Just a little update, since I have a number of projects on the go but nothing really major to report about any of them at the moment.
On the Skyr front, my culture was indeed too old and had died. I’ve ordered another one, and will be putting that one on to grow the minute it arrives in the mail. I got the notification that it had been mailed today, so hopefully it won’t take too long. I also recently talked with one of my Icelandic friends who mentioned that Skotidakis (the Greek Yogurt brand) is now making Skyr too, though it seems to only be available at Costco right now. I did get to Costco on Saturday, though, and picked up a case. Sadly it only comes flavoured, not in plain, otherwise I’d try using that as a culture and start a batch from that. Apparently the Skotidakis brand comes a lot closer to actual Icelandic Skyr than the President’s Choice brand does.
I’m close to being able to post another project I’ve been working on for a while, which is a translation of a 7 page article from an Icelandic journal on the origins of various domestic animals in Iceland. The article itself is modern, and isn’t geared towards people focusing on the Viking era, as it talks about changes since then, but since Iceland as a country basically started during the Viking period, talking about where the various Icelandic breeds of animals came from is relevant to my interests here. Getting this article in the first place originated from my work towards showing documentation that Icelandic Sheepdogs have been around in much the same form as they are in now since the Viking era. I still have to go further in this research on the dogs, but the other information in this article is interesting as well.
Speaking of the Icelandic Sheepdog, this past weekend was Þórný’s first event, at Vinfest in Grande Prairie. We were only there for a few hours for various reasons, but she got lots of attention and good socialization time, and I had my first experience helping to run the lists for a fighter tournament! Here’s Thorny and I – she’s passed out on me from all the excitement, just like that picture of Ása passed out on me from Vinfest 2017. We brought Ása as well, and she gets lots of attention to as she’s a sweet, friendly girl, but she was more interested in digging holes on Saturday. Þórný’s more likely to become my eventing companion, because she likes car rides whereas Ása isn’t fond of them.
Finally, I am currently working on separating a big pile of fleece into two smaller piles. As I mentioned in this entry (Íslenska Sauðkindin), Icelandic Sheep fleece has two different layers, the tog and the þel (thel). The tog is a long, straighter part of the sheep’s fleece, and is more coarse. The þel is the under-layer of their fleece, and is much softer. For the purposes of my project, I pretty much want to use only þel, so I am separating the tog out and saving it for another project. Once this process is done I will then be able to pretty much spin straight from the handfuls of þel I have, I won’t even really need to do any further preparing before spinning. The portion of the fleece (it’s maybe 20-25% of one fleece, at the most) I’m working with has been washed, so it’s clean and has only a small amount of lanolin left in it. Once I pull the tog out (I’m just doing this by hand – no tools necessary), the þel pretty much comes away as a fluffy white cloud. I’ve been doing some research on how the thread for weaving with was spun during the Viking era in Iceland, so there will be a post about that soon too.
Another upcoming sub-project for the sheep to dress project is going to be making my own drop spindles. I managed to find my larger pieces of soapstone this past Friday while I was looking for something else, so I can finally get started on carving some spindle whorls. Then I’ll just need to take Ása and Þórný for a walk in the woods to look for some appropriately sized and shaped spindle shafts, since if I’m putting the time and effort into carving the whorls myself, I am certainly not going to use a commercial dowel for the shaft. I’ve been also making some spindles out of commercial dowels, toy wheels, and cup hooks lately, but that’s not exactly appropriate for period.