Icelandic Handknits

I am very excited and honored to be kicking off the blog tour for Hélène Magnùsson’s new book Icelandic Handknits.

©Arnaldur Halldorsson

Before I go any further here is a snippet of the official press release:

“Icelandic Handknits: 25 Heirloom Techniques and Projects is a rich and varied collection of patterns for folk mittens, socks, scarves, hats, wrist warmers, sweaters, shoe inserts, and more, all inspired by traditional handknitted artifacts from the Textile Museum in Blönduós, Iceland.
In the pages of this book, renowned Icelandic knitwear designer Hélène Magnùsson delivers an array of beautiful patterns that reflect the depth of the country’s knitting traditions.”

©Arnaldur Halldorsson

It was truly a pleasure to receive a copy of this book. Flipping through the pages brought back lots of happy memories of my trip to Iceland last year. Mary Jane and I were lucky enough to take a quick visit to the museum at Blönduós and saw firsthand the exquisite handknit articles that Hélène was so inspired by.

©Arnaldur Halldorsson

Hélène has sensitively and lovingly created 25 varied designs all beautifully photographed against a dramatic Icelandic landscape.

All the items showcase the knitting of Iceland in the 19th and early 20th centuries and the book is packed with fascinating history and folklore to accompany each design.

I was personally drawn to all the similarities that Iceland and it’s knitters share with Shetland. We have so much in common in our histories. The harsh conditions that were experienced by our ancestors meant that knitted items were a practical and much needed aspect of daily life. Icelanders also knit for export, as did the Shetlanders of the 1900’s. Thank goodness for those hardy sheep!

©Arnaldur Halldorsson

I love all the designs in this collection but have to admit to a particular fondness for the lace pieces. When viewing the lace items in the museum I immediately recognized some of the same lace patterns that we see in traditional Shetland lace. It appeared to me that these are more often set on a Stockinette background in Iceland, whereas they typically are shown in garter stitch in Shetland. Construction methods also differ. In any event these patterns were being passed around and influencing many knitters of their day.

©Arnaldur Halldorsson

 There are so many great projects to choose from in this book and plenty of  photo tutorials to help you learn any new techniques! This is most definitely a book you want to add to you library.

Voyageur Press have very kindly donated a copy of the book as a giveaway to one lucky winner! To take part please leave a comment on this post before end of day EST on Wednesday the 10th of April.

To purchase the book visit Hélène’s website.

And, if you’re keen to visit Iceland (which I can wholeheartedly recommend doing) then you might want to check out Hélène’s  knitting tour this summer which will be focusing on the very knitting traditions seen in this book!

The rest of the blog tour stops are:

April 11th, 2013: Donna Druchunas –
April 18th, 2013: Woolly Wormhead –
April 25th, 2013: Mary Jane Mucklestone –
May 2nd, 2013: Susan Crawford –
May 9th, 2013: Terri Shea –
May 16th, 2013: Alana Dakos –


Gudrun Johnston