“Olga was one of those typical Icelandic grandmothers. You could ask her to knit a sweater for, let’s say, a seven-year-old child and one or two weeks later, you would get a lovely and perfectly sized sweater.
She explained to me that she felt it in her hands: they would figure out almost by themselves. She would not plan it, nor make drawings or anything like that, she would just, somehow, cast on the right number of stitches and make up the pattern and decide on the colors as she would knit, often depending on what she had available in her stash.
This is exactly what happened when, back in 2007, I asked Olga to knit a new sweater for Sylvia, her great grand daughter and my oldest daughter. She came up with this sweater in three colors, extremely practical with its hood and zipper.
I particularly enjoy this design because it retains all the characteristics of the traditional Icelandic yoke sweater but without the folklore, making it very modern. It is also extremely well done. Olga considered the knitting part to be only half of the work and she put a lot of care into the finishing.
Olga died earlier this year, aged 93 years old. She died the same way she lived, with a lot of elegance. All dressed up for a birthday party, she had a wonderful afternoon with her friends and family. When the time had come to go home, she suddenly felt a bit tired, sat on a bench with her son and passed away.
I‘m glad that Olga is publishing her first design ever, post mortem be it, on The Icelandic Knitter’s website and it was a pleasure for me to pick up the pattern and size it. I‘m sure she would be delighted to know that the totality of the benefits she would normally get are going to the Bonisa-Olga Fund, a little charity fund sustaining a shelter/playschool for young children in Cape Town, South Africa.
The funding of the Bonisa-Olga Fund is a bit of a long story if you are willing to hear it. Olga’s granddaughter, also my sister-in-law, happens to live in South Africa with her companion. She often entertained Olga with stories about Brenda, a strong African woman much involved in the rehabilitation of the Philippi block, one of Cape Town’s black ghettos, where she lives.
Brenda, also called Bonisa in Xhosa, meaning “the one who shows the way”, made her dream come true last year when she founded, just outside of her home, the Bonisa EduCare, a shelter or sort of playschool for young children otherwise left alone, without care or food, while their mothers are working.
Olga followed Brenda’s progress with much interest and often asked herself how she could invest into this lifetime project. A few weeks after her death, the family gathered and wondered what could be done to honor her memory. This is how the idea came up to start the Bonisa-Olga Fund and let grandmother Olga help Brenda pursue her wonderful job.” You can follow Brenda’s progress here: bonisaeducare.wordpress.com
Sizes: from 1(2,3,4,6,8,10,12) years old (big sizes). Finished bust measurements 53(57,61,65,69,73,77,81)cm / 21(22.5,24,25.5,27,29,30,32)”.
Gauge: 10 x10 cm / 4×4” = 15 sts x 19 rows in stocking Stitch on needle 5,5mm/US 9
Yarn: Léttlopi, 100% pure wool, 50g/skein, 50g = ca.100m/109 yds; color A: 1(1,2,2,2,2,3,3) skeins; color B: 2(2,2,2,3,3,3,3) skeins; color C: 1(1,2,2,3,3,3,3) skeins.
Shades A/B/C (from darker to lighter): grey 0058/0057/0054; brown 0052/0053/0085; purple 9417/1414/1413 (discontinued); green 1407/9421/1406; blue 1403/1701/1700: mustard 1416/9426/9264
Needles and notions: circ needle 4.5mm/US 7 and 5,5 mm/US 9; crochet hook 4 mm/US F; stitch markers, darning needle, stitch holders, tape measure, sewing machine, zipper.
Techniques: knitted in the round, stranded knitting, steek (optional).
Kit: the kit contains the wool but not the needles or the other material. The kit doesn’t include the pattern that must be purchased separately. Shipping costs are not included
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