Icelandic Inspiration

Posted in: Field Trip — By on February 19, 2013 6:44 PM

Earlier this month my husband and I went on a belated honeymoon to Reykjavik, Iceland. In a word, it was amazing. I recommend it to anyone who likes exploring cities on foot and/or nature lovers. I returned from our trip with a few sore muscles from a horseback riding tour, and a lot of inspiration from the craft traditions and landscapes of Iceland.

The knitwear!

Traditional Icelandic knit sweaters and accessories were everywhere in Reykjavik. Icelandic wool is water repellant and great for insulating against the cold. Many people were wearing wool sweaters instead of a winter jacket, and you’d even see very chic local ladies wearing chunky grandma sweaters at nightclubs (this is my kind of city!!). Pretty much everything I bought in Iceland was wool — an intricately patterned cardigan, socks, gloves, a felted brooch and some wool for a future project. I’ve never really knitted with a pattern because I thought it would take the fun out of knitting, but after seeing so many beautifully patterned knit items during my week in Iceland, I’m very inspired to give it a try.

I’m pretty sure it’s just Iceland’s answer to our chain Roots, but I fell in love with the store Geysir. They had beautiful sweaters, socks and capes and I wanted to buy most things in that store… except maybe the weird onesie things.

The embroidery!

Iceland also has a unique embroidery tradition. The National Museum had some incredible embroidered altarpieces and wall hangings dating back to the 14th century and embroidered clothing from the 18th century onward. It seemed most older shops and restaurants had some beautiful embroidered wall hangings or cushions, with the embroidery done in yarn rather than embroidery thread. I love how bold and graphic the designs are.

Source for this image is this page, which also features embroidery charts for this altar hanging

At the National Museum I was tempted by the overpriced embroidery kits but then came across a little colouring book with the patterns for some traditional motifs which I plan on adapting into a pattern for some kind of wall hanging one day!

The colours!

The most fascinating parts of our trip were the day trips we took. As far as I can tell, everyone who visits Iceland generally does the same three day trips: the Blue Lagoon geothermal spa, horseback riding, and the Golden Circle tour to visit geysers, the Gullfoss waterfall and a gap between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates. These were each amazing experiences and allowed us to see some of the beautiful landscapes of Iceland. We were incredibly lucky to have nice weather and blue skies each time we did a day trip. Looking over my photos from these trips, I was reminded of the gorgeous colours and natural light we saw.

One of my favourite colour combinations are the white/grey/blue colours of winter with little pops of bright hues here and there. The rooftops and siding in Reykjavik’s buildings were so pretty and added lots of cheer to the gloomier winter days!

Overall, we had a lovely little honeymoon in Iceland. We’d like to visit again in the summer to explore more of the country. (And maybe try on one of those onesie suits from Geysir!)

Needless to say, I’d highly recommend a visit!

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