Did you know that in Iceland there are more sheep than Icelanders, or around 400-500.000 sheep and just about 370.000 Icelanders!
Since the country was settled around 870 AC the sheep has been an important part of Icelandic lifestyle and economy. It has provided generations of Icelanders food and equally important it´s wool as protection from the biting cold of the harsh northern climate. The Icelandic sheep is a unique breed, shaped by centuries of isolation and arctic weather. Its wool is therefore unique, and you can´t find compatible wool like the Icelandic wool anywhere else in the world. The Icelandic wool, and sometimes referred as the Icelandic fleece or Lopi in Icelandic, is combined of Tog (outer coat, which is longer, more wiry hairs) and Þel (softer, finer undercoat). This special combination gives the Icelandic wool it´s incredible warmth, unique insulating qualities and even water repellence up to a point.
Without the Icelandic sheep and its wool, Iceland would have been impossible to live in. As the Icelandic wool has been used for various necessities like sweaters, socks, mittens, scarfs, hats, and blankets.
Interestingly as well, knitting from 100% Icelandic wool has never been just for grandmothers in Iceland. In fact, it has been an important part of Icelandic lifestyle for centuries and for generations, Icelandic wool designs have been passed on from ancestors to offsprings. A good testament of that is a nice story we received from an enthusiastic Icelandic knitter, and we like to share:
“While walking between farms my grandfather, born 1855, used to knit socks on his way, he did that also while collecting his sheep to move them to another field to fatten them with moss, grass, and other delicious herbs. His father, then my great-grandfather, also knitted socks in similar conditions. Though knitting was known to be mostly made by the hardworking women, those two didn´t care about how other thought of them knitting.”
Because of this proud heritage, knitting is even taught in the elementary stage for kids and probably every Icelander has one or a few 100% Icelandic knitted clothing in their closet for the possibility of a cold day.