Lopi Week: Tips for working with Icelandic Yarn

Ístex Lopi yarns, like any other 100% wool yarn, are incredibly rewarding to knit and crochet. But some crafters have concerns about working with the yarn, and how to wear it once you make a garment. Here are some facts about working with Lopi that will make your project easy and fun!

Fact: Lopi sweaters are light weight and warm—like a down jacket or comforter. Wool is a breathable, natural fiber, keeping you comfortable all day long. Because of its dual coats and lofty construction, Lopi is ideal for outdoor active wear—the original performance fleece! Many Icelanders wear Lopi garments in lieu of heavy jackets. img_8608

Did you know? The Icelandic sheep has a dual coat, meaning there are two layers to the fibers. The fleece is made up of long and strong fibers, called “Tog” in Icelandic, that make the yarn water repellent. The shorter fibers under the long coat, called “Thel” in Icelandic, act like down insulation. This combination of fiber super powers creates the lofty and lightweight fabric of the finished sweaters.

Hate weaving in ends? Lopi felts easily; when joining a new ball of yarn, splice in the new skein using a little moisture and friction—fewer ends to weave in later. Though the loosely spun yarn is easy to pull apart as a single strand, the finished garments will last for generations and still be as beautiful as the day they came off the needles. This sweater belonged to the mother of Brenda York, Berroco’s technical editor and pattern writer for the last 30 years. Now my tall-for-his-age 9 year old is wearing it.


Think Lopi is itchy? Lopi softens with washing and wearing—give your finished garment a bath in warm water with a little lanolin soap so the fibers will relax and soften. I use the brand Eucalan, which is available at my grocery store as well as at many local yarn shops, but there are several others. Ask your local yarn shop about which brands of wool wash they carry.

Want to knit the sweater pictured here? The sweater pictured on the squirmy boy is vintage—we don’t have an exact date but it is 30 years old at least. If you like the look and want one of your own, check out the pattern for Jon from Lopi booklet #30, and available as a single PDF in the Istexi Lopi pattern store on Ravelry.




6 thoughts on “Lopi Week: Tips for working with Icelandic Yarn

  1. Bookmark this pattern under “2017 Sweaters that Men Will Wear” so that you have it handy for the next Holiday knitting season!

  2. the pattern of the boy’s sweater was published in the 1st volume of Reynolds Lopi. Pattern #15. Probably from the ’80’s.

  3. I made a Lopi sweater in 1964 from a Reynolds Lopi pattern which I have never been able to find again. It lasted for years and would love to find it again!

    1. Do you have a name or a photo of the sweater you made? I had a similar situation and found my pattern under very funny circumstances on ebay. Also, the istex websites have good pattern archives, and some of the old patterns have been revived.
      Pattern books:
      Free patterns:
      All Lopi Design patterns:

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