Mary Etta Litsheim

Sadly, Mary Etta Litsheim, one of our long-time Scandinavian Weavers Study Group members and supporters, died recently and suddenly.  A celebration of her life will be held at Saint Anthony Park Lutheran Church, 2323 Como Avenue, St. Paul, Minnesota on Tuesday, December 11th. Visitation is at 10am, followed by a memorial service at 11am.

I personally want to pay tribute to Mary for her long-standing enthusiasm for the work of our group.  I know that her active work life got in the way of attending our meetings–and getting to her loom! She was a trained designer and had many ideas for weavings, and it is seems so unfair that she won’t get the time she hoped for to spend at her Norwegian Hagen tapestry loom.

Mary often responded to notices of upcoming Scandinavian Weavers meetings, saying she would not be able to join us because she was traveling for work. If there was news of upcoming projects or exhibits, she would cheer us on. This is what she was doing, from the notice sent to me by her husband, James Litsheim–a pretty good reason to miss a meeting.

Later in her career Dr. Mary Etta joined the Department of Homeland Security Equal Rights Cadre after a distinguished career in civil rights and academia.Dr. Litsheim was deployed to over 50 disasters including the contiguous United States and territories. While with the Equal Rights Cadre, she was a tireless and accomplished trainer and sympathetic counselor to both employees and survivors.

We were lucky to know Mary, and our deep condolences go out to her family in this sad time.

This is the full announcement of her death.

Dr. Mary Etta Litsheim, Age 74, daughter of Ruby D. (Akre) and James P. Rorris, Esq. died suddenly in a car accident on 11/19 while in California with FEMA to help survivors of the recent fires. She is survived by the love of her life, James E. Litsheim, AIA, daughter, Sara M. Litsheim, son, Scott J. Litsheim, grandson Samuel G. Dustin, brother Eric J. Rorris, close friends Susan Lillehei, Janet Snyder, Jenene Fredell, Laurine Schuster and many friends and valued colleagues. 

Mary Etta, MA, MA, PhD, was mainly a professional homemaker until her children were in their teens. She received her two Master’s degrees one in Design and one in Organization Development as well as her PH.D. in Work and Human Resources Development from the University of Minnesota. She was currently a Certified Neutral Mediator for the State of Minnesota as well as Mediator for the Minnesota Human Rights Commission.  

Her research years were varied in substance; one thesis was a study of persons with disabilities that became an initiator of the nation wide Disability Student Cultural Center movement on college campuses; her PhD dissertation was on the museum education of Norwegian and Norwegian-American artisans which facilitated visits for the family with their Scandinavian relatives in both Norway and Sweden. (Litsheim-TviIde and Jonson and Olson-Akre). Later in her career Dr. Mary Etta joined the Department of Homeland Security Equal Rights Cadre after a distinguished career in civil rights and academia.  Dr. Litsheim was deployed to over 50 disasters including the contiguous United States and territories. While with the Equal Rights Cadre, she was a tireless and accomplished trainer and sympathetic counselor to both employees and survivors.  She emphasized the importance of education and equality – a passion that was threaded throughout her years of life. Volunteer activities were as a board member of the University’s Friends of the Goldstein Museum and President, College of Human Ecology Alumni Society.

Married for nearly 56 years, Mary Etta and James’ lives were full with love for each other and love of family, art and world travel adventures.

A Celebration of Mary Etta’s life will be held at Saint Anthony Park Lutheran Church, 2323 Como Avenue, St. Paul, Minnesota on Tuesday, December 11th. Visitation is at 10am, with Memorial Service at 11am. Following lunch at the church an escorted motorcade will proceed to Fort Snelling National Cemetery.

Memorials to St. Anthony Park Lutheran Church, Wounded Warrior Project, and Southern Poverty Law Center preferred and appreciated.

 

Skillbragd projects 2018

By Lisa Torvik

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Karin Maahs wove some small pattern elements in a contrasting color.

