Our country hotel was my favorite place that we stayed the whole week. Right off of the main road leading north, it was flanked on both sides by wide, hilly fields and mountains that were obscured by clouds. Cows, pigs, sheep, ducks, and chickens had their homes near the cottages covered with mossy roofs and two hot tubs overlooking the river. Our first lesson, which took place in a room behind the restaurant, involved all of the varieties of Icelandic wool and how they are made: the plotulopi, lettlopi, alafoss lopi, einband and everything else that Iceland has to offer.
For centuries , all of the wool raised in Iceland was cleaned by hand, combed by hand, and handspun extremely fine lace. Today, it is nearly impossible to find that kind of yarn unless you spin it yourself, and so a few years ago Helene worked to develop her own lace-weight single-ply Icelandic wool in the old traditional way. A century ago, women rarely wore coats or jackets to stay warm like we might assume in modern times, but instead would layer wool shawl upon wool shawl, plenty long and tied in the back for warmth. And warmth, as you can imagine, was of the utmost importance to make it through incredibly long winters.
We spent the morning cozy inside with plenty of coffee, working with plotulopi, playing around with lacy eyelet designs, several cast-on and color-changing techniques, broke for lunch, and picked it all back up again. Mid-afternoon we stopped for coffee and waffles (a tradition I would very much like to keep up in my every day life) and then had some free time to explore.
I took a hike up the mountain which turned out to be much more of an adventure than I had bargained for. As I passed each animal’s pens following the river towards the mountains, I realized that the pigs were following me along the length of their fenced pen. “How fun!” I thought, “They’re taking a walk with me!” And fun it was, until I realized that at the end of the pen, some pigs had dug a trench under their fencing and decided that they WOULD in fact go on a walk with me! Not normally scared of animals and knowing that pigs were not known to be aggressive, I was nevertheless alone and several hundreds of pounds of pigs were headed in my direction and at a fast clip. I quickly diverted my direction back towards the farm, just in case I needed to call for assistance, and the pigs continued to follow me at a distance. I found a grassy ledge off the path with a small pebbled path running in front, and much to my relief the pigs decided to continue along their path and towards, I am sure, a favorite pasture. Crisis averted.
Some hiking, some journaling, some dinner, and of course a pre-bedtime dip in the hot tub, followed by a dip in the icy cold and clear river. And as if the day couldn’t get any better, I found out late that evening that I had a new niece waiting for me back in the States and I got to Skype with Lila Kate on the day she was born just outside the restaurant, overlooking the mountains. It’s a moment I will never forget.
How I loved you, country hotel!