I am working on Siv, from the book Viking Patterns for Knitting by Elsebeth Lavold. I am using the cable chart from page 22, rather than the one from page 19 as the directions say, since the pattern begins on page 20. I — I think naturally — used the chart that followed the picture, rather than one that appeared to be from the previous sweater. But it is characteristic of this book that it would do something so counter-intuitive as to give the pattern chart before the sweater pattern. It also requires you to learn a new charting system and new stitches. Never mind. The sweaters are beautiful. The pattern chart I am using is based on a design found on a harness plate in Stavanger, Norway, and a bone fragment in York.
The entire book is based on the notion that, had Vikings knitted, they might have used the same kinds of motifs in their knitting as in their other decorative arts. Lavold figured out how to use cables to recreate Viking motifs, and in the process designed a bunch of gorgeous sweaters. The sweaters are embedded in a book about archaeology, Vikings, sword hilts, Norwegian chairs, etc. Lavold assures us that knitters need “more systematic research.” I am not at all sure that knitters need systematic research, but she has certainly provided some, whether we need it or not. And her patterns are amazing.
This is not my first Viking sweater. I made one before, using a sweater pattern from Big Fish, Little Fish and the chart for St. John’s cross. I made it from a wonderful New England wool, deep indigo with slubs of various bright colors. My husband washed and dried it in the machine. Once I recover from the trauma, I intend to finish felting it and make some cushion covers or something. However, I am using Woolease sport weight for my new sweater, just in case.
I am not a yarn snob. Nonetheless, I think there is no point in putting in hours knitting (especially hours and hours doing Viking patterns) and ending up with something that will not last or look good. So I believe in using good quality yarn. And I think Woolease is a good quality yarn, on the basic end of the spectrum. I found the stuff I’m currently using at half-price and bought it all up. It is a soft green, and I had originally thought I would use it for a spring sweater, probably a Fair Isle. I made it up using a “plus-size” pattern which turned out to be designed for a gorilla rather than a buxom woman, so I frogged it and started again. Surely the Vikings would have been equally frugal and resourceful, had they had any Woolease or any idea of knitting it.
My youngest is off on a Summer Institute in which he will study trebuchet physics and build medieval siege weapons. The older boy is spending his days playing a MMP online fantasy game in which he takes on the character of a somewhat medieval warrior. My eldest is doing the same while her husband is on the night shift. And I am knitting a Viking sweater.