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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What’s the Front? What’s the Back?

Next up?  Judy Larson chose green for her piece. More success!  This warp is working.

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Skillbragd weavings can look equally beguiling from either side.  On our Scandinavian Weavers Study Group project, the deep red and green of skillbragd floats on the two pieces are wonderful, and I would definitely use the side I saw while weaving as the “front.”

I took a new look at a small piece I own that was woven by Lila Nelson.  Interesting!  She used the side that shows the most of the ground tabby as the right side, and that is very clear by looking at how she hemmed it. The other interesting thing is that she made fringe on either edge as wove the piece, hemmed it, and then added fringe to the other two sides. That looks nice.

Good ideas for future pieces!

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Skillbragd #2

I finished the last post on our group skillbragd project on the Glimakra loom at the Weavers Guild with “many tricky warping steps remain.” Man, was that accurate. Before all was said and done, we tested the tabby shafts on counterbalance, then countermarch.  The pattern wefts hung from elastic to start, and then were switched to countermarch, and then back to the elastics (with final, wise advice from Shawn Cassiman). Lamm and treadle adjustments were made for hours. Lisa Torvik and Phyllis Waggoner were the real loom-wrangling brains; I struggled to keep up. BUT. Finally. By suppertime yesterday we managed to get a good shed for the background linen tabby and hopefully serviceable sheds for the pattern shafts. Today was the big test, and I offered to weave the first sample.  Slowly I wound my weft, arranged my shuttles, and pulled out the pin holding the shafts in place, and began to weave.  I’m not sure I was even breathing as I wove the first pattern shots.  It worked!

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Of course I made a pattern mistake after the first four squares, but not to worry, I did the same thing at the other end–design element. Once I got started the weaving went relatively quickly and was very fun to watch unfold.  On this 18″ wide warp I wove 11″ of pattern and hems in four hours–and that was with several talking breaks. Since this was mostly a test to see if the loom and warp were in working order, I just wove the pattern in one color.  There are so many ways to weave wonderful skillbragd pieces by elongating portions of the pattern, for example, or adding stripes. But just the plain piece was beautiful.

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It will be fun to see the variations that will be woven by our group members in the next six weeks.

Starting on the group Skilbragd Project

Our Scandinavian Weavers Study Group is working on Norwegian skilbragd; we began warping a loom at the Weavers Guild of Minnesota yesterday.

Lisa Torvik, our leader in this project, was inspired by a pattern for a group project undertaken by the Gol Husflidsslag in Norway.  See the Skillbragdåkle fra Gol here.

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Inspiration coverlet from Gol, Norway

She took elements of the wider piece and narrowed the pattern to runner-width. Lisa didn’t use weaving software to make her draft; she’s a whiz with spreadsheets and used Excel to make the draft and treading variants.

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Lisa Torvik, Lisa Bauch, Phyllis Wagonner, and Robbie LaFleur met to warp the loom; Lisa Torvik had already wound the ten-yard warp of 16/2 linen.  Using a variety of print resources, including Lillemor Johansson’s book Damask and Opphämta, we figured out how to sett up the tabby heddles for the ground weave and the pattern heddles.  Beaming was a four person job! Lisa Torvik oversaw and “drove” the process from the front. As we worked, the linen had a wonderful hay-like scent.

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Robbie turned the wheel, Lisa Bauch braced her legs against the back of the loom and held the warp tight as it was rolled on, and Phyllis inserted sticks to pad the warp on the back as it was beamed on.

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Lisa had the tough job, as she had to keep hanging on to the the warp for dear life even as it was approaching the front beam, pulling her through the loom.

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Many tricky warping steps remain.

 

Swedish Art Weav….ing from the Back

At the Weavers Guild of Minnesota, there was DEAD QUIET in Jan Mostrom’s “Swedish Art Weaves” classroom of eight students today. They were all concentrating on the tricky (and messy-looking) aspects of weaving patterns from the back. Still, it was fun to see the various color combinations chosen by each student. Read more about Jan’s class in the new issue of the Norwegian Textile Letter, coming out at the end of May.

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The Carriage Cushion Mystery

Carol Johnson, whose collection of Scandinavian weavings is currently highlighted in an exhibit at the Weavers Guild of Minnesota, once bought a Swedish opphampta weaving because of its beautiful red and green star pattern. (Note: the colors are more true in the second photo.) See this piece and 27 others in the exhibit “A Passionate Pursuit: Scandinavian Weavings from the Collection of Carol Johnson,” up through the end of June, 2018. 

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When she received it, she found that it was sewn to a more simply woven fabric. 

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book-johaheirlo_232x300Carol wondered, why would someone put these two together?  She started to undo the stitching, but stopped when she received the recently translated book, Heirlooms of Skåne: Weaving Techniques by Gunvor Johansson (translated by Birgitta Esselius Peterson, published by Vävstuga Press), because the mystery of the two sides was solved. She realized she shouldn’t take them apart.  The weaving is a carriage cushion, and the backs of cushions were often woven in a simpler three-shaft technique.  They also tended to be woven in the less expensive yarns: brown, yellow, green, and white. Carol’s example has other colors, too, and the patterning is fairly elaborate.  

It all made sense to Carol then.  She could see where tassels were sewn in each corner, traditionally done to protect the valuable textile during hard wear.  Johansson wrote in her book about the use of wheat flour and water rubbed into the fabric to prevent the stuffing from leaking through the fabric. Check! Carol noticed a good bit of dust on the interior of the cushion fabric. Oh, and she found a feather, too.

I first learned about carriage cushion backs when examining one at the American Swedish Institute with Phyllis Waggoner.  In this case, the front was a beautiful rölakan, and the back was woven simply in a two-shaft weft-faced technique, in exactly the inexpensive yarn colors noted in Heirlooms of Skåne.

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