A Spinner's Delight: Icelandic Sheep
sheep produce a beautiful dual-coated fleece from which the famous
LOPI yarn is made. The fleece consists of two coats, in natural
shades of brown, black, grey and white. The long, lustrous outer
coat is called Tog and the fine downy-soft inner coat, not unlike
mohair, is called Thel. This two-layered coat is a key factor in
the hardiness of these sheep in the harsh wet, cold, and wind of
Iceland. These same characteristics are what make the yarn spun
from these two coats so wonderfully warm and resistant to wind and
rain. The TOG measures 50s-60s 31-28 microns, approximately 4-10
inches in length. The THEL measures 64s-70s 22-19 microns and is
2-3 inches long.
The coats can be carded and softly spun together to make the familiar
and popular Lopi-type yarn, or finer two-ply yarns of various weights.
The two coats can separated with a hackle or Viking combs for use
alone, or to blend with other fibers.
The Tog can be spun into warp or rug yarn, or used for embroidery.
The soft Thel can be spun into a baby-soft yarn or combined with
other fibers. The fleece is famous for it’s ease of felting.
Boots, mittens and garments are often felted in Iceland to produce
beautiful as well as durable products. Felters are delighted with
the results of felting projects using Icelandic fleece. It felts
easily and quickly and adds strength and firmness to other wools.
Care should be taken whenever Icelandic fleece is washed to handle
it very gently, never agitate or wring, because of it’s
ease of felting. There is little grease in the Icelandic fleece,
less than 20% weight loss with washing, so unless the fleece is
very dirty, a gentle wash/rinse/rinse is adequate.
Icelandic sheep are a pure, unique breed, protected by isolation
for centuries. The fleece, likewise, is unlike any other, anywhere….
Wool as nature intended it to be!