A Summer Check-in for the Scandinavian Weavers

Our group doesn’t normally meet during the summer months, but because we neglected to take it off the online Weavers Guild of Minnesota calendar, and several members were around, we decided to meet. We had the best turnout of the year so far!

Melba Granlund and Stephanie Dickson showed the samples they completed during a recent week-long Swedish Art Weaves class at the Swedish Handicrafts Center for Skåne (Hemslöjd) in Landskrona, Sweden. They used trensaflossa, a short pile technique woven primarily in one area of Skåne. The class was taught by Gunvor Johansson. A Minnesota group took a similar Swedish art weave class two years ago, described in articles in the Norwegian Textile Letter.
Weaving the Art Weaves of Skåne.
A Wonderful Scanian Art Weaves Adventure
Fika and the Joy of Lingonberry Cake
Gunvor Johansson’s Exhibit at Bosjökloster

Stephanie Dickson’s sample

Melba sent me this photo of the other samples woven by students at the Hemslojd class. Melba’s piece is in the center.

 

Lisa Bauch has been suffering from a bit of tennis elbow from slamming the beater on her loom, so she’s devoted some off-loom time to making small birchbark baskets from the bark of a dead birch tree they needed to take down in her yard.

Someone asked how she cut her strips and Lisa told of a novel method.  A pasta machine–you know, the kind with a crank that unfurls lengths of pasta–works great.  And the fettuccini setting? Perfect for the small-scale baskets.

During this meeting, several people shared by showing photos on their phones. Five or six times, phones were passed around the large table. I think this “show and tell” technology will be used more and more, with no more excuses like, “I tried to get it off the loom before the meeting.” Linda Sorranno’s technology for this purpose was best; she had an iPad, so we could admire her piece on the loom in larger scale. She is weaving a boundweave rug in neutral tones.

We admonished Mary Skoy for not bringing in the rug she recently finished, which is now in its intended spot in their house. She told the story of seeing a similar rug at the American Swedish Institute (ASI) and thinking, “I need that rug.” Here’s the ASI rug.

Woven by Ruth Skyttes, who wove the rug on loom built by her husband, for an ASI Christmas program for the Värmlands Forbundet in the early 1960s. Ruth emigrated from Värmland, Sweden to Minneapolis in 1927. 20”x 42” cotton warp, wool fabric strips weft and inlay

Mary liked the slarvtjäll technique, with short inlay tufts.  She haunted thrift stores, picking up woolen tweed jackets to cut up for the weft strips.  It turned out great, but she seemed sheepish when her rug looked like an exact replica of the original, not what she really intended to do.


 

Judy Larsen has been making runners with a pattern from a recent Handwoven magazine, “Distorted -Weft Rep Runner & Trio of Pillows.” (Her sisters have already announced how long Judy should make their runners.)

Jan Josefek has been busy weaving.  She showed a small piece inspired by the patterns of Estonian bands. Jan wove a piece on her tapestry loom, pick-up on a plain weave.  Bands are woven lengthwise, but this stack of three patterns was woven horizontally.  People were in awe. As a follow-up, author Piia Rand write that her book is now available in English.  See: https://epood.saara.ee/pood/estonian-pick-up-woven-belts

Jan also made a sample rug using rosepath stripes, in anticipation of making the “real” one with handspun yarn.  She used a draft from a notebook from our Scandinavian Weavers group, making it extra appropriate to share with the group.

Ever Woodward came to her first Scandinavian Weavers meeting, and shared towels she just took off the loom.  She claimed that she is most drawn to neutral colors in her life, but who can resist pink yarn?

My report was an iPhone one, too–a photo of a piece in Frida Hansen’s open warp transparency technique. The underground portion of the potato plant is complete.

More on this piece at robbielafleur.com

Robbie LaFleur

 

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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Show and Tell

At the Scandinavian Weavers meeting yesterday we enjoyed Judy Larson’s latest red rugs. Judy often weaves LARGE rugs, but these were small ones, using wildly different wefts, on the same warp.  She wove one with chunky weft of knit ties, part of an 8000-tie stash from a man who worked at the Library of Congress, and never wore the same tie twice. The second one has sharp pink with red, and is made with silky-soft velour strips—her granddaughter’s favorite.  The third uses the most conventional rag rug weft, printed cottons.  Fun!

