Iceland Golden & Woolen Circle

My first time to Iceland, and certainly not my last. It was a pleasure to travel with Understand Iceland tours and University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point Adventure Tours. Each evening, I wrote our day’s itinerary and adventures in poem format. To feel the whole trip, all five days are in this one post.

Iceland a magical place of connecting to my ancestry (Norse and Celtic) and thus understanding the origins of my values, talents, style, spirituality, and way of seeing the world.

Photo: Harpa Concert Hall

Iceland – Day 1 – Reykjavik – Meeting the Group

I slid onto Iceland
this sunny day,
a city day to shake the hand
of the Viking thread.

Colored corrugated townhouses,
stoic cheery,
windows propped open
to let out earth heat
and in sea-softened air.

The space shuttle church
injects organ hymns
directly to heaven 
through pipes of passion.

Punk lunch
magic potato salad
creamy on the tongue
with squash “meat”
and mushroom accompaniment
under cherry blossoms.

Harpa concert hall
diamond faceted ice cube
collecting solar love
casting honey-combed light-webs.

Solfar fishy sculpture
beached ashore
bow first
trident tail high
Vikings returning with plunder
or maybe buzzing tourists
around the skeletal spectacle.

translates smokey city
of Leifur Eiríksson,
of Norse expansionists
toting Celtic wives
to settle this wild, vacant land
of the midnight sun
invaded by Midwest knitters
hoping for Northern Lights.


Photo: Gullfoss

Day 2 The Golden Circle

Reykholt south
Whitehouse guesthouse
Gather morning walk
on a hot spring errand

for steamed lava bread
golden syrup richness
our breakfast

Skálholt Cathedral
Mosaic 3D Jesus welcomes travelers
with open arms.
Morning Benedictine ritual
sung in Icelandic touched by Latin.
The twelfth century bell rings
amidst abstract storied windows.
Lists of bishops
buried behind the wall
a saint,
a stone coffined priest who made it rain,
the reformation priest
who beheaded his Catholic rival and sons 
just out of church sight, 
the commandment loophole
less tragic than the bishop’s daughter
who fell in love with her tutor
made to vow chastity,
a vow made to be defiantly broken,
a love child conceived. 

Eco village Sólheim|
Troll garden
tasting Borage flowers
Admiring art of disabled residents
loom, thread, yarn, clay and wood
and elf houses. 

Friðheimar tomatoes
hot spring fed
on knitted vines
from greenhouse
to our soup plates
under a mountain of bread
and butter
and cucumber
floated with plucked basil.

Faxi falls
where sheep 
herded out of the highlands
are separated by farm brands
by happy, singing farm hands
beer in hand. 

Onto Gullfoss
famous double falls
for selfies galore
and to walk off bread calories.

Geysir counting minutes
to jump for joy and photo
laughing in the sulfur mist.

Icelandic treats
to prime our appetites
Licorice chocolate experience
with a quick glass of wine. 

Mika lobster salad
with white chocolate cheese dressing.
Restaurant of Polish immigrants.
Talking of Icelandic horses
grown fat on sweetening grass.

Guesthouse time
to actually knit
waiting on the hope of Northern lights
while munching Needham Maine treats,
coconut potato chocolates.
Kaleo music videos passed around.
The hot tub fills
as knitting is set aside.

Photo: Icelandic Sheep wool

Day 3 – The Woolen Circle – Local Farmer

Breakfast together
Long table
Excited chatter

Forestry talk.
Iceland was forested before settled.
Three trees native
willow, birch and mountain ash.
Working to reforest
with stout tree varieties. 

Wool gallery Ullarverslunin
Knitting design
Yulelads wool clad silly santas
the window peeper,
sausage steeler,
Skyr steeler,
and trickster
sharing the old schoolhouse
with Viking kiln made
jewelry and pottery artist.

Town of Selfoss
gift shopping
Bags of chocolate bars,
lava salt and licorice candies.
Time for a coffee stop
Lunch Chicken herb salad
at Matarlyst restaurant.

Shopping break
silty tumbles
Trout waterfall.

Uppspuni Mini Woolen mill
Horseshoe elf houses 
among the chickens.
Hulda “the hidden” 
Wool miller
Heritage Icelandic sheep wool
on Canadian machines
separator, carder, spinning and plying
Tactile tour
Soft was the rose and milk blend,
Stink free seaweed and wool blend
Pass on the dog blend.

Secret Lagoon
oldest hotspring spa
pre-wash your furry parts
Float on noodles
in the stone walled pool
surrounded by dragon breath hot vents
and elf houses in lucky threes. 

Sheep round up
Go-pro video by Einar
“Ho ho” I see da sheep
“The lambs go to the grinder”
“It’s all about the drinking”
well and the tradition of
sorting the sheep
herded down from the highlands.

