One of my favorite designs from the new winter collection is Grettir – a unisex Icelandic yoked pullover that I designed late last summer, after returning from my first-ever trip to beautiful Iceland.
The Icelandic yoke is a celebrated regional aesthetic that has seen increased global popularity in recent years. And though I’ve seen several of them in the US (in the streets of NYC, in advertising, etc), it wasn’t until I went to Iceland and witnessed these beautiful garments in their “natural habitat” that they really cast their spell over me.
Icelanders are proud of their knitting heritage, and taking a walk down any street in Reykjavik you’re likely to encounter several different variations of their signature colorwork yoke. What appealed to me most was how universal and utilitarian these garments are treated there – you’ll see them on all kinds of folks, regardless of age or profession. Even better, they look so lived-in, well-worn and loved – it is such a satisfying sight!
When I returned to the states, I resolved to research this classic yoke formula (pretty straightforward, once you get the hang of it!) and give it a go with an original design; Grettir is the result.
Another thing that really appeals to me about these designs is their versatility and ease of sizing. As long as you end up at the base of the colorwork portion with a multiple of 8 stitches on your needle, the yoke will work. Of course, yoke depth is an area that needs to be heeded (in the pattern I’ve designed four different variations of the yoke – each one slightly deeper than the next – to take care of that area).
Perhaps the best part of all, though: these are so much fun to knit! They seem to fly off your needles (at least relative to most sweater projects). Each piece is worked circularly from hem/cuff to underarm (mindless, therapy knitting if you ask me). Just when you are ready for something a little more exciting, you join your pieces together for a feast of colorwork. As you work the yoke, your rounds get smaller and smaller (faster and faster) which is certainly a motivator for the final sprint to the finish line. After the knitting is done, a simple graft at the underarms is all that’s left! No seaming, no complicated construction, just beautiful, seamless knitting at its best. (And suddenly I’m feeling the urge to make yet another.)
Both the men’s and women’s version have waist shaping: a very subtle amount for the guys, just enough to bring the waist in a touch so that there isn’t a ton of extra fabric hanging loose at the back (imperceptible when worn), and a more pronounced waist in the women’s version. The men’s yoke is deeper than the women’s as well. The schematic diagrams below show the difference between the two silhouettes.
Finally, I included two options for the neckline. I’ve had turtlenecks on the brain (I often do when it’s cold outside) so added a nice cozy one to the women’s version. If you prefer a cleaner finish, though, a rolled crew neck will be a better choice (pictured on the men’s version).
The garment uses a total of 4 colors – the main sweater color, plus 3 additional shades for the yoke. The possibilities are endless for how to combine colors here, and I could be happy just designing new combinations again and again. I’m really excited to see what colors you knitters combine!
As for the name – why Grettir? While visiting the northern coast of the country, I met a storyteller who recounted the amazing saga of Grettir – the longest surviving outlaw in Icelandic history. (Interested? More here.) I was particularly intrigued by the final chapter in the story: Grettir’s demise on the rocky cliffs of Drangey, a fortress-like stone island off the coast; an monolithic sight, visible from the very shoreline where I sat when hearing this tale.
The Grettir pullover pattern includes a range of sizes for both men and women – full specs for each version can be found here at Brooklyn Tweed or on Ravelry.com. The design uses four colors of Brooklyn Tweed Shelter.