Longtime readers of the blog and knowers of me will be familiar with Maggie.
So once upon a time in her junior year of high school, Maggie went to Sweden as an exchange student. She stayed with a lovely family, and promptly fell in love with their son. As doomed adolescent romances tend to go, she left and they split, but she kept in touch with him and the rest of his family. So when, several years later in the course of finishing her BA she decided to return to Sweden for another study abroad, she looked them up. And reunited for a “friendly” date with her long-lost love.
Uh huh. Friendly. So friendly that almost ten years later, I got the call that there would be a wedding, and it would be in Sweden, and would I please come?
“You bet your sweet Scandihoovian butts I will!” said I.
And that’s how I spent my Memorial Day Vacation. First, in Iceland for Maggie’s bachelorette do, and then in Sweden, helping prepare for and celebrate the nuptials of one of my dearest friends.
(It’s really been a fantastic year, you guys. If that wasn’t patently obvious by now.)
So on to the pictures. And the makes, of course.
Getting to Iceland from NYC is incredibly easy. There’s a red-eye flight, and poof! you’re there. The trouble is, the flight is only five hours. But Iceland is almost five hours ahead. So you get on a plane at 9 pm, have a little nap, and then arrive in a brand new country at 6:30 in their morning and it’s summer so that’s bright as noonday pretty much anywhere else. So we (those ladies in the bachelorette contingent) decided the only reasonable thing to do was to head directly to the Blue Lagoon and lie in a lukewarm puddle of mineral water to adjust.
It was great. We napped in comfy lounge chairs, and got massaged by waterfalls, and put mud and algae masks on our faces and drank skyr and ate a pretty tasty meal. Then we got out and showered 11 times until we no longer felt like pieces of chalk and grabbed the shuttle to Reykjavik, where we were staying for our 3-day sojourn. We took it easy that night, going out for pizza and eating it at our apartment at 11 pm and wondering why it wasn’t dark yet.
So, a note here on the Arctic Circle and summer and the whole “it’s light out all the time” thing. When someone tells you about it, you can get it, in a cerebral sense. You understand the concept. But until you’re living in it, you don’t really understand how your body is going to react. I liken it to being a bird, and someone’s forgotten to cover your cage. You just keep flittering around and chirping because you don’t realize it’s A MILLION O’ CLOCK AND WILL YOU JUST SLEEP ALREADY?
This will be a common theme for this trip. Thankfully all our accommodations had blackout shades. But still.
Iceland is actually one of the newest land forms on earth. The island is made up of a crap-ton of volcanoes and sits right on the mid-Atlantic rift, which you can actually SEE WITH YOUR EYES on the Golden Circle tour. Kim, our Mistress of Ceremonies for the weekend, had even downloaded an app that gave you tour info about the sites in a charming British accent, and even the English robot sounded impressed when he talked about the rift. The tour was also rife with viking history (Iceland is also full of vikings. Vikings and volcanoes), so markers like this one popped up a lot:
Apparently this symbol in Scandinavia means “HISTORY!” I also took care to connect with the viking spirit of the place, sitting down to ponder my love of sailing and the pros and cons of pillaging.
All the viking stuff was rendered 10x more awesome by the fact that the house favorite board game at present is called Blood Rage, a territory expansion game that takes place during Ragnarok, in which your viking army has to fight other viking armies for pillage, glory, and a trip to Valhalla. Pretty much every text I sent Neimah during this trip was “I am in the land of Blood Rage. Clearly I will win every game from hereon out.”
So, history. But better than history? NATURAL WONDERS.
Pure, turquoise glacier melt! A geyser! A massive waterfall! The kind folk of Iceland are known for some of their more whimsical beliefs–in particular, that elves inhabit the stones and hollows of their land. After this trip, I certainly believe it. The place is freaking magical. Also they have tiny horses.
Day 2 in Iceland was clearly a whirlwind. We got back to Reykjavik around 10 pm, ravenous and searching through the bizarrely bright streets for a restaurant that would still serve us dinner. I’ll tell you, it’s odd to be standing in the daylight and told that the kitchen is closing. At long last, we decided to try an Icelandic delicacy we’d been warned not to miss: the hot dogs.
It was the only place still open. But it was worth it. Lamb & beef dogs, covered with crunchy onions and curry sauce and some other weird ketchup-y type thing. Delicious.
So for day 3, we’d planned a more outdoorsy day of hiking to another impressive waterfall. But we were all frankly a bit pooped, and decided instead to spend the rainy day wandering around Reykjavik, after a hearty breakfast at the famous Café Loki.
At the cafe you could obtain several “classic” Icelandic foodstuffs. Like rotten shark. I elected to go the most New Yorker route possible… smoked trout on a spelt bagel with lettuce, tomato, and cottage cheese. Some other of our party got more adventurous with the whitefish salad and headcheese and whatnot. They do love their fish for breakfast in Scandinavia, but about as far down that particular path as I’m willing to go is lox bagel with schmear. You can take the girl out of Brooklyn, but I guess… you know.
