Happy Easter! Naturally colored eggs from the farmer’s market!! No dyes needed! The pastel blue and green eggs are from Araucana chickens from Chile or the “Easter Egger”. Sometimes these breeds are thought to be the same chicken – and I made that mistake for a while, but today I learned that they are different breeds. The light brown eggs are from an assortment of brown egg laying chickens – not sure all the breeds here. But I esp. love the deep brown chocolate egg – that is from a Maran chicken which is a French chicken that I have researched and eventually plan to get for our own tiny flock!
One of the reasons I wanted to go to Iceland in September was to take part in the sheep and horse round-ups of Réttir and to experience wool creation from its inception.
During Réttir, the sheep are herded down the mountainside and along the road. The streak of white at the top of this photo is the middle of sheep flock; the procession stretched three or four times down the road, taking a couple of hours to reach the sorting pens.
These mountains are a part of the mountain ranges that I drew from my room at the residency. The mountains are enchanting; constantly changing from shifting light, clouds, and weather… at times literally moment by moment.
Vatsnsdal Drawings – Ruddle
In The Saga of the People of Vatnsdal (see The Sagas of The Icelanders) Ingimund (the hero of the saga and the tapestry at the Textílsetur), named the valley in the 9th century.
You can identify Ingimund by his red cloak in the tapestry and it follows his many adventures and the settlement of Iceland by the people of Norway.
Vatnsdal road sign on the Icelandic “Ring Road” (Highway Route 1)
The road sign above shows many areas named, claimed, and mapped by Norwegian settlers in The Saga of the People of Vatnsdal which was written between 1270-1320.
However, we just went to Undirfell in the Vatnsdal valley to see the sheep sorted.
Icelandic sheep have a special two-part coat. They look a bit like walking balls of wool!
Thel, a soft inner layer, acts to keep the sheep warm and cozy – like long underwear for sheep!
Thel fibers are soft and short. Thel is used to make baby garments.
Tog, a course outer layer, acts like a jacket – it is water repellent and the fibers are longer and stronger. Tog is used to make rugs and industrial products.
The Icelandic sheep hasn’t been cross-bred, and is very close to the original genetic stock from the Viking period.
Illustrated images of sheep for the Tapestry at the Textile Center.
So I want to share a bit about my weaving adventures!
Here is the view from the loom I am using. The loom room is amazing. It has been cold, windy, rainy, and somewhat raging for the last few days but we are snug inside. The whole building is heated by hot water that runs through furnaces in the rooms. The heat is very inexpensive because the water in the furnaces are heated by the underground hot springs.
This is the loom I am using..
It is tiny…but mighty
This loom was made by local farmers and is about 90 – 100 years old. I believe it is a counterpoint, counterbalance, or countermarch loom. The other looms in the room are countermarch and they are twice as big. They do not know who made the looms here, but are trying to find out. I wondered if this may be due to the fact that last names in Iceland are different than last names in other countries. For example one’s last name is the first name of your father along with the word son or daughter. So each person has a unique last name and no one shares a family name.
This is the first time I have ever woven and I really like it. I thought it might be slow like knitting, but it is not. I was surprised to find that a loom seems something like a cross between a piano, a horse in harness, a sail boat, and a sewing machine. It is very satisfying. And these wooden looms are very quiet.
Here is my piece as I take it off the loom. It will be cut apart and tied. There are multiple small weaving pieces in here – some about the size of a coaster.
I went back to grocery store today and used my newest word phrase – aðskilin kaup, which means “separate charge”. This way I can keep my wool purchases separate from my food purchases.. The clerk was speaking to me in english as I “spoke” Icelandic but I gave it shot. However, my three words of Icelandic did let me down when I realized I had not paid for the pencils I stashed in my jeans when I returned to pay for them.
And yes, I did buy more wool while in the grocery. The two different greens that are in this felted piece. I love this heathery green.
Worked on some frame weaving by hand that I finished up today. I have never done this type of work; except as a kid making potholders! I enjoyed the frame weaving a lot, it was very meditative once I got the hang of it. I am quite a slow knitter and the weaving was faster than knitting for me – so could see myself doing it into the future.
Here the weaving samples are taking shape..I cut them apart and knot them. You can see the wool I am using – the Lettlopi from the grocery store. I may felt some of these samples.
Iceland sunset – a segment of it looked like a minimalist painting.
Today’s word is já – it means yes. It is pronounced like “yow” – makes me think of a cat. Working to catch up; drawings are up to date but posts are behind – so two words that go together – Yes and No as four days have already passed. The residency is moving quickly. No is pronouced like “neigh” – makes me think of a horse’s neigh.
I also needle felted them into tiny felted “stones”
Iceland sunset views from studio window
We shared art work today which was excellent – so great to see everyone’s work. It is exciting to be with a group of all textile artists!
The word of the day is Takk. Takk means thanks! This is how I decided to start to learn a few words is Icelandic. I was in the grocery store and I realized all I pretty much said was hello and thank you and that I was sure that I could learn to say that in Icelandic. Yesterday, I was out for a short walk and walked by a woman and said “Halló” in Icelandic and the woman replied back in Icelandic. I am not sure what she said – but it felt like a triumph! I think she said “good afternoon” or “good day”.
I am interested in incorporating words into my work. It seems sort of tacked on right now. I will be working to see if I can integrate the words into the images and into the visual forms of the pieces. I am not sure it will ever work – but it is an interesting challenge – words are so different than the visual language.
Here is the textile residency where I am staying. The building on the right is the artist residency. Some of the rooms are dedicated museum rooms and are preserved with artifacts of the original women’s college. The building to the left is the textile museum, which has a sod roof!
This is a pretty special place. Throughout the building are traces of past artists. Many of the door stops are rocks with felted embroidered cozies and there are other textile touches at every turn.
This is a small section of the wool wall in the grocery store. The whole wool wall is about 4x as long as this picture. There is also Mettler sewing machine thread in the grocery store. I think the grocery store may cater a bit to the residency? But Blönduós is a wool center, so wool is collected, gathered, and produced here.
Halló from Blondous!
One word a day project starting! – I am going to learn some Icelandic. One word a day. First day was Halló.
The days of my residency are bundled in four neat seven day packages. My travels have been anything but neat and orderly. More on that later.