“Like so many other Icelanders, I learned to knit in elementary school at the age of ten. I didn’t much like the classes, however, because we had to knit and sew certain garments from patterns. It wasn’t my teacher’s fault though; that’s just how the curriculum was back then.
I’ve never enjoyed knitting from other people’s patterns
When I was 15 years old I took knitting and sewing lessons in high school where I got to make my own patterns, and from that moment on, I was hooked on knitting. As soon as I begin knitting a garment, I’m already designing the next one in my mind, but I’ve never enjoyed knitting from other people’s patterns.
I finished a degree in textile arts teaching in 1975 from Myndlistar- og handíðaskóli Íslands (The Icelandic School of Arts and Crafts). After graduating, I spent some time filling orders for woven mats of my own design, but the work was time-consuming and not very lucrative. I enrolled on a knitting techniques course, and, not surprisingly since I’ve always been very interested in clothes and fashion, was soon designing handknit garments. My art training has been very useful to me in my design work from the very start.
My first original patterns were published in Vikan (The Week) weekly magazine in the early 1980s. Soon afterwards, the editor of Lopi and band (Lopi and yarn), an Icelandic knitting magazine established in 1981, contacted me, requesting some of my designs for the magazine. Over the next few years, I designed many garments for the magazine, and was really working at my dream job. I would sketch my designs and knit swatches, my designs were then knit by professional knitters and the magazine’s staff wrote up the pattern. This blissful state of affairs lasted until 1991, when the editor resigned and the magazine was sold into new hands.
After that, the integrity of Lopi og band went downhill in my opinion, so much so that in 1994 I met with the new owner and offered him the use of my designs free of charge in an effort to restore the magazine to its former glory. In return, he offered me the job of editor, which I accepted.
more than 200 of my patterns have been published
I worked as the magazine’s editor for the next three years, overseeing the release of 15 issues, until the new owner died in 1997. Since publishing a knitting magazine is only cost effective for those that import and distribute yarn, no one was willing to continue publishing the magazine, and so it came to an end. Through the years, more than 200 of my patterns, most of them written with Icelandic wool in mind, have been published in magazines or books.
Around the year 2000, I became very interested in the old Icelandic national costumes and subsequently sewed four different types of costume. My interest grew to such an extent that I enrolled on a B.A.-degree course with a major in folkloristics and a minor in archeology at the University of Iceland, from which I graduated in 2005.
Since then I’ve, for example, made replicas of embroidered 18th-century church artifacts, sewn sails for 19th-century boats and continued designing knitwear.
The idea for this costume sweater came from the 18th-century version of the Icelandic peysufatapeysa, which in my mind is the truest version of the national costume.