Iceland Wool: How to Soften?

Last year in February, hundreds of us ‘banged out a sweater’, the Stopover. This is the perfect time to wear it, even down south it’s cold! I used the Istex Lettlopi yarn but find it nearly impossible to wear without wearing something underneath. I have tried blocking it twice with a high quality woolens detergent and even tried a white vinegar rinse I read about online. It softened up some, but wore it the other day and was repentant the whole day. It was so uncomfortable around my neck.

The yarn was easy to use, inexpensive and I’d like to keep using it, as I would like to WEAR MY SWEATER, but need some advice! What did the rest of you do to make it wearable?

Thanks so much! Rosemary

I can’t answer this question but can provide an alternate solution.

I wear them over a silk turtleneck. No itch! I’m a person who can’t wear kureyon next to my skin and who hunts for EF cashmere on eBay. Icelandic is such great outerwear that then does not turn into a furnace when you get back indoors. Just remember to layer! I wore one all day yesterday and was comfy in a stuffy office, in the breezy chilly outdoors, and driving sans heavy jacket.


I also knitted a Stopover; had to soak it twice. I used some hair conditioner in the second soak. It softened the lopi a bit. I always year my Stopover over a long sleeved t-shirt or turtleneck.

Hope this helps!


I also soaked twice, second time with hair conditioner. Another Stopover knitter let me pet her swatch that she had “beat up” in the soak. It was amazing - shockingly soft. My sweater is not that soft. Not sure how her sweater turned out…@jenrsmall can you comment? I’m thinking of giving mine another soak with some “beating up”. The LettLopi is so sturdy, I’m not too worried. Will report back on results.


I don’t find my Stopovers to be too itchy; I wear them over a little silky T shirt. My arms don’t itch where I’m touching the wool. I did modify the neckline to be a little rolled neckline instead of the ribbed neckline; it doesn’t come up as high and doesn’t itch at my neck!

I blocked using Soak wash; love that stuff.


Well, looks like wearing something underneath is the consensus. I do like your roll neck, thanks for including the picture! I am knitting another Stopover now (softer wool!). Could you tell how you did the neck? Thanks!


Here you go!

I skipped the last row of colorwork, knit a round with my neck color. Changed to smaller needles (US9) and knit 7 more rows (so 8 rows total). No neck decrease, just kept the stitches left over from the colorwork section. Bound off with larger needle (US10.5). It makes a lovely rolled edge, and the neck hole is not tight around my neck.

Enjoy your Stopover!


I have two Icelandic wool sweaters but I think they are both plotulopi, which might be softer. At first, I thought the wool was too itchy for next to skin. I found they get softer from wear. It’s also possible I just became desensitized to the wool. I now find my sweaters completely comfortable, even with sleeveless shirts.
I haven’t tried to make the wool softer in any way. One, which I bought in Iceland, I’ve never even washed.

Just as an FYI, I did not skip the last row of colorwork and just did stockinette to let mine roll.

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Today put the sleeves and body together…should be reaching the colorwork
and maybe wrap it up tomorrow – Sunday at the latest! Thanks again!


Within the past few weeks I have used the hand wash cycle on my washer and a squirt of Soak for detergent on two woolen projects. One was my station wagon blanket, knit from the Brown Sheep (kit from MDK). The other is a sweater from a doubled strand of Alice Starmore Scottish Campion (shetland wool). Both came out much softer – the transformation of the sweater in Shetland wool was astounding.

I gave the blanket to my son and his girlfriend last Sunday. She immediately cuddled up with it, continuously petted it, and kept murmuring “it’s so soft”.

You might want to try a Soak bath for your Icelandic wool. Part of what makes wool scratchy is guard hairs spun into the yarn. They are stiffer and shorter than the rest of the sheep hair so they poke out and scratch. A bath in a front loading washer will remove some of those guard hairs when it spins out (the item also dries faster than if you wash in a tub and try to squeeze the water out).