Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Icelandic Souvenirs, Part II

Well, this post has absolutely ZERO to do with socks. Or knitting, even.

You see, a year ago or so, I decided I needed a way to get rid of some stash. Like most knitters - and especially now that I am spinning, and a member of a fiber club, which ensures a steady input of wooly stuff - I have a seemingly endless supply of yarn.

I took a weaving class. Yes, I know, I used to be of the opinion that I'd never be caught weaving. My mother had a huge floor loom and at age 14 I helped her with it - once. The adolescent me was bored beyond belief. That's what I remember, anyways. But after visiting various friends who have small looms, I thought....well....maybe....

So, this weaving class. It was using a so-called "knitter's loom", which is a small "rigid heddle" loom (20" width of fabric, handles about 3m maximum length) that sits in your lap and uses knitting yarns. One day in, I was hooked. Bought the thing and took it home. This is a device that simply eats yarn. You can whack out a length of fabric in about 8 hours, a little longer if you do complicated patterning. But boy is it fast!!

So, I've been playing with this thing. It's a new toy, so of course I'm neglecting all my sock-projects to spend time with my new love.

Back to Iceland...I got some Lettlopi, which is the DK-ish version of the icelandic wool. I let myself be inspired by the colours of the Iceland landscape I remember from our hike along the Laugavegur trail:

[ Laugavegur Landscape ]

I ordered 3 colours: green, black, and light grey. The yarn is a double-ply construction, very lightly spun and plied, and then felted for strength, so it stands up fine in the loom. I didn't break any threads. The wool is hairy and has a tendency to stick to itself, so it's not the easiest thing to weave with, but quite do-able with only a little bit of patience required.

And then I made a scarf, with the simplest design possible - a random set of stripes in both length and width. I finished it by giving it a warm bath, followed by a quick spin in the dryer to get it to the "damp" stage, and then a hot steam iron and a prolonged and very, very stiff brush. This treatment fulled the wool ("fulled" = very slightly felted), and the brushing made it fuzzy, in the same way that I remember the lopapeysa sweaters were (in fact, the higher-end sweaters I saw in Reykjavik came with their own little brushes!). Speaking of lopapeysa sweaters, here's a fascinating article about them. They are a post-WW2 invention and have taken on almost mythical status.

The end product is very lightweight, fuzzy, and very warm. It is not soft - Icelandic wool is not a fine wool, it's tough as nails, like the sheep it comes from - but I find it quite pleasant to wear. I only get itchy from wool if I get too warm; in cold weather, even coarse wool around my neck doesn't bother me at all. Just lucky, I guess.

my Icelandic Memory Scarf ]

I'm super-pleased with this result! It deserves my Icelandic Badge of Approval!

[ souvenir badge ]

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