The Icelandic Shawl


This is the time of year I can work on some personal projects, and this year I have chosen to focus on a theme or area of study. I have long been interested in gaining some understanding and appreciation of the different qualities of different breeds of sheep. And along with that, the traditions of knitting and weaving that developed along with the breed.

So after reading about Clara Parke’ s trip to Iceland, coupled with my reading about Norse Mythology, I thought I would contact the wool dyer she mentioned in her piece. And as luck would have it, she has an Etsy site. Hespa Yarn is the name of the site if you want to check it out. She dyes Icelandic single ply yarn with natural materials.

I chose a kit of sorts with the three colors pictured. However, I chose a different pattern than one that was provided. Traditional Icelandic shawls are not difficult. In fact they are very simple in their construction. They begin at the neck with a few stitches with eyelet increases in the middle along with plain increases at the beginning and end of rows. The pattern I chose adds some eyelet rows and towards the bottom, a feather and fan stitch. The pattern is in the Folk Shawls Book called Feather and Fan Triangle Shawl. The difference  I am applying is to change colors at random.

I am about a third of the way through and have a couple of observations. The Icelandic yarn is a single ply loosely spun yarn with a rustic feel. At first, was a bit concerned it was a little rough. But I have come  to like it as the fabric is lively and seems to not be that rough at all. And I love the subtle tonal changes in that it is actually a light grey and was dyed over. And for those this matters to…no knots in any of the skeins so far.

As I knit I am using my new yarn bowl that I won at the Fall Fiber Festival last October in Orange, VA. I won a blue ribbon for blended hand spun yarn in the skein and garment competition. Very cool as I have always wanted one.

Next post will be about the progress on my Gotland Fleece. I am starting to spin the yarn. Now off to get some coffee.


About woolfarmgal

In middle age, had the courage to follow my heart-raise sheep, goats and rabbits and build a business around fiber. In the process, discovered an outlet for creativity. I not only knit, I spin, dye yarn, roving and felt, I also now knitting Shetland Wool socks on my antique sock machine called 1910 Socks. I also design patterns for knitting. You can find my products on my Etsy shop, Sweet Tree Hill Farm. And I teach many of these skills. My bliss is working where I live, having sheep as co-workers and sharing all of this with other fiber enthusiasts.

Posted on January 5, 2013, in Fiber Fun! and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. I love the shawl and anything Icelandic. We visited Iceland a year or so ago and fell in love with the country, the people and the sagas. I lugged back to New Zealand with me a couple of Icelandic books, including The Saga of the Icelanders.
    The colours of your shawl are beautiful. I have recently started knitting again but for my grandchildren and I ma having lots of fun. Soothing pastime. I have also started up a knitting blog. 🙂 ( and I have just changed the WordPress theme from Auto Focus to Triton Lite after seeing the layout of your lovely blog. Thank you.

  2. Gudrun Bjarnadottir

    Hello.. Gudrun the Hespa yarn dyer.. I came acros this blog (yess I googled myself !!!) and was happy to see that you noticed that there are no knots in the yarn. I would never sell yarn with knots. My yarn is luxury yarn and a lot of work put in each skein and the price is according to that.. So instead of making knots I sell the yarn in smaller amounts if it goes apart while winding it up in skeins… I was happy to see that someone noticed that.. 🙂
    Thank you and best regards from Iceland
    Gudrun Bjarnadottir

    • Wonderful to hear from you. I am still working on the shawl and really enjoy the colors. And yes, appreciate no knots, especially as the rows are getting wider and wider. Thanks for the post, so nice to get a message from a beautiful country so far away.

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