Without sheep, Iceland would have been uninhabitable.
From the very beginning, Icelanders have found themselves engaged in a relentless struggle to come to terms with the rugged environment in which they live. While the horse served for transport and labour, sheep were the key to the nation¹s survival, providing generations of Icelanders not only with food but also with wool as protection from the biting cold of the harsh northern climate. Without sheep, Iceland would have been uninhabitable. Although the medieval sagas may have been inspired by deeds of heroism and feats of bravery, they also tell of the activities around which daily life revolved, among them shearing, spinning and carding skills and crafts which became traditions and altered little through the ages.
As a breed, the Iceland Sheep is unique -the purity of the strain has been protected by centuries of isolation and a total absence of contact with others.
By the same token, the wool it produces has no counterpart anywhere.
Evolving over 1,100 years of exposure to the sub-Arctic climate, Icelandic wool has a distinctive combination of inner and outer fibres. The outer fibres are long, glossy, tough and water-resistant, while the inner ones are fine, soft and insulating, providing a high resistance to cold. A further striking characteristic of the Iceland Sheep is its natural colours, black, grey and brown as well as the usual white. Together, these create the distinctive look of Icelandic knitwear, one of the best-known examples of which is the Lopi sweater.
Textile production techniques may have changed dramatically since the days of the early Viking settlers but the Icelanders commitment to quality and tradition has not.
In our conservation-
Nature reigns supreme through the whole manufacturing process. Only natural energy sources such as geo- thermal and hydroelectric power are used in production of Icelandic woollens, while the sheep from which the wool is harvested still graze freely in summer, as they have always done, on vast tracts of virgin land.
The Icelandic wool quality symbol on a product guarantees that it is made out of genuine Icelandic wool.
After being purchased direct from farmers, the wool is graded by experts according to its colour and quality, at sorting stations located around the country.
The next stage is washing, where the use of chemicals and detergents is kept to an absolute minimum to ensure that the natural fats are preserved, leaving the wool as warm, light and water-resistant as nature herself made it.
Finally, the highest quality wool is selected for spinning into the finest yarn before being knitted into a wide range of products. Patterns are devised by Icelandic designers, whose reputation for imagination and ability to blend Icelandic nature and landscape into their work has gained them international recognition.
The distinctive patterns of Icelandic knitwear are as much a part of Iceland as its mountains, waterfalls and hot springs. Durable yet soft, strong but comfortable, Icelandic woollens are the natural choice if you want to share in the wonders of the unique country that created them.
Characteristics of the Icelandic wool
Unique in its composition, Icelandic wool consists of two types of fibres:
INNER FIBRES - INSULATING: Fine, soft, highly insulating.
OUTER FIBRES - WATER-REPELLENT:
Together, these two distinctive fibres create a wool that is:
Lightweight - lighter than most other wools, keeps you warm and comfortable.
Water-repellent - repels rain and stays feeling dry.
Breathable - moisture passes through the fibres away from the skin, keeping you dry and comfortable.
All the Icelandic wool yarn is available from the online store http://www.shopicelandic.com/
- Alafoss lopi wool yarn
- Lett lopi (lopi light) yarn
- Plotulopi (unspun plates)
- Einband yarn
- Bulky lopi
All these and more; knitting needles, pattern books, free knitting patterns, wool sweater kits and much more is available with worldwide shipping from the Icelandic online store http://www.shopicelandic.com/
100% Icelandic Wool Yarn - Quality Wool from Iceland - Shop Icelandic Wool from http://www.shopicelandic.com/
(Text source partly from ISTEX)