A Grapevine service announcement Pay attention: Eruption Pollution Likely To Hit Whole Country
Mag
Articles
Lopapeysa For Everyone!

Lopapeysa For Everyone!

Words by

Published July 11, 2012

It’s hard not to miss the Icelandic sweater or ‘lopapeysa’ on your visit to the country. This wool is not only so resistant because it comes from arguably the best sheep in the world, but also because it is not spun, which makes it light but solid. Made from Icelandic wool, or ‘lopi’, it is perfect for Icelandic weather conditions, keeping you both warm and dry.
While you might guess that the lopapeysa has been around for hundreds of years as it seems to be such a traditional and practical garment, the Icelandic sweater only dates back to around the middle of the last century.
Some believe that the design was inspired by the traditional costumes worn in Greenland, Bryndís Eiríksdóttir from the Handknitting Association of Iceland tells me, while others believe that the pattern is related to designs from southern Sweden. “You would think that because the sweaters only date back to the 1940s that somebody would remember how they developed, but nobody is sure,” Bryndís says.
The traditional shades in which the lopapeysa is knitted are brown, black, grey, white and beige as those are the natural colours of the sheep. But you can find wool in any colour imaginable. “We mostly sell sweaters to foreigners, as Icelanders still like to knit their sweaters themselves,” Bryndís explains. “Tourists have been buying a lot of wool too though, and we have been selling much more to them since the crash and the fall of the króna.”
Sweaters at the Handknitting Association of Iceland are handmade, and you can get them in the traditional or more colourful shades. They come in different styles, such as jackets with a zipper, hoodies and sleeveless vest ponchos. Prices range from 20,000 to 35,000 ISK.
If your budget is limited, however, you can go to the weekend flea market, Kolaportið. Apart from the second-hand sweaters you can find on offer in lots of the booths, Soffía Jónsdóttir sells new handmade sweaters for around 13,000 ISK. She and three other women knit the sweaters during the week and then come to Reykjavík to sell them over the weekend. One of the ladies still knits at the remarkable age of 102.
Soffía Jónsdóttir explains that there are a variety of patterns that come from different traditions. She heard that it was Iceland’s esteemed writer Halldór Laxness and his wife who travelled to Greenland and brought back the typical design featured on sweaters nowadays, but nobody is entirely sure.
Another cheaper option is the Red Cross second-hand shop on Laugavegur. They always have some Icelandic sweaters for sale, at reasonable prices starting at 4,000 ISK.
If you are in Iceland for an extended time, you can also get your sweater knitted according to your wishes. Jóhanna Gunnlaugsdóttir, who learnt to knit when she was five years old, is so passionate about knitting them that she only charges for material used. You can get in touch with her via Facebook (www.facebook.com/prjona.skjona).
In any case, whether you buy the sweater new, used or specially ordered, the lopapeysa is a piece of clothing that lasts for a very long time, as it is not only robust but also timeless.   



Mag
Articles
<?php the_title(); ?>

Independence Is Not A Disaster:

by

After decades of discussion on the political and economic details of a theoretically independent Scotland, the Scottish citizens finally face the vote that could bring this country into reality. The vote on the Scottish Independence Referendum Bill, asking “Should Scotland be an independent country?” will take place this Thursday, September 18, 2014. “We have a shared interest” As part of the discourse on their potential independence, Scottish political leaders are looking to the Nordic countries as models in developing their social and economic policies. In addition to potentially modelling welfare and taxation on Nordic systems, other involvement ranges from applying

Mag
Articles
<?php the_title(); ?>

Funding Dries Up at the Library of Water

by

This year marks the first and only year since its opening in 2007 that VATNASAFN/LIBRARY OF WATER has been unable to fund a writer-in-residence. While one writer, American architect and poet Eric Ellingsen, used the free space this year, the position did not come with its usual stipend. This is due to a familiar story within arts communities in Iceland and abroad: a lack of funding. Housed in the building that was once Stykkishólmur’s public library, it was converted into a public art installation by American artist Roni Horn in 2007. The finished space includes three collections: a rubber flooring

Mag
Articles
<?php the_title(); ?>

Didaskophilia

by

The Biophilia project has extended its tendrils into many unexpected areas. Its accompanying education outreach programme aims to encourage creativity, whilst using new technology as a gateway to science and music learning. This approach combines the use of cutting-edge apps based on Björk songs like “Virus,” “Crystalline” and “Moon,” with simple exercises designed to be engaging and fun, such as marking a balloon with dots and then blowing it up to illustrate the Big Bang. The education programme went on the road as part of the Biophilia city residencies—runs of three to ten shows that took place in cities like

Mag
Articles
<?php the_title(); ?>

News In Brief: Early September

by

Remember last issue when we complained that the Bárðarbunga volcano was a huge disappointment for not having the decency to erupt? Well, apparently the volcano gods read the Grapevine, because a huge fissure opened up in Holuhraun and began spewing forth some very photogenic magma. Icelanders were quick to ask the most important question: What are we going to name the new lava field when all is said and done? The jury’s still out on that one, but for now, this is proving to be the ideal volcanic situation: pretty lava, no airplane-choking ash clouds and no one hurt or

Mag
Articles
<?php the_title(); ?>

Why You Can’t Go See The Eruption

by

In the middle of the night on Saturday, August 16, an intense swarm of seismic activity began in the area of Bárðarbunga—one of many central volcanoes nobody can pronounce—under Europe’s largest glacier, Vatnajökull. Since that day, my co-workers and I at the Icelandic Meteorological Office (aka the IMO) have been working day and night to monitor the activity, holding daily meetings with the Civil Protection services, and trying to figure out the possible outcomes of these events, which might just be the start of something a lot bigger. When the activity began, it was incredible how we could follow the

Mag
Articles
<?php the_title(); ?>

A Volcano Bigger Than Timberlake

by

The most prominent, truly devastating volcanic eruption in Icelanders’ public memory is arguably the late-18th century eruption in the volcanic ridge Lakí, followed by the Móðuharðindi, two years of all-over brutal hardships. The sky went dark, and the sun faded, while ashes destroyed pastures, and temperatures sank, leading to the death of an estimated 75% of the country’s livestock and a fifth of its human population. Then there was the late-19th century eruption, after which a fifth of the island’s populace moved to Canada. The ashes from the sudden 1973 eruption in the Vestmannaeyjar archipelago destroyed 400 homes. One person

Show Me More!