Greetje Hein – Country – Emblems

Country: (no) return

I was impressed by a lot of countries we visited. One of the last vacations we spend in Iceland. The big variety of the scenery was so beautiful, I was in awe every day. So Iceland is in my heart now.

The symbols I used are at first the national flag as background of my quilt.

At the bottom you see the Icelandic horses. The horses are very important for Iceland. It is a national breed for over thousand years without any influence from abroad. Once a horse has left Iceland it can never return.

At the left side of my quilt you see a knitted piece. It is knitted with pure Iceland wool I bought during our trip. This kind of knitting is famous in all Scandinavian countries, also in Iceland. It is mainly used in sweaters.

The center part is the Vegvísir: a Viking symbol for good voyage. It is called the Magic Navigation Compass. It stands for a safe return.

The background is painted in watercolor effect. After that I cut out some horses and sprayed over it. I first quilted the outline of the Vegvísir and painted it with fabric paint. The knitted part is in fair-isle technique with 100% wool yarn. I planned to felt it, but never realized it might be “superwash” and that doesn’t shrink.

The quilt has a faced binding.


Detail view:


  1. Very well captured Icelandic mood. Love the way you connected nature elements with symbolic and mythical, well done!

  2. I have to admit that this piece kept me guessing, I really like the way that you have included all the different elements and I love the fair-isle knitting. A great piece, well done!

  3. Without your interesting explanations, I would not have guessed the country. Very nice the idea of including your knitting, the background with the flag and the Icelandic horses highlights the Viking symbol. I await the rest of the story. Well done.

  4. I really like this piece Greetje ! the contrast with the black Viking symbol and the horses silhouettes is very effective. The addition of the knitted stripe is a very good idea.

  5. Your piece shows a deep knowledge of Icelandic history and culture expressed in a very interesting and attractive way. Bravo!

  6. I had no idea, a beautiful strong design. Well done

  7. I had to google your flag, I could not guess it. Once I saw the flag I could see the flag background. A well thought out composition filled with symbolism and history. Well done Greetje!

  8. Very nice to get to know Iceland through your quilts. I have not visited there (yet) and know very little about the country. The beautiful emblem and its contrast with the background exude strength. The inclusion of the knitted piece (beautifully done!) is brilliant. Love it.

  9. I know how you struggled with the background until you finally came up with this. You are such a perfectionist and that shows in this whole awesome piece. It is wonderful to learn about the Iceland horses and the other symbol. I am really looking forward to the rest of your series and to learn more about the country that is so close to your heart. The adding of the fair-isle knitting is like a bonus. Bravo.

  10. Your quilt is stunning and I love each of the elements you have used and the overall effect you achieved. The background with the horses is beautiful and I love the story about how the breed is kept pure. The knitted element is inspired and the central symbol is perfect. I love everything about this piece. Wonderful

  11. What a lovely piece. We had a wonderful trip to Iceland and this brought back happy memories. The horses are subtle and beautiful and I love the idea of including the characteristic knitting. Perhaps if the yarn had felted you would have lost the detail in the stitch pattern, so a happy outcome.

  12. Simple yet very effective. The knitted section is such a nice touch. I’m excited to learn m ore about Iceland through your quilts.

  13. studiociboulette

    This is a beautiful quilt. I love all the symbolism and the colors you used. I so wish to visit Iceland one day. I am happy I’ll be able to see it through your eyes. Beautiful.

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