Wool Maker Lane

knitting, spinning and life with alpacas


Iceland- What a geography lesson..

Last week, for a very special birthday, I was treated to a trip to Iceland. We took a two hour flight from Belfast to Keflavik, which is about 40km west of Iceland’s capital Reykjavik.  The first thing that we were struck by was the difference in the landscape.   As we’d expected it seemed very rugged and quite barren but never short of a natural feature to interest the eye.

We stayed in an apartment in the centre of Reykjavik.  Like all capital cities this is a very busy place.  There was lots of construction going on and many many tourists even for the month of October.  Most of the visitors seemed to hail from the U.S. and China.  Occasionally we heard an Irish accent or recognised faces from our plane trip over.


Being based in Reykjavik was great.  We hired a car which meant that we could visit lots of the interesting geographical features of the country which were close by.


We visited Geysir which is basically a large field full of bubbling geysirs of varying sizes. All of the geysirs have different names and varying time lapses between each eruption e.g. the one shown above, which is the original geysir, only erupts about once every ten years.


It’s nearby neighbour, Strokkur, erupts about once every 7 minutes.  We sat on a nearby bench and admired it’s spouting burst of boiling water a number of times during our visit.


Waterfalls are a common feature of the Icelandic landscape.  When we came across the first waterfall we were totally in awe by the sheer size of it.  The volume and the speed of the water was breathtaking.   We took numerous photos from all angles.  By day two we realised that waterfalls were everywhere and although we enjoyed looking at them the cameras stayed in our pockets.


The Thingvellir National Park is a rift valley where the North American and the Eurasion tectonic plates are drifting apart.  It was here that the first Icelandic Parliament took place, where laws were passed and (very nasty) punishments carried out.


Volcanic material was in evidence in many places that we visited.


At this spot, in Laufskálavarda, a farm was destroyed by volcanic activity in 894.  By tradition everybody passing by for the first time picks up a stone and places it on one of the mounds.


During our short time we walked on glaciers in the dark hence the lack of photos (absolutely not to be recommended safety wise), and we chased the Northern Lights, catching only a teasing glimpse…

Iceland is one incredible place.

More to come…



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October-Harvesting Time for Wool Dyers

Last year I spent a lot of time gazing at hedgerows waiting for the perfect moment to start picking blackberries and eventually I got lots and lots and was so pleased with the beautiful lilac and purple shades that I was able to get from the dye bath.  This year I am going to give elderberries a go.


I’ve managed to pick about a carrier bag full which is taking up a considerable amount of room in our freezer and is making me very unpopular at the moment.  I was really tempted to order some wool for dyeing but then I came across a bag of Bert the white alpaca’s rejected fleece from last year ( this means that it didn’t quite make the grade but would be good for a bit of experimentation with elderberries).  Why I thought that this would be a quick fix where emptying the freezer is concerned I don’t know.  I take the spinning wheel out at every opportunity and still haven’t finished….I’m getting close though and have great plans for yarn dyeing next weekend.


I love it when the weather is dry as I am able to card outside.   It really means that all of the fluff, the dust and the dirt can remain in the garden.  Sometimes, if it is raining, I’ll take the drum carder into the shed as this also saves me house cleaning chores.


I’m almost there.  These bobbins are now full and just need to be plied.

Alpaca Antics


The boys occasionally ‘fall out.’  This happened last Friday.  Bootsy is the ‘flighty’, anxious one and usually starts spitting and hissing if he gets nervous.  He then tries to jump onto Albie’s back and Albie then retaliates by biting Bootsy’s legs.  The rows follow the same pattern each time.  I usually try to break the argument up if I see it as I worry that one of them is going to get hurt.  Thankfully neither of them ever has.  Such episodes usually last about a minute or two and soon the animals get back to their usual business of grazing and looking lovely.