After enjoying our project in 2017 which focused on the Swedish art weave, “dukagång”, there was consensus to embark on a new group project in 2018 studying an overshot technique known as “skillbragd” [pron. “shill’ brahgd”] in Norway and as “Smålandsväv” [pron. “smoh’ lahnds vave”] in Sweden.  Regional variations in Norway go by other names, too.  Essentially, all forms secure long pattern weft floats with a single or double shot of tabby.

There are a few different ways to set up a loom for this technique, but most assume a loom with sufficient depth front to back to accommodate several harnesses separated in two groups, and the ability to adjust harnesses up and down independently of each other.  Historically, this technique would have been set up with counterbalance.  After review of a lot of different sources, and some experimentation, we found that setting up the ground on countermarch and the pattern harnesses using elastic bands worked the best.  Even so, most found it necessary to use a pick up stick to create a good pattern shed, though the plain weave sheds were pretty good.  Most of us used stick shuttles for the pattern yarn and some for the ground weft also.  Keeping the warp damp aided in getting a better shed and strengthening the warp under high tension.

The ground is threaded on two or four shafts, and the pattern is usually on 4 or 6 shafts, but a larger number of pattern harnesses is possible if the loom can accommodate them.  The warp is first threaded in regular heddles on the ground harnesses for plain weave.  Then contiguous groups of warp threads, often four at a time, are threaded through pattern harnesses in front, using long-eyed heddles or by threading the group of warp threads under the eye of regular heddles.  A single square in the drafts we used corresponds to one group of four threads in a pattern heddle. 

The two groups of harnesses should be separated by a few inches.  The sinking-shed pattern is created by treadling the pattern harnesses, one or more at a time, and following each pattern shot with a plain weave shot.  A side fringe of loops can be created by catching the pattern weft around a finger.  The ground weft is usually threaded so 2 or 4 warp threads create a selvedge that is not threaded through a pattern heddle.  This selvedge locks in the loops or hides the pattern weft turns on the backside of the weaving if no loops are desired. 

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Loops at the edges. The two outer pieces are showing the “right” side, with the narrow selvedges.

We set up two warps in succession, both with Bockens 16/2 unbleached linen yarn.  Weft was the choice of the weaver.  The second was narrower than the first, but on the second warp, a smaller number of weavers wanted to weave longer pieces.  In all, fourteen weavers completed nearly 30 pieces of varying lengths between the two projects.  Most used wool weft, but some pieces were finished with all linen weft or perle cotton. (Draft for the first warp in pdf; draft for the second warp in pdf)

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Lisa Torvik used used linen weft to make skillbragd flowers.

I would like to acknowledge the weavers and, of them, the many that helped set up the two projects:  Phyllis Waggoner, Robbie LaFleur and Lisa Anne Bauch worked with me to set up – and set up again when THAT didn’t work – the first warp. 

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Robbie LaFleur turning the crank; Lisa Torvik supervising and rolling on the warp, and Lisa Anne Bauch braced with the taut warp.

Robbie helped me monitor and aid those unfamiliar with the technique.  Melba Granlund, Lisa Anne and I set up the second warp, though we agreed four is best!  Thanks to Donna Hanson for instruction and tips on restoring the loom for the next group/class since I was not familiar with the vertical countermarch setup on the Glimåkra loom and technicalities of texsolv.  I’m more old school!  And last but certainly not least thanks to Jan Hayman for insights on aspects of newer linen yarns and assistance sweeping up the “chaff” we created. Help came from afar, too, with an “emergency” phone call while warping to Robbie’s colleague Shawn Cassiman in Michigan and a detailed letter from Ruth Ida Tvenge of the Øystre Slidre Husflidslag in Norway.

Thanks all!

