“Weaving the North” Panel Discussion

As part of “Weaving the North,” North Suburban Center for the Arts hosted a panel discussion moderated by Minnesota tapestry artist Susan Gangsei.

From left: Susan Gangsei, Jacob Moore, Robbie LaFleur, Lisa Torvik, Amy Shebeck

Please visit the North Suburban blog to learn more:


“Weaving the North” Exhibit (Part Two)

As promised, here are photos of items in “Weaving the North” woven by members of the Scandinavian Weavers group. I will also add a third blog post that reports on the “Weaving the North” panel discussion.

Lisa-Anne Bauch, Northern Lights

Yours truly wove this Rosepath piece during a Scandinavian Weavers group project. The abstract design suggests a snowy pine forest and a night sky with the Northern Lights overhead.

Judy Larson, Diamond Heritage (blue rug on left)

Judy Larson learned to weave on her great-grandmother’s loom and is known in the Scan Weavers group as an amazing and prolific rug weaver. She has mastered shaft-switching techniques that allowed her to create the complex designs in Diamond Heritage. “This is a very slow weave,” Judy explains, “about two inches in an hour! So this [rug] took about 50 hours.” Judy was inspired by a pattern in an old Swedish weaving book.

Nancy Ebner, Lucky U (red and gold wall hanging in center)

Nancy Ebner was inspired by a visit to the Hemslöjden (Center for Handicrafts) in Landskrona, Sweden, where she saw a traditional weaving, pointed to it, and said, “I want to do THAT.” Nancy found a suitable design in the book Heirlooms of Skåne by Gunvor Johansson, who teaches in Landskrona, and the result was Lucky U. The wall hanging was woven on a four-shaft loom using three shafts, with linen warp and weft of fine Swedish wool.

Cathie Mayr, Night in a Swedish Mining Town (blue shawl on right)

Cathie Mayr comes from a long line of weavers on both sides of her family in England, Sweden, and Norway and currently teaches weaving in the Brainerd Lakes area. Her artistic process starts with color. “When I find a yarn that inspires me,” she explains, “I often keep it out in my studio until I have a sense of what it wants to become. Then I’ll think about what weave structure would best show off the yarn and its colors.” In this case, Cathie purchased the yarn in a village shop near Trondheim, Norway, where the shop owner custom dyes her yarn: “I fell in love with this variegated yarn and she told me her inspiration was a visit to a Swedish mining town at night!”

Karen Holmes, Little Swedish Goat

This charming tapestry was woven on a simple frame loom. Karen Holmes chose seine twine for warp, wool for weft, and used the leftover warp to make the decorative top-knot and beaded fringe. The piece is woven in traditional Scandinavian colors to celebrate her Swedish and Finnish heritage.

Jan Mostrom, Northland

Jan Mostrom wove Northland in a five-shaft point twill boundweave, using wool from spelsau sheep, a Norwegian heritage breed, and rya knots made from reindeer leather dyed red. “I was inspired by the landscape of Northern Norway as well as winter in the northern Midwest,” Jan writes. “I used the idea of winter tree silhouettes to create my design. Adding red to the white and gray brought warmth and joy to the piece.”

Riley Kleve (right) admires Marilyn Moore’s Summer. Riley’s Community Cloth is the wall hanging with fringe the right.

Marilyn Moore, Summer

Marilyn Moore comes from a long line of Swedish weavers and focuses her work on Swedish techniques. She is inspired by color, so it is fitting that Summer is based on the many bright colors in her flower garden. For this weaving, Marilyn used wool but also linen, which gives an added shimmer to the rya knots. Visitors at “Weaving the North” commented on how much they wanted to sink their fingers in the luscious fibers!

Riley Kleve, Community Cloth

Community Cloth was created for Northern Spark, a late-night community arts festival that asked artists to create work in response to the prompt “What the world needs now.” Guests at Northern Spark chose a color of yarn that reminded them of something good and shared the association with others as they worked together. Community Cloth was woven by 116 weavers in just five hours!

Riley Kleve, Priscilla II (not pictured)

Riley writes, “As a non-binary artist working in traditionally feminine techniques, I pay respect to the forms and techniques of our foremothers while also seeking to create beyond the confines of aesthetics or utility that restrained their work. The piece gets its name from the vintage book of Hardanger embroidery that I used to learn the technique.”

