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A lopapeysa
Icelandic girls wearing traditionally patterned lopapeysa sweaters.

Lopapeysa (Icelandic: [ˈlɔːpaˌpʰeisa]) or Icelandic sweater is an Icelandic style of sweater originating in early or mid-20th century, at a time when imports had displaced older and more traditional Icelandic clothing and people began to search for new ways to utilize the plentiful native wool. It is believed that the sweaters are patterned on Greenlandic women's costume,[1] or even inspired by South American, Turkish or Swedish textile patterns.[2]

Design of the sweater[edit]

It is characterized by a yoke design – that is, a wide decorative circle surrounding the neck opening. The sweater is knitted in a non-varying circle, meaning that there is no difference between the front and the back, unless a zipper is added. The yarn used, lopi, is made from the wool of Icelandic sheep and contains both wind hairs and fleece. Lopi is remarkable in that it is not spun, so it contains more air than spun yarn and as a consequence it has better insulation properties. This also makes lopi more difficult to handle than spun yarn, in particular for those new to the material. The colors can be artificial, but undyed wool of various colors is available and much in demand.[3] The Icelandic wool has earned an international reputation for its warmth, lightness and insulation abilities so that even when wet, it keeps you warm.[4]

The characteristics of the Icelandic wool[edit]

As a breed, the Iceland sheep is unique - the purity of the strain has been protected by centuries of isolation and a total absence of contact with others. By the same token, the wool it produces has no counterpart anywhere. Evolving over 1,100 years of exposure to the sub-Arctic climate, Icelandic wool has a distinctive combination of inner and outer fibers. The outer fibers are long, glossy, tough and water resistant, while the inner ones are fine, soft and insulating, providing a high resistance to cold. A further striking characteristic of the Iceland sheep is its natural colors, black, grey and brown as well as the usual white. Together, these create the distinctive look of Icelandic knitwear, one of the best-known examples of which is the lopi.

See also[edit]



  1. ^ http://www.handknit.is/user/cat/7 Handprjónasamband Íslands - Íslenska lopapeysan
  2. ^ http://www.woolandsheep.com/?q=is/node/68 Íslensk þjóðernishyggja - Hin heilaga rolla!
  3. ^ http://www.lochness.co.uk/sheep/index.html
  4. ^ http://www.alafoss.is
  5. ^ http://www.nordicstore.net/pages/icelandic-wool