Iceland and wool have been bound together since the first Vikings settled the island which lead to the creation of very popular Icelandic sweaters of today. The Vikings brought sheep and other animals with them which made Iceland a country of hardy long-haired sheep, whose wool combines the qualities of softness, sturdiness, and water resistance found in Icelandic sweaters. Not surprisingly, knitted and woven wollens have always been a necessity in the northern climate.
The fleece of Icelandic sheep consists of a long outer layer called tog and a short, fine underhair called pel. Tog was combed and spun into strong cord for sewing and weaving; the finest tog is similar to mohair and was used for fine lacy shawls and embroidery. Pel was used to make garments, the softest pel of all being produced by brown and grey sheep.
Growing up in Iceland in the 16th century, hand made crafts such as knitting, crocheting and embroidery were a part of everyday life. The craft of knitting quickly became the country's principal export. Knitting Icelandic sweaters requires no investment in equipment beyond a set of knitting needles and the raw materials, so was available as a source of income to the poorest inhabitants. Most Icelandic knitting was strictly utilitarian, though it was also an avenue for creative expression. Icelandic sweaters were traded all over the Atlantic region, arriving in America during the early years of settlement.
Icelandic sweaters are inspired by the beauty and power of spectacular landscapes, the decorative arts throughout Iceland history, and the heritage of European textiles. Icelandic sweaters have attracted a loyal following of women to whom artistry in knitwear is essential.
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