A Sunny Day In Reykjavík


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Mist “waterfall” in Reykjavík

I saw this on my walk last night, thought it was pretty neat.

mist waterfall reykjavík Iceland


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Summer solstice – the midnight sun in Iceland

I took these pictures just before midnight. It never gets dark at this time of year.

Sunset in Reykjavík IcelandMidnight sun Iceland


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New pattern! “Blossi” – Icelandic lopi sweater for children 2-8 years

I’m very excited to introduce my latest lopapeysa pattern, Blossi, available in both English and Icelandic. I’ve been tinkering with it for what feels like forever, and I am SO happy it’s finally ready to share.
Blossi lopapeysa
Blossi is a unisex children’s sweater knit with Léttlopi (worsted weight lopi wool). It’s knit in the round from the bottom up on 4.5 mm (US 7) needles. The sweater is seamless except for the underarms which are grafted using Kitchener stitch. Blossi is for sizes 2-8 years and is currently available in English and Icelandic, though I hope to get it translated into more languages. The pattern PDF can be purchased for $5 on Ravelry. If you’re not on Ravelry, you can also purchase Blossi directly through PayPal.
Blossi lopapeysa pattern
After creating several rather colourful lopapeysa designs, I wanted to experiment with a monochromatic palette to see where that would lead me. I had a lot of fun playing around with gradation, and I’m really pleased with the effect it created. There’s something extremely satisfying about seeing the colours flow in and out as you knit.
Although the pattern uses 4 shades, newcomers to stranded/coloured knitting need not be intimidated–with the exception of just a couple of lines, you only have 1 or 2 colours on the needles at any given time, making it very comfortable to knit.
Blossi lopapeysa close-up
By far the most rewarding part of publishing patterns is seeing everyone’s projects, and I can’t wait to see what people do with Blossi. I really look forward to seeing how it looks in different palettes. I hope you guys will have as much fun with it as I have!
Blossi lopapeysa children's sweater


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Free knitting pattern! “Fimma” Icelandic sweater (kids’ sizes 4, 6 & 8 years)

Long time, no blog! I should really post a general update, and I will, but today I want to share my latest project:

Fimma lopapeysa Icelandic lopi sweater

It’s an Icelandic lopi wool sweater, also known as a lopapeysa. Lopapeysas are extremely popular here in Iceland. Most Icelanders have at least one. They’re cosy, durable and water-resistant, perfect for the Icelandic climate. My kids wear them every day in the colder months.

Fimma lopapeysa Icelandic lopi sweaterFimma lopapeysa Icelandic lopi sweater

I designed this pattern myself using a wonderful website called knittingpatterns.is. I’m making it available free of charge. You can queue it on Ravelry and pin it on Pinterest.

It’s currently available in English and Icelandic (update: now in French too!) and I may add some other languages later. If you have any language requests, let me know!

So without further ado…

FREE PATTERNS!

In English:

Fimma (4 years, English)

Fimma (6 years, English)

Fimma (8 years, English)

Á íslensku:

Fimma (4 ara, islenska)

Fimma (6 ara, islenska)

Fimma (8 ara, islenska)

En français:

Fimma (4 ans, francais)

Fimma (6 ans, francais)

Fimma (8 ans, francais)

Fimma lopapeysa close-up

“Fimma” means “fiver” in Icelandic. I chose the name because it’s knitted with five colours – most lopapeysas use between two and four, usually monochromatic. Léttlopi wool comes in so many beautiful colours, it seemed a shame to stop at just three.

Don’t be intimidated though – the knitting method is essentially the same as with any other lopapeysa. I designed it so that you’re almost never knitting with more than two colours at once. In the few rows that use three colours, just be sure to keep the strands at the back extra loose to prevent bunching. For what it’s worth, I’m a pretty clumsy knitter and I had no trouble with it.

It’s a lot of fun to make! I loved seeing each row of pattern forming as I went.

Fimma lopapeysa close-up

In different colours:

Fimma lopapeysa Icelandic lopi sweater blue

A few technical notes:

– I knitted the collar and ribbing a little differently to what it says in the pattern. The size 6 pattern tells you to knit 3 cm of ribbing; I did four rows of seed stitch instead. You can do it however you prefer.

– With the exception of the main colour, the pattern requires less than half a ball of each shade, so it’s a good pattern to knit if you have a bunch of half-used balls that you want to use up.

