Friða Frænka, an Antique Shop in the lower two floors of a house on Vesturgata, is a pleasantly over-stuffed collection of curios, furniture and household items. The pack-rat genes that must be sharing my DNA have led me to this place every time I've been in Reykjavík. The mix of things here is more toward trash than treasure, but, like the shop's mythical namesake (Aunt Friða), it seems to be more of a celebration of the ordinary rather than the exalted.
Last Tuesday, while browsing through piles of broken and/or obsolete housewares, I wandered into a room that at one time had been the kitchen of the house. There on the pantry shelves was a pile of various fabrics- towels, cheap linens and out of fashion bolts of cloth. Being married to a weaver, I have absorbed some knowledge of textiles; when we travel together we inevitably end up in yarn stores and craft museums. Imagine my joy at finding an old Icelandic handwoven rug, with subtle hues from natural wools and organic dyes, a weft-faced weave done in a variety of traditional Scandinavian patterns. It was a bit dirty, had been mended at spots, and the colors on the face had faded somewhat; these flaws only added to its charm. Speaking with the shop's owner, Anna Ringsted, we discussed the piece, its possible origins, and negotiated its purchase.
The next day, on my bus ride to the airport, I noticed that the golden afternoon sunshine on the moss-covered lava formations had painted the whole panorama with the exact same colors as that rug, a rug which was now a gift to my wife- but not really from me- it was a gift from some long departed weaver, a gift of Iceland itself...