Our Visit to The Faroe Islands

2018 was a pretty crazy year, and one of the absolute highlights (besides the birth of Courtney’s daughter, Gilda, and the release of four of our very own yarns) was the trip to the Faroe Islands we took with Jaime Jennings and Amber Corcoran in March. L / The Mulafossur Waterfall. R / Rainbows, sheep and snow covered mountains. AKA: magic. The trip served a dual purpose: we were already planning on visiting Handarbeit and Hobby, the international trade fair in Cologne, Germany, to meet the owners of BC Garn, so it also made sense to travel to Faroe while in Europe to meet Óli Kristian á Torkilsheyggi (Kris), the founder and owner of Navia yarns. Not wanting to be away from the office and our families for too long, the whole trip was a bit of a whirl wind, but we packed it full of delicious food, gorgeous hikes, and even a bit of business! Views from our hike near the village of Oyndarfjørður. BRIEF HISTORY Legend has it that the Faroe Islands were named by the original inhabitants who arrived on the islands in 300 AD, who, upon seeing sheep living on the land, named it “Sheep Island”. An archipelago, the country is known for its breathtaking landscapes, low population density, and large quantity of unique sheep with incredibly long, strong, warm, wool. Faroe has seen a long history of settlers and kingdoms ruling the islands and people, with Norway (and, at times, Denmark) controlling the population from c. 1000 through 1814. As a result of the Treaty of Keil, Denmark began exclusive official rule in 1814. In 1946, the population voted for independence, and after a bit of turmoil, Faroe was granted home rule in 1948. Such a long history of occupation and geographical isolation has resulted in a population that is very insulated and proud of its culture and history, but also incredibly worldly, as the vast majority of young Faroese travel to Denmark for (free) university education. Most Faroese speak at least 3 languages fluently, with Danish, Faroese, and English being the most common. L / One of the many quaint villages we drove past. R / Meghan and Amber in the distance on our hike. OUR TRIP We spent a bit of time in the car, as the shape of the islands, small population density, and long distance between villages resulted in long, curvy roads that meander around (and sometimes through!) mountains. The views were breathtaking at every single turn, and we spent the time happily staring out the windows, mouths open in astonishment, at the landscape and architecture. For our first evening, Jaime arranged a dinner, known as “heimablídni”, or “home hospitality” at the home of Onnu and Óla. Despite being there during the off-season, Onnu graciously agreed to host one of their Supper Clubs for us, and served a spectacular five course meal. Not only was the food delicious, it was a wonderful introduction to the culture and customs of the island. The following day, we went for a hike near the village of Oyndarfjørður. A long path connects Oyndarfjørður to the neighboring village of Elduvík, and the walk, while quite easy, was located along steep cliffs right on the edge of the ocean. Everywhere we looked there were sheep, many in what seemed to be impossibly awkward positions on the edge of the land, happily munching away, their long, warm coats wafting in the breeze. After our hike, we then got to “work”, meeting up with Kris, the owner of Navia, at the flagship Navia store in Toftir. After time in the shop, we went to one of the “sheep houses” near his home for their evening feed. While the sheep know exactly what time every day the farmers come to feed them, they were not prepared for a group of gawking, excited visitors, so they were a bit shy in our presence! After a delicious meal with Kris and his wife Paula in their home, we headed back to the Air BnB, exhausted but ready for more adventures! Tinganes, the seat of government, in Tórshavn. Many of the original buildings date from the 16th and 17th centuries. The next day, Kris took us on a tour, focusing on Eysturoy, one of the larger islands, and then into Tórshavn, the capital. There, we visited Gudrun and Gudrun, lovely bookstores, and at an amazing meal at Barbara Fish House. We did not have nearly enough time on the islands, as our visit seemed to be over as soon as it began. There was much more to do and see - next time, we hope to visit during the sheep gathering! - so we’ve been scheming a way to go back ever since!