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A Discussion of Hems and Edges

By Robbie LaFleur

Note: I recently discovered this post, one that had not been posted after a meeting in 2012.  It’s a bit late!

At our March Scandinavian Weavers Study Group meeting, an interesting conversation began with a comment by Veronna Capone, whose craftsmanship is impeccable.  She’d struggled with a monksbelt runner; the edges had the slightest waviness, no matter how careful she was.

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So she solved that by taking a step that many weavers consider a sacrilege.  She sewed a straight stitch down the selvedge edges, about three threads in from the edge, and then cut the edge, perfectly evenly, next to the stitching.  (I don’t have a photo of that one.) She said that she owns a lovely Irish handwoven scarf with the same edge finish, and that gave her the permission to mimic it on her runner.  My photo of the edge of Veronna’s monksbelt doesn’t show the really successful and interesting total effect of the piece, woven with pearl cotton. One really nice effect was the contrast in sheen between the background plain weave and the monksbelt blocks done in the same color, very textural.

Veronna is not afraid to break rules.  Her additional ‘confession’ was that sometime when making a runner that was quite thick, she sewed a straight stitch across the end of it, turned it down once, and stitched it.  Uh-oh.  But really, how many people with real textile knowledge would turn over a lovely runner on Veronna’s table and note that a raw edge was visible?  This led to further discussion of hems and right sides/wrong sides and rules.

It felt like a discussion that could have been held by my husband’s psychoanalytic colleagues.  What do people keep hidden in order to show their best faces to the world?  What everyday parts of life –  the messy parts, the parts you might not be proud of – are best put away when  you worry about being judged?   What do people choose to reveal?  What do they keep secret?  But here we are talking about textiles.

Patty Kuebker-Johnson talked of her late Swedish mother-in-law, a wonderful weaving mentor.  Hems were important to fine Swedish weavers.  When planning a woven piece with hems, you should have a hem that is turned over twice and sewn by hand.  Ideally, the pattern should be taken into account when planning the blocks of the pattern blocks of the turned-over hem.  Once hemmed, the piece should appear the same on the front and the back.

Displaying pristine textiles for guests was a mark of skill and prestige.  Sometimes a runner was used on a table, or a towel was hung on a rack, hemmed-side-up, for everyday family use.  It could be quickly changed to the best side.

A double towel rack could be used.  When guests arrived, the lovely towel was put in front.

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When you are not trying to show a perfect face, then perhaps this stained towel displays the messy craziness of life.

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October Scandinavian Weavers Meeting

In October a small group of Scandinavian Weavers Study Group members drove to Karin Maah’s home in the northern suburbs.  Karin’s home became a pop-up museum in our honor.  The walls and halls were covered in paintings by her grandfather, noted Norwegian-American painter Hans Berg.  He also was a rosemaler, and his work was exuberant and personal, like this piece.

IMG_2902The guests arrived to this beautiful array of food.  “Wait,” Karin exclaimed,”the cake isn’t out,” as if somehow the existing spread was inadequate!

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It is always a wonderful experience to see the homes of  fellow study group members, to see what looms and stashed of yarn they have, and to see their personal art and weaving collections. Karin has amazing family treasures. I thought this was the most amazing set. She has a beautiful billedvev (tapestry) woven by her grandmother.

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She also has the cartoon for the piece, painted by her grandfather.

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Some people might also have lovely pieces along with the original cartoons, but the most amazing part of Karin’s collection is that she also has a painting of her grandmother weaving the piece!

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My favorite piece was a tapestry done by her grandmother, based on a cartoon done by her grandfather.  This photo can’t capture the subtle color gradations in the tapestry introduced by beautiful handspun yarns with slight, but painterly, variagations.

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All of this documentation was amazing.  Here, in another one of Hans Berg’s paintings, the shawl depicted is still around, and shown hanging on one edge.

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Thank you to Karin!

Some Snippets from September

The Scandinavian Weavers Study Group will meet on the following Sundays at 2pm in the fall of 2015 through Spring 2016:  October 18 (field trip to the home of Karin Maahs), November 15 (Rya Exploration at 12:30 and Scandinavian Weavers at 2), December 13 (holiday gathering at the home of Karen Weiberg), January 17, February 21, March 20, April 17, May 15.

