For some years, the Varma and Ístex knitting and sewing factory has been working on a development project intended to produce a softer version of Icelandic wool. “It’s a known fact that the Icelandic wool stings,” Páll Kr. Pálsson, CEO and owner of Varma, told RÚV. “But I started thinking there’s something more we can do about it and make the Icelandic wool softer and more wearable.”
Ístex buys wool from farmers, including lamb’s wool. “The farmers keep the lambswool separate, and the washing station verifies it – and this project uses more lambswool to increase the softness of the thread,” says Ístex quality- and development manager Sunna Jökulsdóttir. Lambswool is the first fleece sheared off sheep in the autumn and is softer than the wool of older sheep.
The production process was also rethought entirely, from the way the farmers shear the wool to how it’s processed within Varma, to produce an even softer thread. Páll says the wool yarn they’re now making is competitive with some types of foreign merino wool. He won’t say it rivals the very finest foreign merino, but Varma will be eliminating imported wool in many of their products in favour of they’re new lambswool yarn. He adds, however, that when they get down to it, the most important thing is what designers choose to do with the wool they produce, that’s where the opportunities lie.