Here is today’s yoke – Ásta Sóllilja. I began this design with the idea of using colour to create a transition from deep blue to silver grey around the edges of a jumper. I wanted the edges of the design to shimmer a wee bit, in such a way that they might seem to fuse or merge with a darker skirt or pair of jeans. I had fun playing with the Ístex lett lopi palette, and eventually came up with this:


After I’d established the chart for the edges of this design, I took a trip to Iceland. There I purchased this amazing book


This wonderful tome reproduces charts and patterns from the textile designs in the sjónabók manuscripts, which are held in the national museum of Iceland. It is a truly fabulous book, which blew me away, not only with the distinctive charts and patterns but with its fascinating analysis of the geometry and four-fold symmetry of Icelandic design. From many patterns in the book, I selected a single version of the hammer rose motif, and played with it, inverting and modifying it in such a manner that allowed me to feature it over the whole depth of a colourwork yoke.


(If you would like to learn more about this motif and its history in Iceland, see Hélène Magnússon’s important book Icelandic Knitting: Using Rose Patterns)

While I was working on this design, I was also reading Halldór Laxness’s dry and incisive Icelandic novel Independent People (1954). Laxness’s account of an Icelandic valley and its human and animal inhabitants had a profound effect on me. I found myself thinking about the book for several weeks afterwards, musing particularly on its relationship with another important twentieth-century account of rural life on the cusp of modernity – Lewis Grassic Gibbon’s Sunset Song (1932). There are many thematic comparisons to draw between these two novels, particularly as regards their representation of gender, sexuality and ideas of women’s independence (I would really rather like to write about this one day). The story of Laxness’s female protagonist – Ásta Sóllilja – in the end pans out rather differently from that of Gibbon’s Chris Guthrie, and the determination, imagination, and arrested potential of the Icelandic character was cause of much reflection. So I named this design after her.




Designing this jumper really made me fall in love with Icelandic wool: wind and weatherproof, light and warm, in such a beautiful range of colours. The finished yoke is a cosy, easy to wear garment, and is one of those jumpers that I find myself wanting to just throw on and head outside.


Equally well suited to an Icelandic glacial valley, or a breezy Hebridean beach.


You can find more details about Ásta Sóllilja here.

PS In very exciting news, it looks as if the book is actually going to print today, so I will shortly be able to activate the shop for pre-orders.

59 thoughts on “Ásta Sóllilja

  1. This is the boy for me! And, good timing – the everlasting firth of forth is down to its last sleeve rib (beautiful and not at all tedious to knit but it has taken almost a year) – I will finish tonight and then get on to pre-ordering tomorrow. Thanks Kate for another delightful set of patterns.


  2. Yes the design is wonderful but YOU look spectacular in it and in Blue………..what a marvelous comeback you have made and we are the luckier for it. Thank you for all your work. And YES, I AM going to buy the book :)


  3. Hi, this sweater is lovely. I am not a knitter but I just love your blog as I love Fair Isle sweaters and Scotland. I am also a lover of photography and I so enjoy the photos here. I live in the U.S. but love all things Scotland. I hope this is not a foolish question, but do you ever knit sweaters for other people on request. I would love to purchase this particular sweater. It is so pretty. Thank you.


  4. Kate, truly, thank you for sharing your gift with us. I have never felt more compelled to knit something than I do this stunning sweater. It is simply brilliant.
    I wonder, will you share more of the background work of each design with us? Say, to show some of the other color combos or motifs you considered using? I love the inspiration background you provide, and I would love to know more about the technical, creative process as well!


  5. So many smashing designs…so little time to knit!!!

    It feels like a treat a day waiting for the next design to be published on the blog.

    Can’t wait for the book – you must be over the moon with the result and should be very proud of yet another superb collection.

    Well done Kate – you keep me inspired.


  6. It just gets better and better with each design you reveal. I WANT to be you walking down that beach (or maybe I just want to be anyone 15 years younger!) You look ravishing. I hope the book will not be prohibitively expensive for us Canadians, with our dollar currently so low.


  7. I am visiting Iceland for the week before Christmas , it looks like I just found my holiday knitting. Beautiful design, I don’t normally knit garments for me heavier than double knit, and favour 4ply, but this doesn’t look heavy at all.


  8. Beautiful pattern and photographs, looking forward to the book. Although I am a very amateur knitter and still battling (and going cross-eyed ) with the Ecclefechan mitts I dream that one day I will produce a knitted masterpiece!


  9. I love all the designs in the book, but this has to be my favourite so far. Lopi yarn was my first love when I just started knitting. I look forward to read the essay on Icelandic jumpers.


