Fleece & Fiber Quality
Dual coated fleece — Icelandic fleece is the most versatile of all breeds and is a hand spinner's dream! The wool also felts easily and is prized by fiber artists. The two coats are:
- Tog: the soft strong long (to 18 inches) lustrous outer coat that provides wind, rain, and dust protection for the sheep. It has little crimp and hangs in loose curls. Used traditionally for sails, rope, sewing thread, belts, rugs, wall hangings, saddle clothes, lace shawls, and embroidery yarns.
- Thel: the soft under coat that keeps the sheep warm. Very fine, as small as 10 microns in diameter. Used for soft fine woolen yarns in under garments, fancy mittens, socks and baby clothes. This fiber has some crimp.
The two coats can be spun together — The tog and thel can be spun together to produce yarns that are similar to a mohair wool blend and are suitable for sweaters, socks, and hats.
Dual coat easily separated — The tog and thel can be seperated by hand simply by just pulling both ends of the lock, or by using wool cards or viking combs.
Soft "handle" — Icelandic wool is rated at a 62 to 64 spinning count, fiber ranges from 10 to 27 microns in diameter and feels very soft to the hand.
Long staple — Icelandic fleece can grow to 18 inches in a year. For best and cleanest hand spinning fleeces, ewes are sheared twice a year, in March and in November, with the fall clip used for spinning and the spring clip used for felting.
Minimal preparation — The naturally clean locks of Icelandic sheep only need to have the tips flicked or combed to untangle the long tog and then can be easily spun from the grease or washed locks. It can be processed into carded batts or roving. Viking combs are a natural for this kind of fleece.
Wide range of natural lustrous fleece colors — Icelandic sheep produce 27 different colors and patterns including:
|White||White Icelandic sheep can range from very "white-white" through creams and tans
|Black||Black Icelandic sheep can range in hues from blue black, inky black, silvery black and brown black
|Brown||Brown Icelandic sheep (called moorit in Iceland) span a color range that incldes pale beige, orange-apricot, taffy, milk chocolate, chestnut, dark chocolate, black brown, mocha and silvering browns
|Badger Faces||Badger Faces Icelandic sheep span a wide range of fleece colors, from buff and champagne through oatmeal. In addition, some parts of the fleece may have gray or silver bases to the fiber
|Gray||Gray Icelandic sheep can range from blue gray, lilac, medium silver, dark gray to brown grays
|Mixed Colors||Icelandic fleeces can have an undercoat that is a different color than the outer coat which produces a true tweed yarn.|
Less lanolin in the fleece — Less lanolin means more fiber yield per pound of raw fleece. Icelandic fleeces have a 20 to 29% shrink, compared to modern breeds where 50% of the fleece weight is in the wool grease. Therefore, a 7 pound Icelandic fleece would yield as much fiber as a 10 lb. fleece of a modern breed.
Fleece weights: 5 to 7 pounds per year for adults; 3 to 4 pounds for a 7 month old lamb fleece.
The best fleece for felting — Icelandic fleece has long been famous with fiber artists for its excellent felting properties! Makes a fast felting, soft, strong product. Easily made into hats, vests, masks, purses, slippers and boots. Traditionally the yarn was knitted into garments three sizes too large and then felted down to size to make the clothing windproof.
Commercial yarn popularity — Reynolds Lopi has been Americas most popular knitting yarn for years and is made with 100% Icelandic wool.