Icelandic is quite a fascinating breed. It’s dual coated, meaning it has a soft inner coat called þel, and a longer, harsher outercoat known as tog. Often the two layers are separated and spun for two distinct types of yarn. Or they can be spun together, to produce a lofty, warm and waterproof yarn known as Lopi. Because the outercoat is included the yarn is not particularly next to the skin soft, still it makes great sweater yarn.
My first round of Icelandic didn’t give me the best impression of the breed. However I had an understanding that it was not quite representative of the breed. The second round was sampled from a fleece bought by Connie of Praxis Fiber Workshop (Cleveland, OH). Oxbow Orchard is located in Valley View Ohio. Connie was able to visit the local farm, meet the sheep and chose the fleece.
As usual, I didn’t completely scour my fleece. Among my love of spinning in the grease, I also know that Icelandic felts magnificently—and I didn’t want to take that risk. It’s easier for me to scour the yarn of this heavy greased fleece than the raw. So a hot soap soak was all it required, as it wasn’t very dirty and seemed to have little VM.
I also took the advantage of left over dye in the pot, and came out with a pleasant peak shade.
Completely smooth yarn was not a concern, just some quick flicks to separate coats and straighten out the locks.
Then on to the beautiful Tina II Jensen wheel, both coats separately, with a worsted draw. I was careful not to add excessive twist to either fiber. The result was two different 2 ply yarns: one smooth and wiry, one soft and lofty.
Connie spun her sample with both coats together, and plied, a combination that gives the resulting yarn much texture and character.
If you are interested in Icelandic Fleece visit Oxbow Orchard on Instagram @oxboworchardohio, or the website at Oxboworchard.com