Knitting with lettlopi

Knitting With Traditional Lettlopi Yarn

Traditional lettlopi yarn in natural coloursKnitting with lettlopi yarn is a completely different experience! I know I was nervous before ordering my first batch of the traditional Icelandic wool, so as I work on my second lopi sweater, I thought I’d write up a quick review.*

Lopi is made from Icelandic sheep wool. At this point, you’re probably rolling your eyes at me and thinking “Big deal, I knit with wool all the time!”

But lopi really is a little different from other yarns.

Icelandic sheep create unique lopi yarnIn order to survive the harsh Icelandic winters, Iceland’s sheep are a little different to your regular sheep. Their fleece has two layers, the outercoat (or tog), which is long and “hairy” looking. The thel, or undercoat, is short and soft. Basically, the sheep are dressed for winter like the rest of us: a tough outercoat to repel the weather, and a soft, warm layer underneath!

So that’s lopi. We then have the modifiers:

  • Álafoss Lopi. Álafoss looks like a place I would seriously love to visit!. It also refers to a bulky weight of yarn, which is great for outdoor garments.
  • Plötulopi. This is literally unspun “plates” of lopi. Because the fibres aren’t twisted, it can be frustrating to knit with. Here’s an excellent review of Plotulopi.
  • Léttlopi, or light lopi is worsted weight, and knits up into garments that can be worn indoors as well as out.

Whichever lopi you choose, it all comes from Ístex, the only mill in Iceland.

I’ve only worked with Lettlopi (so far…), so that’s all I can speak to.

What’s Lettlopi Like to Knit With?

It’s great! It’s a little “hairy”, but really soft. It can be a bit splitty, so blunt needles are better than sharp.

Here’s what it looks like knit up at13 stitches per 4 inches (on the left) and 20 stitches per 4 inches (on the right).

Knitting with lettlopi yarn at different gauges

You can see even at the looser gauge, the lettlopi has expanded to fill in the gaps, making for a more solid(ish) fabric than we could expect from a smoother yarn at a similar gauge.

Modern Lopapeysa handknit sweaterWhat’s Lettlopi Like to Wear?

It’s warm. Seriously warm. Remember that long outercoat? It repels water, and fills in any gaps in your stitches. The undercoat traps heat, keeping you cozy.

Because it’s kind of hairy, you do want to wear a layer under it. I’m not sensitive to wool or itchiness, so I’m happy wearing my stopover over a short-sleeved shirt, but a garment at a tighter gauge (i.e., more outercoat hairs per square inch) would probably be less comfortable.

It does soften with use and washing though (gentle handwashing of course! Lopi felts.).

How Durable is Knitting with Lettlopi Yarn?

Very! I’ve worn my Stopover pretty much non-stop for a year, with no noticeable pilling or damage. A garment knit to a tighter gauge would be pretty much indestructible – as far as handknit garments go.
Lettlopi yarn colours

Give me Lettlopi’s Details.

  • Lettlopi is pure Icelandic Wool.
  • Each 50g ball contains – 100 metres/109 yards
  • Recommended needle size is 4-5mm
  • Oh and it comes in just about every colour you could wish for.

Where Can I Buy Lettlopi Online?

Luckily, it’s pretty readily available! It’s even worth checking with your local yarn shop, as they might carry it. I’m not associated with any of these stores, but you can buy lopi:

  • Wool Warehouse. I haven’t bought lopi from here, but I have bought a lot of other yarn, and they’ve always been great. (Worldwide shipping. Free shipping in the UK when you spend more than £25)
  • Icelandic Wool Store. This is where I bought my most recent lopi stash. (Free shipping to UK/Europe. Worldwide shipping)

If those options don’t work for you, try:

That’s a lot of words about a little bit of yarn! Tell me in the comments if you’ve knit with lopi, and what you think of it.


*I have in no way been compensated for this post, and all views are my own. Here’s another excellent lopi review you might like to read next.

    • Elisabeth Ann Scott
    • March 21, 2020
    Reply

    I’ve started my first Lopi sweater today. I love scratchy wool! It’s the only wool that feels authentic to me! Lettlopi is what I’m using. It is lightweight and easy to knit. A little hairy, but I feel that contributes to it’s interesting texture. I’m knitting a beautiful brown color that has lots of varied hues…I think it is called muddy or mucky or something. Anyway, I’m seriously excited about my future sweater!

  1. Reply

    My daughter just came back from Iceland and purchased for me lettlopi yarn. 4 blue, 4 brown, 2 light gray and 2 dark gray. I have been looking for patterns using this weight that I could knit with 4 colors. Sweaters use the bulkier so I was looking at hats and gloves. Do you have any suggestions? I have checked out Ravelry. Evelyn Mintzer emintzer4200@mchsi.com.

    • Patricia Danagher
    • September 15, 2018
    Reply

    I made Lopi sweaters for my children over 50 years ago, about 4 years ago I passed two of the somewhat worn but still very serviceable sweaters on to other children. My children would layer other sweaters under the Lopi sweater, and then go out and play in the snow in the state of Maine. To this day I still enjoy knitting Lopi sweaters, but in the state of Virginia it is very difficult to find Lopi patterns, and the yarn must be ordered online.

    Patricia J., Charlottesville Va

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