Friday, 11 August 2017

So much to say.....

I'm back from Iceland and there is so much to say, I'm not sure quite how best to process it.  So, I'm going to start by listing all the places I found to buy stuff.  Put the kettle on, it's turned out longer than I expected!

A good map will tell you all you want to know
Within Reykjavik

For those outside Iceland, there's always excitement at the thought of being able to buy wool in the supermarket.  I can confirm that all the myths are true!  The only supermarket I found in Reykjavik with wool was the branch of Netto near the Saga Museum.  It had Alafosslopi, Einband (single ply), KambgarnLettlopiPlotulopi and Spuni  There were also some pattern books, although I can't remember if they were in English or Icelandic - or had a choice of either.

Netto, Reykjavik

Arguably the most famous place for wool is The Handknitting Association of Iceland which has two locations in Reykjavik.  The one I spent most time in was on Skolavordustigur.

The correct pronunciation of the street name! 

As well as the yarn available in Netto, it also had Hosuband (worsted weight sock yarn), Icelandic one ply which wasn't made by Istex and I also found a bit of two ply.  The prices were more expensive than Netto, but it had a much better range of colours for the einband.  They also had a yarn which was a blend of Icelandic wool and alpaca, which I didn't see anywhere else.  Oh - and there were all sorts of knitted goods; hats, mittens and loads and loads of sweaters!

I just loved the displays in the windows - this is at the Handknit Association of Iceland

The logo outside the building - partway between a bit of knitting and a ram

The other place I read about was Alafoss.  I think I went around in slight circles trying to find it, and then got distracted by the Christmas shop - before realising the Christmas shop is right next to the shop I was looking for!

Alafoss yarn shop on the left 
They also had Lettlopi and Alafosslopi, as well as quite a few patterns and kits to knit your own sweater (yarn and pattern all together), as well as a rack of sweaters for purchase - all of which had a label with the name of the knitter.  There is a factory outlet outside of Reykjavik, but I ran out of time to go and visit it.

Kits for sweaters can be seen on the right

On my first day, the first place I found by accident was Icewear Woolhouse.  I can't remember how much it cost per ball, but I remember it as being at the more expensive end of the scale.  They also had the Istex Lopi pattern books (like this one) in both English and Icelandic, as well as copies of Knitting with Icelandic Wool (which I decided was cheaper and lighter to buy in the UK, should I want to).

There are branches all over Reykjavik; list here.  The memo I made on my phone noted that the branch in Austurstraeti has yarns and patterns downstairs; from memory this was a better selection of patterns than some of the other branches.

The next place I found by accident was Rammagerdin - again with lots of different branches around the city.  

Cute knitted bow-ties in the Bankastræti branch
Not every branch has everything on offer.  This sells double point bamboo needles, Lettlopi and, I think, Alafosslopi.  More importantly, it also sells Einrum - the yarn which combines Icelandic wool with Thai mulberry silk, as well as hand dyed kits by Guðrún Bjarnadóttir.  Guðrún is a botanist, who dyes her yarns with plant dyes, using traditional methods.  (For those interested, there's an interview from earlier this year here, her Instagram is here and her Etsy shop is here)  The other thing I found in some of the branches, was a how-to book on how to knit your own Icelandic sweater.

The Einrum in the shop window of the Skólavörðustígur branch

Finally on the list is the Nordic Store - again with more than one branch across Reykjavik.  The main branch is on Laekjargata, which was just around the corner from where I was staying.  

Rack of wool in the main branch of the Nordic Store
Given the amount of other places I'd seen yarn - this wasn't one I investigated in any massive depth, other than to know that it sells wool and patterns.  

Picture on the Laugavegur branch of the Nordic Store. 

Woolcano is a gift shop, which doesn't sell wool.

Don't be fooled by the name - this does not sell wool! 

If you don't want to buy the yarn and knit your own - almost every other shop sells the traditional lopi.  I would suggest going in to shops and checking their comparative prices.  The Handknitting Association of Iceland had sweaters for about £120; one of the other gift shops had them for about £150.  Personally, I would suggest The Handknitting Association of Iceland, as the money goes back to the people who knit them - ditto if you buy any of the hats or gloves that they also sell.

Handknit Association - view through the window

Some of the sweaters they had on sale

There are second hand lopis for sale at the flea market; rumour has it that this is the cheapest place to buy them.  Unfortunately I didn't realise that it only opens at the weekends, so I missed visiting it, after being on a tour on Saturday and asleep for most of Sunday.  Oops!

Outside the flea market in Reykjavik
Outside Reykjavik 

Kronan in Selfoss has yarn - found after a trip to the swimming pool.

There is a branch of Icewear in Vik, which I found on the South Coast tour.  I went on the tour because I particularly wanted to see the black beach (more in a later blog).  

It has all the usual yarn and sweaters that you would expect (as well as a whole load of other outdoors-y stuff and souvenirs.

Lopis for sale in Icewear Woolhouse, Vik

Plotulopi in Icewear Woolhouse, Vik
Then I saw this:

Annoyingly, I was only there for an hour so couldn't investigate further - but is one to go back to, should I ever be in Vik again.

I spent my last night in Keflavik to be close to the airport.  En route to buying dinner from the local supermarket, I found not one - but two shops.  The first was closed - which could only be a good thing.  From an internet search, I think it's called Skartsmidjan

It is a general craft store, but peering through the windows showed a lot of yarn.  I'm not convinced that all of it is Icelandic - but it's a heck of a range available.

Inside the craft shop - lots of lovely yarn! 

The second shop was another gift shop - which was open.  All the yarn was behind the cashier's till, so I wasn't really able to do a lot of poking and squishing.  There was a decent wall-full of yarn, but I have no idea of prices.

Stapafell Gift Shop, Hafnargata 50, 230 Keflavík, Iceland
That is my round up of where I found to buy yarn in Iceland.  If you've visited the country too, where did I miss?  Not that I'm planning my next trip back there, oh no.

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