Álafoss Wool Store: The birth of Iceland’s Wool Industry
The birth of the Icelandic wool industry took place just outside of Reykjavík at the end of the 19th century when the Álafoss wool factory was started in Kvosin in Mosfellsbær. Today the original factory building houses the Álafoss wool store where you can find almost any wool product you can think of and explore the history of this important industry in Iceland’s history.
The Álafoss wool store offers all sorts of wool products, ranging from traditional wool sweaters, whole sheepskins, wool caps and mittens to high-end wool designs. Guðmundur Jónsson, owner of Álafoss, says his customers are often surprised by their low prices and that some even think that the products might be of inferior quality. “This however could not be further from the truth. All our products are madefrom the finest possible materials and we have a much wider selection than most stores. We try to keep our prices low since we are located a bit outside of town, but once you get here you can find everything you need for reasonable prices,” says Guðmundur. In addition to wool products Álafoss offer a wide selection of souvenirs, including baseball caps, refrigerator magnets and t-shirts, to name a few.
The Álafoss wool store is located in Mosfellsbær just 20 minutes outside Reykjavík. The old factory house is located just below the river Varmá which was used to clean the wool and since the river was warm it was also used for swimming lessons. For decades the surrounding area has served as a haven for artists and all creative types, so it was no surprise that the internationally known Icelandic band Sigur Rós located their studio there a few years ago. The Álafoss wool store honours the area’s rich artistic history by exhibiting works from local artists in Mosfellsbær. Kvosin still houses a few creative ventures: Palli the knife maker, a local legend, designs and makes his knives right next to the Álafoss factory outlet. Also be sure to visit Ásgarður, aworkshop where disabled people make some extraordinary toys, furniture and other wood crafts. Ásgarður is open for visitors week days from 9 am to 4pm.Wool museum
The Álafoss Wool store also serves as a makeshift museum for Iceland’s wool industry. Although not an official museum it houses some very interesting items from the early days of wool production in Iceland. If you look closely you’ll see that some of the store items are displayed on old looms and other knitting machines. Be sure to examine the sock-making machine from 1930 – an incredibly complex machine with a seemingly infinite amount of features. On the walls you’ll see black and white photographs of the old factory and the people who worked there.
Among Álafoss’ satisfied customers are prominent world leaders such as Hillary Clinton and Ronald and Nancy Reagan, whose thank-you notes are displayedin the store. Not to forget the world’s first female head of state, Iceland’s own Vigdís Finnbogadóttir.