Knitting, Shawls

Hyrna, an Icelandic Shawl, & Continental Knitting

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.


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.
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…


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.

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!



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 😉




9 thoughts on “Hyrna, an Icelandic Shawl, & Continental Knitting”

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