When the new tunnel in Hédinsfjördur connecting the towns Ólafsfjördur and Siglufjördur opened in Fjallabyggd municipality in north Iceland on Saturday, a, 11.3-kilometer long hand-knitted scarf was stretched through the tunnel.
Frída Gylfadóttir with her scarves. Photo by Tina Bauer.
The scarf was the idea of local artist Frída Gylfadóttir. "The scarf symbolizes the soft, warm, human connection between our towns, which should be cherished," Gylfadóttir explained. The original goal was to knit a 17-kilometer long scarf for the entire length of the new road but as 11.3 kilometers proved long enough to stretch exactly from the mouth of the tunnel to its end, the knitters left it at that.
The new tunnel means a lot for the people of the region. "The road runs 60 kilometers through the highlands. We live in Siglufjördur but my husband works for the fish factory Rammi which also has offices in Ólafsfjördur. In winter it sometimes takes six hours to drive there and back—through the tunnel it only takes ten minutes," Gylfadóttir said.
From Siglufjördur. Potos by Tina Bauer.
The new tunnel also makes the peninsula Tröllaskagi more attractive for tourists. Until now Siglufjördur, the northernmost town on the Icelandic mainland, was a dead-end.
As a result, few tourists traveled there, not even to pass through the town, which is populated by 1,200 people and has notable museums, including a folk museum and an award-winning herring museum.
Residents have high expectations for the new tunnel. "That is probably why people reacted so positively to the scarf project," Gylfadóttir said.
In January of this year she started recruiting knitters. "An incredible 1,025 people have contributed. The youngest is ten-year-old Haukur Orri Kristinsson and the oldest is 94-year-old Nanna Franklínsdóttir."
From Ólafsfjördur. Photo by Tina Bauer.
People from all around the world sent in scarves, including Canada, the US, Norway, Estonia, Germany and Switzerland. Sometimes just a short piece of fabric was contributed and other times 700 meters was sent in. "Everyone has their own personal reason for knitting,” Gylfadóttir said.
Later the scarf will be cut into individual parts and sold for a good cause. The giant project could be financed mainly because wool company Ístex gave Gylfadóttir a discount on yarn.
Gylfadóttir and her husband moved to Siglufjördur in the early 1990s. "We wanted to stay only one year but we’re still here," she said, explaining that the warm-hearted people and the cohesion in the town were the reasons for them deciding to stay.
By Tina Bauer (www.tibauna.de).
Click here to read more about the new tunnel.