The yarn haul

While we were planning our trip, Rob mentioned that he liked the patterned-yoke Icelandic sweaters. I gave him the choice of me making one ahead of time that he could wear there or getting yarn there and making one once we were back. He opted for getting yarn there, so I gave him a number of pattern options, he picked one, and I made note of the yardage. One afternoon, the four of us took a trip out to Álafoss to the main Lopi store and he picked out two colors of Léttlopi for a Huron for himself, while I accidentally picked out almost the exact same colors of of plötulopi for a traditional lopapeysur for myself. The pattern I picked out was from an out-of-print Lopi pattern booklet, and the woman at the store kindly made a copy for me. I don’t think it would have been that big a deal to translate it from Icelandic—the colorwork is charted and there isn’t much in the way of shaping—but I did manage to buy a digital English-language version on Ravelry once we got home, so I don’t have to worry about it.

The plötulopi—the wheels of unspun fiber at the bottom of the photo—is interesting stuff. It’s fragile, yes, but not as delicate as I’d been expecting. It can withstand a bit of tension before it drifts apart. I swatched it double stranded on 10s, and the resulting fabric is very lightweight for its thickness and surprisingly soft.
IMG_6276.JPGThe yarn on the right in the photo is a fingering-weight wool from Finland that I’d never heard of, let alone seen before. Rob and I were running around buying some souvenirs and gifts on our last full day in Reykjavik, and on a lark I popped into the yarn shop upstairs from the grocery store where we’d been buying our dried fish and tea all week. Most of the wares were from companies I can get in the States easily enough—Debbie Bliss, Rowan, Brooklyn Tweed even—but this stuff is something special. Plain and utilitarian on one hand, but richly colored and hitting the perfect midpoint between soft and sturdy. I bought three colors for an Agnes pullover and should have enough left over for some smaller items too. The woman at the store said it’s her favorite yarn for mittens, so maybe I’ll make some in homage to her.

The trip against which all future trips will be judged.

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We rented this little cottage in the city center with Rachael (whose excellent writeup of the trip is here) and Lala and used that as a home base for trips outside the city as well as exploring Reykjavik itself. We probably spent a little less than half of the time together, and it was really fun both to hang out with them and to go our separate ways and reconvene to compare notes. I doubt I’d have gone to the very cool Settlement Museum without Lala’s urging, and I definitely would have been too intimidated to go to the neighborhood baths, which ended up being some of my favorite things to do, without them.
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We did some touristy stuff, like the Blue Lagoon. We ate lunch in their fancy restaurant while wearing bathrobes and drank prosecco from the swim-up bar while floating in the water.
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We ate the famous hot dogs, which were, in fact, delicious.
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We saw unparalleled natural splendor, like the black sand beach with basalt columns at Vik:
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I ate a different kind of fish at almost every meal, went to a number of the excellent public geothermic hot baths, saw a couple of good bands, and danced to deep house music in a subterranean nightclub in the wee hours. Iceland is lace curtains on the windows, tiny backyard greenhouses, house cats prowling the sidewalks, knowing that a freaking volcano heated the water you’re showering with, streets named after Norse gods, sheep and horses everywhere, a deservedly legendary nightlife, and traditional sweaters worn without irony by people of all ages. It was a stunningly easy place to visit; everyone speaks English, every business happily takes debit cards for even the smallest transactions (we never took out any cash; I never even saw any until our last day there), and Reykjavik is small enough to navigate without much difficulty. Dried fish spread lavishly with butter turns out to be delicious, and chocolate-covered licorice is my new obsession. I never tried the fermented shark, but I tasted both whale and guillemot and genuinely loved Brennivin, the caraway-infused “black death” liquor, which is best ice cold and served in tiny glasses.