Lopapeysa, a hand knitted sweater made from Icelandic wool, has become extremely popular amongst all generations in Iceland. Icelanders enjoy wearing their lopapeysa for all occasions and here are my reasons why you should buy one during your stay in Iceland!
There is no doubt that Icelandic sweaters are a good quality and worth investing. They are made from the Icelandic yarn called lopi which makes them very resistant and soft. Since the old days they were used to keep Icelanders warm in all kinds of weather that you can get on this island.
While in the past lopapeysa used to be considered as clothings for farmers and fishermen, today it is a hot trend and very popular amongst young people in Iceland. From my personal experience I can say that probably every Icelander owns at least one typical wool sweater and is proud of wearing it. I find very practical to take the lopapeysa on a festival or when traveling, however you will notice that many Icelanders wear their lopapeysa on everyday basis.
Knitting has always been a popular activity amongst farmers and fishermen in Iceland. Since the 2008 financial crisis in Iceland, people have started trying more economic solutions to keep their expenses on a minimum; therefore owning a proper hand knitted lopapeysa which keeps you warm through the year seemed like a good idea. If walking to a touristic shop makes you think that these simple sweaters are overpriced and that you could never afford to buy one, it is worth mentioning that there are many places in Reykjavik where you can buy a second hand lopapeysa for a fair price. Walk the main shopping street Laugavegur and you will definitely not miss a vintage shop Spuutnik or try the Kolaportid flea market by the harbour. You will see that buying an Icelandic wool sweater can after all be a very smart decision.
I have personally tried knitting in Iceland only once since I arrived. It is not an easy activity and it definitely requires some skills and a lot of patience, which is not my greatest quality. If your knitting talent is better than mine you can join local women and try to make one. I'm sure that with some practice it is possible to knit your own lopapeysa but I would still reconsider buying one.
I can guarantee that it will be difficult for you to leave Iceland without buying a lopapeysa. Traditional Icelandic wool sweaters have become a symbol of Iceland and many tourists feel a need to own a piece of this unique clothing. You can find your handmade lopapeysa basically in any souvenir shop all over the country, but if you want to buy a sweater knitted by a private person, I would recommend to take a look at the store of The Icelandic Handknitting Association on Laugavegur in Reykjavik.