Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Fibre of the Month - MARCH

This month I am looking at Icelandic wool.

photo from
Icelandic Sheep - aren't they handsome?!

Icelandic sheep are a medium sized breed, one of the North European Short Tailed type, related to Finnsheep, Shetland, Spelsau and Swedish Landrace. They are double coated.. the under coat, called thel, is downy and soft, the outer coat is longer and coarser and called tog.

Icelandic sheep are reputed to be very independant and do well on rough, sparse pasture.  They make good mothers and have plenty of milk.. up 'till the mid 20th century they were often kept as milk sheep. 

The tops (roving) that I buy from World of Wool are 9-10cm staple length and 34-36 micron, but the batts I buy from Alafoss in Iceland are shorter staples and finer.. I don’t have the staple/micron figures for the batts but they are called kemba.

For this sample I have used the 34-36micron tops.

Laid out to the same size as previous samples (20cm x 20cm) with 3 layers of fibre, thoroughly felted to achieve maximum shrinkage.

Icelandic is a fast and easy felter; making a firm, hard wearing felt.  The finish is slightly hairy and very tactile.  I find that washing up liquid (dish soap) works better with Icelandic than olive soap.  For healing edges and rubbing I use a plain vegetable soap bar.

Finished size: 16 x 15cm
Weight:         12.8g
Shrinkage:      20% x 25%

Excellent for slippers and bags that will take a lot of wear and tear and for sculptural pieces that need to be structurally strong.  I wouldn't personally use for next to the skin garments or for hats.. I think it may be a little itchy on the forehead. That said bare feet in Icelandic slippers are very happy feet indeed :)

Next time - my Icelandic Project

p.s. don't ask me why I have font changes and highlighted areas on this post.. blogger has gone mad and it won't let me correct it! Grrrrrrr



Gill said...

Hi Debbie
I've been following your blog for ages now - I find it really helpful and I love your work! I have a few queries and would be grateful for your advice. Can I email you?
I've always used Swaledale for hardwearing items - is Icelandic easier to use?

Unknown said...

Bravo for Icelandic wool! I adore felting bags with this fiber and am anxious to see your project. I recently bought two beautiful fleeces and am looking for a way to incorporate the dual coat into project. Loving your series here on the different breeds!

Jacqui Galloway said...

Very handsome sheep!

Terriea Kwong said...

I really love your blog, very informative and creative. The experiment & testing is so useful for me. I just ordered Icelandic accordingly as I like to make bags. Your bags and booties are gorgeous.

Susi Ryan said...

I love felting with Icelandic wool. I do make hats from it and lined them with fleece. You can make some fabulous shapes with it because it does shrink down so well. Love this series you are doing on sheep Deborah!

FeltersJourney said...

Hi Gill, glad you enjoy my blog :) You are welcome to email me.. feltersjourney (at)

To be honest I haven't used swaledale, but have added it to my Fibre of the Month list :)

I find Icelandic very easy to work with


FeltersJourney said...

Kelly, I've never used (or even handled) an Icelandic fleece.. really looking forward to hearing how you get on with it :)

FeltersJourney said...

Thanks Jacqui, Terrie & Susi :)

Susi good idea with the fleecy lining! They must be wonderfully warm and cosy!