golds and rusts it is a bit more subtle than my first Afmaeli version with its light oatmeal colourwork on slightly brighter rainbow stripes. I think there is room in the wardrobe for both moods. Anyway, so yeah I love it now, cautiously, but definitely love it. Finally I’m just sad that this jumper uses some lovely colours that are now discontinued, and when I run out of what little I have left that will be it for them. Obviously there are worse problems and all that, but this is a colourwork knitter’s blog where there is room to have a moment for these types of things.

Winter weather has since truly arrived in December, and the frost coating the land has had a transforming effect on the outside world. This post seems well timed, since this lopapeysa, together with my other Icelandic sweaters, has been pretty much in constant rotation since the freezing weather arrived. I hope you are all well and warm and toasty and wishing you a sparkling winter solstice (or summer solstice to our southern friends!) and to those that celebrate a very festive holiday. Thanks for reading and see you later!

2 thoughts on “Hazel Afmaeli Yoke

  1. Een schitterende kleurenwerk trui. prachtige bos en natuurkleuren. Een van je geliefde garens. Kan me voorstellen dat het je raakt dat sommige kleuren niet meer terug komen in hun collectie. Fijn dat je ze in een aantal projecten hebt verwerkt.
    Een geweldige trui om het bos mee te verkennen.

    1. Ha bedankt echt fijne trui ja! Ja super zonde dat ze een aantal mooie kleuren hebben beeindigd dus maar extra koesteren wat we er nog van hebben!

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