Have I mentioned I love Iceland? I think I did a few times already. Jill and I arrived a few days before the rest of the group, so we had some time to explore Reykjavik, the capital of Iceland and home to half of the country’s population, when we weren’t out looking at sheep, petting horses, or rolling around in gigantic bales of yarn at IsTex. Here are some random bits from about town.
We first headed to Knitting Iceland headquarters which is in a shared studio space.
Of course it’s crafty and beautiful.
There were some Icelandic lopi sweaters (known as lopapeysa in Icelandic), of course.
I especially liked this display with Faroese yarn in the upper left, Icelandic yarn in the upper right, and Icelandic knitting books and dvds by Ragga on the lower shelves. Ragga leads tours to the Faroe Islands too, since it’s so close to Iceland. She explained that the Faroese yarn is made with fiber from the Faroe Islands that is sent to a mill in Poland where it is spun and dyed. I am eyeing that beautiful yellow yarn, but let’s see how much suitcase space I have near the end of the trip.
Ragga’s studio-mates are locals who work in creative fields. I especially liked the pillows from her studio-mate who designs cute prints.
Another of Ragga’s studio mates is Ragnheiður of Umemi. If you’ve spent any time on Pinterest (here is my page if you want to follow me), you may have seen her NotKnot pillows. Ragga has one in her living room.
Ragnheiður makes the pillows by hand starting with tubes of knitted fabric that are made by locals using Icelandic wool and a knitting machine. She stuffs them (not an easy task), sews them, and assembles them into cuteness. Here are the knitted tubes stacked on top of her sign inside the studio.
And a NotKnot in progress. I love it!
While we could have easily spent all day at the studio, we ventured outside about Reykjavik. Surprisingly I don’t have a photo of the outside of this church, but it’s a striking building that is visible from practically everywhere in town. Whenever we weren’t sure where we were, we’d look for the church. Inside the church is a gigantic organ.
You can take an elevator to the top where there are fantastic views of Reykjavik. I knew the city was colorful, but even on this grey day I was surprised by just how colorful the buildings were. Everything in Reykjavik is super cute!
At lunch one day we heard there was going to be a horse parade, and lo and behold when we left the restaurant we saw the horses coming down the street. Icelandic horses are their own special breed and are protected. Horses from other places are not allowed into the country, and once a horse leaves Iceland it’s not allowed to return. They are small and cute and look! Lopi sweaters! Ragga told us that we’d see a lot of lopi sweaters about, but we didn’t realize just how popular they really are with the locals. They are everywhere.
Look at how cute these horses are!
We strolled by the pond next to the parliament building and saw some gigantic birds. I tried to get a photo of them with Jill for a sense of scale, but it didn’t really work out.
This guy is hoping I will feed him, but alas I don’t have any food with me. He’s pretty darn cute.
I taught classes at Storkurinn, a beautiful local yarn shop. It was really cute inside, but I forgot my camera! I snapped a photo of the window display later. The local Icelandic students were wonderful. I was worried about the language barrier at first, but everyone here has superb English comprehension.
After I taught classes at Storkurinn, Ragga took Jill and me out for ice cream and then a walk by the beach. It’s a “thing” here and was one of the first dates Ragga and her husband went on. I can see why it’s popular. The ice cream is delicious and the views are gorgeous!
I love all the signs around the city. This one had me in fits, especially if you consider just how short the rock “wall” was where it is posted.
Ragga demonstrates what not to do according to the sign.
We then went by the Perlan, a building that looks like it has a gigantic disco ball on the top that, along with the church, is a landmark visible from the other side of town. Inside is the Saga Museum which I didn’t have enough time to actually go to, but I did get a little bit of it with this creepy wax sculpture of a Viking.
Look, he’s wielding an axe. He is definitely creepy. The cool thing about the Saga Museum is that all of the Vikings are modeled on real people in Iceland, so you might recognize them going about town.
And last, but definitely not least, Jill and I took a little trip just outside Reykjavik to hike up Esja, a beautiful snow-capped mountain range. I wish I’d read the Wikipedia entry before going because it says “At sign 3 experienced climbers can choose to climb directly to the top, instead of following the path which goes off to the right.” Yep, the signs were in Icelandic, and we followed some clearly more experienced climbers who went to the left which meant hiking through lots of mud, rocks, and an area we began to lovingly refer to as The Bog. It was worth it though. The weather was perfect that day, and the views were spectacular. You could see how clear the water is.
Once we got to the big snow at the top, we decided to turn around. The path was hard to see, and our legs were a little miserable from all the rocks. Jill had spent the whole day before walking, and I had spent it standing and teaching.
Here’s a fantastic view of the next peak over from when we were at near the bottom.
It was a bit cold at just about freezing, but keeping a brisk pace and battling The Bog kept us warm. We ate heartily that night!