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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Celebrating Carol Johnson’s Collection

cakeToday we celebrated Carol Johnson’s passionate textile collecting and generous sharing of her weavings for a Weavers Guild exhibit. A good reason for a cake!  Lisa Torvik took the cake decorations as cutting instructions. Next week is Jan Mostrom’s class in Swedish Art Weaves.  Luckily for the students there are seven exquisite art weave pieces up on the walls in the same room as the class–perfect for inspiration.

One of the pieces has a beautiful faded color palette.

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It is quite literally faded–look at the difference between the back and the front.

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Watch for more photos of pieces in the current exhibit on this blog and in the next issue of the Norwegian Textile Letter, out at the end of May.

Scandinavian Weavers Meeting, April 2018

IMG_1804Our Scandinavian Weavers group met on April , delayed one week because of the ridiculous weekend snowstorm of the previous week.  Members have been busy weaving!  I abandoned my fabulous weekend workshop with Catharine Ellis for a couple of hours to meet with our group, and showed some samples I had woven and dyed.  “I have to take a photo of your beautiful blue hands,” Mary Skoy insisted.

Sara Okern just finished a gorgeous abstract rug.  Of course this photo, holding it up in the air, makes it look a bit skewed.  Part of its beauty is the sharp geometry of the center shape, coupled with the randomness of the inner lines of color.
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Judy Larson brought three wall pieces, rag rug hangings woven in monks belt.  Given the extreme longing for spring among the attendees, we all were attracted to the one in the brightest pink and green. She tried out and liked the fringe tying method taught by Tom Knisely, in which each bundle drops one thread on the edge and pulls in a thread from the adjoining bundle.  It gives a sharper line to the edge.
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m-hallc3a9n-4She also brought a rug woven from the new Swedish book, I trasmattas värld från a-ö. I heard about this book and Judy’s daughter in Sweden found it and sent over copies for Judy and me.  Judy is doing a great job of testing the patterns, even before I get to them!
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Marilyn Moore brought a beautiful wool rug and started a lively discussion of which side should be the “right” side. She solicited opinions about how the edges should be finished.  Fringes?  Straight edge?  I think fringes won, though either would be lovely.
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Jan Mostrom brought a sample pillow she made for her upcoming class in Swedish Art Weaves at the Weavers Guild in May. !!!
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She finished the back in the method she learned in Sweden last year.  The opening is often closed with large hooks and eyes, but braid is also used. She made the fringe using the traditional two-person Swedish fringe-making technique.  The second person was her loving husband Mike, who spent two hours on that project. What a guy.
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Jan also brought in a fortuitous eBay find, a lovely Swedish dukagång piece. One beautiful aspect was the slight variegation of color in the pattern yarns.
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A Passionate Pursuit: Scandinavian Weavings from the Collection of Carol Johnson

A  pop-up exhibit of wonderful Scandinavian weavings is up on the gallery walls of the Weavers Guild of Minnesota, through June (exact date TBD), due to the generosity of a Minneapolis collector.

Carol Johnson is friend of many members of our Scandinavian Weavers Study Group, a fellow traveler on the Vesterheim Textile Tours.  She has been collecting Scandinavian textiles for the last 40 years.  Earlier she purchased her treasures at auctions and from antique dealers, especially Suzanne Kramer in Wisconsin, who specializes in Scandinavian antiques. In more recent years she has tracked eBay and scored many treasures.

 

A while back, Carol offered to show her textiles to the Scandinavian Weavers Study Group, and on April 2 we took her up on her offer. The week before, Mary Skoy and I visited her home to choose a selection for viewing. We were truly stunned at the extent of her collection as we looked around at weavings stacked on tables, over railings, on display racks, and in archival boxes.  We didn’t even see any of her pieces in her tablecloth and woven curtains collections. She has many tapestries, generally smaller in size; those will be described and displayed at a future Weavers Guild event.

 

Carol shared with our group at a small gathering on April 2. Because we wanted to give other members of the Weavers Guild the opportunity to relish these weavings, we were happy that Carol was willing to lend us many pieces to put up on display.

 

Over the next month, I will be examining the 28 pieces and make either separate labels or a listing. There will be additional posts on this blog. I will write a substantial article about Carol and her collection for the issue of the Norwegian Textile Letter, coming out in early May, when you can learn about the stories behind some of the weavings.

 

Even without labels, the collection is a visual delight and an inspiration for weavers.  Be sure to check it out at the Weavers Guild in the next couple of months.  However, always check ahead before visiting, as the gallery walls are in a classroom and may not be available to visitors during a weaving class.

 

As a teaser, here are photos of the walls with the weavings.