The Handknitting Association’s Yarn
You line up with dozens of other women to stand before a fickle shop owner who will take only a minute to judge months of work. After hours of waiting, you finally stand before him and his shrewd eye skims over your sweaters. He shakes his head and your heart sinks. You hang your head in dejection and trudge home with your rejected sweaters in tow; months of work and part of your family income is lost in that moment.
Before 1977 this depressing scene was commonplace. Knitting orders were advertised on the only radio station in Iceland with little consideration for the people filling the order. From this chaos emerged Iceland’s Handknitting Association, a small group of women who wanted to take charge of their own work rather than rely on the whim of shop owners. These women wanted to sell their handiwork on fair terms by coordinating orders and members to create a harmonious cottage industry. This pioneering standardisation, quality inspection, and guidance for projects has grown the Handknitting Association from a small group to around 200 knitters.
Not just anyone can knit an Icelandic sweater, which takes a full two to three days to complete. The pattern itself is as complicated as the Icelandic name for it, lopapoysa. Although most members of the Handknitting Association are older Icelandic women who want to occupy themselves well into retirement, the financial crisis has ushered in a younger generation of knitting professionals to carry on the tradition. The Handknitting Association coordinates old and new members to clothe clientele in apparel entirely made in Iceland by professional knitters whose work has standardized sizes and undergoes rigorous quality inspection.The Handknitting Association of Iceland
Skólavörðustígur 19 • 101 Reykjavik
+354 552 1890