– If this is your first time knitting a lopapeysa or doing colour-work, it’s worth mentioning that you need to keep the tension of the multicoloured parts a little looser than the rest of the sweater, otherwise it gets a bit taut. Some people do this by switching to slightly larger needles for the multicoloured parts. So in this case, you’d go up to 5.0 mm (US 8) needles. I’ve never done it that way though, I just knit a little looser with my 4.5 mm (US 7).

– Fimma was designed to be knit with Léttlopi wool but it should work with any Aran/Worsted Weight yarn.

– The pattern is unisex. If you don’t want the flowery motif to look like a flower, knit it in green and BAM! It’s a 4-leaf clover.

– This pattern is available strictly for non-commercial use only, unless you have express written permission from me, the author.

Thanks for taking the time to look! If you need any knitting help or have any other questions, ask in the comments. This is my first time releasing a pattern so if there’s anything important I’ve left out, please let me know.

 


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Snow birds for the new year

I’m alive! I don’t feel like writing much (too tired!) but I wanted to post some pictures I’ve taken over the last few days. I got a Canon Rebel for my birthday so I’ve been shooting lots, trying to figure out how to shoot manually.

I took this one in my garden yesterday. It wasn’t until I uploaded it on the computer that I realised that the sun looks like an egg. It would have been cooler if it was under the “chicken” instead of on top, but what are are you gonna do?

Note that it was around 1 or 2pm when I took it, pretty much the lightest time of day. The days are very, very short in Iceland at this time of year. We get maybe a couple of hours that could pass for daylight, otherwise it’s dark. The good news is that we’ve passed winter solstice, so it’s only going to get better from here!

And another ice bird…

My beautiful girls:

0snow1

Mimi is so happy to finally have some snow. The weather’s been really mild so far this year.

0snow2

Our downstairs neighbours have an indoor cat. Whenever we go outside she’s there, glued to the window, wanting attention. She kept sticking her paw out and giving Ellie kitty high-fives (she was gentle! ;)). Ellie thought it was hilarious.

Window cat

Happy New Year all! I’m sure I’ll be back soon with more pictures, and possibly even some words. ;)


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Gullfoss waterfall + Geysir

We got home from the summer cabin this afternoon. We didn’t make all the stops on the way home that we’d wanted to as we were tired and Ellie was getting fed up with being in the car. Oh well. We did however stop by Gullfoss (the “golden waterfalls”) and Geysir yesterday. They’re not my favourite places simply because they’re as touristy as places get in this country. Spectacular & well worth visiting, yes, but hidden treasures they are not.

I of course took eleventy bajillion pictures:

Gullfoss

Gullfoss

Gullfoss

Gullfoss

Wildflowers, Gullfoss

Tourist by Gullfoss

Gullfoss

Strokkur, Geysir

Strokkur (in the Geysir area).

Strokkur, Geysir

Hot!

Blue geothermal pool, Iceland

Geothermal pool – too hot for swimming!

Geothermal pool, Iceland


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Caves near Laugavatn

Traffic jam.

We’ve been at a cabin in the countryside this week. I say cabin, but this place is huge! Way bigger than our little apartment. Just wonderful. We’re by a lake called Apavatn. It’s quite close to Reykjavík, about an hour and half’s drive.

We’ve been super lazy here, relaxing as much as is possible with two small kids (i.e. not very much). I feel slightly guilty about how little we’ve done, but at the same time it’s been nice to have a break without feeling like we have to cram everything into our schedule.

Yesterday we took a little drive to some caves in the area.

The view from the bottom.

On the way up.

Caves!

What’s interesting about the caves is that 100 years ago, people lived in them:

Painting of the cave house as it was 100 years ago.

From 1910-11 they were inhabited by a young couple, Guðrún Kolbeinsdóttir and Indriði Guðmundsson, then just 17 and 22 years old. They sold food to travelers passing by. Within a year they had earned enough to move to Reykjavík, and left the caves.

A few years later, from 1918-21, another young couple moved in. During their time there Jón Þorvarðarson and Vigdís Helgadóttir had three children, two of which were born in the cave. Can you imagine? One of the children, Magnus Jónsson, is still alive today. He calls himself The Caveman. Of course.

Looks cozy, no?

Mimi was insistent that she was going to find some baby trolls in the cave.

Nowadays the house is gone. The caves are covered in moss, and graffiti carved into the soft sandstone.

The view from inside the cave:

Remember the horses that were on the road?

The view standing on top of the caves.

I think today we’re going to visit the Golden Circle: Geysir (the original geyser), Þingvellir (Thingvellir National Park) and the Gullfoss waterfalls, so I’m sure I’ll be posting more pictures soon.


