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:

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!


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.


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).


Scandinavian Weavers Meeting, May 2012 (Part one)

Field trip!  We had a great trip to Nancy Ellison’s farm near Zumbrota – DESPITE the cold and drizzly day, an anomaly following several perfect spring weeks in Minnesota.  All of Nancy’s beautiful long-haired sheep were shorn on Good Friday, leaving them a bit patchy-looking.  Normally they would have been in a distant pasture eating fresh greens, so we appreciated the fact Nancy kept them in the barn for viewing.

ImageFrom an earlier trip, here’s how they look in full long-fibered glory.

We met in a room at the edge of the barn with thick, white-painted timbers and spinning wheels and looms flanking the walls (plus long-haired rabbits in cages!). The wind was howling outside, yet it was quiet inside.
Nancy will be teaching a cradle loom class this summer.  She showed us cradle looms with a completed slit tapestry and one in progress.  Inspired by observing her warping method and by her completed pieces, Jan Mostrom, Mary Skoy and I are all meeting to warp our cradle looms later this month.  We all have lovely rosemaled cradle looms which we have NEVER USED.  For Pete’s sake, we only have to warp 10 threads!  How long could it take?  We’ll report later on our progress.
A remark about Decorah and the Norwegian-American Museum sparked  a great story from Lila Nelson about manners and creative problem-solving.  Years ago, King Olav gave money to Vesterheim that was used to install a state-of-the-art textile washing station.  Old textiles could be submerged flat and gently into the large shallow basin.  During a Royal Visit to Vesterheim, the new equipment was on display in demonstration mode.  Lila and others needed to show how it was done, complete with wearing heavy rubber gloves to protect their hands and the textile.  But how would that work with the king’s well-known desire to shake hands with the people he met?  In the end they decided to sort of fake the actual washing step.  They pulled their right-hand gloves almost completely off their hands, so that when the King came close – whoosh, off came the glove.  Awkward  rubber glove pulling, struggling and snapping would put a dent in trying to appear poised, wouldn’t it?

Scandinavian Weavers Meeting, March 2012

Veronna started off a really interesting discussion of hems and edges of textiles when she described a recent project, monksbelt runners in pearl cotton.  “Oh,” she noted when she took them off the loom, “It looks like I was drunk at one point and here at another.”  Hardly.  There’s more on that discussion on my “Bound to Weave” blog, “Showing Your Good Side.” She shared two interesting lessons from that piece.  She made color windings of the yarns, around a card, to test out combinations.  Then she made both a black-and-white photocopy and a color photocopy of the combinations.  The black-and-white helped show relative contrast of dark and light.  Also, when you weave monksbelt with the same color for the base and pattern weft, it is really two colors, because of the reflective properties of the yarn.

Veronna suggested we look at the swatch photos for patterns in Mary E. Black’s New Key to Weaving found in a new digital collection sponsored by the government of Novia Scotia.

Judy brought rouched scarves made with lace-weight yarn, silk  120 inches long, 72 inches, and Jaeger zephyr wool silk.

She made a rug in monksbelt pattern using fabric strips. She sleyed poly-cotton carpet warp at 12 epi.

Patty Kuebker Johnson talked about the color and weave study group sponsored at Color Crossing.  It’s especially useful for those who don’t do a lot of fine thread weaving.  “Unless you have a weft-faced or warp faced weave, you are always dealing with the interaction of the thread colors,” she explained.   Once it’s on the loom the study group members sign up for time slots to weave off samples.

Robin Meadow noted that a new session of the color exploration class, Stripes and Structures to Create Tantalizing Towels, was starting soon.  She’s taken it twice, and as a new weaver, found it enormously helpful each time. You work in different structures, different color palettes,  and it requires diligent production weaving.  Why take it twice? You deal with different color ways, different loom personalities, and even different weave structures from one class to the next. Patty said that she uses the towels she makes as runners until they become dishtowels.  Below is a jumble of the towels Robin wove in her last class, a bad photo of lovely items.

