November Scandinavian Weavers Meeting

Our Scanweavers group on Sunday, November 20, was small.  For those of you who weren’t able to meet our guest, Elizabeth Kolb, look what you missed!

Elizabeth weaves beautiful bands in her remote cabin in the Yukon Territory.  She wrote, “I use a back-strap rigid heddle, with a short slot modification, for pick-up patterns.  I make these heddles and the shuttles I use.  I have been weaving and selling some bands for parka and mukluk trim in the Northwest Territories and The Yukon Territory, and I am also teaching at The Braid Society conference in Manchester, England next summer.  There I am excited to meet people who have been tracking down patterns in various Scandinavian and Baltic museums, and weaving these warp- faced, patterned bands with other, related, techniques.”

The heddles for her backstrap loom are beautifully crafted objects with twig edges and reindeer horn heddles.  She weaves bands in pearl cotton and sells them to Inuit women, who love bright colors.  Many women gravitated to a zig-zag pattern that resembles commonly-used rick rack.

How long does it take you to weave the bands, one of our group asked.  “I could conceivably weave a meter in an hour,” she said, “but I wouldn’t be able to do anything for the rest of the day.”

She weaves narrow silk bands for bracelets, trimmed with reindeer leather and musk ox horn closures.  The narrow bands also work as a way to display a variety of patterns, so that her Inuit customers can custom order a favorite style.

Elizabeth began her textile work with nålbinding.  She loved studying the structures.  It’s an early Scandinavian technique, but practiced in other areas of the world.  She’s eager to study further.  “It’s practiced in the Middle East, too.  There could be some neat nålbinding in remote parts of Iran and Oman.”  She reconstructed horsehair boots in nålbinding.  The boots were used with wool felt shoes inside and grass for insulation.  The coarse nålbinding exterior was durable, and could also have added traction in the snow.

Elizabeth is moving fast on her path to textile mastery; her next step is floor loom weaving.  Her mother, who lives in Marine on St. Croix, bought her a used Leclerc.  It’s probably a ploy to keep her daughter for longer visits, and we hope it’s long enough for her to visit our group again.

About Robbie LaFleur
Weaving in Minnesota, when I can!

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