Finally the knitting
(and snacking)
Experts and novices
no click clack “Grandma skill”
and still no Northern Lights
singing “when I’m 64.”


Photo: hand dyed, plant dyed Icelandic wool yarn

Day 4 The Woolen Circle Hand Dyeing Workshop

Iceland food talk
Icelanders were poor
but they had the sheep.
Lamb’s blood and fat sausage
kept “fresh” in a barrel of sour whey.
Meat soup tradition. It stretched lamb supply.
Hákarl putrefied shark 
had to be desperation food. 
Lamb smoked with dried sheep dung
for Christmas.
Thin fried cakes
cut with designs
from a time when flour supplies ran low.
Census taker, Saga collector
made porridge of coffee beans
after drinking coffee with the Danes
started coffee culture that flourished.

Kerið crater
collapsed cinder cone,
rim walk photo ops,
rule breaker drone pilot,
red volcanic rock,
mountains in the distance. 

Flag colors
Red fire under the earth
White glaciers
Blue mountains and sea
Icelanders serious about flag flying
Fly on your birthday
until midnight
The most beautiful flag in the world.

Guðrún owner and teacher
Dye colors marked social class
Purple for Pope,
hard color to get.
Blue for kings and Vikings
dyed with Woad 
before Indigo came to Europe.
Red for wealthy upper class
made from Iceland lichen
Upper Middle-class green
and common man natural wool
or gentle “moss-colored” clothing.

Harvest roots spring or fall
when plant is dormant.
Berries and flowers
the colors quickly fade.

Boil our dye pots
Lupin root and leaves, 
rhubarb root, spruce cones, 
dock, meadowsweet,
cochineal dessert bug hot pink, 
and madder root burgundy dye. 

Compare unaltered
to ammonia dipped
and copper sulfate dipped.
Orange onion skin dyed,
chartreuse from cow parsley.
Acid for stronger color
Alkaline to brighten.

Town of Eyrarbakki
Refurbed historic houses
of many colors.
One of the first settlements
Museum Byggdas-afn Arnesinga
Port town
Sail to America during mini ice age.

Us “hardy souls”
on the windy beach
Admiring seaweed
Commenting not a likely port.

Farewell dinner
Ginger Bellinis
Cod in cream sauce
and molten chocolate volcano cake.

Pack our bags
cram in all our treasures
CPR compressions 
to smash down the yarn
thought we’d go to bed early
oh no sat up chatting. 



Photo: Law rock at Þingvellir

Day 5 – Depart the Golden Circle

Bring down your bags
after breakfast

Photos in front of our guest house
and the Grayline bus with Maggie.
Good bye to Herdis.

Onto Þingvellir
where Icelandic chieftains
assembled at the annual Alþing
to discuss laws,
pass judgements
and execute a few
Men hung
Women drowned.

Last lunch together
including a walk to see a giantess
then drop everyone but me
at the airport.

Meet Sigga in her and Maggie’s home.
A condo full of art, family photos
sewing machines and yarn.

Icebar experience.
Don oderific coats and clean gloves.
Blue curacao drink
in an ice cup.
Take photos with the ice sculptures
Bow of a longboat,
Ice throne flanked by nippled nudes.
Carvings behind the walls
Intricate Freya naked on a horse,
Trollish bent old woman
Gollum like.
Sword fighting Vikings.
Sitting on ice benches 
Covered in sheepskins
until we were cold enough.

Walk downtown Reykjavik
to our restaurant
Exploring government buildings
Gardens with art.
Gender and sexual orientation 
art installation
Giggling at the hairy legged characters.

Apotec former apothecary for dinner
where Olie the newspaper seller
would hark his wares each morning
Now a fancy restaurant
serving delicacies from sea and land.
Rack of lamb
“posh fries” with truffle oil. 

No Northern Lights
as we made our way back to the car. 
Drop me at my rented studio
send off with hugs
and farewell until next time. 


About createthedawn

Dawn’s calling is for her poetry to make our world a positive place. She believes in the power of poetry to process, to focus, to align, and to find our way to happiness and fulfillment. Thus, her pen-name is CreatetheDawn. Follow Dawn's work on this blog and in her books to help fill your world with wit, wisdom, and wonder.
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1 Response to Iceland Golden & Woolen Circle

  1. Lenette Hoover says:

    Thanks Dawn for a wonderful compilation of poetry to sum up and remember our Knitting Under the Northern Lights tour. Was it really just 5 days?! We did pack so many experiences into those days. Thanks for sharing your summation poetry! And the photos. I’ll be buying a bound edition, if there is one. Keep us posted.


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