They provide warmth to young children at play, hip teenagers trying to look cool and old fishermen battling the cold. The lopapeysa is both beautiful and practical, the unique wool used to make it, called lopi, has insulation abilities and repels water as well. This is thanks mainly to the sheep who provide it, having been isolated in Iceland since the first Vikings arrived to the island.
In recent years a controversy arose over the legitimacy of some of the lopapeysas being sold. It was discovered that some producers were outsourcing work to China, without clearly marking their product as being produced outside of Iceland. Many claimed that the sweaters produced on foreign territory were fakes and should be avoided when purchasing aiming at authentic lopapeysa. This begs the question, what makes a lopapeysa the real deal? Is it the lopi, the color, the pattern, or perhaps even the nationality of the person who made it? The answer to this is unclear, though one thing is for sure, the lopi and the pattern on the round at the shoulders must be present.
Before this shift in fashion the lopapeysa was generally not seen on a day to day basis. Their use was reserved for national festivals like independence day and cultural night and during gatherings in the country side and camping trips.
Nowadays, thanks to the popularity of this beautiful sweater, they are widely available for purchase all over the city of Reykjavík, and all other towns of Iceland.
If you enjoy knitting and want to create your own lopapeysa the first step is to buy the lopi wool. It can be purchased at all knitting stores and in some tourist shops. You could even make a day of it and take a trip to the historical Álafoss store. It is located in the town of Mosfellsbær, a twenty minute drive from Reykjavík. Álafoss began producing wool in 1896, there is even a type of wool named after it, the Álafoss lopi, which is often used when knitting a lopapeysa.
So, wether you want to stay warm, look good or perhaps try your hand at knitting the lopapeysa is a must have for all.
Iceland24, October 2013