Eight years ago, when we first came to the Faroe Islands for one week, we didn’t know much. We didn’t know where to buy fish in a country that lives off fishing, nor did we know if we would ever be able to taste Faroese lamb – it couldn’t be found in a supermarket. However, we did know that we wanted to spend a lot of time here in the future – on the islands in the midst of the North Atlantic with which we fell in love and where we purchased a house in a small village by the sea. What started as a vacation changed our life. Commuting between Germany and the Faroe Islands. It was already in the very first summer when everything would fundamentally change. The adventure began.
We were quickly accepted by the village community. We learned to make hay, to shear, and to slaughter sheep. We learned how to fish and where to find the best places for fishing. We learned where the dangers lurk at sea and how to read the waves which we were able to see from our living room window. From this window we would also watch the seasons change.
We marvelled and quickly understood what was important in life. Fellowship, mutual help, and most of all having a lot of fun together.
One question remained which preoccupied us more and more as time went on. Every year in the summer we sheared the sheep. It took many hours to herd the wild animals from the mountains to the valley – over jagged rocks and lush green steep slopes into the gates surrounded by cotton grass and colourful swamp flowers. A joint venture by the villagers and their dogs which took hours. It took two people, strength and gentleness to then painstakingly shear each individual sheep with hand shears. This needed to be done with calmness and caution as to not stress or injure the sheep during the shearing process. In the end the wool was burnt due to the lack of a market. This must not happen. The question was: what shall we do with the wool. So one summer we collected small amounts, stuffed the raw wool into bags and took it back to Germany. In an anthroposophically influenced community, where disabled people live and work, our wool was hand-washed and spun in a workshop. We obtained our first yarn which was soft and cuddly and was marvellously suited for knitting. The women in our village by the sea loved this wool.
However, soon it became clear that we would quickly reach our limits with this process, and it was also no solution for the many tons of Faroese wool produced by 70,000 sheep on the Islands every year. We therefore searched for laundry facilities capable of ecologically cleaning and washing large amounts of wool based on our specifications. This was not an easy undertaking in this day and age. We travelled through Europe and found what we were looking for. All we needed now was a spinning mill. This posed to be the next big problem. There were simply no more companies capable of spinning our wool. The individual fibres and hairs were too coarse and too long. Modern machines exclusively process conventional sheep wool and often mix it with synthetic fibres. After searching for a long time – giving up was not an option – we finally found a company that was able to spin exactly two thicknesses of yarn from our wool. We also discovered the only weaving mill in Germany able to weave this yarn into cloth.
We proudly held several webs of our woven wool cloth in our hands and sent pictures to our farmer friends. They couldn’t believe it. We had actually succeeded in doing something that no one had been able to do before. We had turned the difficult and precious wool from Faroese sheep into the best woven cloth. The waste of natural raw material had thus finally come to an end. In the months that followed handmade blankets, jackets and bags were produced according to our specification in cooperation with small German workshops and factories. The first products were completed and we needed a name. We decided on Skattakista – the Faroese term for treasure chest.
Our brand Skattakista, for which we exclusively use the wool from our own Faroese sheep as well as from the sheep of our farmer friends stands for first rate and high quality goods, produced in a sustainable and environmentally friendly way. The properties of the wool obtained from the wild Faroese sheep speak for themselves. Our natural loden cloth is almost water and wind proof, breathable, keeps warm but avoids perspiration. A fabric for every weather. With the sale of our products we are not only helping to retain the processing chain we have developed for the Faroe Island farmers but we are also directly supporting their work. All proceeds are shared in this community.
Sustainability, the high level of quality on the basis of handicraft, as well as our social and ecological standards show that is possible to obtain the goal for a better environment. We thank you for possibly becoming part of this idea by purchasing one of our products. How did it continue for us? In Germany we moved from Berlin to North Friesland – only a 15 minute drive to the North Sea with a wide view across the county, with friendly people who have time for small talk, and with sheep grazing on lush green pastures. We are presently working on establishing our second brand which we named Friesian Tweed. Both brands are part of our enterprise Nordic Wool Factory with a show room in tranquil Klintum located on route to the island of Sylt. The Faroe Islands are and will remain our second home. The Islands we love.
We are best when doing what we enjoy. The North. The compass needle for our passions always points to the north. Nordic design, new Nordic cuisine, Nordic countries, North Atlantic, North Friesland. We even made the remote Faroe Islands to our second home. In the winter storms whip over our grass roof or northern lights dance in our bay. In the summer we shear sheep, take the boat out for fishing, and watch the pink cotton clouds sailing across the horizon at night. We live and love the North. A passion and expertise we love to share with you.
A few painted houses, grass roofs, a wooden church, a creek running through the centre and high mountains behind the village: that’s Elduvik. 13 residents, dogs, geese, summer flowers, winter storms, sheep. The village we lived in when we vacationed on the Faroe Islands for one week and where we purchased our house by the sea three months later. With this we started a new life. Commuting between Germany and the Islands. Deceleration. Being close to nature. Going out on the boat for fishing. Shearing sheep. We were standing by the bay in Elduvik with our noses to the wind and felt it shifting directions. Up until we finally packed our crates in Germany and moved from Berlin to North Friesland.
It is actually a logical consequence. North Friesland is located in Schleswig-Holstein – the land between two seas. Cows, pigs, horses. Halligs (tidal islands) and other islands. Smalltalk and homemade bread at the bakery. Dykes, beach chairs, stone walls, thatched roofs and roses in enchanted gardens. Windmills and a flat green vastness. We picked Stedesand as our German home. Village not city. Sheep is grazing on pastures at the end of our little street. One is engaged in the village community. We like Berlin when we visit it for a couple of days, but that is enough. We enjoy living in the country, the proximity to the North and Baltic Sea as well as being close to Denmark.