What's the Time Difference to Iceland?

One of the many good parts about working for Handwoven and Weaving Today is when I get to spend a few hours (or more!) searching for photos of fiber animals for articles and blog posts. While often the photos I use are for articles about well-known breeds, sometimes I have to hunt down photos of lesser known, rare, and even endangered fiber animals in an attempt to raise awareness about their plight. Anne Merrow, editor of our sister magazine Spin-Off, recently spent some time searching for photos of rare Icelandic goats. —Christina


  Adoirable Icelandic goats. Photo courtesy
of Jóhanna B Þorvaldsdóttir

Marianne Guckelsberger and Robin Russo’s article in the Summer 2014 issue of Spin-Off issue immediately grabbed me with the story of Jóhanna B Þorvaldsdóttir and her goats. Jóhanna bought some of the last Icelandic goats in existence (who knew there were Icelandic goats!) and began breeding to save them from extinction. I’ve certainly heard of the “Save the Sheep” project, but a breed of goats so close to disappearance was news to me.

In need to a few photos, I wandered through the pages of Jóhanna’s website, which (being in Icelandic) proved a challenge. How could I search for what I needed when my keyboard doesn’t even create the characters needed to spell it? But the photos—worth so much more than a thousand words and in need of no translation—were just what I needed for the article.

You see, I have a weakness for goats. I love their fiber, I love their cleverness, and I love their appetite for weeds and anything in their path. (Not owning goats myself, I can ignore their less charming characteristics.) In the hustle of producing my first issue of Spin-Off, the Icelandic goats occasioned a welcome interlude of photo research.

With only a little time before press, I wrote to Jóhanna and asked her permission to use some of her photos, hoping that between the time change and the demands of running a farm she would be able to write back. At an hour that must have been positively indecent in her part of the world, Jóhanna wrote back to give her blessing.

And so I can share with you not only the story of this wonderful preservation effort, but these adorable goats as well. Spinning their fleece outside Iceland will have to wait, for reasons you’ll discover in “Settling Sheep and Goats,” but in the meantime we can dream of encountering this nation’s textile heritage in person.

Happy spinning,


Anne Merrow

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