Blönduós is a small town situated at the mouth of River Blanda, in northwest Iceland. Iceland is largely an Arctic desert punctuated by mountains, glaciers, geysers, hot springs, volcanoes and waterfalls. Most of the vegetation and agricultural areas are found in the coastal lowlands. Willows, heathers, grasses, crowberry, bilberry and lichens are just some of the plants found all around the island.

Yukoner Vanessa Falle has dreamed of visiting Iceland for many years. A few years ago her husband gave her a Lonely Planet Guide to Iceland and when she discovered an art residency program in Blönduós she knew she was meant to go. Vanessa will be spending the month of April in this scenic seaside town.

Blönduós is the home of Textílsetur Íslands, the Icelandic Textile Centre. The centre promotes and develops Icelandic textiles. It encourages research and education in the field of textile art and design. The centre also encourages international visitors with its residency program.

The residency program can accommodate up to eight artists at a time. The program promotes an atmosphere of creativity and reflection for artists working with textiles. There are working spaces to conduct artistic practice, research  and study within the history of textile. A communal studio space invites discussion and sharing of textile practice. Residencies can last from a month to three months.

Vanessa plans to hike and explore the area for inspiration for her unique knitting designs. She is looking forward to meeting the people of Blönduós as well. She will take a few Icelandic language lessons in a private home with the goal of being able to thank people for their hospitality.

Here is a lesson in Icelandic: sokkar is the Icelandic word for sock! And Vanessa loves to design and knit socks. A clothing designer from a young age, introduced to basic knitting at about six years old, she was in her 20’s when she reconnected with knitting. She wanted to knit socks. She reviewed her basic skills, watched online tutorials and never looked back. She will use stitch resources and knitting patterns along with her Icelandic inspiration to develop her sock patterns. She is taking yarn with her to practice stitch and colour combinations. She envisions patterns representing grasses, plants and even the Northern Lights.

Vanessa is also a spinner and hand dye enthusiast. She hand dyes roving and spun yarns. Her company name is Atelier 425 and can be found at Itsy Bitsy Yarn Store in Horwood’s Mall in Whitehorse. She purchases sock blanks (which are un-dyed yarn packs primed for hand dyeing) from Kramer Yarns, in Nazareth, Pennsylvania. She also purchases sheep fleeces for art yarn spinning from born and raised Yukoner Sheila Alexandrovich.

Vanessa also has the plan to turn her Icelandic sock patterns into a book upon return. She is participating in a Kickstarter campaign to raise money. She is working with the Canadian self-publishing company called FriesenPress in Victoria, British Columbia.