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FO: Japanese Lopi Sweater

I usually like to include the name of the pattern in my blog titles, but as this sweater is so sexily named #26 page 44, I simply called it Japanese Lopi Sweater. The “page 44” refers to the page number of the Japanese Iceland Lopi book (Etsy link), which is entirely in Japanese. But don’t worry—you don’t have to read Japanese to knit these patterns! Because aside from what I assume are the pattern notes (materials—almost entirely Ístex Álafosslopi with maybe a handful of Léttlopi thrown in; gauge, which uses familiar Arabic numerals; and sizes, which are ridiculously small so just ignore them anyway), there aren’t any words! I did a flip-through video when I first got the book, so you can see what I mean.

That’s right. You’re given numbers to follow and a schematic and you just knit. It’s both liberating and exasperating at the same time. But! If you’ve knit a sweater or two in your day and don’t mind the thought of possibly having to rip back, it’s really not challenging at all.

So you’re given cast on numbers, in the case of this sweater, for two sizes. Two TINY sizes. I think the largest size would fit a 35″ bust. I get that Japanese people tend to be on the smaller size but doesn’t that seem excessively small?! (I’d love to have a discussion about Japanese knitting patterns in general but this is the only pattern book I have, so if someone else has blogged about this, please send me a link!)

That, my friends, is not a 35″ bust. So I had to do some work to make it the size that fits me. Which I have to do with a lot of these sweaters, to be honest—I know there’s a lot of griping about sizes in North American patterns and how many of them don’t extend to a true plus-size range, but YOU DON’T KNOW HOW GOOD WE HAVE IT compared to most knitting patterns I’ve seen from around the world. I’ll go into this in more detail in another post, but trust me that it’s really rare to see a pattern extend past a 45″ chest anywhere outside of North America.

Anyway. You have cast-on numbers, you have row numbers (and measurements, so you can check against your gauge, insert admonition to always do a gauge swatch here), you have a schematic, and you can figure out the pattern gauge based on the materials (also remember that outside North America/the US, most measurements are given in cm instead of inches, and there’s about 2.5 cm to an inch). And again, with just a little bit of experience in knitting sweaters, you can totally do this. You could even “cheat” and just plug the charts into an existing pattern you like, though you may need to accommodate for differences in the pattern stitch counts. The other part of this that was tricky was that there are a few rows in which you’re working three colors in one row. But it’s manageable. It’s just not enjoyable.

One thing that I found to be really interesting was how they raised the back neck. The schematic shows the body worked in the round to the underarms, and then a section of the body is worked flat in rows to raise the back overall. Compared to most yoked sweater patterns, in which you work short rows at the top of the neck to raise the back neck, I found this to be really interesting and clever. It did get a little dicey when I was sewing the sleeve stitches to the body—they do account for this in the pattern but since I had to do so much editing to the pattern and hadn’t worked this style before, mine was a little less graceful than it could have been.

So I stuffed this sweater into my suitcase and took it with me to Iceland. I really only wore it around the day that we shot these while meandering through Reykjavik, but I was really glad I did. While we had great weather for most of the second half of the trip, this particular day was overcast and a bit rainy, but I stayed nice and warm in my sweater. Like all wool yarns, Álafosslopi is hydrophobic (repels water) to an extent, making it an excellent option for a day when it’s chilly and occasionally rainy. I’m really happy with my color choices—the orange and rust just pick up the flecks of tweed in the beige so nicely. I still have a ton of the beige leftover, so I’m contemplating using it to knit the body of an Eldfell. Even though it also has a few rows with three colors in the row.

Thanks to my friend Erin for taking these photos! I’ll have a post about Birki soon.

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