Álafoss: the wool factory history
The first years: 1896 - 1940
Álafoss wool factory was named after the Álafoss waterfall, right in the Varmá River, the river that is warm and never freezes. Varmá is translated to warm, I think someone took his time to come up with that name. Álafoss and Álafoss waterfall are right next to each other.
This story, and most of the Icelandic wool industry, started in 1896, when a local farmer, Björn Þorláksson (1854-1904) decided to capitalize on the energy from the waterfall to power machinery for a wool factory. He tried, and he succeed, leading one of the most important companies in the whole country.
1896 was the year that marked the true beginning of Iceland's wool industry, but the Álafoss wool factory had also a really important role in the growth of the town Mosfellsbær.
In 1901, Álafoss had the first motorized clothing factory in Iceland, and it was established under the management of Halldór Jónsson (1871-1941). In the 1930s, everything changed, the weaving for clothing began, and that was the start of a sewing studio that produced clothing under the motto Álafossföt-bezt (Álfafoss clothes are best).
At that time, Álafoss had a state-of-the-art wool washing station, carpet manufacturing, and of course, the production of wool blankets. All Icelandic households had at least one Álafoss wool blanket, and today, they are still one of the most beloved Alafoss products for all our customers.
What happened to the Álafoss wool factory?
Today, the original factory building houses the Álafoss wool store, where you can find almost any wool product you can think of. But also, when you enter the store, you can feel it, you can feel the history whitin the walls, and you can feel that it was an old wool factory.
If you want to explore the wool industry in Iceland, the Álafoss store is a good place to start, as you can find a wide selection of old knitting machinery and photographs from the early days. It is like a small and cozy museum in the middle of nature with a beautiful waterfall right next to it.
You should visit it. We are not saying, Hillary Clinton did.
Among Álafoss’ satisfied customers are Hillary Clinton, Ronald and Nancy Reagan, and the world's first female head of state, Vigdís Finnbogadóttir. Their thank you notes are displayed on the walls of the store.
TripAdvisor was kind to us as well, as we received the TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence award. We have even been described by visitors as a ‘Knitting Paradise’.
How to get to the store?
The main store in Mosfellsbær is located only 15 minutes away from Reykjavík, on the way to Þingvellir national park and the Golden Circle.
The waterfall and the factory are easy to locate with Google Maps. Both the waterfall and factory are side by side, so it doesn’t matter which one you navigate to.
You can also find Álafoss in the city center on the main shopping street, Laugavegur. It is small store with a great selection of Icelandic wool sweaters, blankets and souvenir items.