In Iceland the colours and my feelings are constantly changing, but this past month or so since I returned from my trip abroad, the sky, the walls, the ground, the tomatoes on the windowsill, indeed my life has changed colour more than usual.
When I first returned it was ‘unusually warm’ (5 degrees C!) and the snow had not yet settled. Now it well and truly has, and the nights seem to be creeping up our front steps and tapping on the back window all at the same time. The daylight hours are almost an immediate transition from sunrise to sunset making for some very striking pink light on the clouds and the mountains. Around the time the nights started coming to visit early, our tomatoes – which had waited small and green for many weeks as if waiting for something to show them what to do next – expanded and reddened, asking to be plucked. How sweet and intense months of care and anticipation tastes! It was a strange thing to see red tomatoes with a snowy white backdrop – Christmassy in a bizarre way – but we very proud to have produced these homegrown wonders in such a place!
And while it has been a time for wrapping up warm (more on that later!) and wrapping up presents, we finally could not resist the temptation to unwrap our little Icelandic house, and see what lay beneath our wall paper. Our fingers had traced ridges that felt like old wooden panel and what started with a curious peek turned into a total wall make over that ended in a unexpected find.
We made our way through several layers of wall paper from various eras…
…finding it all lined with hessian nailed into the wood, and old Icelandic newspapers.
And there on the right, for the keen of sight, is what lined most of the walls in our bedroom: A copy of The Weekly Scotsman from June 19th 1909! And in it were fashion adverts for ladies’ skirts and hats…
…delicious articles that speak so strongly of the time as to conjure up whole stories in the imagination:
“The Mauretania carried recently to New York a consignment of twenty tons of Ostrich feathers valued at more than £100,000.“
And sound advice, in the twentieth century and always:
“Don’t worry children. Don’t worry about them. Guardian Angels still exist, even in the twentieth century.”
All of this wrapped up in our walls and stitched in to the story of our house! We have kept all the best bits to be made into goodness-knows-what, some already made into Christmas cards, but you cannot throw away stories like these.
Our open house and Christmas sale before the house got so full I couldn’t take pictures! The kitchen was full of men clutching mugs of home made hot chocolate and listening to my boyfriend’s father telling tales, while all the women huddled around my jewellery picking out Christmas gifts.
And underneath it all, the wooden panel that we’d dreamed of, but even better. Wooden, unpainted from 1902, matured to a lovely deep honey colour that has transformed the feeling of our house into a cosy wooden cabin in the winterscape. It has made the perfect backdrop to lantern lit evenings doing wintry things, Christmas sales and cocoa tales, and lastly but not leastly…
Our end of year Icelandic Jumper Extravaganza!!! Roll up, roll up! We have decided to put some second hand Icelandic jumpers up for auction on Ebay to raise money for our upcoming marriage. I cannot recommend Icelandic jumpers highly enough. In fact I am wearing one right now. They are 100% pure Icelandic hand knitted wool, which is excellent quality and keeps you at a perfect temperature, both inside and outside. They are a very beautiful and practical thing to have that will keep you toasty for years to come. And very fashionable at the moment so I hear!
If the idea of wrapping one of these around yourself, your loved ones or your children warms your heart, or you’d just like to help us along on our journey, please do pop in and say Hello! and Hi! The auction ends Sunday and Monday nights; all being well just in time to get them to you for Christmas!
It is Icelandic tradition at Christmas to give family members a new item of clothing, lest they get eaten by the Jólakötturin (Yule Cat). This was to encourage folk to work hard to use up the Autumn wool before Christmas, which still happens to this day. You cannot find many women here who do not knit of an evening between the autumn sheep gathering and Christmas, and this is how they were made. Enjoy the stories in each stitch!