We love the Icelandic sheep, and we love its fabulous wool that has kept Icelanders warm since the island was inhabited. First, let us tell you that Icelandic sheep are special. We don’t just say that because they look cute (sort of?) but because some of them have personality traits and intelligence above sheep from other countries.
Admittedly, most of them are dumb, but there’s a special kind of sheep here called “leadership sheep.” We’re not joking. They may not dress in expensive clothes and host seminars, but they are smarter than the average sheep. They’re known for rescuing other sheep from dangerous situations, and even rescuing people.
Þel, tog & lopi – not mythological creatures but separate layers of wool
Lopi is Icelandic knitting wool. It’s made from two layers of fleece from the Icelandic sheep. One of the layers is called þel (thel), and is very light and airy, insulates well and is the inner layer of fine fibers. Back in the day, þel was used to make baby clothes, underwear and similar items that required soft yarn. The other layer is called tog. It’s a lot coarser, and the fibers are longer. It provides warmth and is water resistant. When processed together, the two layers make lopi; the wool used to knit garments like the Icelandic lopapeysa (woolen sweater), thick socks, mittens and more.
Items made from Icelandic lopi
In the 1900’s, clothes made from lopi used to be made mostly out of the unspun version of it. But now, lopi is sold in different types of spun skeins and varies in thickness. Items like the lopapeysa are usually made from relatively thick types of lopi, but there are also plenty of patterns available for the lighter version made out a single strand of unspun lopi. There are plenty of knitting and crochet patterns available on Ravelry, Pinterest, and other websites.