Two days ago, feeling a bit nostalgic about my summer trip to Iceland, I went rummaging in my stash and brought out two small cakes of wonderful light gray lopi, locally produced in Þingborg, near Selfoss. And what better pattern for a quick and pleasurable knit than Karen Templer’s Wabi Mitts? One can’t help but marvel at its subtle simplicity and ingenious construction. An ode to the opposable thumb, if I may say so (check out that reverse stockinette gusset, surrounded by those two neat slipped-stitch ridges). Though the yarn is labelled as “2 ply”, it’s actually two strands of unspun lopi, which you hold together (I separated them and used only one fragile strand for the last three rows and bind-off).
These fingerless mittens provided a very enjoyable break from my Streymoy cardigan, which is nonetheless advancing at a reasonable pace.
I find these in-between projects, which knit in a couple of days (such as that baktus scarf I also recently made in Noro Silk Garden as a gift for a friend) very satisfying. They provide the kind of much-needed instant gratification that give me the courage to keep slogging through the longer endeavours. All right, “slogging” is a ludicrous choice of words. I’m having a blast on that cardigan. For now.
I’m in Iceland for the summer holidays. I know, right? It’s like every knitter’s dream come true. And it’s a dream even harder to believe when, by some excellent twist of fate, I happen to be staying in Reykjavik at Ragga Eiríksdóttir’s place, while (unfortunately for me) she herself is gallivanting abroad in Europe. You’ve probably heard of Ragga. Living in an Icelandic knitter’s apartment (and not any knitter, at that!) is such a wonderful experience. The place is teeming with yarn-related books and magazines, woolen things, and yarn around every corner. Most inspiring.
Of course, with all the mind-numbing sight-seeing and the like, not much has been happening in the way of proper knitting. I’ve managed however to knit a few rows on my linen stitch scarf, as well as a few squares for my modular blanket.
In my trips around the island, I’ve been trying to keep my eyes peeled for anything that wanders off the beaten path of those colourful balls of Ístex lopi you can find by the hundreds in almost every shop here. (Don’t get me wrong: I love that kind of lopi, it’s just that it’s so easy – and cheap – to obtain in Paris anyway that I wouldn’t bother to buy it here.) What I’m looking for are the little special places where you can buy yarn that’s been produced, spun and/or dyed locally, by hand, in workshops. So far, I’ve found two of such places.
At the Þingborg wool centre near Selfoss, I bought some einband and some nice unspun lopi, in natural colours (the wonderful, warm scent of lanolin still clings to them), along with a little skein of two-ply spun yarn dyed with indigo and a local plant called ramfang.
In Hvanneyri, near Borgarnes, at the Ullarselið, I found more colourful yarn (as you can see from the first picture): einband, léttlopi and handspun, dyed with plants such as lupinus, rhubarb or parmelia lichen. Oh, and I indulged myself with two small skeins of Icelandic angora.
I feel very special about all these findings. Maybe there are more to come. Hopefully, for my wallet’s sake, not too many more!