Many Icelandic designers like Vík Prjónsdótir, Farmers Market or Geysir use Icelandic wool for their design
– in garments, accessories or other form of art.
But where does this Icelandic wool come from?
In Mosfellsbaer, 12 kilometers from Reykjavík, wool processing has been a trade since 1896.
1991 took Ístex the previous company Álafoss of Iceland over. They are producing Álafosslopi and other kinds of wool and yarns for hand knitting, such as weaving and carpet manufacturing.
Ístex buys the wool directly from 1500 farmers all over Iceland, sources it in Blönduós in north of the country and spins it in Mosfellsbaer, where 1000 t dirty wool are arriving per year, packed in 300kg packages. 750kg of it all can be used in Iceland and 450kg of it gets processed to hand knitting yarn. The rest of the wool is exported to the European wool market.
After washing, where the use of chemicals is kept to a minimum, the wool gets colored, dried and always broken up.
To get a wide color palette, Ístex is mixing colors mixing different colors of wool together. To get brighter colors, wool is mixed with white wool, but never gets bleached.
A huge comb, consisting of 50 rolls, mixes different wool colors together and puts the hair all into the same direction. The emerged layer is formed into strings that are then spinned to yarn.
Last step is another wash cycle and packing the balls of wool for sale.
The uniqueness of Icelandic sheep wool is the two types of fibres: The fine and soft inner fibres with their high insulating and the long, glossy outer fibres that are water repellent. The wool is breathable and lighter than most other wools.
The knitting patterns available at Ístex are devised by Icelandic designers, who blend Icelandic nature and landscape into their work and develop traditional patterns and modern interpretations. The pattern below is the orginal one, called Lopi 159.
Images and text by Julia Schygulla