Friday, 9 January 2015

Knitting Icelandic Lopi Yarn

"Look what a friend sent me for Christmas!"  I showed off two balls of Lettlopi yarn to my companion, Elinor Gotland.  "I haven't seen her since she got home from Iceland.  Wonder what it's like to take a holiday there? I'm imagining volcanos and huge skyscapes, filled with the Northern Lights."
"I'm reminded of a hell of a long time stuck inside a sheep shed."
"How come?"
"I travelled out there one September and booked into a mountain spa retreat, late at night.  Just popped out for a breath of fresh air first thing in the morning and before I'd had a chance to admire the
 scenery, I'd been rounded up by men on horseback and locked up with the Icelandic sheep for the winter."
"No!  Couldn't you tell them they'd made a mistake?"
"Turned out to be the last day of the sheep gathering, all the Icelanders were rushing to get to a massive party.  Thought I'd explain later, then I met Ivar - we clicked. Not the kind of retreat I had planned, but quite an experience. He was a really solid ram, marvellous muscles."   

"Body builder, was he?"
"Naturally rugged, Beaut.  You can get enough of the strong, silent type, though.  By May, I had pure cabin fever."
"This yarn looks like natural colours to me."
"Oh yes, they have all the shades, Icelandics.  My grey fleece blended in, no problem."
"Feels quite crisp, bit like Herdwick."
"Mmmm."  Elinor rubbed the wool against her cheek.  "Tog and thel, blended together. Double coat, see, soft inner layer for warmth and long outer coat for protection. Primitive and primal.  Much like Ivar."  It was good to hear her laughing, she's been pretty morose this week.  More to do with her January detox than any long, dark, teatime of the soul, I'd say.  

Lopi looks like an unplied single yarn, but isn't obviously felted. Elinor was gaily unravelling yards of it off the ball and it just fell into gentle kinks.  I couldn't work out how it had been balanced, so as not to twist wildly, like my own hand spun singles. Clara Parkes wrote this excellent review which explains a great deal.

To take advantage of the Icelandic wool's warmth and durability, I knitted myself a Downton Hat, from a free pattern by Annie Cholewa, who would appreciate users donating something to charity.  As she suggests, I checked the gauge for this wool and found working to the teenage size came out just right for me on 3.5mm needles.

Once through the washing machine wool cycle and just as Clara Parkes writes, the itchiness had gone and the fabric had closed beautifully. Rugged enough to pass a tough test, keeping out a sharp wind coming along the estuary, over the flooded water meadows.


  1. Love your hat! Elinor is such a devil isn't she!


    1. The salty old thing certainly gets about a bit. She was big in with the children visiting at Christmas, gales of laughter leaving me just a little anxious about what was going on. No complaints from the parents so far.

  2. That's one of the nicest Downton's I've seen, interesting and clearly great yarn choice :)

  3. Such beauty! Colors are so warm :)