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.

Spotted at the March Meeting

Much of our time at the March meeting of the Scandinavian Weavers was taken up with discussion of our upcoming group project on a loom at the Weavers Guild: skilbragd. There was also satisfying show and tell time.  Phyllis Waggoner brought a t-shirt rug with  cool hems, a piece of her own design.

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Melba Granlund made the sampler she wove in Sweden last summer into a wonderful pillow. The techniques in the Swedish art weaves sampler are from the book Heirlooms of Skåne: Weaving Techniques, available from Vavstuga, http://store.vavstuga.com/product/book-johaheirlo.html

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Following Jan Mostrom’s class, Marilyn Moore wove a danskbrogd sampler (and is planning her next piece).

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Kristin Lawson brought the piece that she made in Jan’s Danskbrogd class, and another that she made after the class.

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The designs on the piece below were inspired by a wonderful Japanese weaver whose blog is here.

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I hope you enjoyed this virtual viewing. Robbie

 

 

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.

Learning Weaving Traditions of Western Norway: An Exhibit in Moorhead, Minnesota

Are you near Moorhead, Minnesota?  You will want to visit the upcoming exhibition, Craft and Identity – Summer School in Norway: Learning Weaving Traditions of Western Norway, at the Prairie Fiber Arts Center, opening this Friday, January 12, 2018.

Last summer from May 9th through June 7th, four students from Concordia College in Moorhead Minnesota went on a learning adventure. Alexis Anderson, Kristina Brunson, Rachel Johnson, and Alli Pahl, joined Heidi Goldberg (Associate Professor of Art at Concordia) and her daughter Aubrie (a freshman at Oak Grove Lutheran High School in Fargo) for a month in Norway. Based in art, craft, and the connection of making and identity, the group interwove art practice, art history, and exploration of places and cultures. Visiting sites and artists in Lillehammer, Gjovik, Oslo, Osterøy, and Bergen, the group focused a week at the Hordaland Museum on Osterøy learning warp-weighted weaving techniques from expert weavers Marta Kløve Juuhl and Monika Sunnanå Ravnanger. The works in this exhibition are samples woven during the course representing traditional åkler (bedspread) designs from Western Norway, and varafeldur (Viking cloak).

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The Craft and Identity group (left to right); Aubrie Goldberg, Kristina Brunson, Rachel Johnson, Alli Pahl, Alexis Anderson, and Heidi Goldberg

The opening reception will be on Friday the 12th of January, 4-5:30. The show will close on Friday February 16th. Prairie Fiber Arts Center is located at 127 4th Street South, Moorhead, Minnesota.

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Concordia students working on back-to-back warp-weighted looms at the Hordaland Museum in Osterøy, Norway

If you can’t make it to the exhibit, you can look forward to a lengthy description of the trip, with many photos, in the next issue of the Norwegian Textile Letter, coming in late February.