Place-based learning at the KntiFest 2024 in Blönduós

Travelling from Montreal, Canada, to Blönduós for a unique experience of creative endeavours during my Iceland Field School is a treat. Living in the Icelandic textile centre’s housing as an artist-student in Blönduós is one of the most amazing experiences I have had in many years. Beside jetlag and long hours of day light in my new location for the month of June, I was thrilled to know that the student group will actively participate in the preparation of the KntiFest by lending hands.

Photo: The beautiful pin on the KnitFest

KnitFest started in 2016. This year’s KnitFest was from June 7-9 in Blönduós, and our group was there to enjoy the festive weekend with artist talks, shopping for wool from local makers and vendors, coffee, and homemade pastries. We were given a special handmade woollen wristband spun by the wonderful Svana so that we could access all the talks for free.

Photo: The handmade woollen wristband

We were informed that there were four workshops that would be delivered in English, and interested students could take them for a fee. I am always keen to learn various traditional skills in person. Learning traditional crafts from experts is a sustainable way to pass the knowledge on to a new generation by widening the maker’s or practicing community. Safeguarding craft knowledge for the future is a crucial part of UNESCO’s intangible cultural heritage and sustainable craft practice.

Photo: Deborah Gray in a picture taken at the drop-spindle workshop

I made the decision to attend a total of three workshops on Saturday and Sunday in order to enhance my learning experience. The three-hour workshops included needle binding, drop spindle spinning, and solar dyeing. Although I had some prior experience with the drop spindle, I was completely unfamiliar with two of the workshops. My goal was to broaden or enhance my current skill set in crafts and creativity. But before I knew it, those two days had passed by very quickly. I explored sustainable local material sourcing and employ it in my creations.
Most of the material and tools were provided by the workshop organiser. Foraging plant to dye, wool to spin and wooden needle to knit were special. 

Photo: My knitting using the handmade wooded needle

Photo: Two-ply Icelandic wool I spun.

Photo: Icelandic spun wool for solar dyeing

It was hard to learn, unlearn, and start over. Throughout every workshop, we were urged to embrace the results that were brimming with “learning residues.” It is an honour that I have this educational opportunity to further develop my expertise in knowledge creation and heritage practice.

Me at the needle binding workshop. Photo taken by Rebekah.

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