Travels with Yarn: Iceland
What to do with some last minute vacation? Grab that guidebook to Iceland that you bought a couple of years ago and jump on a plane!
Iceland is a stop that should be on every knitting traveller’s radar. This is a country that truly celebrates wool and woollen garments. The signature Lopi sweater is seen all over, worn by tourists and locals alike. And the climate, which ranges from approximately -5C to 15C over the year, means that it’s sweater weather practically all year round.
There are lots of wonderful tours that you can take to see the amazing nature in Iceland. I made 2 main knitting related stops: the yarn store Storkurinn in downtown Reykjavik, and the Alafoss wool store in Mosfellsbaer, part of the greater Reykjavik area. (By the way, Ravelry is a great way to find yarn stores when you travel – just go to the “yarn” tab and use the Local Yarn Shop directory – put in the city you are visiting).
North American knitters would be instantly at home in Storkurinn – it’s beautifully laid out with a wide selection of international yarns (Brooklyn Tweed, Rowan and Debbie Bliss to mention a few) as well as a section devoted to Icelandic Lopi. There’s a work table where I sat and swatched for a couple of hours and the staff speak good English and are very friendly. It’s located on the second floor of a building on the main shopping street in Reykjavik, but you can’t miss the the signage at street level:
The Alafoss store was a bit more of a trek. That required me to figure out the local bus system, but with the help of a friendly lady in the tourist information office I was on my way. I left in pouring rain and high winds, which set a new bar for what I’m prepared to do for yarn.
The Alafoss store sells knitted garments, souvenirs and of course, lots of Lopi wool. You pay the cheapest prices for Lopi here, with the best availability, as it is “direct from manufacturer”. It’s a different experience from buying in a local yarn store as wool for knitting is only one of their offerings. Looking at finished Lopi sweaters as you ponder yarn has its advantages when it comes to selecting colours and patterns.
With these two stops on my itinerary, it was no surprise that I had to practically sit on my suitcase to close it on my way home. But it didn’t end there. Iceland gets brownie points for being the only airport I have ever been to that sells yarn and bamboo circular needles in the duty-free after security. Not to mention I found this lovely art installation featuring naturally dyed Icelandic wool yarn.
So if you’ve been thinking of making a trip to Iceland, I strongly recommend it. I will definitely be going back. Icelandair offers great packages regularly as well as a free stopover of up to 7 nights in Reykjavik if you fly to Europe with them.
- Alison Rose, TKG Member