When I was planning my trip to Iceland, I knew I wanted to splurge on a special souvenir while I was there. I had my heart set on an Icelandic wool sweater, like these ones from Nordic Wool.
However I really got cold feet while I was travelling. These sweaters are about $250 each, and I was worried it was something I wouldn't wear often, or that would make me itchy, or would be TOO warm. I did look at thrift stores, since the sweaters run closer to $50 there, but all the colours were totally ugly. I have also read that the Handknitting Association of Iceland is a reasonably-priced option, but it wasn't open when we were in that area
Thankfully my cold feet were soon warmed up- when I found Icelandic wool blankets! The blankets are gorgeous and run about half the price of sweaters! In fact, I was able to score my blanket for only $90 at a tourist information office (address was Laugavegur 54 in Reykjavik). A good tip about shopping in Iceland is to ask if a store does tax-free for tourists (you get a tax rebate at the airport). This store didn't, but they gave me 15% off in lieu of that!
They had some with more "traditional" designs like reindeers and whatnot, but I loved the muted plaid on this one. I figured the greys and taupes will go with whatever decor I choose in all my future homes. It is not a HUGE blanket (it is folded in half in the photo), but it is perfect for a nap on the couch on a cold winters day.
I can completely vouch for the warmth of this wool too. I bought this at the beginning of the trip and I slept under it many nights because some hostels charged for a blanket. This blanket is thin, but I was perfectly cozy all nights I used it, and I am a winter-weight duvet in the summer type girl.
Icelandic wool yarn (called Lopi) is made up of two layers of fleece, one which blocks wind and rain, and one that insulates, and the yarn isn't spun so it contains more air than traditional spun wool, which also helps insulate (thanks Wikipedia!). Many Icelanders wear the sweaters instead of coats, because they are that warm!
Souvenirs in Iceland are super expensive, but if you have a knitter in the family, the lopi wool is actually reasonably priced at about $4 a skein. I didn't have a lot of room in my luggage with this blanket, but I did bring home a couple skeins for one of my friends! If I could go back, I think I would have gotten more (but I am the slowest knitter and my yarn is piling up as it is), though I am sure it is available in Canada too if I wanted to hunt more down.
Oh- and the other souvenir I brought myself (and my family) home? Cronions! They are like deep fried onion flakes and I can never go back to hot dogs without them. OMG SO GOOD.