Knitting in Iceland. History and modern trends

What is Iceland famous for? Volcanoes, geysers, the Blue Lagoon, an abundance of fish, magnificent, some kind of unearthly image of open spaces, in which in recent years it has become very trendy to shoot adventure films. In the fashion world, Iceland is same trendy – in various collections of world famous brands various interpretations of the Icelandic Lopapeysa sweater appear. Of course, as a designer, this

topic captures me, and I even have a selection of the most unusual views on a traditional sweater model. It has been revealed by mass-produced brands – Zara, H&M, the middle price segment – for example, Barbour, and high-fashion masters like Burberry, J Brand, 3.1. Phillip Lim. Not many people know that lopapeysa appeared only in the middle of the 20th century and the only thing that connects it with Icelandic sweaters in the old days is that the same yarn is used- wool of an Icelandic sheep. The first immigrants from Norway brought sheep to Iceland. In the harsh northern climate and with all the natural disasters, Icelandic sheep have become a valuable resource for centuries.They provided the population with wool, meat and skin, and at the same time do not require special care.

Interestingly, the first written mention of knitting, as a very important and already well-known craft, is in the first Icelandic Bible, printed in 1584. Knitted clothes have even been used as a means of trade since 1582. Everyone was engaged in knitting: women, men, children and the elderly. They knitted for themselves and for sale to merchants who came from England, Denmark, Holland, Norway and other European countries. In 1624 alone, over 72,000 pairs of woolen stockings and 12,000 pairs of mittens and many other products made of Icelandic wool were exported. The oldest knitted item found in Iceland is simple knitted woolen mittens made in the 16th century. Mittens were found during archaeological excavations in Storaborg in southern Iceland. In the old days, knitwear was practical, warm and not too decorative. We learned to dye yarn quite late. Before that, sweaters and other knitted items were decorated with amulets and used only natural colors of wool, but there were already 27 variations of the Icelandic sheep, as it turned out.

Now our family-owned company “Mjúk Iceland” purchases yarn for hats, sweaters and other products at the only industrial spinningmill in Iceland – Ístex. There we choose not from 27 natural shades, but from more than a hundred different colors and types of yarn.

Anna Morris,

Chief Designer at Mjúk Iceland