Tweed Lopi

Icelandic sheep

Icelandic Sheep

I have long loved Lopi yarns.  Lopi yarn is a single ply yarn spun from the dual-coated fleece of the Icelandic sheep (a descendant of the Norwegian Spælsau, which, by the way, provided the yarn used to weave the Viking ship sails).  A combination of both the long, coarse hairs of the sheep’s outer coat and the short softer hairs of its inner coat, Lopi yarn is warm, durable, water repellent and hard wearing.  I have knit with Lopi yarn in all its weights, loving it all.

TweedSkeins2Thor has long eyed (and frequently borrowed) the Bulky Lopi pullover I knit for myself 20 years ago and still wear on winter’s coldest days.  Thus when I found Istex’s (Icelandic Textile Company) Bulkylopi (100g/3.5o, 60m/66y) in a blue tweed (shade 1415, lot 0952) at a great price a few months ago, I quickly ordered some for Thor.

The skeins were very attractive – a lovely dark blue spun with flecks of red, blue and white.  My gauge swatch looked fine, but when I knit up the sweater the sum total of the flecks didn’t work for Thor (or me):  All the fleck colors were too bright, and the blue and red were simply the wrong hues for the lovely dark blue yarn.

TweedDonegalTweed yarns are spun in a basic background color with slubs or nebs of colored wool added.  Ideally the color of the slubs work well with the background color, as they do in this picture of Donegal Tweed to the left.  But when they don’t – well, even great yarn doesn’t look as nice as it could.

Years ago I found skeins of tweed wool from Ireland spun from a lovely,  lanolin-rich, crisp wool.   The main color was a natural cream, but the slubs were pastels in shades of pink and purple.  Though I thought the tweed looked awful, it I bought the yarn (it had such a nice hand!) and overdyed it with a deep, rich purple.  Dyed as such, the tweed flecks and the background color were well suited!


Growing Pile of Removed Slubs

But as I was knitting with Lopi, I had another option; remember, Lopi is a fairly loosely spun, single ply.  Further, each fleck in this yarn was small (though there were a lot of them), which means few were twisted very tightly into the yarn.  So I picked up a pair of tweezers, sat down under a good light and started removing slubs.

I was strategic about it; I didn’t remove all the slubs.  (I wanted the yarn to look tweedy after all.)  I also had to be careful to remove them in a balanced way – avoiding both clumps of tweed flecks and large areas with no flecks.  The actual slub removal was easy.  Granted it took me a couple of hours, but the result was worth it.  Thor loves the sweater (and now he’ll stop stealing mine).

TweedLarryAs shown by the picture on the right, though tweezed, there’s still variation in the blue yarn due to the red, white and blue flecks I left in, but there is no garish contrast.

TweedSlippers (2)Now compare the tweediness of the sweater to that of these slippers I knit and fulled from the un-tweezed Lopi.

I have two full skeins of Lopi remaining.  As we always ask our guests to remove their shoes and as the house we’re building will have wood floors throughout, I will use the unused Lopi to knit and full multiple pairs of slippers in varying sizes and keep in a basket by the front door for guests to don.  Though the slippers will be identical, save for size, I will denote pairs by sewing matching buttons or pompoms on each size!  I’ll have to put some sort of sticky substance on the soles so our friends don’t slip and slide on the wood floors.

So should you buy tweed and it not knit up as nicely as you hoped it would, don’t despair!  You have options!

This entry was posted in Bulky Lopi, Dyeing, Fibers, Knitting, Uncategorized and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Tweed Lopi

  1. Marit says:

    I saw that sweater… it’s lovely!


  2. kiwiyarns says:

    Clever idea!


  3. Susan McKee-Nugent says:

    What a good if slow idea! Big improvement in the actual knitted garment I must say. Only you would think of this 🙂


  4. salpal1 says:

    Yeah, I think you might be the first one to tweeze tweed, you trend setter, you. 😉


  5. I must have read the same blog about the puffy paint. I too have never tried it, but I will. I’ll probably knit up a sample, full it, add the puffy paint and then when the paint is dry wash to see how it lasts.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I have done a lot of over dyeing of good yarn in bad (to me, at least) colors. This was the first time I tweezed tweed, though! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Another blogger recently posted about adding dots of puffy paint to the soles of socks/slippers. I don’t know if it works well or how it holds up, but I filed it away as an option for non-skid footwear. The sweater looks lovely! I like tweeds, even when they’re on the garish side, but your tweeting really improved the overall look.


  8. salpal1 says:

    Great solution- you saved that sweater. It looks very nice with the slubs pulled out. And in the slippers, it won’t matter. 😉

    Over dying is a great solution in general- I often buy a wonderful light colored yarn on saw and do that trick. It’s pretty simple and makes a huge difference.


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