What makes an Icelandic sweater special, and how to find the best Icelandic sweater for you…
You’ll see both locals and tourists sporting these warm and wooly creations all over Iceland. They are just as practical as they are beautiful so having one is an investment worth making if you spend any time in cold weather. But where to find the perfect one? There is no shortage of places to buy beautiful and high quality Icelandic wool wear all over Iceland. Stores like The Nordic Store and Álafoss Wool Factory come to mind for reliable quality ones.
According to the Reykjavík Grapevine, the average Lopapeysa will set you back between 20,000-35,000 ISK (about 154-271 USD) although I paid a lot less than that for mine. There are great alternatives out there though if you don’t want to shell out a lot of cash. Thrift stores in Reykjavík are brimming with second hand sweaters and you can even knit your own if you’re down for a challenge!
I knew I wanted an Icelandic sweater, but I only wanted to spend the money on a piece that I was completely in love with. Lots of people get Icelandic sweaters they are perfectly happy with at the big wool stores, but that’s not for me. I almost felt like finding my ideal Icelandic sweater was a little like a wizard finding his or her wand, your perfect sweater chooses you.
By my last day in Iceland I had almost given up on it. Then my group and I stopped at a gas station on the outermost tip of Snaefellsnes Peninsula. There next to the shelves of salty junk food and dried fish was a small rack of hand knit sweaters. My friends and I started rifling through it, and I was drawn to a black, white and gray one with a simple geometric pattern. It called my name in a way that no other sweater I’d seen yet had. When I asked the woman behind the counter about it, she told me that the design was meant to recall the peaks of the glaciers on the Snaefellsnes Peninsula. Then she introduced me to the woman who knitted it, who happened to be hanging out right behind the counter! I asked her how long it took her to knit it and she answered, “four evenings”. I loved the idea that I was buying something handmade by a local artisan and bringing something of this remote town back to my life with me.
It ended up costing me 18,000 ISK (139 USD) for a completely unique handmade Icelandic sweater. In fact, she’d have only charged me 16,000 had I paid cash. What a bargain! When you get outside of Rekyjavík a lot these little rest stops and mom and pop cafes offer hands knit goods like this, so they’re worth a look!
If you love the idea of an Icelandic sweater but know it’s an impractical item to bring back to your home climate, there are lots of other lovely knits to be had in Iceland. Icewear offers many affordable hats, headbands and mittens that are all made of Icelandic wool. You can pick these up almost anywhere in Iceland, even at gas stations! If you’re on a budget, this may be your go-to.
However, if you really want something memorable, I’d suggest a scarf as an alternative. I got a gorgeous wool scarf that is meant to evoke the colorful rooftops of Reykjavík. The scarf was handmade in Iceland by a designer named Volki. Even though I love my Icelandic sweater, I know I’m going to get even more wear out of the scarf in Switzerland…
What about you? What’s the most beautiful and useful fashion piece you’ve picked up whilst traveling?