On a rainy and
gusty Monday night in January,
nearly 20 women arrived at small shop in Isafjorður to sit with each
other, converse, drink coffee, and most importantly knit. This is Isafjörður´s
knitting group, and they meet each Monday at at Heitt á Prjónunum. Opened just six
month´s ago by Gerður Eðvarsdottir, Heitt á Prjónunum provides knitting supplies
(wools, needles, and patterns) to knitting enthusiasts, as well as coffee or
tea and a place to sit and knit.
When I asked how
she came to open the shop, Gerður explained that she has been knitting for many
years, and used to meet with the group at the Kafi Edinborg in town before the
shop opened. ´Many of the women
were having difficulty getting supplies, so I got the idea.´ When the financial
crisis hit a year and a half ago, and her position with the municipality became
uncertain, the idea seemed more viable, and so she decided to go for it. And thus far it has been quite
I found the
opening of the shop quite interesting, because just down the block is a
handcrafts shop that sells woolen goods—sweaters, gloves, and hats and the like.
When I asked Gerður if this was a competitor in the market, she pointed out
that Heitt á Prjónunum doesn´t in fact sell the woolen crafts. It sells the
supplies for doing the knitting, and some of the women in the club, in fact,
will sell their products at the handcraft shop. So the two exist in a sort of
mutually beneficial relationship with one another.
Knitting is, of
course, an activity with quite a long tradition in Iceland. There is a very
interesting old black and white photograph in Heitt á Þrjónunum of three women
sitting outside knitting and talking with one another. It is interesting, in
part, because of its antiquarian value—as a record of the past. But even more
so in the shop on a rainy Monday evening in a more modern context of a group of
women practicing the same activity.