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Icelandic Jólasveinar (Yule Lads) Come Calling Soon. Make One for Your Tree!
Submitted by Pam on Sat, 11/12/2011 - 00:40
Yo la svay nar
Jólasveinar or Yule Lads, very, very distant relatives of the Päkapikk, and not so distant relatives of Nisse and Tomte, hide out in remote mountain caves of Iceland most of the year and only appear during the Christmas season.
At midnight on December 11th, they begin their long trek out of the mountains and descend into the villages - one Jólasveinar appearing each evening, bearing gifts for good children and potatoes for not so good children! Like children in Estonia, children living in Iceland, eagerly await their arrival and leave their shoes on their windowsills every night beginning December 12th and ending on December 24th.
Unlike, Pakapikk, Jólasveinar, have a pretty dark history being the unfortunate children of two giant ogres with a reputation for stealing children who misbehaved during the year. The Lads themselves, however, spent much of their life simply playing mean tricks on the villagers and steeling their food whenever they could. In fact, many of their names are derived from the kinds of tricks they were best known for playing.
Traditionally there are thirteen Jólasveinar. Have some fun and read more about their history here.
Over the years, the Lads have grown tired of trick playing and being chased out of kitchens and barns, so they have turned away from their old habits and now bring gifts and good cheer to the children of the villages.
The author of "Yule in Iceland", home of my favorite online advent calendar and the virtual Yule Lads, has kindly offered the following guideline for how to say Jólasvenier in English. Accent is on the first syllable.
Yo la svay nar
Yo – as in yo-yo (but just a single yo :-)
la – as in do-re-mi-fa-so-la (I think his is the sequence, but not musical, so bear with me)
svay – as in sway
nar – as in narrate
Two Jólasveniar will be joining my Pakapikk and Tomte and Nisses on my tree this year. The funny green fellow in front is in charge of lugging the sack of potatoes down out of the mountains and stashing them in a deserted barn in case they are needed (which isn't really very often). The little guy in the very tall hat is in charge of gifts and treats and needs every inch of that tall hat to carry them safely down the mountain.
Because their history is so different from that of all the other elves, I have tried to stay away from the bright Christmas red worn by Nisse, Tomte and Päkapikk in favor of clothing that reflects the colors and intricate patterns found in Icelandic weaving and knitting.
Absolutely my favorite!
For the scarf and hat I used a beautiful self patterning super fine yarn called Razzle Dazzle - made by Red Heart - found at a thrift for .50¢! Almost looks like some Fair Isle action going on doesn't it?
The scarf was made by casting on 8 stitches and creating an alternating pattern of knit and purl which I adapted from a favorite cowl pattern. But using a knit stitch on every row would result in a purl stitch scarf that would also be pretty.
The scarf is about 9" long including the fringe and about 3/4" wide.
I made the hat as big and bulbous as I could by casting on 32 stitches and after knitting a K2P2 rib that is 1 3/4", I continued with a stockinette for another 3 1/2 inches.
Once the hat was bound off the needles, I threaded a piece of yarn on a tapestry needle and seamed the two sides together. With a new yarn, I went around the top edge of the hat about 1/2" below the bound off edge and made large running stitches all the way around - beginning and ending in front where the loose ends were then pulled tight and secured with a bow.
I made a little tack stitch in one side of the hat so that it would list to one side and look potatoey!
A bit of roving makes a perfect beard!
Refer to Donni's Needle Felted Toadstool tutorial - she describes how to make the top of the toadstool and this is pretty much how i made the nose - making a very tight ball of roving and then needle felting it into shape.
A few jabs with the felting needle through the nose and into the head and the nose is done!
Tack on the hat with a bit of yarn and a needle. Notice the placement of the hanging loop. It is probably not where you would think to place it. Try running the yarn loop through several different spots until you find one that allows the Yule Lad to hang nicely.
This lad is designed with non-knitters in mind! Once the body and head are completed, the hat and scarf can be completed in minutes.
First of all - can you even believe this hat fabric I had in my stash? A discarded wool sweater that I felted last year. Perfect for this little Icelandic creature!
The scarf was also made from a felted wool sweater. It measures about 10" and is 1" wide. Slits were cut at each end to resemble fringe.
The hat was made using the pattern shown here. The height is 10" and the base measures 3". Notice the small adjustments made in the overall shape at the base and the long diagonal side.
Cut the pattern and then place the 10" long vertical on the fold of the fabric. Pin and cut. With right side facing out, stitch the two long edges together using Alice's Whip Stitch Tutorial. Tack a bit of fuzzy stuff around the bottom edge and attach a pompom to the tip! You will want to try your hanging loop in several places to find the right spot.
Attach a little nose and a beard in the same way as is shown for the "Potato" Lad.
Again, just as with the Päkapikk - if you don't needle felt, simply stitch on a bit of fluff for the beard and use a round button for the nose.
Be sure to mark your calendar right now so you don't miss the annual arrival of the Yule Lads. They begin arriving on December 12th right here. You will find history and poems sharing the naughty deeds of each Lad when they were into naughty deeds; and when you are asked if you have been naughty or nice, be sure to answer nice and there will be a goodie waiting for you!
I don't know what happens when you answer that you have been naughty but I bet my friend Chris will just have to find out! Her curiosity would not allow her to ignore this tantalizing mystery!
Best get busy making your elves - December is just around the corner!