There are many reasons to visit Iceland, but for knitters, wool ranks pretty high on the list. With a robust population of sheep that haven’t been crossbred since the Vikings settled the island country, Iceland is home to rich knitterly traditions that aren’t relegated to museums. It’s wonderful to see people of all ages wearing so much wool, even in the middle of summer. For the first time in my life, I didn’t need to trot out my list of pro-wool factoids; I was among people who knew in their bones that wool is one of the very best materials on the planet.
I knit Reyka with unspun Icelandic wool, also known as lopi, a yarn that
tends to throw unfamiliar knitters at first glance. It’s sold in flat wheels that resemble 35mm film reels, and the fiber is as delicate as cotton candy. You can knit directly from the wheel with one or two plies, or you can wind a multi-ply, multi-hue yarn, adding twist or not, to suit your whims. The process revealed alot about my knitting style. I found that I knitted with gusto, tugging the yarn violently from whatever bag or basket I’d tucked it into. This vigor did not agree with the airy lopi, which quickly came apart, leaving me with a truncated strand. I learned to slow down and use a gentler hand, adding a small amount of twist to the two plies as I knit.The finished fabric is soft, insulating, and, judging by
the brand-new look of the well-loved lopapeysa I saw all over Iceland, durable.