21 March 2006

narcoleptic blankets

When J and I were first dating back in Boston, we used to cook dinner together at his apartment in the cool autumn nights. After eating, the combination of good food and long days (I used to have to be at work at 7 am) made me drowsy and cozy, so I'd go to just have a little rest on the couch before starting the dishes together. His apartment was always slightly chilly thanks to the expensive electric heat and huge windows on two sides, so I'd unfold the gray striped blanket he had folded over the sofa arm. This blanket was a little scratchy, but cushiony and the most marvelously perfect level of warmth, so tucked underneath it, I'd promptly fall asleep, leaving J to do the dishes on his own. We were still so new to dating that he apparently felt awkward poking me awake so he'd let me sleep, cocooned in woolen warmth.

This blanket was, of course, from Iceland, purchased at the Álafoss factory store, one of J's few strategically selected Iceland souvenirs. He also had a Sigur Rós concert poster on one wall, and as I was falling asleep, I'd look at the strange words like "útgáfutónleikar" and "háskólabíó" and marvel that somewhere there was a whole country of people that understood everything on this poster.

Two months after we met, J went on the fateful Iceland trip where he got the job, and as a gift he bought me my own Álafoss blanket in creamy white wool. It was too warm to use in my steam-heated top floor apartment, so I hung it on a dowel on the wall above my bed. I looked up at it often when I was trying to imagine what Iceland was like, this place I heard of for a year before seeing.

Now, both blankets have returned to their homeland, and they spend the day folded and piled together, and in the evenings they still manage to put me straight to sleep almost without fail.

Ship sighting: J's brother came to The Land this morning, and as we were eating breakfast together, we spotted a cargo ship emerging from the snowstorm on the horizon. It was Reykjafoss, containers stacked two high, on the way in. It's due for a quick turnaround, and is scheduled to leave this evening at 6pm.


luvwannabefree25 said...

Great site... I hope you don't mind me stopping by...
JD ;)

tsduff said...

I am completely and entirely in love with Icelandic wool! I brought back gifts of wool to the states last time, mostly hats and scarves, but the sweaters and blankets are the things which hypnotize me most. I love wool blankets - we have several from my Grandma which are Hudson Bay wool blankets. They bear the marks - 2 inch long black lines on the edge of each blanket - to designate how many beaver pelts were to be taken in trade for each blanket. There are 4 black lines on these blankets indicating their high quality and thickness (versus 3, 2, 1 or none). The blankets are ivory in color, with a 3 inch horizontal stripe of both red and green across. I treasure them because of their history, but recently had to remove the one from the bed because my Icelander was too hot and was sweating all night. The blankets you posted are fabulous - where is Álafoss?

ECS said...

I grew up with those Hudson Bay blankets too! My older brothers both got their own when they graduated from college. I got wool to make my own blanket when I graduated, so I have my own huge handwoven blanket over here too.

Álafoss is in Mosfellsbær, north of Reykjavík. It's a standard stop on our Golden Circle tour for visitors that like wool. You can get their blankets at lots of shops in RVK but the factory store itself is really cool and full of alllll kinds of ice-wool materials.

tsduff said...

How long have you been spinning and or weaving? Is using a loom difficult to learn? I'd like to learn. How cool that you made your own giant blanket. Maybe after I get a little further down the "art" road of ceramics I'll tackle the weaving thing. It appeals to me more than the standard sewing tasks like embroidery and needlepoint. Besides, I love tapestries, blankets, runners, etc.

ECS said...

I've been weaving for about 10 years. I went to a high school with a really intensive art program that had a whole weaving studio, and I took to it instantly, and made the blanket I have here after 3 1/2 months of weaving. It's not extremely hard, just requires a lot of patience and very precise counting, since the set-up is the most important part, and you have to be willing to possibly take out a lot of work to get it just right at the beginning.

It's also a pretty expensive hobby, since the loom and all necessary supplies will cost you at least a thousand dollars. The nice thing about it is that it's all fairly simple technology, so it doesn't require much maintenance once you've got everything.

Also, once you get good enough, selling handwovens doesn't seem to be too hard- I sold my first scarf less than a year after I started, and have been selling fairly regularly since then. You should definitely give it a try- maybe get a table loom to start with instead of a floor model. You'd be able to do scarves and small pieces that way, and graduate up to the big one if you really like it and want more.

tsduff said...

Well, it sounds like a great thing to learn. Thanks for the information and encouragement :-) Do you sell your work now in Iceland?