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Thyme for tea

We found wild thyme at Mimi’s preschool and took it home and made some tea. The pictures tell the story. Enjoy!

Wild thyme growing at Mimi’s preschool

Collecting thyme.

You use the flowers for tea and the leaves for cooking.

The fragrance is unbelievable. Best smell ever.

We didn’t have a bag.

Flowers rinsed and ready for some hot water.

Steam! We didn’t have any tea filters so we just threw the flowers right in.

Sugar added.

And stir.

Scoop the flowers out and drink!


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Ocean eggs

The Kolaport market is an anomaly. In contrast with Reykjavík’s chic design stores and sanitised tourist shops, Kolaportið is eccentric and jumbled, a hoarder’s heaven piled high with a fascinating blend of junk and oddities (mostly junk). Like most markets, there are also treasures to be found: vintage clothes, jewellery, books, antiques and, of course, lopapeysur galore.

The most interesting part, however, is the food section. There, you can find traditional local produce such as graflax and dried fish (which is far tastier than you’d think) as well as more controversial fare such as horse meat, whale meat, and the infamous hákarl (rotting shark).

Usually we buy some smoked salmon or baked goods, but this time Mimi had her eyes on something else:

The blue eggs at the top of the picture come from a species of auk known as svartfugl (literally: “black bird”), a sea bird found off the coast of Iceland. The birds themselves are occasionally eaten too. (They’re not a threatened species, in case you were wondering.)

We bought three eggs and took them home. I pierced both ends and blew out the contents so that we could keep the pretty shells.

Auk eggs are large, roughly equivalent in volume to 2-3 chicken eggs, and the yolks are a deep reddish-orange. I cooked them in a simple omelette for Mimi and the man of the house.

Yum?

The cooked eggs had a fishy/ocean smell, so I expected Mimi to recoil at the taste. To my surprise, she ate them with enthusiasm, so much so that we went back and bought more the following week. My partner tried them too and said they were okay but a bit dry and rubbery. I have to confess that although I’m generally an adventurous eater, I didn’t try any myself. Eggs are one of the few foods I really dislike, and the ocean “fragrance” did little to sweeten the deal.

The eggshells are so beautiful, in shades varying from white to pale blue to deep turquoise. I’ve been obsessed with these shades for a while now. They remind me of the ocean and swimming pools and other pretty things.

I’d like to incorporate them into a design somehow. The challenge is to illustrate blue eggs in a way that doesn’t end up looking like an Easter card. I’ll give it some thought and see what I come up with!


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A sunny day in…Grundarfjörður!

My wonderful mother came to visit a few weeks ago. The girls were so happy to see their Grandma! Ellie hadn’t seen her since she was a newborn and I thought she’d be shy at first, but she wasn’t at all. I suspect she recognised her from Skype-ing.

Grandma’s here!

Just in case Mum wasn’t sure she was in Iceland, it immediately started snowing…in May.

Snow!

We went to a summer house in Grundarfjörður (on the Snæfellsnes peninsula) for a few days. The location was stunning, right under a mountain with nothing around except one little sheep farm maybe hundred metres below. The cabin had a hot tub and a little playground, so Mimi was thrilled. So was Grandma.

Nearly all of my photos are of the view from where we stayed. We traveled around the peninsula a fair bit but didn’t stop to take many photos as Ellie had been screaming in the car. If you’ve ever been trapped in a car with a screaming baby you’ll understand why we weren’t in any hurry to wake her up when she did sleep.

(Excuse the lens scratches. I need a new camera.)

Stop off at Borgarfjörður.

We’re here! (You can see how dry it’s been.)

The view from another angle.

Not sure about all this nature nonsense.

So happy to have a playground all to herself.

Evening on the porch.

Sunset.

The farm by the river by the sea.

The next day it started raining. This is Iceland, after all.

Down at the farm.

Rainbow!

SOON

The view from the restaurant we went to in beautiful Stykkishólmur.

“How fascinating, do continue…”

Car-screaming aside, it was a really nice trip and the kids did well. It’s been way too long since I’ve been out of Reykjavík, which is crazy because it’s just so beautiful here. One of the many nice things about having my mother visit is that it forces me to do all the fun things that I normally wouldn’t make time for. Note to self: GO OUT OF TOWN MORE OFTEN.

Sadly, we’ve had to say goodbye to my mum for now. There was some talk of coming back for Christmas, so fingers crossed it won’t be too long before we see her again!