Thursday, 3 October 2013

Heimilisiðnaðarsafnið Textile Museum

One of the most interesting stops we did in our road trip was the one at the Heimilisiðnaðarsafnið Textile Museum in Blönduós, close to Akureyri.

The textile museum is what it's name represents: a collection and preservance of all types of textile art: from national costumes and handcrafted homeware to weaving and knitting. It is the only one of its kind in Iceland and it was founded by the Women's Union in East Húnavatnssýsla. The museum was officially opened in 1976.

It operates in a very good looking building, which looks smaller from the outside than it actually is. It also has a comfortable cafe area with a small library, big glass windows and a nice view.

Before I toured around the museum I had the chance to browse though Icelandic books and magazines, featuring knitting and other textile patterns. Two highlights of these where Helene Magnusson's new book, Icelandic Handknits, and Íslensk Sjónabók [Ornaments and Patterns found in Iceland]. Needless to say, both of them are beyond awesome and not just because of their naturally interesting content, but also because they depict the spirit of Icelandic work: how the locals take care of their traditions, and the seriousness and professionalism with which the work of documentation and creation has been carried out.

this is actually the bottom of a chair

While walking inside the museum I had the chance to experience different things: every room was featuring different forms of art. One room had an exhibition of linen underwear, drawers with examples of tiny crochet, knitting, tatting - all examples of homeware. Another room was dedicated to textiles used in chairs, and walls like handwoven tapestries, as well as lace (as seen below).

There were also the national costumes, which were quite simple, but very elegant.

and I loved the headdresses, obviously

In the same area there was also the Helene Magnusson's exhibition, where I became extremely delighted, because for the first time I had the chance to look up closely and touch (with gloves!) all these knitted garments that I normally can only look at through a screen. It was an amazing experience.

Of course these were not the only knitted items exhibited. There was also a basement filled with different objects like shawls,gloves, neckwarmers, beaded wristwarmers and equipment: spinning wheels, yarn swifts. I can definitely see how Helene got inspired, every piece features delicious details of inspiration!

a 150 year old pot used for hand dying
this is so clever!!

Another interesting part, at least for me, was the weaving room, were the was this huge weaving machine, where you could try weaving a few rows. I weaved for the first time! It was amazing! I also learned quite a few things about the rows before mine. This machine, and all it's strings have remained intact since they moved in that building a few years ago. The few meters of weaved fabric, were actually produced my similar demonstrations and try-outs of previous visitors. That's exciting, because it's like every visitor leaves something to the museum, a small bit.

Last but not least, there was also a special referendum to Halldóra Bjarnadóttir:
An important part of the museum is named after Halldóra Bjarnadóttir (1873-1981), a well-known lady in Iceland. She was a domestic consultant for the National Farmers Union in Iceland for many years and she published the „Hlín" magazine for 44 years. Moreover, she founded and operated the Wool- and Textile College at Svalbarði in South-Þingeyjarsýsla. Halldóra dedicated herself to the social and educational affairs of women and was an eager representative of their culture. She collected varieties of weaving and knit patterns as well as many types of small objects related to wool- and textile processing.
Halldóra never got married and had no children. She donated her last belongings to the Textile Museum which are now preserved in „Halldórustofa" (Halldóra´s Room).
I learned quite a bit about her life from the objects in her room and also from the story I was told by the museum's staff. She seems that she must have been a very inspiration woman. 

I also found some very interesting books in her small library, with amazing stitch patterns of all kinds, and many of them of Danish origin. Too bad they are out of print, though.

we were wearing our Icelandic sweaters, so we had to take a picture!
So, that's the textile museum. I totally recommend visiting it if you are interested in textiles. It features many kinds of Icelandic traditions, but not too much. In every corner there is something more to look at, so it doesn't get any boring! The staff is also very friendly, and they are more than happy to tour you around.^^ And that way you get to learn many interesting facts and information you don't expect.

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