 

Celebrating TWO Group Skillbragd Warps

A new pop-up exhibit of several skillbragd pieces woven by members of our Scandinavian Weavers Study Group is up at the Weavers Guild of Minnesota. Since May we’ve put on two warps and given many members the opportunity to try this traditional Scandinavian weave structure. Some pieces on view are hemmed and finished, and many in their “off-the-loom” state.  If you can visit sometime through the end of November, you’ll see the wide variety of materials, colors, stripes, and patterns created by treadling, chosen by the weavers. Most people used wool for their pattern weft, but there are examples of linen and perle cotton on display, too.

The signage is minimal for the exhibit; three signs read, “Hello, Norwegians! Here are some skillbragd pieces woven on the Guild’s Glimakra loom by members of the Scandinavian Weavers Study Group.” “Wait! Are you a Swede?  Here are some opphämpta pieces, or perhaps you recognize them as Smålandsvëv?” “Everyone else! Don’t worry about it; it’s a Scandinavian overshot weave.”

Lisa Torvik is writing an article with lots more information about our project–in the meantime, visit the exhibit or enjoy these photos.

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Here are closer photos, taken in sections.

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The Skillbragd Warp Will Soon be Finished…

The members of our Scandinavian Weavers Study Group are looking forward to a really super cutting-apart party once the skillbragd comes off the loom on July 12.  Here are some recent tempting snippets.

Karin Maahs wove in sweet, sharp acid green crosses.

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Sarah Okern (andasmer.com) wove separated bands.

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I didn’t catch images of all the samples before they disappeared around the front beam of the loom, but not to worry–we’ll publish shots of all of the grand experiments later this summer.

Scandinavian-related Classes at the Weavers Guild of Minnesota

The fall class catalog for the Weavers Guild of Minnesota has just been released.  Here are the classes related to Scandinavian techniques.  Sign up soon! See the rich slate of all classes offered by the Guild here.

Swedish Art Weaves with Jan Mostrom

SwedishRed-591x1024Swedish art weaves are at their best in the highly decorated weavings of the Skåne area of Sweden. Dukagång, krabbasnår and halvkrabbe are woven in a similar manner using butterflies to inlay designs, but each have a distinctive look. Dukagång is made up of columns. Krabbasnår designs move on a diagonal while halvkrabbe is made up of squares like a checkerboard. Rölakan is a geometric tapestry technique that is also seen in the weavings of Skåne. Students will weave a sampler of these techniques, discuss color choices, finishing techniques and ideas for making a sampler into a pillow or bag.

Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday & Friday, September 10, 11, 12 & 14: 10:00am – 4:00pm | REGISTER

*Note: This class requires some independent weaving time on Thursday, September 13 as well.

Level and Prerequisites: Intermediate: Requires some experience in the subject and the ability to start and finish projects. Students must be able to wind a warp, warp a floor loom and read a draft independently.
Tuition: $240 WGM Member / $312 Non-member

Warp-Weighted Loom Weaving: Sami-Inspired Grene Blanket or Rug with Melba Granlund

IMAG1010Learn to weave on the historic warp-weighted loom. Used for millennia in many parts of the world, the warp-weighted loom is easy to use and is the traditional loom of the Norwegian sea Sami today. In this class, you will learn how to use the warp-weighted loom and weave a small Sami-inspired rug or blanket (grene). This project is suitable for beginning weavers and for those who want to expand their knowledge of weaving traditions. Warp yarn will be provided by the instructor and is included in the materials fee. Students may use handspun yarns or purchase commercial yarn for weft. Options for weft yarn will be viewed and discussed prior to class beginning allowing students time to obtain yarn of their choice.

