Friday, May 22, 2009

icelandic wool

one thing i absolutely had on my list to bring back was icelandic wool. hee hee no surprise there! the mecca? the Álafoss factory outlet shop/orginal mill (pictured above). willa and i drove there on monday before we started our country drive. and wow! so glad we went. the staff were sooo nice, the selection amazing, and more than just wool lots of knit sweaters/ lace stoles/ kid items etc. oh and great prices - i left with spending just under $40 CA with enough wool to knit a cardigan and 2 or 3 lace stoles/scarves!

i will warn you my knitting/yarn geekness is going to come out here - so feel free to glaze over and just admire the pics.

Like Shetland (northern scottish islands) Iceland has its own breed of sheep. the resulting wool is warm, hardy and water-repellent. its long fibres mean it wears well (merino and cashmere for example have short fibres meaning they are soft .. but are delicate/prone to pilling - this is over simplified but you get the picture) because the long guard hairs are included - this adds to the wind/water resistant quality but also makes the wool 'hairy' looking and many find it itchy - ps a wash/soak in hair conditioner does wonders!

Ever heard of Lopi? yep that is icelandic wool - available in north america in 3 weights lite, regular and bulky. It is one ply with a loose spin/twist. Pretty affordable a lot of people i know use it for felted items (slippers etc) ......... i've used it a few times often carrying anther fibre like mohair with it to soften it up a bit

but i've been curious about the other icelandic wool out there..... in particular the traditional unspun that comes in "cakes" much like white buffalo used to, and the lace weight.

Plötulopi: the unspun wool, it "is fragile to knit; however, due to the length of its fibres, it knits into a sweater that is both sturdy and soft." see the lovely sweater above? I bought one from "Farmers Market" - young design company [profiled here] that is re-imagining the traditional lopapeysa - or icelandic yoke sweater. I love the sweater - i must get a shot of of me wearing it. anyway back to wool it is knit with a single strand of unspun while more traditional sweaters you'd knit with 2 to 4 strands at a time which would make them ready for the elements. but since i'm wearing this inside i love how lightweight and airy the cardigan is - yet still warm.

i love it so much i'm going to knit myself almost the same sweater - this time in a natural heathered grey with cream and purple. swoon! i have soooo many projects lined up but this pretty pretty wool is calling. oh and it smells great - i guess because it is rather unprocessed

and then there is the laceweight: Loðband - if you've been following the blog you'll know i've been really into knitting lace. and based on a beautiful triangle shaped shawl we saw in the shop [here is one that is similar - might be the pattern i'll use] i bought 6 natural shades from the lightest cream to a deep charcoal. i bought extra white/cream and charcoal so i have enough for 2 or 3 projects!

ps. if you are interested in more about icelandic wool and knitting - check out the The Handknitting Association of Iceland

1 comment:

Jo at Celtic Memory Yarns said...

Hey, HEY, what a coincidence! You live in one of my favourite places in the world, and we BOTH visited another of our favourite places within a month of each other! (Check out my most recent posting, In Search Of Unspun Icelandic....)

I too came away with armsful of unspun and love the way a single thread knits up into airy warmth.

Give my love to Whitehorse. Does that yarn shop still stock quiviut?