Ýrúrarí Takes Tongue-in-Cheek Approach to Face Masks

Textile artist Ýr Jóhannsdóttir, who designs under the name Ýrúrarí, is making headlines for her playful and unorthodox face masks in the time of COVID-19. The artist and her “trippy” 3D knitwear masks were recently featured in Vogue.

Twenty-seven-year-old Ýr, who learned how to knit as a child in school, began to pursue her craft in earnest at Scotland’s Glasgow School of Art. She’s built a strong following on Instagram, largely through repurposing second-hand sweaters that she then knits eye-catching—or perhaps better said, mouth-watering—decorations onto.

Ýrúrarí, Facebook

See Also: Breaking the Pattern: Tongues are wagging over Ýr Jóhannsdóttir’s mouthy sweaters

Ýr favours tongues and mouths in her sweater décor, so it seems only natural that she’d leap to lippy, tongue-dangling knit masks. “…[I] love knitting with my hands,” she told Vogue, “and I always go back to strange faces.” She gravitates to tongues and teeth she said, “Maybe because they are kind of rude, sticky, and strange.”

There is no government requirement to wear masks in Iceland as a COVID-19 precaution, and Ýr emphasizes that her creations are strictly art pieces, and “not made for safety.” It took her two days to make her first mask, noted Vogue—or rather, a “mouth plug” featuring a long, stuck-out tongue that could be used as a “cheeky add-on to a regular mask.”

Ýrúrarí, Facebook

Ýr’s approach is certainly tongue-in-cheek: “Idea for a knitted add on to your face masks,” she wrote in her first mask-related Facebook post. “[M]ight also encourage people to stay away from you…”

Women Hold Less than 35% of Leadership Positions in Large Companies

Ten years after a law was enacted to rectify gender imbalances on corporate boards, women still only fill less than a quarter of CEO and chair positions in Icelandic businesses, according to Statistics Iceland.

The proportion of women on boards for companies with more than 50 employees was just under 35% last year, having increased around one per cent from the year before. Per a law that was passed ten years ago, boards should never be less than 40% female—or less than 40% male for that matter. Women have not achieved the aimed-for 40% of corporate leadership positions since the law went into effect.

In smaller companies, where there are fewer than 50 employees, women make up an even smaller percentage of leadership positions, or 26% last year.

Hulda Ragnheiður Árnadóttir, chair of the Association of Women in Industry, told RÚV that the percentage of women in leadership positions increased significantly after the law was first passed, but little has changed since then and she believes that little will change in the absence of penalties.

Share of women in boards of directors by enterprise size 2009-2019
Statistics Iceland.

Number of Sheep in Iceland Hits 40-Year Low

Icelandic sheep

There are fewer sheep in Iceland now than there have been for 40 years, Bændablaðið reports.

At the end of 2019, there were a total of 415,949 sheep in the country and 1,471 goats. By contrast, at the end of 1980, there were 50.3% more sheep in Iceland, or 827,927. At the end of 1985, there were 709,257. By 2000, that number had dropped to 465,777 but there was a small increase by 2010 when there were 479,841 sheep and then another small jump in 2014 when there were 486,598. After that, the total stock continued to steadily drop until this year’s 40-year low.

Stocks have decreased all over Iceland and there are some regions where sheep farming has disappeared entirely. Northwest Iceland, including the West Fjords, currently maintains the most robust sheep numbers and farming in the country, with 102,175 sheep. Three regions are relatively even for the next highest number of sheep: Northeast Iceland (68,789), East Iceland (65,753), and South Iceland (64,931). The Southwest of Iceland has considerably fewer sheep: 2,216.

Meanwhile, South Iceland has the highest prevalence of cattle farmers and cattle with 31,712 animals as of 2019. The next highest number of cattle are found in Northeast Iceland (18,025), followed by Northwest Iceland (14,138), and West Iceland (12,042). East Iceland and Southwest Iceland have the lowest number of cattle: 4,653 and 1,302 respectively.

The data was taken from fall agricultural statistics; no explanation was provided for why the number of sheep in Iceland has dropped so precipitously.

Hopes Brewing in Gautavík for Hemp Tea

Farmers in the village of Gautavík in East Iceland plan to grow industrial hemp crops this summer and hope to produce hemp tea that could hit the local market as soon as this fall, Bændablaðið reports.

Recent changes to previous law governing the cultivation of industrial hemp mean that farmers can legally start cultivating the crop for use in a wide variety of non-narcotic products. (Industrial hemp contains very little THC, the primary psychoactive compound in marijuana, and cannot be consumed as a drug.) Gautavík farmers have already produced fire-resistant concrete and fibreboard using industrial hemp that was harvested last summer; they have also experimented making hemp salt.

“The Minister of Health’s changes to regulations mean that anyone, both farmers and others, can legally begin cultivating industrial hemp,” industrial designer and farmer Pálmi Einarsson remarked. Pálmi said that local farmers plan to start small and will cultivate just over a hectare [2.5 acres] of industrial hemp this summer.

“We will use the same varieties that we did last summer,” continued Pálmi. “‘Finola,’ ‘Felina,’ and ‘Futura,’ and we have plenty of seeds from last year but will also be experimenting with other kinds.” The farmers hope to identify varieties of hemp that will respond particularly well to Icelandic weather conditions.

Nearly endless possibilities

“Our next step is to develop methods for fully utilize the harvest and it’s our aim to put some products on the market in the fall, for instance, hemp tea,” explained Pálmi. “We’ve set up a 75 square metre indoor area for experimental cultivation and have an area of the same size for processing. But this requires devices and tools and part of the process is to invest in a hulling machine that will separate the fibres from the seeds.”

As with any crop, said Pálmi, it’s important that farmers know what they plan to use it for before they produce a great deal of it, so that none goes to waste and prices remain stable.

The tea that the farmers are producing is made from dried hemp flowers and leaves, while the hemp salt has been made with sea salt collected around the village of Djúpavogur. Hemp, said Pálmi, has been identified as a health product and the farmers have already been enjoying the benefits of their crops. “We drink the tea for its health benefits and use the hemp salt in our cooking at home.”

Pálmi says that the possibilities for the products that can be produced from this crop are almost endless. “Through the ages, hemp was commonly used as animal feed…” Indeed, local farmers fed their sheep a little of last summer’s hemp crop “and they liked it a lot.” Hemp can also be used to feed Arctic char and the farmers have experimented with further utlizations that include using the byproducts of fish fed on hemp to grow vegetables.

Nearly a decade ago, hemp was also used to produce biodiesel at the University of Akureyri, Pámi continues and that’s something else the Gautavík farmers are eager to try.