Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Textile Museum in Blonduos

So I'm re-starting my blog posts now that I'm back on US soil and can easily type/upload photos. For those of you who read this post about the Textile museum.....I've updated it with more information now that I can easily do so. So it may be worth a re-read!  

And I spent yesterday writing one post for each day I was in Iceland to share all sorts of interesting information about the sheep, the roundup, the fish tannery, etc. and I intend to upload one each day until I run out!

So check back tomorrow for more news!

For now.....I'll start at the Textile Museum which was the first "fiber related" stop we took.

For those of you planning a trip here in Sept., be sure you call ahead and arrange for someone to open it for you. I knew to do that so a very welcoming young Icelander, Hrafnhilfur, was there to open it for us. You will need to  pay 10000ISK (the equivalent of 8 visitors entrance fee and it works out to about $85 USD today).  That may seem expensive (most museums here charge between 12,000 ISK and 15,000 ISK to enter) ......but if you enjoy wool and textiles I assure you it is worth it!

There is currently an exhibit there by a local felter, Anna Pjordastdottir,  who has created a series of circular wall hangings using Icelandic wool - some just using the "tog" and others combing the "tog" and "thel" to produce more surface texture from the differential shrinksge of the fibers, much like the ochre colored bag I felted and have on display at the store in which I used Karakul and BFL for differential shrinkage and texture. Here is a photo of a few of her pieces :

For those of you who aren't familiar with Icelandic fleece, the sheep have 2 different fibers - tog and thel. The tog is the coarse outer long hair-like fiber that protects the sheep from the elements and the thel is the softer, shorter, more downy undercoat that keeps them warm.  Lopi yarn, which most knitters are familiar with, mixes the two together. But handspinners who purchase a fleece have the option of separating the tog and the thel.  In the next series of photos, I first show a lock of Icelandic fleece I purchased while there as it is shorn off the sheep. You can see the top whiter part is quite thick and then the "tip", which turns back at almost a 65 degree angle, is darker and more "defined".  In the second photo you can see the tog and thel separated, next to my glasses to give you an idea of the length of the fibers.  All I did was hold tightly on the tip end of the "tog" and lightly hold the fluffy "thel" and gently pull apart and you can see how easily they separate. The softer thel is quite short compared to the longer and coarser tog.  And as the photo shows, they can be quite different in color.

Here is a shawl at the museum which was spun and knit from just the tog. Despite the tog being coarser and not so soft and cozy, this shawl had an AMAZING drape to it. I'm so inspired now to make my next spinning project one in which I separate the tog and thel and spin them separately so I have a tog shawl to share at the shop!

They museum also has an unusual basket of spindle spun yarn. Unusual because it is spun from horse tail!  Horses abound in Iceland about as much as the sheep (and in as beautiful an array of colors too!) and the tail hair is regularly used to braid gorgeous ropes and hobbles (not just for horses, but I was told a traditional gift to the newlywed bride!).

In a room showing traditional garments worn by Icelandic women were lots of examples of naturally dyed and embroidered clothing. Here is a lovely example of one. And a photo of the detail embroidered on a sleeve, too!

 And of course, they had quite a few examples (middle photo) of the traditional knitted insoles for the fish skin shoes they wore (first photo shows the fish skin shoes with a striped pair of insoles). Here, in particular, I have shared a closeup of the detail embroidery on one insole (last photo). I am always struck by the fine detail that crafters/artisans from long ago- when life was so much harder than we have it today - took to make their work exquisite. I felt this so strongly after visiting the felts in the Hermitage museum in St. Petersburg too. Such attention to beauty and detail when struggling to eat and have shelter against harsh weather would make you think they'd forego such details  - but they didn't. I love that they didn't short cut and that they paid such attention to details. 

And to see such a lovely array of patterned mittens and gloves knit using the natural Icelandic colors - we guessed from the size of the stitches that some of these were knit on 000s!!

This "apron cloth" woven plaid shown here is the finest ever fabric woven from Icelandic fleece - spun as a singles and sett at  200 dpi! WOW.

There was an entire room full of hardanger lace, examples of weaving, carding, combing and spinning equipment, and a bit of bobbin lace too. But what I shared above were the highlights for me.

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