Icelandic Language Blog

Icelandic sweater I love you. Posted by on Sep 10, 2014 in Icelandic culture, Icelandic customs, Icelandic history


There are few items of clothing that could ever take the place of lopapeysa, the Icelandic wool sweater, in my heart. Made of Icelandic wool it quickly felts into an all-weather garment that will keep you warm and dry in almost any possible condition, and wearing two on top of each other will easily get you through the coldest days in Reykjavík and of course the circular collar part suits almost every possible bodytype. It’s one of the most elegant sweater types in my opinion!

For a long time the Icelandic sweater was considered old fashioned and mundane, and it was only worn for its functionality – its unbeatable warmth made it a perfect summer cabin, hiking and fishing sweater. Some years back it suddenly reappeared on the streets of Reykjavík though, becoming a huge hit among youngsters. It was no longer the telltale mark of a tourist downtown, it was now fashionable, and today the round collar with its cheerful decorations is one of the most typical sights you’ll see anywhere in Iceland.

klo132086Rainy day. This is where my sweater reached. 😀

It’s no longer just the traditional sweater either, though those are common enough. People have really taken to the knits and are now varying the pattern creating dresses, loose collars, capes and capelettes, and of course even the typical sweater has gone through some improvements. The easiest and most obvious are no doubt the shoulder decorations. The traditional patterns are ever popular but on their side you can now see skulls, puffins, aurora, foliage, elegant Celtic-type knot patterns, Space Invaders, anything at all that the wearer feels as close to their heart. In fact by looking at the sweaters you can already tell something about the person wearing them: are they perhaps a knitter themselves? Then you’ll no doubt see some personal touches. Colour combinations will easily tell you about the wearer’s temperament, especially if the colours are very bright. The subject of the decorations might give you further hints.

If you ever visit Iceland you’ll also no doubt see them in almost every tourist shop around. I don’t usually recommend people to buy tourist-targeted goods because typically the quality is not worth the price, but the sweaters are a clear exception. They’re hand knit which means they’re also quite expensive and there’s no way of haggling the price any lower, since in comparison to the time that it takes to complete one the knitters may actually be somewhat underpaid in the end. However, if you’re after a specific type or would like to request a certain pattern the knitters often do take commissions.

is057Now also for dogs.

If you’d like to go for something less expensive there are a few ways of finding them for cheaper. One is to buy them secondhand. The large fleamarket Kólaportið may have some, and naturally Rauðakrossbúðin, the Red Cross, has some too. The last and by far the cheapest way is to knit one yourself. It’s not difficult, patterns for Icelandic sweaters are readily available for free, and if you’re using thick wool it won’t even take a long time!

Here’s some knitting vocabulary. You can find more, and a free puffin scarf pattern in my previous post Knit a Puffin.

Here’s some ideas available on Ravelry that you could start with. I’m only linking free patterns, but if you create an account at Ravelry you can easily browse the whole selection.

Traditional patterns:

Stutt rennd lopapeysa (= short zipped-up wool sweater).
Fimma, for children.
Classic Icelandic sweater, men’s size M.
Waves, very traditional looking pattern for children.
Aftur (= again), look at all the colour combinations!
Lopi 120 – sizes range from S to XXL.

In between traditional and new:

0611-1 Pullover – the pattern is so delicate it reminds me of Norwegian sweaters!
Glaður grafa (= the words mean “joyful” and “to dig” but put together this doesn’t mean anything, at least not without a context), a very traditional looking pattern with an elegant addition reaching up from the hem and down from the collar.
Lopi – Peysa 50: also very traditional but with a modern twist.
Greetings from Iceland, a simple and cute pattern for children.

A newer style:

Hestapeysa: still somewhat traditional-looking but hey, horses!
Makrel (= mackerel), men’s XL.
Pink Ribbon, ladies L.
Iðunn – a very unusual way of making an Icelandic sweater!
Na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na – BATMAAAAN!
Alda’s Design 14, like aurora!

Tags: , , , , , , ,
Keep learning Icelandic with us!

Build vocabulary, practice pronunciation, and more with Transparent Language Online. Available anytime, anywhere, on any device.

Try it Free Find it at your Library
Share this:
Pin it

About the Author: hulda

Hi, I'm Hulda, originally Finnish but now living in the suburbs of Reykjavík. I'm here to help you in any way I can if you're considering learning Icelandic. Nice to meet you!