Kala Exworthy, Northern Cape (on mannequin)

Kala Exworthy wove the colorful cape in a point twill in diamonds. The warp is Zephyr, spaced to show off the weft, which is a soft knitting yarn. “I wove it as fabric not knowing what it would be,” Kala writes. “Then it became a nice, warm dress up cape. Perfect for the cooler evenings of a lovely spring or fall day in our northern clime.” Northern Cape was the subject of a lively bidding war during the opening night reception for “Weaving the North.” The lucky winner got to wear the cape home at the end of the exhibit! (Riley’ Kleve’s Community Cloth is in the background.)

Robbie LaFleur, Burn 2020

Robbie LaFleur is an expert in billedvev, traditional Norwegian tapestry weaving. The tapestry was woven in wool, with silk thread added to lend luster to the areas of the hottest white and yellow flames. Robbie designed the tapestry after a photo of a bonfire at a family gathering. She writes, “The bonfire is a reminder of family and warmth, yet also represents the isolation, loss, and unrest of the pandemic year—burn away, 2020.” Robbie won Honorable Mention in “Weaving the North” for her piece. For more on this tapestry, visit Robbie’s blog at the link below:

My Bonfire Tapestry is in ENGLAND – Robbie LaFleur

Lisa Torvik, Horda 3rd Gen

Lisa Torvik started weaving at age 12 and went on to study at a husflid in Norway. She focuses her work on traditional Norwegian techniques and geometric designs and has recently been exploring using those designs in new ways—in particular, with transparency techniques. In this case, the center panel is based on a coverlet from the Hordaland region of Norway, while the motifs along both sides are abstract improvisations on traditional motifs. Lisa won First Place in “Weaving the North” for this stunning piece.

“Weaving the North” Exhibit (Part One)

The Scandinavian Weavers group has a long history of public exhibits. Some are collaborations between the Scan Weavers and community arts organizations and are open to all weavers, not just members of our group.

Our goal in community exhibits is to increase awareness of traditional and contemporary Scandinavian weaving and to offer opportunities for artists to exhibit their weaving, which is often under-represented in traditional art galleries and museums.

In this case, “Weaving the North” was juried, curated, and installed by the staff at North Suburban Center for the Arts (NSCA). North Suburban is located in a decommissioned fire station in Fridley, Minnesota. The organization has creatively transformed this industrial building into a charming gallery, shop, library, and classroom space where they hold community arts events year-round. The exhibit was open to the public free of charge. In addition to the exhibit, North Suburban hosted a panel discussion with several of the artists as well as weaving demonstrations and classes.

We were delighted when North Suburban approached us about collaborating on a weaving exhibit. Together, we chose the theme “Weaving the North” and invited weavers to imaginatively consider the idea of ‘North.’ We encouraged artists to draw inspiration from the northern landscape, seasons, plants, and weather; highlight weaving traditions of northern peoples; explore the emotions and images evoked by our specific region; and tell stories of the north and the people who make it their home.

The result was an amazing variety of weaving, detailed in the blog post below from North Suburban. In addition, I will post a second blog with photos and details of weavings by Scan Weavers.

Please consider supporting small, local arts organizations like North Suburban who do so much creative work in our communities. (Hint: Their fundraiser is this weekend.) We loved working with North Suburban and hope this is the first of many future collaborations!

Following a Thread: Weaving Exhibition Explores ‘the North’ — North Suburban Center for the Arts (northsuburbanarts.org)

Welcome Back to the Blog!

The Scandinavian Weavers Interest Group is alive and well! We are busy weaving, meeting, exhibiting, taking/teaching classes, traveling, and keeping each other inspired.

I will be editing this blog, which will allow Robbie LaFleur to concentrate on leading our group and editing the Norwegian Textile Letter. In addition, we will be doing some re-organizing of the blog. The main categories for blog posts will include Meetings, Group Projects, Exhibits, Classes, Travel, Weaving Techniques, and Links. I will add tags to help with searches. If there are other topics you would like to see covered, please let me know. I am very excited to take on the blog but new to WordPress, so I appreciate your patience.

If you would like to subscribe to this blog, please do so with your email address. If you would like to become a member of the Scandinavian Weavers Interest Group, please visit the link below and scroll down to our group information. Please note: Our group meets both via Zoom and in-person.