Gilitrutt, an Icelandic tale

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Xmas for me is synonymous with snow and tale. So here is an Icelandic tale: the one of Gilitrutt, the female troll* after which I named my yarn. And pictures of wonderful Reykjavík under the snow a couple of weeks ago, with Mosi hats knitted of course with Gilitrutt Tvíband.

*troll in Icelandic means giant

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“Once upon a time there was a farmer who lived beneath the eastern Eyjafj0ll Mountains. He was a very diligent and hard-working man. His land was good for rearing sheep and he had a large flock. He had married not long before this story begins. His wife was young, but lazy and slothful. She had no interest in working and didn´t care about the farm. The farmer was very unhappy about this but could do nothing about it. One autumn the farmer gave his wife a large bale of wool and asked her to spin it during the winter months. His wife was not very enthusiastic about this idea. The winter passed by and the woman did not touch the wool although the farmer often reproached her.

One day a rather large, old hag came to the farmer‘s wife and asked a favor.

„Could you do some work for me in return?“ replied the farmer´s wife.                                

„That could well be,“ said the old hag.                                                                                       

„What is it you would like me to do?“                                                                                    

„Spin some wool for making cloth“ replied the farmer’s wife.                                              

„Then give it to me,“ said the old hag.                                                                                                              

The woman fetched an extremely large bag of wool and gave it to her. The hag took the bag, heaved it onto her back and said :

„ I will bring the cloth on the first day summer“.

„How much shall I pay you ?“ asked the farmer´s wife.                                                                                

„Oh, not much,“ the hag replied, „If you can guess my name in three attempts then we are even.“

The woman agreed to this and the old hag left.


The winter now passed and the farmer often asked his wife about the wool. She told him not to worry about it and that he would have his cloth on the first day of summer. The farmer said no more and now spring was on its way. The woman began to wonder about the name of the hag but could see no way to find out what it could be. She became worried and neurotic. The farmer saw how disturbed she was and asked her to tell him what was the matter. She then told him the whole story. The farmer was scared and told her she had done a bad thing because the old hag was really a troll who would come back and take her away.


Some time later when the farmer was walking at the foot of the mountain he came upon a large mound of rock. He was thinking about all of his troubles and was hardly aware of where he was. Then he heard a noise coming from within the rock. He followed the noise and came to a small opening. He saw a rather large old woman sitting and weaving. She had a spinning wheel between her knees and was spinning with great dexterity as she sang:

“Hi, hi and ho,ho, the farmer‘s wife knows not my name ; hi,hi and ho,ho. Gilitrutt is my name, ho,ho. Gilitrutt is my name, hi,hi and ho,ho.”

She sang this time and time again. The farmer was relieved and was sure that this was the old woman who had visited his wife the previous autumn. He then went home and wrote the name Gilitrutt on a piece of paper. He told his wife nothing of this and now the last day of winter was upon them.


The farmer´s wife was very troubled and did not get dressed that day. The farmer came to her and asked whether she knew the name of her worker.

The farmer´s wife answered that she did not and said that she was going to lament until she died. The farmer said that that would not be necessary and he gave her the piece of paper with the troll‘s name on and told her his story. She took the paper and trembled with fear because she was afraid the name could be wrong. She begged him to stay with her when the old woman returned but he said:

“No, you alone made the decision to give her the wool so it is best that you alone pay the price.“

He then left.

The first day of summer arrived and the farmer´s wife lay in her bed. No one else was at the farm. She heard a rumbling and a great din. The old hag came in looking terrifying. She flung the spun skeins of yarn on to the floor and demanded.

„What is my name, what is my name?”

The farmer´s wife was almost frightened to death and said “Signý?“                                     

„That is not right, that is not right, guess again woman!“ demanded the old hag.           

„Ása?“ said the farmer´s wife.                                                                                                           

„That is not right, that is not right, guess again woman!“ demanded the old hag.                  

„Is it possible you are called Gilitrutt?“ said the farmer´s wife.

The old hag was so shocked that she fell flat on the floor with a terrible crash. Then she stood up, left the farm and was never seen again. Now, the farmer’s wife was more relieved than I can tell you to have escaped from the troll so easily. She became a different person; industrious and organized and from that day forth she spun and wove all her wool herself.”

It took 4 years of labor to develop Gilitrutt Tvíband. At some point, I just wanted to give up. But I’m so glad I didn’t because I think it’s really beautiful and so soft! Now I can finally finis the book about the the Icelandic lace dresses. Merry Xmas everyone!

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