Ragga Eiríksdóttir has come to Craftsy to show you how to make an Icelandic sweater in her aptly named class The Topdown Icelandic Sweater. And while the sweater is fascinating, so is Ragga herself! That’s why we were so excited to ask her about her Icelandic heritage (and how knitting has played such a big role in it), when she truly fell in love with craft of knitting, what she loves about teaching, and far more. Ragga is a delightful person, and a fantastic teacher. Enjoy!
Enjoy meeting Ragga? Get a special 25% discount and learn more about her online knitting class, The Topdown Icelandic Sweater.
We have a really rich culture in Iceland, and a strong knitting history, as well. We learned to knit in school, both boys and girls. I feel that everybody somehow has a relationship to knitting. They might love it, or they might have had problems with it. But at least they have lopi sweaters, they wear the sweaters, and just walking around the streets of Reykjavik or any other town in Iceland, you see a lot of knit garments everyday. When my grandpa was growing up, he told me stories from when he was falling asleep, maybe six years old, how he fell asleep to the clicking of the needles of his mom. But also my great grandfather knitted with her in the evenings. He was a fisherman. So if the weather was too bad to go out fishing, he would knit alongside my grandma.
The big knitter in my family was my great grandma on my mother’s side. She used to always give us kids woolen socks or mittens for Christmas along with a book or a box of chocolates. And it was always exciting to see what color you would get, or if you would stripes, or if the mittens would have a pattern. She knitted constantly, so I really have a lot of memories of her just knitting shawls also. I have a shawl that she made, and it’s really nice to have these old pieces from the family.
Even though I learned how to knit when I was eight or nine years old, I never really got it. I never really understood what was happening. But I really can remember and define the moment when I finally understood it. This happened when I was pregnant with my daughter. I was in my early 30s. If you’ve seen the film The Matrix, then you know when Neo sees the green numbers going up and down, like he sees the code behind the Matrix. The moment was like that for me. So I finally understood what was going on with the string and the needles and how the loops were being formed and how I was actually manipulating this magic. And that was a defining moment for me in knitting. I understood it, so I moved forward.
I also really like to experience the magic of knitting with my daughter. She is nine years old now, and has just learned to knit in school. When she was little, I used to have her sit on my lap, facing away from me. I was knitting, and she had her hands on top of my hands so she could experience the motions and the kind of calm, repetitive movements that you experience in knitting.
I really love empowering my students with teaching them new techniques and methods, and also teaching them about Icelandic wool and Icelandic knitting history and heritage. I see my patterns as a beginning point for knitters. And I really love it when they modify the patterns or make their little changes to really personalize the patterns. And I think that’s the great thing about learning more in knitting. You can always add to your skills. And you can always use them to make garments and things that are really, really personal for you.