Álafoss Wool factory

Since 1896 the wool processing in Mosfellsbær is known under the name Álafoss. In 1991 Ístex hf took over the business.


That Icelandic woolen sweaters are waterproof, was a statement of my Icelandic teacher when she brought in a selection of Icelandic wool into one of the lessons. She said that in Iceland it would be customary to knit the sweaters a little bit bigger and to wash a little too hot the first time. This would slightly matt the Icelandic new wool and would therefore be waterproof. I could imagine the effect immediately, as I had experienced it several times involuntarily. Worst of all was the sinfully expensive cashmere scarf, which had cheated itself into the normal laundry and then came out of the machine as a shapeless felt sausage. While I was inspecting the balls I decided to stop by the wool factory Álafoss in Mosfellsbær on my next visit to Iceland.

Álafoss is just a 15 minutes drive from Reykjavik north to Mosfellsbær. On the way to Snaefellsnes you inevitably come through this suburb of Reykjavik. Turning off the main road, you will drive about 2-3 minutes on a smaller street before you will stand in front of a rather inconspicuous building. Only the sheep next to the entrance confirms the assumption that you are at the right place.

At 9 o'clock in the morning it was still empty and we could rummage in peace in the outstretched knitting books. We were soon spoiled for choice. Should we take one of the finished knitting packages, where wool and knitting instructions are already bundled? Or rather look for a model for which you can put together the colors individually. In the latter case, however, one must buy the knitting instructions for 800 ISK or, if you want, the whole booklet for 2000 ISK (as of May 2019).

iceland pullover Lopapeysa wool pattern knit
Model Garri is available as a finished knitting package including instructions       Bildquelle:

Another question was how thick the sweater should be or when and why I want to wear it. Most instructions were either for the Álafosslopi or the Léttlopi wool. With an Álafosslopi model I would have got something for the really cold days outside. With 100 m / 100 g and a needle size of 5/6 you are thus finished relatively quickly with the knitting. But I wanted something that could be worn both inside and out. Therefore I decided for the Léttlopi with 100 m / 50g and for a needle size 3/4 clearly thinner.

In addition to the aforementioned wool species, there are two more. Plötulopi and Einband. Plötulopi is an unspun wool. Normally two to three balls are entangled at the same time. The barrel length is 300m / 100g and the needle size depends on how many threads you use.
Einband on the other hand, is a thin lace yarn which, with a needle size of 2.5 / 3 mm and 250m / 50g, is more suitable for filigree, lighter pullovers.

If you buy products in Iceland for an amount of 6.000 ISK you will get back part of the tax (if you are resident outside of Iceland).In May 2019 the price for the wool and the knitting instruction booklet was together at the equivalent of 54 €.

By Tax Refund I got back 5.73 € after deducting the fees. Prerequisite was a Tax-Free-Form, which is usually handed over automatically when you buy something. It is important that it has been signed by an employee of the business. On the form you have to make a few details such as the credit card number. How to fill in the form can be found here.

iceland pullover Lopapeysa wool pattern knit
The wool may only be washed by hand.

Before returning home, the form must be handed in at the Tax Refund counter in Keflavík Airport. In addition, you still need the receipt and possibly the goods, if you have to show them. So it's a good idea to do that before the baggage check and have the things at hand. For me, the employee of global blue (the agency that handled the refund) kept both the form and the receipts. I am not sure if this should be the case or just "happened". The fact is that afterwards I had no proof to control the credit card statement. Next time, I'm going to take a photo of the notes.

In order to get a clue with which material costs (as of October 2019) you must count on a ladies' sweater in size M I have determined and summarized the average values ​​from several knitting instructions.

iceland pullover Lopapeysa wolle knit costs

Of course you can buy Icelandic wool not only in Álafoss but also in many shops in Reykjavik. Furthermore many wool shops carry the ISTEX brand all over Europe.
Using the search term 'wool ISTEX' you will probably even find a shop near you. Otherwise, the order still remains over the Internet. Here is the summary (as of October 2019) about the approximate cost of a delivery from Germany.

iceland pullover Lopapeysa wolle knit costs

My conclusion: A visit to the wool factory is worthwhile, if you like knitting, are anyway in the area, want to see and feel the complete product range with all its colors and expressions and have enough space in your suitcase to carry home the shopping.

Álafoss | Álafossvegur | Mosfellsbær