Melba Granlund spent a fantastic week taking the basic Swedish weaving course at Becky’s Vavstuga. “You weave like you’re crazy,” Melba said.  There were eight people in the class, two of whom had never woven before.  Her completed pieces were beautiful.

A perennial weaving problem is time, never enough time for weaving. At one point the issue was raised about weaving just a bit each day on a project. Isn’t  there a problem with a difference  in beating? Are some portions more tightly woven than others?  Patty noted that she encounters this more with with knitting than weaving.  She advised, “Warping is the hard part!  Reward yourself for each step of the way.  Today I wind the warp – that’s the assignment.  The next day, put it on the back beam.  Break it into segments and reward yourself for the completion of each.”  Meeting with our group is good for encouragement – the encouragement of example, and the encouragement of tips.

Scandinavian Weavers Study Group February Meeting

The Scandinavian Weavers Study Group met on February 19, 2012.

Linda Simpson was a first-time attendee, with a charming story of her desire to weave.  Her grandmother, who lived with Linda’s family when Linda was a child, was a weaver.  She died when Linda was four, and the loom was packed up and stored in various locations for years.

When Linda moved to Roberts, Wisconsin, a few years ago, she met Patty Kuebker-Johnson and her dream of setting up the old loom was revived. She rented space at Color Crossing, ensuring a lot of expert help during the process of bringing the old loom back to life.The loom pieces were very dirty, and charring indicated they may have narrowly escaped going up in flames at some point during storage. Repairs were needed. The ratchet system was a bit warped, and the pieces where the beater bar hung were worn through.  Linda has completed her first weaving, a runner woven from old rags from her grandmother.  She is moving on to a new project, paraments made in huck lace technique with Harrisville wool.

Even though she was only four when her grandmother died, Linda still remembers sitting under the loom. It seemed magical.  Judy Larson, who along with Patty helped set up the old loom, noted, “Now we’ve all sat under the loom, but sometimes with a beer.”

Mary Litsheim’s PhD dissertation has been published on the University of Minnesota website. She has submitted some portions of the thesis to Vesterheim for possible publication in the magazine; others may be published in the Textile Newsletter or the rosemaler’s newsletter.  She presented a paper based on her thesis at the SASS (Society for the Advancement of Scandinavian Study) conference in Chicago in 2011.  She said the attendees were amazingly interested in the smallest nuances of information about Scandinavia.  They asked many questions.

At home on her Hagen loom Mary has been struggling with a tapestry, finally realizing, “I don’t like tapestry!”  Instead she will continue on that warp with Vestfold technique in a small, fine format.

Judy Larson weaves rugs on 8 foot cranbrook loom.  The rug she brought, made from fabric strip from jeans, wasn’t so wide but it was ten feet long! At 12epi with seine twine warp, it should be a long-lasting rug.

She made a smaller rug of men’s ties in a three-shuttle technique, part of the Color Crossing Tie Challenge.

We discussed upcoming issues of the Norwegian Textile Letter and solicited articles.  For anyone who does not subscribe to this fabulous publication that is SO REASONABLY PRICED, send $15.00 for a one-year subscription to Mary Lonning Skoy, Editor, 7200 York Ave. S #120, Edina, MN   55435.  Email:

Nancy Ellison bought a book, Old Swedish Weavings from North to South from the Vesterheim bookshop.  Here’s a fun YouTube preview of that book.

Melba Granlund is traveling to Becky’s Väv Stuga for a beginning Swedish weaving course; Patty Kuebker-Johnson is taking Becky’s drawloom class in May.  Becky’s Vavstuga website has a section with many fun and instructive videos; see her mini movies page.

Nancy Eillison is continuing her exploration of the cradle loom, and in particular, making slit tapestry on the cradle loom.  If anyone finds information on similar looms in Norway, she would be very interested to hear about it.

