Iceland – the textile museum


I was really interested in visiting the Textile Museum located in Blönduós, you might know that I am a trustee of the Shetland Textile Museum (see the shiny new website here) so I am always interested in seeing small local museums.. especially if textiles are involved.


As you probably know if you are as interested/obsessed about Iceland as me the typical Iceland Jumper – the Lopapeysa is a relatively new invention and really took off thanks to the tourist industry, much like a Fair Isle yoke – but the Textile Museum concentrates on Textiles that date from before this time. Helene Magnusson, who ran the tour I was on, has a beautiful book ‘Icelandic Handknits‘ which is all patterns inspired by items in the collection.



Quite a large part of the museum is dedicated to Halldóra Bjarnadóttir who was a very important person in Icelandic Textiles, you can read more about her here. Many of the items were either knit by her or were in her collection, she had a huge interest in knitting and weaving but also the traditional Icelandic national costume. Quite a lot of the pieces had echoes and similarities to Shetland knitting, especially the lace. Which made me feel nice, I don’t know why..

IMG_5596 IMG_5600 IMG_5602One of the things I found most interesting was the shoe inserts, Helene has done a lot of research into this little knitted objects and another one of her books (see here) is devoted to patterns inspired by this type of knitting. This inserts were knit using garter stitch and intarsia and were designed to go into the traditional fish skin shoes. Something about them just made you really want to have a pair!


We arrived before the museum had officially opened for the summer season so not all of the exhibitions were up yet but there was also a room filled with embroidery work which was very beautiful. I did quite a bit of embroidery at college but since I am neither patient nor neat I never got that far…

IMG_5604 IMG_5605We also visited the former Womens College which is next door to the Textile Museum. It is now a research centre where people can stay and do residencies and research. As I am a toonie I never had to stay at a hostel for school but it kind of reminded me of the Janet Courtney Hostel in Lerwick were students from outlying islands come to stay through the week for school. It was a bit old school in the decorations though compared to that, just look at the wallpaper in some of the bedrooms!

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Anyway, while we were there we met with the two ladies there that were doing a textile residency, one of them Amanda had actually commented on one of my photos on Instagram a few weeks before I went so it was so nice to meet her. She is a weaver (and knitter too, I’m sure she was wearing an Acer cardigan..) so she showed us some of the things she’d been working on. They had a beautiful weaving room upstairs full of old looms. Now I also did weaving at college and my earlier mentioned personality traits (lace of patience and neatness) also meant I was crap at it but I can appreciate a room full of wooden looms. Even I could have woven there.

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One of my besties (and weaver extraordinaire) Amy Gair would have LOVED it, it was very peaceful and quiet, I loved the window Amanda had a little desk set up with all her lopi and pencils ready for inspiration


While I’m speaking about people I met on Instagram I also have to mention my friend Lara! She bought a cushion from me a while ago and since then we have kept in touch, she is interested in Shetland and me Iceland so obviously we are a perfect match. Luckily we were able to spend most of a day together on my last full day in Reykjavik and she took me to the National Museum, back to Alafoss to buy wool and we also went to a house museum park type thing that was closed but we had a nice wander around! I was really touched that Lara brought a present she made for me, these beautiful mittens:

IMG_5704 I also took a photo of Lara in her recently finished Gamaldags Cardigan, a design by Helene! circles and roundabouts folks..


Thank you Lara :)

Although I still have a gabillion photos from Iceland this will probably be the last post about my trip, well I might do more at some point but I need to get back into the present..! On Sunday I am heading up to Yell to set up my first joint exhibition with my Dad who is a local artist. Ill be back next week to tell you more.. til then, have a nice weekend and happy knitting xx

16 thoughts on “Iceland – the textile museum

  1. SO many things to comment on….the knitting (and that look-a-like Shetland Shawl!!) the patterns, the embroidery, the looms…counter balance and countermarch, fabulous mittens…bet you won’t wear them hahaha, and Lara’s sweater is wonderful. what a trip…..hey, I’ll bet we could deal with some MORE pictures! like a gabillion :) Thank you.

  2. Love your blog. We spent time staying with Bobby and Betty Tulloch on Yell in the 70’s and 80’s whilst,my husband ,Hugh Miles filmed ,On The Track Of The Wild Otter for the BBC . Allways found the weather a challenge!. Look back with fond memories of the kindness shown to us on Yell. Enjoyed meeting the folks from Shetland at the Knitting and Stitching Show at Alexandra Palace in London, Do you come down to it? sue miles

  3. I’ve enjoyed all your posts about your Iceland trip. Thanks for sharing them with all of us. Good luck with your exhibition.

  4. This is cool sightseeing. The embroidery pieces were amazing. I found the garter stitched insoles such a neat idea. Your friend is fun and cute and looks terrific in her Gamaldags. I like how she did cross stitch on top of the cozy mitts for you.

  5. I have fondly remember the visit I paid last year to this very special place. Seeing your pictures and reading your words have brought back these wonderful memories. Thank you.

  6. Ella, this is an inspiring post! I would love to visit this museum. I especially liked the embroidery photos. Something is compelling about the work in these photos. It reminds me of the embroidery done on dishtowels by an aunt in the 1950s and ‘60s. The colors are so sweet! Were you able to find reasonable accommodation while there? I heard the city is quite expensive.

  7. Catching up on all my neglected blog reading – how nice of you to mention our meeting! Seeing your pictures of the museum makes me miss being in Blönduós… I love small regional museums too, and it was one of the best I’ve been to. I hope I can make it back one day (and hopefully to Shetland too!). Lara’s sweater is beautiful – it’s going to be next on my knitting needles once my wrist is better… Oh – and it wasn’t an Acer I was wearing, but a design called Lady Marple! Probably a bit easier to knit, but just as cozy. :)

    1. Amanda! I meant to change the description, I found the pattern from reading a post on your blog when I binge read the whole thing..Haha!! Thank you for your comment x

  8. Pingback: 2015 | ella gordon

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