Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Wooly Words of the Week: Icelandic, Tog and Thel

Since I started my fleece work with an Icelandic fleece, it seemed only fitting to add Icelandic terms to my glossary:

Sheep breed, Icelandic:  A member of the Northern European short-tailed sheep family, this ancient and primitive breed is a living piece of Viking history.  Viking settlers introduced these sheep to Iceland more than one thousand years ago, and no further introductions of other sheep have ever been allowed.  Their primitive wool is dual-coated and highly versatile, and comes in almost all natural colors from white to grey to browns to black.  The outer coat is called tog and the inner coat is called thel.  Their wool can be used for anything from hard-wearing rugs to next-to-the-skin clothing, depending on how the spinner chooses to prepare the fiber.

Tog: the outer coat of an Icelandic fleece.  Tog can range from 4 to 10 inches in length, and it can be quite course or somewhat silky, but it always very strong.  If it is separated from the staple, it is perfect for worsted spinning.

Thel: the inner coat of an Icelandic fleece.  Thel typically ranges from 2 to 3 inches in length, and it is extremely soft.  This fiber rivals Merino and cashmere for softness, and if it's separated from the staple, it is perfect for woolen spinning.

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