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.

January 2018 Meeting: We Beat the Blizzard by a Day

The weather gods were with us this month, as the 12 inches of snow held off until the day after our Scandinavian Weavers meeting.

swedish textilesJan Mostrom brought two books on Swedish weaving.  She purchased the beautiful and huge Swedish Textile Art: The Khalili Collection, by Viveka Hansen, online.  What’s the best thing about the book, I asked. The pictures.  When she took the Swedish art weaves class in Sweden last summer, that book was in the classroom, and the students used it to pick out design elements for their samplers. If you look for this book online, note that there are English and Swedish editions.

In talking about buying weaving and textile books, Patty Johnson advised, “When a weaving book comes out, buy it, because when it goes out of print, it will cost way too much.  They do all short runs with them.” These days, out-of-print weaving books are ridiculously expensive when trying to buy them online.
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Jan also brought this small book that she bought in Sweden.

We had a round of introductions, because we have so many interested members of the group that can come only occasionally. Every month there is bound to be a few people who have not met one another.  We asked each person to mention the weaving technique they like the most, or if that’s too hard, maybe mention the one they like the least.

Jan Mostrom said,  “The technique I like the most is the one I am currently using. But if I’m having problems, that’s the one I like least.” Jan is a fan of krokbragd and danskbrogd, and she is teaching a class at the Weavers Guild on the techniques starting on January 29, the week that traffic in the whole city might be a giant Super Bowl snarl. Janis Aune and I also said that krokbragd and danskbrogd are favorite techniques.
Jan Josifek said her favorite technique these days is baltic pickup.  She said, “I like doing it so much I have to hide my loom.” She brought two beautiful pieces. The pattern for this band was from the book Patterned Sashes: The Common Cultural Layer by Anete Karlsone.  The Latvian language title is: “Rakstainas Jostas: Kopigais Kulturslanis.”  She got her copy from The Baltic Smith on Easy, here. Jan thought that Vavstuga may be selling an English edition when it is available.
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Patty Johnson, who favors her draw loom, said techniques with fine threads are her favorites.  Jane Connett said, “I like to do small stuff; I like small designs and lots of color.”  As you might guess, Jane does a lot of band weaving. She’s also taken up tatting, which she likes because it is portable.
Claire Most said, “I need to have two things going.” She likes to balance the slow work of tapestry with ikat dyeing. She added about working on tapestry, “I find it difficult to be that quiet.” Claire’s latest tapestry, “Lily,” is included in the “Common Thread” member show at the Textile Center of Minnesota now.
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Judy Larson likes to work in a larger scale, and particularly likes the Finnish three-shuttle technique used with fabric strips. She brought a set of three rugs from her last warp–all WILDLY different.
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One of the rugs was woven with fabric from the stash of Chuck Benson, a Weavers Guild member and fabulous rug weaver who passed away last year. Judy said they were fabrics she never would have chosen, especially the addition of black, but they worked well.
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Kevin Olson shared a tapestry he took off the loom recently, not quite in time for his wedding anniversary.  It’s adapted from a Swedish pattern.  The peonies and irises are from his wedding, and the six roses stand for the six years he has been with his husband. The figures hold a wedding certificate, which is a meaningful addition to the composition, but it was also an adaptation because weaving hands was tricky! He still has quite a bit of finishing work to do, both working in the mass of threads on the back, and figuring out how to mount it. He wove it on his recently purchased upright Glimakra tapestry loom.
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Janis Aune brought the small bag made from the sampler she wove at the Swedish art weaves course she took in Sweden last summer. (Read more about the class in the recent issue of the Norwegian Textile Letter.)
My show and tell was a pillow with fringe made in a Norwegian technique, part of my preparation for a class at North House Folk School, Scandinavian Fringe Embellishments: Folk Art on the Edge(s).
The study topic this year is a continuation of Swedish weaving, and we are interested in setting up another group warp on a Weavers Guild loom.  (The last group warp was dukagang last year.)  We planned to brainstorm at the next meeting, but by the end of our discussion there was enthusiasm for planning a half-heddle pick-up piece (Norwegian skilbragd, Swedish opphämta). Patty Johnson has all of the half-heddle sticks already.
Our next two meetings will be one week later than the usual third Sunday; they will be on February 25 and March 25. April and May 20 are the final spring meetings.

A Wonderful Scanian Art Weaves Adventure

For the new issue of The Norwegian Textile Letter, Edi Thorstensson did a wonderful job of gathering the thoughts and images of several lucky Americans who took a Swedish Art Weaves course last summer in Landskrona, Sweden. Like me, you will be sad you were not there too!

A Wonderful Scanian Art Weaves Adventure
Weaving the Art Weaves of Skåne
Inspiration, Outreach, and Connection  
Gunvor Johansson’s Exhibit at Bosjökloster
Fika and the Joy of Lingonberry Cake

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In the same issue, don’t miss the article about the enduring image of The Wise and Foolish Virgins in Norwegian billedvev (tapestry) and about Annemor Sundbø’s adventures in processing nettles for fiber.   The Norwegian Textile Letter

The Dukagång Experiment–Cut off the Loom

Several curious Scandinavian Weavers Group members gathered to cut the dukagång group warp off the Glimakra last night.  It was so fun to see the completed pieces, right side up, and not just peeking from the back of the loom as they rolled around the beam.  Jan Mostrom, who should be duly thanked for her work setting up the project and getting the yarn, clipped it off. (There was a section of unwoven warp at the very end, which Lisa Torvik is going to use for firfletting.)

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Mary Skoy brought her sewing machine and sewed fine, straight seams between the pieces so they could be cut apart without raveling.

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Melba Granlund was the designated snipper.

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Oh, you wanted to see the individual pieces?  Coming soon.  They will be displayed on a wall of the Weavers Guild, and published here, on Friday.

Favorite Pattern Motif so Far? Stars.

On our Scandinavian Weavers group warp, three people have chosen to weave stars.  Recently, Lisa Torvik’s star peeps out as Sara Okern weaves a blue star.

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Lisa Torvik’s bright and festive star pattern

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Sara Okern said this was the first time she has woven anything but a rag rug.  Success! 

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Sara wove a blue star.

Norwegian Yarn in the Swedish Dukagång

Karin Maahs finished her piece, and her pattern weft was sentimental. She used thin Norwegian yarn her grandmother used to embroider bunads (Norwegian costumes).

One day her pattern was sitting on the loom. “Oh nice, that’s what was just finished,” I thought as I snapped this photo.  Clearly I had not looked carefully, as that was the just completed piece, and Karin’s pattern ready to start.  Weaving from the back makes this process hard to document!

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Here’s Karin’s piece, underway.  It will be nice to photograph all the pieces once they are off the loom.  For now, it still looks great at this weird angle.

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A Dukagång among Friends

Patty Johnson, Jane Connett and Judy Larson whipped out their dukagång in record time.

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Judy and Jane figure out the pattern.

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Patty helping out under the loom

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Their pattern revealed from below