Iceland Day 12 | Tröll Wool

Góðan daginn kæru lesendur!

Today started off very colorful – in the Yarn House. This is where Gudrun invites people to learn about the traditional ways of dying wool in Iceland.

Gudrun did her MSc in Biology and knows a lot about the plants used to dye wool. This is her, holding a dyed hank of wool and a piece of lichen (ger: Flechte) – I think you can guess the connection between those two items.

Other things that were used to make dye include ‘anything that is green’ (for yellow), common madder (for red) and Indigofera (for blue). Fun fact about blue wool in Iceland: The vikings liked to wear blue, but you could not get blue clothing on the island, so they went shopping in Norway.

Another ingredient that was used in the traditional dying process is cow urine. It needed to be old urine because that contains ammonia, which has alkaline properties. Acidic plants make for the best colors, and acids and bases can do chemistry magic:

Even though Gudrun doesn’t use cow urine anymore (which is hard to get anyways), the base used in this process has a rather bad smell, so please forgive the look on her face.

She teaches at University, but dying spun sheep hair is her main profession. Soon she will move to a bigger place in the South of Iceland, give up her teaching job and inspire even more people. When she finds the time (Christmas mainly), she likes to spin her own yarn, which you can see here:

Gudrun is such a kind and warmhearted person, if you find yourself in the South of Iceland in the future, pay her a visit. Her name is also pretty nice, and coincidentally the exact name that would have been given to me, had I not become a man. Do you know what your alternative name would have been?

This is me and a nice American woman. Let’s also call her Gudrun, to create confusion. Gudrun learned how to knit today. Gudrun was very proud of her first row of stitches – and so was I.

The yarn house experience was the highlight of today, thanks again, Gudrun!

Next stop: Hraunafossa. Hraun means lava, foss you should already know.

And right next to it: Barnafossa. Barna means children, foss you should already know.

Legend has it that two children drowned trying to cross an arch above the stream. Their mother then had the arch destroyed to prevent future accidents. Of course we don’t know if that is actually true, but can you see an arch in the picture?

Talking about folklore. The host of our Airbnb (which is actually no an Aribnb but a much bigger establishment) is also a writer and seems to like trolls. Thus he created the Troll Stroll.

And since we didn’t want to get eaten by Grýla, we participated in the Troll Games!

Grýla has a small boat, she rows along the strand.
When she hears a child cry, she hurries into land.

Icelandic folklore

And so the games began:

Troll stones
Troll hopscrotch
Troll footing
Troll kick (score after 5 rounds: Hannah 0 – Lukas -2)
Troll throw (score after 5 rounds: Hannah 6 – Lukas 10)

We exceeded everyone’s expectations and thus survived another day in the land of trolls and elves. Maybe, just maybe, it was this rock that had given us some of its power right before our sporty quests. The imprint – of course – was made by a troll.

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