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Travel Report: Textiles in Iceland

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Travel Report: Textiles in Iceland

October 16, 2012

A yarn-bombed tree outside the Asmundur Sveinssson Museum.

Iceland is a place that’s near and dear to my heart. I love the land and the sea that surrounds it, its people, and the deep memories I hold. Besides all of the other interesting experiences I had that year such as working in a fish factory and learning to folk dance, the year was significant for me as this is where I first wove. Little did I know at the time that it would change my life!

Even though it was some 40 years ago that I was an exchangee, it doesn’t seem so long ago at all. This past summer to mark the anniversary Barry and I traveled with friends to some known and little known parts (lava caves anyone?).

As a textile person, I’m always on the watch out for fiber, so here are some of highlights (before the snow flies…!).

A fascinating private art museum located in Reykjavik is the home and gardens of sculptor Asmundur Sveinsson. The influence of his study with the Swedish sculptor Carl Milles is evident in his work.

Water bottles covered with woven reed make an attractive presentation in the hospitality space of the Asmunder Sveinsson Museum.

A visit to the Reykjavik Art Museum, Hafnarhus, we came across a delightful installation. “Knitting House” is a machine-knit house, a project of Elin Strand-Ruin and the New Beauty Council along with the Icelandic Academy of Art. This re-reading of social housing built in Europe after WWII invites the viewer to walk through its rooms, an exploration of texture, light, and space.

Barry waves from “Knitting House”.

Jane tries her hand at loom at The Textile Museum.

Heimilisiðnaðarsafnið, the textile museum in Blönduós exhibits a unique collection of homemade wool and textile items. It also exhibits beautiful Icelandic national costumes and artistic embroideries along with many of the tools used to produce them. The Textile Museum was founded by the Women’s Union in East Húnavatnssýsla and is situated in a beautiful new building. An important part of the museum is named after Halldóra Bjarnadóttir (1873-1981), a domestic consultant for the National Farmers Union in Iceland for many years. An important part of her work was collecting weaving and knit patterns as well as many types of small objects related to wool- and textile processing.

If you have an inkling to travel to this north land, I hope you will as I guarantee that you’ll find it like no other place you’ve been in the world. (You can fly direct from Denver–just a 6 1/2 hour flight, imagine!)

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