Thursday, October 29, 2009

Positive thinking

Dark evenings, grey weather and too much to do... Time for some positive thinking inspired by dear Maria, who has given me a prize.

She asked me to list ten things about myself, and I will list ten things that are good in my life right now:
1. My husband turned 40 last week, and his vest is almost done. Hope to post pics this weekend.
2. My son was 5 the same day, and he is so wonderful. The confidence they have at that age.
3. My daughter who is the perfect person to knit for, style concious, grateful and very small!
4. I actually like the garden when it is getting to rest, the last phase in the changes over the year with great, earthy colours.
5. The yarn stash is in excellent shape, and I feel quite content to draw my knitting inspiration from it for a while.
6. Apart from the vest there are a number of projects that are close to finishing, and since we plan to redecorate my study as soon as I get through the piles of stuff in there I am well motivated to do something about my UFOs.
7. I have a job that gives me energy and I look forward to getting there every morning.
8. I can't believe how lucky I am to be surrounded my so many wonderful people; friends, colleagues and relatives.
9. I am preparing a knitting café about new techniques for cabling on november 19th, and there is just so much we could do but we only have two hours.
10. In a few weeks MrP and I celebrate that it has been ten years since our first date. Amazingly enough I just won a lottery and got a dinner for two at the restaurant where we had our wedding dinner.

I think this just boosted my energy, so back to that pile of UFOs!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Icelandic shopping

Under a bed in my house there are two big boxes. One is filled with knitted items like shawls, vests and sweaters. The other holds lopi and létt-lopi and some lace yarn. I also have some hand made yarn and buttons from Ullarselid as well an embroidery kit and some of their products made from rabbit wool. So what do I really need to buy? Anything I don't have of course!

There has been some great pattern books coming out in Iceland since my last visit in 2003. Védis Jónsdóttir is a designer who has envigorated the traditional woolen sweaters with a line of booklets from Istex, the leading yarn company. I'm especially glad to get a hold of her patterns for garments in lace yarn, einband. Another favourite is the new book on mittens Hlýjar hendur that is currently the third best selling book, all categories included, in the largest chain if Icelandic book stores.

When it comes to buying yarn there is a limit to what a suitcase can hold. To get the most out of the trip I decided to focus on einband, the lace yarn. I got all the natural wool colours and a few balls each of white, brown and natural black. The large skeins at the back are dyed with herbs in a beautiful, dark green. I also wanted som red, which I found at the Álafoss store where we made a quick stop. There I also couldn't resist getting some unspun, green yarn that will look great with the natural brown in my stash. My brothers got some blankets, and somehow managed to get them into their small bags for the trip home. I had of course planned ahead and brought a half empty, big suitcase.

After reading all my new books I got an idea for a Christmas present and got some more yarn at a supermarket, but that has to remain a secret...

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Icelandic wool

I went to Iceland last week, and although I was there on other business I managed to squeeze in some wool. My cousin owns some 170 sheep and the week before they had been brought down from the mountains were they graze freely during the summer. The farmers still go out on horseback for several days to collect them, but they use airplanes to locate the sheep. Then the sheep are brought to a place where they are held in a circular enclosement and then separated into smaller pens, one for each farm, as seen in the picture. These days they don't have to herd them the last kilometres to the farm, but load them on trailers. After the sheep have been brought home the lambs are slaughtered before the remaining sheep are put in a barn for the winter.

Later that day we went to a local shop where people with an interest in crafts in the western parts of Iceland sell a selection of high quality products. It is called Ullarselid and was started in 1992 on the grounds of the university of agriculture at Hvanneyri. The products are mostly made from wool, but there are also buttons made from bone and horn, stones and other souvenirs. The following three pictures show some of their hand spun or herb dyed yarn, sweaters designed for the hand spun yarn and their special take on the traditional Icelandic sweaters with a patterned yoke.

I made my not so interested brothers come along, and here is what they bought: socks, mittens, a hat and some felted soles. Not as expensive as the larger items but still great quality and perfect gifts to bring home. What I bought? You will see in the next post...