Lopapeysa is an Icelandic-style sweater made from unspun wool. Icelandic wool has two types of hair: longer fibres to catch water and shorter fleece to give warmth. Since Icelandic wool is not spun, it contains more air and provides better insulation.
I have been forever lecturing tourists on how watertight Icelandic jumpers are without ever trying one out in the feeblest of rains. Back in 1990, when I came to Iceland, Lopapeysa was not a fashionable item. Only labourers and deckhands wore them. I would put one on too to work in fish, but always under an orange fisherman’s robe.
Today Lopapeysur are all the rage in Iceland and beyond, but I shun them for being excessively hip. Except for in Portugal, where I own one untraditional Lopapeysa with a zipper front and a hood to show off to the locals.
Algarve has just been suffering massive outpours. Heavy rains must have arrived from Spain. The Portuguese maintain that all bad things come from there, especially lousy weather and ugly women. Foreign expats in Portugal, on the other hand, mistakenly take the Portuguese for «friendly toothless Spaniards». Both generalisations are far-fetched.
Accounts of Icelandic wool’s water-resistant properties, on the other hand, are not. I took a long walk in the rain and got my pants and boots thoroughly soaked. Nevertheless, I have managed to stay almost totally dry above the waste, protected only by my Lopapeysa! Several wet spots, I admit, have formed under the zipper, but that was it!
Road test findings: my Icelandic jumper worked miracles in Portugal! It can be combined with the traditional Portuguese fisherman’s hat known as “o barette”. The long hose with a bombom, by the way, is not only to project a clownish look: fishermen used their «berets» to store smokes, wallets and other personal belongings. I keep my cell phones inside mine on a cold day in Iceland…