Hyrna, an Icelandic Shawl, & Continental Knitting

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Completed Shawl!

My time spent in Iceland last year holds a special place in my heart.  So many good memories of such a beautiful country, warm people and happy sheep!

I keep meaning to write more blog posts about my trip…they ARE coming…but as I’ve said before, it’s so hard to capture the experience in pictures and words.

Recently though, I completed a shawl from a yarn kit I bought while I was in Reykjavik.  It was a yarn kit created by Gudrun Bjarnadottir, the owner of Hespa.  Gudrun takes Einband, a single ply Icelandic wool yarn, and dyes it naturally, mainly with native Icelandic plants.

Perhaps letting her speak for herself is a better idea:

“I teach Botany at the Agricultural University of Iceland at Hvanneyri. I spend all my spare time collecting plants and coloring yarn. I also make my own yarn from the Icelandic wool. Plants, knitting and nature are my favorite things and I am so lucky to be able to combine them all in my work and life.” (Etsy Owner Description)

At the end of  our Hiking with the Elves tour, we had a workshop run by Gudrun.  She explained her process and discussed the various plants and lichens used to create the various colours of yarn.

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She also brought along dozens upon dozens of beautiful skeins to show (sell to!) us! 🙂  It was hard to pay attention and not slide our favorite skeins off the table to save for purchase 😉

hespa collage

In addition to skeins of yarn, Gudrun also brought along yarn kits, 50g x 6 skeins of complementary colours that came with a pattern, usually a Hyrna shawl.  You can see one of these kits in the top photo on the right.

I purchased a lovely box of red-brown-orange shades, all dyed with either Rhubarb leaf or Madder Root.  I should have taken a better photo of my kit before knitting with it.  As it is, my photo is somewhat blurry and dark.
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It took me awhile to start my shawl.  The pattern is mainly garter stitch so I knew it would be a straightforward project that wouldn’t require my full attention…

BUT….

Being a person who loves a challenge…

I decided to knit the whole shawl continental style.  I figured by the end of the project, I would have continental knitting completely figured out and stored away in muscle memory for all time.

It worked….now it’s continental purling that I need to learn!  (My strategy may be to make another shawl, just all purled instead of knit! Hmmm….)

Anyway, on to the end result!

It terms of colours, I started with the lightest shade at the top, gradually darkening them.  I blended each one by swapping the shades back and forth for a few rows before changing completely to the next one.

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The only colours that gave me pause were the final two, a dark brown and a dark red.  I wasn’t sure which one I should end with and I spent some time asking friends for their opinions.

Eventually I decided the darkest shade of red would be the last skein and soon after that, it was finished!

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So happy with how it turned out!  Blocking opened up the stitches beautifully and it’s great size.

Unfortunately, I find it somewhat clashes with my newly blue hair 😉

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