Patty Kuebker-Johnson is very enthusiastic about using the half-heddle system for accomplishing patterning that does not run all the way across the warp.  She is working on a project for a study group show at the Phipps Center for the Arts.  As she put it, she is making slow weaving even slower. She used her half-heddle set-up to make the pieces with dots shown here.  The new pieces will be the same dots, but dots falling apart, complete and incomplete dots. Here are the first full-dot experiment pieces.

A New Year and New Weaving Goals

The Scandinavian Weavers met on January 15.  2012 is still new and shiny so in addition to discussing recent accomplishments and current projects, we talked of hopes for our weaving work this year.

Robin is in search of the perfect loom.  Melba is taking her first tapestry class, and hopes to weave a virgin – an image from the traditional “Wise and Foolish Virgins” tapestry traditions.  (Will she weave a wise one or a foolish one?)  Melba asked for advice on which yarn to use; a few people suggested Rauma prydvevgarn and aklaegarn.  Jan has also used single-ply ullspiss yarn to good effect. Harrisville yarn isn’t a great choice; it is more for clothing and blankets.

Jane wished for something that many of us could use – more time for weaving and a more organized approach.   She would like to do more tapestry, krokbragd, and card weaving.  She may try a Vestfold piece on a home-built copper tapestry loom.  The laid-in pattern Vestfold technique could also be done on a frame room, but it’s difficult to keep a tight tension.  She has been creating Viking chain jewelry and experimenting with chain mail technique.

Claire brought a beautiful slit-tapestry piece, impeccably woven.  She talked about the difficulty of making the slit areas meet without gaps or overlap.  Jan said some people throw an occasional shot of sewing thread across the whole width of a piece in areas with long slits.  The sewing thread remains invisible, but helps the slit areas stay together without excessive pulling-in.  Claire managed perfection without that tip!

Mary has three projects on deck; Christmas towels, pillow-tops in huck technique, and a rya to hang above their fireplace.  The rya image will be geometric, in blacks, whites, greys, and a dash of red?, it will include her initials and those of her husband.  She also has a monksbelt pattern in mind.  Her final resolution?  To purchase NO more yarn for sweaters the rest of the year.

Jan noted that our group resolution should be to enter at least one piece in the 2010 National Exhibition of Weaving in the Norwegian Tradition at Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum. Personally, she is going to finish a commissioned krokbragd piece, weave at least one piece of monks belt, and make a large skinnfell.

Robbie’s plans are modest.  She will complete at least one, or hopefully more, small tapestries in her series of family portraits.  She will continue with monksbelt pattern experiments, with more runners/hangings with an “op art” effect.  A big rya is planned too, one that will be displayed with the back folded over for display.

Veronna brought two recently-completed doubleweave pieces.  In one, the cross with ‘L’ shapes and dots in the corners is the seed pattern for making a seven path labyrinth according to the source she used, ‘Labyrinths, Ancient Myths and Modern Uses’ by Sig Lonegren, Sterling Publishing Co., Inc., New York.

The other piece, with horizontal and vertical lines, graphed out on paper in a perfect square but something happened in the weaving as the horizontal lines didn’t take up as much space as the vertical lines. She described the technical problems with making exactly balanced geometric designs.  She apologized for mistakes, but of course the resulting runners were beautiful.

Show and Tell – and Irresistibly FEEL

Nancy Ellison brought some handspun yarn to our September Scandinavian Weavers meeting.  “Oh!” was the feeling as she opened the bag. Everyone resisted the impulse to reach out.  We waited our turns nicely as the soft threads were passed.  The brown-to-gray strands of wool beautifully displayed the changing coat color of the sheep over the seasons.

Nancy and her sheep were recently featured on a southern MN public television program called “Off 90.”

I think we would all agree with this statement from that segment.  “You can weave your whole life and never scratch the surface in the types of weaving you can do, so it’s something you will never be bored with.”