Artist Residency at the Icelandic Textile Center 01.11.2021 - 27.11.2021

The Ós Textile Residency hosted a few new artists, now from Canada, USA, Sweden, Scotland, France, and Chile - 10 of us in total, in November.  

10 artists stand together at a Textile Lab in Northwest Iceland.

Fern Pellerin, Deborah Gray, My Dammand, Cassandra Boucher, Piper Shepard, Margot Malpote, Tuija Hansen, Susan Kendal, José M. Pérez, and Amy Keeler at the Exhibition opening on November 24, 2021. 

I began the month with a quick weekend trip to Reykjavik. Then, back in Blonduos, I continued sampling vintage Finnish weaving patterns and set about finishing the dye pots.

A weaving in progress on a floor loom overlooking the River Blanda.

Raanu sample in progress on a Glimakra loom in the weaving studio at Ós Textile Residency.

Two white chairs with pillows sit in the sun in wood-panneled room on the left, while dried grasses begin to frost over on the right.

I took advantage of the gorgeous colours created from sunrise to sunset in the low autumn sun. Views within and outside of House 35 - my accommodations for the month of November. 

Dock roots, bilberry stems, and spruce cones finished the list of foraged items for the autumn season. Each plant I dyed with produced varying shades due to shifting with modifiers: vinegar, soda ash, and Ferrous sulphate.

Many colours of plant-dyed wool on a shade card nestled amongst dock plants on the river bank.

My finished shade card of plant-dyed colours from the surrounding area, nestled amongst dock plants on the river Blanda, November 17, 2021. 

With my shade card much fuller than I’d anticipated, I knew it was  time to begin a larger Raanu with all of the wonderful wool colours! 

Tuija weaving on the large floor loom at  Ós Textile Residency

Tuija weaving on the Glimakra floor loom at Ós Textile Residency, November 21, 2021. 

In between working on the loom, we organized group visits during the sheep-sheering and wool-washing season, locally. First, a visit to Jóhanna Erla Pálmadóttir’s sheep farm on sheep-sheering day! Jóhanna is an expert in all things Icelandic wool and kindly donated bags of it to the artists after our visit to wash and use as they wished in November! 

Two sheep await shearing on the left, while Jóhanna bags wool on the right.

Two sheep await shearing on the left, while Jóhanna Erla

Pálmadóttir bags wool on the right. 

We were lucky to organize a visit to the local wool-washing factory: Istex, during their operating season which only happens twice a year. Completely operated by local farmers when sheep-sheering season is in full-swing, the factory washes many tonnes of wool in November and thankfully our host was happy to answer our enthusiastic questions! 

Equipment at the wool-washing factory Istex, in Blönduós, Iceland.

Many tonnes of Icelandic wool waiting to be washed on the left, mid-20th c. Wool washing equipment actively processing wool in a uniquely eco-friendly and low waste way on the right. 



A meditative moment: watching freshly washed and dried Icelandic Wool spouted down into a holding area at the Istex wool washing factory, November 22, 2021.

The (4:15 pm) sunset as seen from the weaving room, November 12, 2021.

Wanting to weave a wider Raanu style weaving with wool dyed in the previous 6 weeks, I used the large weaving mill to prepare a cotton rug warp. Over the next 2 weeks I re-warped the loom, and began adding weft using the colours in order of their dyeing: creating a “Calendar” of foraged colour from October to November. 

Tuija winding a white cotton warp for weaving on the left, and cutting the finished weaving off the loom on the right.

The beginning and ending of a weaving: winding the warp on the left and cutting the finished weaving off the loom on the right. 

A snow-covered path along the river Blanda shows footsteps in the snow.

As November sped by snow started falling, and staying, on the ground: my daily walk along the river showing fresh snowfall on November 20, 2021. 

As days grew darker we settled into a group routine of knitting together in the evenings after dinner and the occasional movie night in the Textile Center’s “Námsver” - distance learning room at Kvennaskólinn.

A group of 8 smile at the camera at the distance learning conference table.

Movie nights in the “Námsver” - November 22, 2021. 

Weavings done, and my residency coming to a close, the weaving room is cleaned, looms undressed, and ready for the following month’s artists (2:48 pm, November 26, 2021). 

Winter conditions settled in the last week of the month, that combined with travel concerns re: Pandemic restrictions changing via Omicron variant, meant that artists started leaving to head back home as early as November 25th. My travel plans were shortened as well, worried (unnecessarily) that my Canada-required PCR test might require more time I headed to Reykjavik a few days earlier than my flight. 

Snow and Ice cover the river Blanda outside the Icelandic Textile Center.

The view of the Icelandic Textile Center on my last day there, November 27 - 2021, snow-covered and the river Blanda iced Over. 

To see the finished works and others in the Mapping Via Plant Dyes Series head here: