There is a lovely activity in Hvolsvöllur town in South-Iceland. It is called "Njálurefill" or the Njál's Saga Tapestry. I t is a very long tapestry, which will be ca 90 meter's long when it will be finished and 50 cm wide. It was estimated in the beginning that 10 meters would be sewn annually. But this has proven to be a very popular project and for a little over 2 years now 38,25 meters have been sewn!
The goal is to sew the main events of the Saga of Njáll in the tapestry. And thus make a really interesting artwork that will for sure boost tourism in Hvolsvöllur. Be it tourists or locals, I think this is a very interesting project for everybody interested in the Icelandic Sagas and embroidery alike.
The Saga of Njáll is one of the best known of the Icelandic Sagas and the longest one. It took place around the millennium of 1000. It is sometimes referred to as the Queen of the Icelandic Sagas.
This Saga took place in the Rangárþing region and is the only one of the Sagas which took place in South-Iceland. It tells the story about the good friends, Gunnar of Hlíðarendi and Njáll of Bergþórshvoll. Gunnar's enemies end up killing him, and Njáll and his wife and sons are burned to death in their home. It is a story about battle, power struggle, passionate love and deceit.
The estimated sewing time of the making of the Njál's Saga Tapestry was supposed to be 6-10 years. But seeing that everybody can take part in the sewing so many people have shown interest in this project that it is estimated that it will only take 5 years all in all to finish it - if everything goes as well as it has up until now.
The stitch that is used in the Njál's Saga Tapestry is "refilsaumur" stitching (Bayeux stitch), which is a stitch that was used way back in the Viking Age. The tapestry is embroidered on 100% linen and Icelandic wool yarn is used for the stitching. The yarn is dyed with Icelandic herbs with ancient methods, so this is very natural and Viking like.
You can take part in the sewing or just visit the Njál's Saga Tapestry Sewing Centre in Hvolsvöllur village. The Sewing Centre is located at the Saga Centre of Hvolsvöllur, which has got an excellent museum on the Saga of Njáll.
The sewing of the Njál's Saga Tapestry started on February 2nd, 2013 and after it will be finished it will be on display at the Saga Centre. That will be in ca 2,5 years or so, it all depends on how many people come to help with the sewing. I visited the Saga Centre just to have a look at the tapestry and get some information to write about it and introduce it.
One can just pop in for a visit or sew as little or much as one wants. It costs ISK 1000 to take part in the sewing. Then you write your name in the guest-book as a proof of which part of the refill of Njál's Saga Tapestry you have sewn. You will get instructions so do not worry about making mistakes and ruining the project ;)
If you don't feel like sewing, but really want to take part in the project, then the instructor can sew for you and you buy a picture and get your name in the guest-book.
The Njál's Saga Tapestry received the Education Prize of South-Iceland in 2014.
The designer of the pictures, which are printed on the Njál's Saga Tapestry, is Kristín Ragna Gunnarsdóttir. She has won the Icelandic Illustration Award on two occasions. This is a private project, sponsored by many, but two women started this wonderful project, Gunnhildur Edda Kristjánsdóttir and Christina Bengtsson. Kudos to these women for a good idea and a job well done!
Opening hours: Tuesdays 19:00-22:00, Thursdays 14:00-17:00 and Saturdays starting from 10:00. In summer time it will be open 5 days a week, from Tuesdays-Saturdays, but closed on Sundays and Mondays. You can look up the website of Njálurefill for further information on opening hours.
I know, these hours are very limited and you might be visiting Hvolsvöllur on other days or at other hours of the day in winter time, so you can always call and make an appointment. You can find their mobile phone on the homepage of the Njál's Saga Tapestry. Or you could send an e-mail about your upcoming visit at email@example.com.
The best way to visit Hvolsvöllur in South-Iceland is to rent a car in Reykjavík and drive there - it is only ca 95 km away from the capital city. Also check out these self drive packages: 5 Day Self Drive South Coast Tour | The Golden Circle & Jökulsárlon Glacier Lagoon, 7 Day Self Drive Tour | South and West Coast & the Golden Circle.
There are myriad of things to see and do in South-Iceland, so make a day-tour or 2 days out of your visit.