So, when this last-minute trip to Iceland happened, I scrambled to learn more about all the things I could do while here. I read about the Golden Circle tours, the Blue Lagoon, whale watching — WHALE WATCHING YOU KILL ME — and other kinds of adventures involving hidden springs, glaciers, and Elves.
But what I finally stumbled upon, via an article in the New York Times, was a little company called Knitting Iceland, run by the lovely, kind, Ragnheiður Eiríksdóttir — otherwise known as Ragga. You can see her below, standing with some of her ‘knit graffiti.’
Even though I’m a terrible knitter, I thought immediately: “This looks like so much fun.”
(how could someone who makes yarn graffiti / tree stockings not have a tour that is rockin’ cool?)
Ragga tailors each tour specifically to the interests of the person — and so we drove almost an hour outside Reykjavik to meet Guðrún Bjarnadóttir – also known as Hespa. She is a botanist, a wonderful woman, who brought us into her kitchen on a cold morning and fed us fresh warm bread and coffee — and then showed us all her pots simmering with yarns soaking in her plant dyes. She also has a living room filled with yarn (courtesy of local sheep, yo) that she spun herself and dyed from native Icelandic plants.
In other words, fabulous!
See these jars? Filled with everything from lichens and birch, to dried rhubarb. I’m dying to go home and start experimenting with local plants to see what colors, if any, I can extract from the leaves and blossoms. Guðrún is all passion, and I learned so much from her. Truly, a once in a lifetime experience.
There’s a collective of local knitters who run a store in that same town — a workshop where craftspeople from the west of Iceland sell hand spun, plant dyed, and natural yarns — along with beautiful (and unusual) hats, scarves, slippers, sweaters, mittens, and other items. All handmade, with exquisite designs and details. I went crazy. I bought so many hats. We were still laughing about it today, because I bought even more hats — from a genius designer in Reykjavik named Gaga. I’ll take pictures later and post them.
The bikini was not for sale.
From there, we drove to Borgarnes to visit the Bruðuheimar Puppetry Center and Museum, which was an extraordinary place, and absolutely magical. Those puppets were alive, man. You could feel the spirit in them.
Has anyone heard of this movie? Because I watched some clips of it at the museum, and now I’m dying to see the whole thing.
But the museum wasn’t even the best part, because afterward we kept on driving through some truly beautiful land until we reached the home of a wonderful woman named Helga, who owns the spread highlighted in those pictures from yesterday. What an incredible experience. I can’t even begin to describe it. I’m not going to try. If you come to Iceland, you need to find out for yourselves.
Ragga took me on some other adventures, and introduced me to some truly warm, kind people: artists, entrepreneurs, farmers, designers, and visionaries. I will never forget this experience. Should you ever visit Iceland — and you’re interested in textiles, farming, knitting, design — I recommend that you contact her and Knitting Iceland. Ragga is dynamite.
You can find her blog at http://raggaknits.com/ — and learn more about Knitting Iceland and their tours at their website.
Also, Ragga blogged about our day at her website — and there are pictures! Check ‘em out!
Finally, please send your warm thoughts and well-wishes to those who live near the site of the volcanic eruption. Many are finding their livelihoods in peril because of this natural disaster.