The reason I went to Iceland was because I received a grant to help me improve my teaching by incorporating art and physical education in the classroom. I found a program through Knitting Iceland that had knitting workshops, design workshops, and yoga and dance classes. Perfect.
Turns out the sheep population in Iceland is larger than the human population, so I was able to visit with lots of the fuzzy creatures.
I also had the opportunity to learn about dyeing yarn with natural, plant-based dyes.
I spent a lot of time knitting and admiring the pieces that others made.
Traditional Icelandic sweaters, or lopapeysa, are a solid color for most of the sleeves and body, but have a multi-colored, intricately designed yoke. Like this one, that was for sale at the Handknitting Association of Iceland.
I got to learn how to make one of these by creating a tiny version in a workshop that taught top-down sweater construction.
For this project, I did my one and only steek (for you non-knitters, this means cutting into knit fabric, which also strikes fear into the hearts of many knitters) in order to make the front opening on this mini-sweater. I knit it in the round, then reinforced the edges in order for it to get cut open without unraveling. I conquered that fear, but it would still be nerve wracking for me to do this to a full-sized garment.
Overall, the trip was great. The grant was valuable. I learned new techniques, and I got inspired. What more can you ask for?
I fell in love with the cover design of Vintage Modern Knits, called Adelaide Yoke Pullover, designed by Kate Gagnon Osborn.
This was before I knew it was pretty much a lopapeysa, or traditional Icelandic sweater design. I started the project right around when I found out I would be going to Iceland, and didn’t finish it until a few months after I was back.
Instead of the recommended yarn, I used Malabrigo, one of my favorites.
One thing I liked about this pattern is that it has you start with the sleeves, then start the body once the sleeves are finished.
That works for me because usually I’m all excited about a project at first, then lose interest or it gets boring partway through. With this one, it was still all exciting to start the main part of the sweater, and when I finished that, it was like, surprise! sleeves are done, all you need to do is attach them.
It was also knit bottom-up. In Iceland, I learned about the benefits of knitting sweaters top-down (you can try them on as you go and ensure proper length, you get the tricky parts out of the way first) but for me I liked knitting this bottom-up. The reason is that again, once I started losing interest in the pattern from all the plain, solid color knitting, the colorwork started and I regained interest in the pattern.
The sweater is super warm and cozy. I’m happy with the turnout. What do you think?
The word geyser comes from the Icelandic word geysir, which means to gush, and is the name of one of the first discovered and recorded geysers.
Unfortunately, Geysir doesn’t erupt much any more, but Strokkur, which is nearby, still erupts frequently. I was there for only about 25 minutes, and got to see it happen four times!
It was impressive, to say the least.
There are pools and puddles of near-boiling water all around the area. This geothermal heat is a huge energy source throughout Iceland. It smells a bit like sulfur, but it warms homes, provides hot water for showers, pools, and hot tubs, and melts snow when its pumped under roads. Pretty cool, er, warm.
I learned two lessons during my trip to Iceland. First, camera batteries sometimes need to be recharged- BRING YOUR CHARGER. When I went to the place I was most looking forward to, Thingvellir (Þingvellir), the tectonic plate boundaries, where the North American and Eurasian plates meet, my camera battery died. I had realized a few days earlier that I forgot the charger. I’m sure someone at Kex Hostel would have had one I could have used, but I was unable to locate that person. Luckily I could still use my cell phone camera, but the quality is clearly lacking. Trying to capture Thingvellir with a cell phone camera would be equivalent to listening to a symphony as a ring tone. Even my fancy camera wouldn’t be up to the task.
Here comes the second thing I learned. I teach 5th grade science. I have over 40 college hours in science classes, and much more than that in education classes. It’s important for teachers to find out where students’ misconceptions are, then work on addressing those misconceptions. So my big misconception, clearly earth science isn’t my forte: I thought that where the plates collided would be one crack in the earth. I was not expecting there to be numerous rock formations, cracks and crevices, some dry, some full of water. I wasn’t expecting the area to stretch nearly as far as I could see in all directions. I wasn’t expecting it to be so jaw-droppingly beautiful.
So I leave you with some images.