Saturday, November 3: 1:15pm – 2:15pm; Monday – Wednesday, December 3 – 5: 10:00am – 4:00pm; Saturday, December 8: 10:00am – 4:00pm | REGISTER

Level: Beginning – no experience necessary!
Tuition: $250 WGM Member / $325 Non-member Student

 

Nålbinding I: Winter Cap with Melba Granlund 

Nalbinding-Melba-3small-768x608Learn the folk art tradition of nålbinding using a handcrafted wooden needle and continuous strand of wool yarn. While this looping technique was used by the Vikings to make warm garments such as socks and mittens, artifacts dating back 3,000 years show that articles made in nålbinding have been found around the world. In this class, you will learn basic nålbinding stitches to make a hat. Current samples, as well as pictures of historical pieces from Norway, Sweden and Finland, will be shown as inspiration. Discussion of yarns suitable for nålbinding will be covered during the first class. Instructor will provide students with practice yarn to begin. Students can bring their own needle or purchase a handcrafted wooden needle from the instructor

Saturday & Sunday, September 22 & 23: 1:00pm – 5:00pm | REGISTER

Level: Beginning – no experience necessary!
Tuition: $88 WGM Member / $112 Non-member

Try It! Sami-Inspired Bracelet with Katherine Buenger

bracelet-all-tinThese bracelets are based on the designs of the Sami people, who are the native people from the far northern parts of Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Russia. The bracelets are constructed with traditional materials including reindeer leather, tin thread (4% silver), and reindeer antler buttons. Students will learn to make a four strand braid using tin thread, and then they will hand sew their piece to reindeer leather to finish an elegant bracelet.

Saturday, October 6: 1:00pm – 5:00pm | REGISTER

Level: Beginning – no experience necessary!
Tuition: $48 WGM Member / $60 Non-member

Swedish Kavelfrans – Minnesota Style with Robbie LaFleur

IMG_3044Inspired by historical mitten trim, contemporary Swedish knitters, weavers, and embroiderers love to add kavelfrans—fuzzy, wooly worms to grace mitten cuffs, pillows, bags, or other handwoven or commercial items. In this three-hour class you will learn a two-pronged fork method to wind the base fringes, securing them by hand or sewing machine. After sewing down layers of the prepared loops, we’ll learn to steam and clip to make the irresistible thick edging. Students can bring a pair of hand-knit or purchased mittens or gloves to embellish (the instructor will have a limited number of gloves to purchase), or add kavelfrans to a Swedish-inspired wool pincushion (materials can be purchased from the instructor). With discussion of the best materials to use, and many examples of items made with kavelfrans, the class is a combination of design inspiration and technique. Richly-illustrated instruction booklets and kavelfrans forks will be available for purchase. (For links to more photos and information, type kavelfrans in the search box on Robbie’s blog, robbielafleur.com.)

Sunday, October 14: 1:00pm – 4:00pm | REGISTER

Level: Beginning – no experience necessary!
Tuition: $36 WGM Member / $45 Non-member

Skillbragd Inspiration

Just as the students in Jan Mostrom’s Swedish Art Weaves class could view lovely pieces in that technique as part of the exhibit, “A Passionate Pursuit: Scandinavian Weavings from the Collection of Carol Johnson,” the members of our Scandinavian Weavers Study Group can view skillbragd weavings to inspire and inform us as we participate in our group project.  Here are the skillbragd/opphampta pieces on display right now.

 

For more wonderful weaving photos and information about the current exhibit of Scandinavian weavings and the tapestry collection of Carol Johnson, too, see the new issue of the Norwegian Textile Letter, which includes these articles:

A Passionate Pursuit: Scandinavian Weavings from the Collection of Carol Johnson

Dipping Into Carol Johnson’s Tapestry Collection

The Swedish Art Weave Tradition Continues in Minnesota

 

 

More Skillbragd, and Loop Discussion

Jayne Flanagan wrote in response to a previous post, “So the selvedge loops are not a technique exclusive to Telemarksteppe? What will happen to all the loops on this piece?”

Definitely loops are common on skillbragd weavings, too. It is my understanding that sometimes the loops are left uncut (my favorite look), and sometimes they are cut. Look at this piece with cut loops that is available on eBay right now.  The starting bid is $25,000–buy it now for $50,000!  (Thanks, Carol Johnson, for sending this link.  She commented, “I won’t be buying this one.”)

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Weaving continues on our group project. This weekend Brenda Gauvin-Chadwick wove a lovely piece in a soft gold.

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