I’ve been to Iceland!
No, not the frozen food store – the lovely country 😀
I’ve just had a “big” birthday and the lovely Ben surprised me with a trip to Reykjavik over Easter. (If anyone is rude enough to ask, the answer is “21” 😉 )
I’ve wanted to visit Iceland for a long time. Partly because of the fascinating history of being settled by the Vikings, the other worldly scenery, the breathtaking geology, the Northern lights and volcanoes but also because of the wonderful knitting heritage.
I first got interested in Icelandic Knitting back in 2010 when I took a one day course on knitting traditional Icelandic Lopapeysa (traditional since the 1950’s!!)with Ragga Eirikdottir – I blogged it here=>> Getting all Icelandic
I made a mini Lopapeysa – which left me very hungry to make a full sized one!…
I also made a Union Flag cardigan in Icelandic garter stitch intarsia here=>> Finished Flag
Which left me hungry to know more about traditional Icelandic knitting…
We had a wonderful time sightseeing in Iceland but it was very nearly a knitterly disaster 😳
I had researched Knitting shops in and around Reykjavik and wanted to see The Handknitting Association of Iceland, Storkurinn and the Anafloss Mill.
I saw none of these 🙁
Why?! Remember I said we went at Easter? In all my research about stores, locations, opening hours not one mention that Reykjavik closes at Easter- even on Maundy Thursday. The only day the stores were open was Saturday, when we were booked on an all day “Golden Circle” sightseeing trip. I was bitterly disappointed and very pissed off with the stores for not making it clearer on their websites.
So did I come home yarnless? Erm…..No! 😛
The day was saved when we did a Free Walking tour around Reykjavik. I told our guide Sarah my tale of woe and she suggested I look in the flea market by the port (I’d never have known this market was there without the tour – if you go the tour is a must). The market had some strange (and revolting) foods for sale and several stalls selling Lopapeysa and ladies knitting them..
…then the wonderful Ben said, “Look! Wool! Behind you!!”
I was overjoyed and so was Ben – who had been terrified that the birthday treat was going to be scuppered by yarn deprivation!!
The yarn is by Istex (seems to be the main Icelandic yarn producer) and called Plotulopi…I borrowed this description – credit to icelandicknitter.com
Plötulopi is the unpsun Icelandic wool itself. It comes into “plates”, hence its name, or “wheels”. Lopi means roving band in Icelandic and the first attempts to knit directly with it without spinning it first were made in the 1920′s. It has now become synonymous with Icelandic yarn. It breaks very easily but is just as easy to put it back together by simply laying the two ends together and rubbing them between your palms with a a bit of mouth water. The garments knitted with Plötulopi are very light and surprisingly strong but they will were out quickly where there is friction. That is why Plötulopi is often used double (équivalent of Léttlopi), triple (équivalent of Álafosslopi*) or with a lace yarn such as Einband.
This is what a plate looks like – I’ve never seen wool like this before…
The very friendly and helpful stallholder showed me how to take one end from the center and one from the outside of the plate to knit to the same tension as Lett-Lopi.
Lett-Lopi is the more normal looking, spun, aran weight yarn.
I found a pattern at the flea market too – this one from Istex –Afmæli – 20-year anniversary sweater
I was a happy knitter and gladly bought enough yarn to make myself one of these beauties. The wool was the one thing in Iceland that was not horribly expensive – about £25 for a jumper’s worth of yarn 🙂 (I nearly fainted at £18 for two bottles of beer – I’m used to central London prices too!!)
Then I found this fun named shop..
This gift shop had a huge selection of Lett-Lopi and made up sweaters I could look at. I went a little yarn crazy and bought enough yarn for 2 more sweaters! (YES! I did take an extra big case to bring yarn home in…)
I ended up with this haul…
Lots of knitting fun to come with this lot – we didn’t just trawl for knitting shops…
We also saw waterfalls, the place where the plates of Europe and America meet and are pulling apart, went in a jeep into the mountains, got stuck in a snowstorm and then went snowmobiling across the top of the glacier, saw a Bowie photo exhibition (treat for Ben), saw the Northern lights, watched Geysers erupt, ogled stunning scenery, boiled ourselves in the local hot springs, ate, drank and acted like tourists 🙂