  10. When I saw this jumper I immediately exclaimed ‘Wow!’ It is a beautiful design; I love the yoke, the colours and the Icelandic yarn. Wonderful :-)


  11. Beautiful. I too fell in love with Iceland when visiting last year. I would go back and that is something rare for me, to visit places more than once. Your post on Oct 14th about the irritation/annoyance with the sort of Icelandic style, Fair Isle style sort of sweater that wasn’t any of those things, was interesting. I expected all of the Lopi sweaters to look similar to the one posted today. I was bothered by so many ill-fitting, thick, heavy Lopi sweaters in big baskets with no shape what so ever. Maybe my expectations were too high, but I was sad to see such a great designs knitted up for mass market. I love the brightness and the well fitted aspect of this Lopi sweater. Still planning on knitting the Epsitrophy next.


  12. The colour combinations are so beautiful Kate. I’m going to start to freeze a lot of casseroles for after Xmas as I see a lot of marathon knitting happening in this house. Gosh I hope it lands under the tree. Well done.


  13. There really is a yoke for everyone in your new book! This one is for me! This would be your take one the traditional, illfitting, sporty, deeply patterned Icelandic sweater that I have always loved. Just not ill fitting and way more sleek and stylish. I wonder… you look different in the photos too. Did you try to evoke a more Icelandic far-gazing brisk paced solitary vibe to these photos? Are these photos evocative of the title character of the book? I want to go to Iceland too.


    1. I am rather brown and weathered in these photos, having spent most of the preceding months knitting and walking and working outdoors – perhaps that’s it? I think you would really enjoy Iceland, Max.


  14. Is there a place that “Ornaments and Patterns found in Iceland” can be purchased online?
    This is my favorite sweater from your new book yet! Lovely!


  15. Kate, it’s grand that your book is getting the printing go ahead! Meanwhile, my eyes continue to be able to feast upon these previews of your lovely yoke knit designs. You have really created something special.

    Thank you also for the information about the books. I’ve added them to my want to read list.

    The photographs of you on the shore are wonderful, full of motion and definitely provide a terrific invitation to knit.

    Best wishes.


  16. This is beautiful and once again I want to knit it straight away! I still haven’t knit all your other patterns yet though and am feeling thoroughly spoilt for choice now – what to choose first is a big dilemma…
    Congratulations on your new book – I’m very much looking forward to finally getting my hands on it!!


  17. THIS is the yoke I’ve been waiting for! I knew that somewhere in your collection there had to be a yoke in Lett lopi, preferably a pullover, with light grey as the background color…! I enjoy your background stories so much and this one in particular as I’ve been fascinated with Iceland for a very long time. Thank you, Kate!


  18. This is my favourite so far! The colours are perfect, the patterns are wonderful. This would keep me warm on the moors… I am very excited for the book. I know what I want for Christmas ^_^


  19. Stunning! I ponder as we read these posts and gasp at the designs at the twists and turns that your life has taken thus far. The beauty and inspiration of your textile work, expressed in such a way with your intellect and ability to research, entwine history with modern and then explain this to us mere mortals, is truly a gift, to me anyway. I would not wish upon anyone the trials and tribulations you have experienced in the past few years but I am truly grateful for your willingness to impart your gift and your knowledge. Thank you


  20. I just can’t say enough about your stunning photos of these truly beautiful garments, Kate. Your colour palette just sings with your surroundings, and, as a person who rarely wears jeans myself, I find it refreshing to see knit sweaters styled with skirts and dresses! Its already obvious that the same care you lavished on ‘Colours of Shetland’ is here in the new book. I’m so looking forward to the whole collection. Thanks for sharing! xo


  21. Now you´ve done it! I admit to being a little sceptical about the yokes (very lovely, yes, just maybe not quite the thing for a busty girl like me …) but I am so going to knit this one! Simply gorgeous. I used to have an Icelandic sweater as a kid, nowhere near as beautiful as your design, but I loved it very much. For some reason, we used to call it a Norwegian sweater – so much for awareness of different knitting traditions.
    Keeping my fingers crossed for the printing process, I hope everything goes well and the book comes out beautifully. Can´t wait to see it.
    Thank you for inspiring me on so many levels!


    1. Similar to Karen, yokes are not my best style, but seeing this one I am inspired to knit it. Such a pretty palette you have chosen, as well as motif. I appreciate the inspiration you chose for the name.


  22. What a beautiful design and the story behind it is inspiring. I am looking for a new book to read and I am definitely going to check out Independent People.


  23. I love your range of full skirts – they always look so amazing with your fitted sweaters and I always find myself thinking I should wear skirts more!


  24. Kate, I love your designs, the shapes, the colourwork and (best of all) the histories. I knitted Owls as a cardigan when you first brought out the pattern. I knitted it again last week, again as a cardigan, but sans owls as the yarn was variegated.

    Just one thing – do you ever knit sweaters for people who don’t like having draughts round their shoulder tops/necks and don’t necessarily want to wear a scarf or shawl as well? I adjusted last week’s owls cardigan so it comes up around my neck more snugly.


    1. Agree with you, Sharon. I love Kate’s designs but would like the occasional higher neckline. I feel the cold badly around my neck and in the winter wear a lot of polo necks and scarves …. but a scarf here would detract from the yoke.
      A dilemma ….!


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