There will be an exhibit of Lila Nelson’s tapestries at the Textile Center, in the Studio Gallery, in November and December of this year.  It will be a great kick-off and tie-in to a larger retrospective of Lila’s works at Vesterheim.  The Vesterheim exhibit will include more than just tapestry, and will be in the large gallery space near the entrance to the museum.  It will be up from December 2, 2015 and probably through November of 2016.  Francie Iverson, Claire Selkurt, and I are meeting to choose the tapestries to be displayed, and Laurann will facilitate sending them to the Textile Center.

The Scandinavian Weavers next exhibit, featuring our work with RED, will be in the Textile Center Community Gallery, from May 13-June 25, 2016.  We will make plans for an opening celebration at our meeting on March 20.  We will make postcards, to be distributed by each weaver.  If you would like to have your weaving considered for the postcard image, a high-quality digital image should be submitted by March 20.

Keith brought two family pieces.  His mother’s side of the family is Finnish, and his mother’s cousin, who ran a Finnish design shop for several years, sent Keith two Finnish pieces. Keith said he has asked several people how he should clean the pieces, and the consensus is – snow!  (There was an article in the Norwegian Textile Letter on cleaning weavings/rugs with snow, here: http://norwegiantextileletter.com/?s=snow+washing)

IMG_2331Karin Maah’s tapestry got a State Fair blue ribbon and honorable mention at Vesterheim.

IMG_2333She also brought a beautiful quilt top, her first, made with a rainbow of batik squares.

Marilyn Moore’s beautiful rag rug with rosepath designs got a red ribbon at Vesterheim, and a white ribbon and “Best First Weaving” at the State Fair.

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Lisa Bauch learned a Finnish raanu technique in Wynne Mattila’s class, and she made a new piece, based on the colors of early spring leaves.

IMG_2336Corky Knutson received a red ribbon for a pillow.  Robbie LaFleur submitted two pieces to the State Fair.  (See information on the ribbons here.)

November Scandinavian Weavers Meeting

The Scandinavian Weavers met on November 17, 2013.  During our show and tell time, some people mentioned the projects they plan to complete this year as part of our “Inspiration” study topic.  Each member is choosing an old textile and creating a new one inspired by an aspect of the old piece.  Many of these pieces are from the Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum in Decorah, Iowa.  We plan to submit the new pieces to the annual National Exhibit of Folk Art in the Norwegian Tradition exhibit next summer.  Melba Granlund is planning to weave a piece inspired by a runner she purchased at the Helsinki flea market last summer. A portion is shown here.

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She guesses it is Swedish.  Vesterheim owns a very similar runner, also likely Swedish in origin, according to  curator Laurann Gilbertson.

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And finally, Vesterheim had a small piece that Lila Nelson wove, based on the older piece.  Inspired by the designs in these three pieces, Melba will design and weave her own interpretation.

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In the context of discussing how she would choose the colors for her piece, Veronna Capone mentioned a tip she heard from Jan Mostrom.   Take a photo of an existing piece, switch it to black and white, and you’ll see the tonal range.  Then you can experiment with colors, making sure that you have appropriate light and dark tones. Smart!

Marilyn Moore brought in a beautiful Swedish tablecloth, owned by a friend.  It is probably 90 years old, and in pristine, never-used condition.  Marilyn plans to weave a similar, but smaller, piece.  When she brought it to show her friend Winnie Johnson, it turned out that Winnie had a Swedish booklet with just the instructions that Marilyn will need!

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Keith Pierce showed a band that he wove from a recently-acquired book of Finnish bands, Applesies and Fox Noses: Finnish Tabletwoven Bands, by  Maikki Karisto and Mervi Pasanen. Keith bought it from a Finnish web site.

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Jane Connett has been struggling with card weaving on her Schaacht inkle loom, and brought it in to illustrate.  Robin Meadow said her Glimåkra loom sits empty, but she has plans!  Karen Weiberg has been making plans to use her newly-inherited Margaret Bergman loom.  It came from her aunt, who carefully saved the original receipts.  It cost $85 in 1940.  It’s also amazing that the accompanying wooden bench, built with clever storage space, cost $3.00.

Robbie LaFleur showed her small harvester tapestry test piece (also written about here).

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