Unspun wool? What are we even talking about? Don’t you need to spin wool to make yarn? Well, the answer is yes, but also NOPE! Yarn is generally fiber that has been spun to add strength. But, due to the dual-coated nature of Icelandic wool, you can actually knit with the unspun fiber without needing that added strength to have a stable fabric. It’s called Plotulopi!
Plotulopi consists of the unspun tog (long, outer fibers) and thel (shorter, inner coat fibers). The tog fibers give the yarn structure and stability without needing spinning. The thel adds softness and loftiness to the yarn, but wouldn’t hold together as well without the tog. If you’ve knit with Lettlopi before, Plotulopi is one of the two plies in Lettlopi. It’s exactly the same fiber, but half the weight and unspun.
You can knit Plotulopi single for an approximately sport-weight yarn, but can also knit it double to approximately Lettlopi (worsted/aran) weight, and even three or four strands together to get a bulkier yarn. You can also knit it at a wide range of gauges. As I mentioned, it’s listed as a sport weight, but it can be knit even more tightly for a dense fabric, or even more loosely for an airier fabric. Being unspun, Plotulopi is very lofty and fills up the breathing room you give it.
It works well in colorwork, because the unspun fibers lock together when knit together and then blocked. Finally, because it’s unspun, some people say it feels softer than spun Lettlopi because all of the fibers are pointed in the same direction along the “grain” of the fibers, instead of sticking out of the spun plies.
Plotulopi’s uniqueness also leads to some quirks. Because it’s unspun, it does pull apart in a way that spun yarn generally does not. It comes in plates instead of balls or skeins because of this, and you need to unwind the fibers for a length before knitting instead of pulling as you go. The upside is if you need to reattach a break, the fix is an easy spit-splice away.