After breakfast we headed across the street to The Church. It’s actually called Hallgrímskirkja. So I call it The Church.
It is the landmark by which all navigating in Reykjavik happens, so far as I can tell. It is quite tall, and Lutheran, and looks to me like the Shrike from Dan Simmons’s Hyperion books.
We also went to the Phallological Museum. You can Google it if you want to know.
Then we went for a little walk by the harbor…
Ate some more fish-based cuisine, and finally found ourselves at the Saga Museum, where we donned headsets to listen to the thrilling history of Iceland’s viking roots, complete with creepy wax figures!
That night we had a nice dinner at a reasonable hour, and then went to bed, as we all had a very early flight to Stockholm the following morning. I confess my pictures of Sweden are less, as I spent my time there helping with wedding stuff and spending time with Maggie & David more than sightseeing, but I got a few good ones in.
And then the the wedding was upon us! We took the bus up to Lögla, in the middle of Swedish nowhere. You know this is true when this is an actual road sign that you see with some frequency:
Lögla is where the Hertz family cabin lives, and where the wedding was to take place, and when we got there we worked like crazy to prepare the tent and the house for all the guests and festivities. I don’t have pictures, because we were all busier than one-armed paper hangers, but it was honestly the most fun of the whole trip. We festooned the tent with greenery and flowers, set the tables and stashed little candles anywhere and everywhere, tidied and fluffed and smoothed and prettied until we were exhausted, and then gathered around the table to gorge ourselves on sausage and cheese and potatoes and bread and even some green vegetables. And then we slept, and then there was a wedding.
There was a Maggie-&-David-centric pub quiz, and Kubb, and a pickled herring bar (more fish), and I had to sing and managed to do it without bursting into tears, and an incredible meal featuring home-brewed beer by the newlyweds, wild boar, and cloudberries, and SO MUCH DRINKING. When setting the tables I remembered thinking “I wonder what this tiny glass is for?” It was the water glass, clearly the LEAST important beverage on the table because good grief was there a lot of drinking. By 11 pm I was on tonic water for the rest of the night, because I’m old and hangovers are for the young. But there was dancing, and talking, and laughing, and by the time the second shuttle came to ferry guests back to Stockholm at 2 am a) the sun was already coming back up from its very brief rest, and b) I was happily exhausted. We did some cleaning up the next day, and then caught the bus back to Stockholm. I packed up, headed to sleep early, and managed to get myself back to the airport without event and onto my plane(s) back home. It was a beautiful, love-filled trip, and I’m so thankful for the best friend that made it possible.
And I can’t wait to do it again soon.
So before I sign off, there are two little things that need a bit of detailing. One, the very purple dress of the title:
When planning wedding-wear for the bridal party, Maggie decided to let everybody find their own dress… just make it purple. And me being me, I decided to make mine! This is Colette’s Truffle dress, from their Sewing Handbook. Savvy folk will recall I made another of these some time past and wore it to my dearest Rosita’s wedding. It’s good summer wedding attire… simple without being boring, and classic but still fresh. I had some purple silk chiffon in stash from the haul I’d brought home from Project Runway many, many moons past, and I’d originally planned to underline it with some of the gazar I’d also rescued from PR to give it structure and opacity. Cutting out the very first pattern piece, it became clear working with the chiffon on a deadline would not work out. I cursed, and plotted, and decided to just go around the corner to the fabric store and see what they had that might work.
They had bright purple polyester satin.
Done and done.
Some time later, once I’d installed the zipper 17 times and gotten clingy purple threads all over everything in the office and dealt with a major serger-related catastrophe in the most un-Audrey fashion possible (“just do the same thing on the other side and people will think it’s intentional”), I had a dress. I was delighted. Relieved. Relatively happy with the fit adjustments (shortened the torso and took some darts around the neckline) I’d made from the first iteration too, which is saying something. But then I noticed a problem.
The little cardigan I’d originally planned to take to wear (because Maggie had assured me that Lögla in the summer would still be rather chilly and a cardigan was a must) didn’t quite match. The new purple was just a touch more blue than the previous purple, and thus the pretty gray sweater I’d planned to wear with it (Audrey in Unst, for those playing along at home) wasn’t quite right.
So, in very-Audrey fashion, I decided to make another one. Real quick. In the two weeks I had before I had to catch a plane.
And, as you can see from the photo with Kim & Ian above, I did it. Because I’m a crazy person.
I give you, HITOFUDE. My dear Pia has a lovely one of these that had inspired me to make one ages ago, and I’d already tossed it on the pile for the next round of Wardrobe Architect. As I was scrambling for a matching cardigan, I happened to notice just how nicely the yarn (Madelinetosh Merino Light in Opaline) I’d put aside for it matched the Very Purple Dress.
So I cast on and knit like a demon. And thus, I give you Project #1 of the Wardrobe Architect Spring/Summer 2016 collection. And with that, we’re segued. ON TO MORE MAKING!