Like many people, I think, this style of warm, hard-wearing and definitively wintery sweater fills me with a very particular kind of nostalgia. I first saw sweaters of this kind when I was eighteen, and went away to University. There I encountered a very particular kind of student who wore this type of sweater – male, outdoorsy, hardy, often studying archaeology or politics, and – yes – most often Scottish. Because it was so strongly associated with a certain type of man to me, I thought of this kind of garment as distinctively Scottish for many years. And then, when I moved to Scotland, and learnt much more about knitwear and knitting, I found out that this style was actually Norwegian, and that the dotted patterns on a plain ground were known as “lus”, or lice.
Yet in Norway I understand this particular style of garment is known as “Islander” or Iceland-er. As you’ll know from Yokes, I am really intrigued by the shifting regional associations and nomenclature of knitted garments around the north Atlantic. This warm, allover garment seems somehow especially redolent — its appeal particularly long-lasting. For the English teenage me, it became associated with braw Scotsmen; for Norwegians it’s a signature Icelandic style. Perhaps this sweater presents an interesting example of how we project our dreams of warmth in winter — our evocative knitwear fantasies — forever further north.
So for me this garment carries very strong associations of nostalgia, winter, the great outdoors and (I suppose) braw men. And, in my own way, I do feel braw when wearing it – and this sense of feeling fine by wearing just the right thing for the weather is how the sweater got its name – ‘weel riggit‘ – or ‘well dressed’.
Weel Riggit has really simple straight-up-and-down lines (it’s a garment which could, of course, be worn by blokes as well); a slightly cropped length (which can be easily extended, if required, and nifty integrated raglan shaping (oh, how I love a centred double decrease!)
What I probably enjoy most enjoy about this design is the distinctive colours, and the way they work together. Four graded shades of Àrd Thìr are in use here: Ardnave (a deep teal-y blue); Camusdarach (a silvery grey); Kiloran (a complex lichen-inspired neutral with yellow-green-grey tones); and Vatersay (another complex, muted shade combining several soft aqua tones).
Close to, each shade is individually apparent. . . .
. . . but at a bit more of distance, the whole gradient melds together, to give a satisfyingly cool-toned wintery effect.
The yarn’s subtle, tonal range is one of the things I’m really enjoying about Àrd Thìr – you’ll see more of it in the months to come.
Weel Riggit is sized up to 56 inches, and when selecting a size, I’d aim for a minimum of 4 inches of positive ease (I’m wearing it with 5), allowing for the reduced inner circumference of the doubled-layered fabric and enabling a comfortable fit over your winter undergarments.
The pattern is currently exclusive to the Knitting Season club (which is still open for new members – join us!). For those who have been asking, it will be available as an individual pattern download (from April onwards). Àrd Thìr yarn packs for the sweater are available in the KDD shop, and if you are interested in trying out my new shades, you might enjoy the Àrd Thìr gift sampler.
At a gauge of 18 stitches to 4 inches, Weel Riggit is a garment you might knit with a wide range of heavy-worsted or aran yarns. Whatever yarn you choose, and whatever associations this garment has for you, I hope you’ll really enjoy knitting a classic cold-weather garment that should see you through many winters.
Be Weel Riggit in your Weel Riggit!