Once upon a time, many years ago, a dear friend took a vacation in Iceland. Those were the times when I would be seen knitting through the Delhi summer. Of course, that knitting would be in comfortable, cool, air-conditioned spaces of waiting rooms and offices, metro trains, cars stuck in traffic jams, and long chat sessions with friend in Cafe Coffee Day outlets. Those were the times when my friends would look at knitting needles, or pattern books, or yarn shops and think of me. Those were good times.
While refuelling at far-flung gas stations on Icelandic highways, my dear friend found these strange cakes of yarn stocked in supermarket shelves. Friendly sales people told her about the Icelandic tradition of knitting and how every school kid has to learn knitting as part of the curriculum. This intrigued my dear friend to part with some Icelandic Krona and bring back some yarn cakes in a patterned bag. It was the right stimulus for dreams of a lovely Icelandic, fair isle jacket to be worn in the cold climes of the Himalayas.
The cakes reached me and were promptly despatched to a quiet corner of my stash cupboard. Years ( 3) and months ( 41) have rolled past, interspersed with fits of guilt and fear ( how will I knit this strange yarn), and I have finally got my act together. A certain amount of online research and fact finding was done. I learnt that this yarn is strong and warm, but it needs to be knitted carefully.The Continental method of knitting is the preferred norm, since the normal unspun wool comes apart if pulled by the British knitting method. There is no concept of knots and ends with Unspun Icelandic yarn,one has to just moisten the ends and rub them hard to unite them. One strand of yarn is fine and friable, but knitting with two strands give the fabric substance and strength and a rather beautiful feel.
The project is moving along. I have completed a major chunk of the body, and the sleeves are being prepared for the last and best part of this sweater…the seamless fair-isle yolk in black, white and grey. After that, the steaking and the finishing details, the buttonholes and the ribbon edging, the washing and the conditioning, the blocking and the……..I am zooming into the unknown future now!
Back to the present, back to knitting carefully and consciously, back to feeling the woolly fabric and wondering if hair conditioner will do some magic, back to taking a row/a day at a time.
And back to sneaking in a tiny comfort project…knitted socks with self striping yarn… More on this at a later date.
Right now, its Iceland and its unique unspun yarn for me and you!