Skillbragd projects 2018

By Lisa Torvik

IMG_6191

Karin Maahs wove some small pattern elements in a contrasting color.

After enjoying our project in 2017 which focused on the Swedish art weave, “dukagång”, there was consensus to embark on a new group project in 2018 studying an overshot technique known as “skillbragd” [pron. “shill’ brahgd”] in Norway and as “Smålandsväv” [pron. “smoh’ lahnds vave”] in Sweden.  Regional variations in Norway go by other names, too.  Essentially, all forms secure long pattern weft floats with a single or double shot of tabby.

There are a few different ways to set up a loom for this technique, but most assume a loom with sufficient depth front to back to accommodate several harnesses separated in two groups, and the ability to adjust harnesses up and down independently of each other.  Historically, this technique would have been set up with counterbalance.  After review of a lot of different sources, and some experimentation, we found that setting up the ground on countermarch and the pattern harnesses using elastic bands worked the best.  Even so, most found it necessary to use a pick up stick to create a good pattern shed, though the plain weave sheds were pretty good.  Most of us used stick shuttles for the pattern yarn and some for the ground weft also.  Keeping the warp damp aided in getting a better shed and strengthening the warp under high tension.

The ground is threaded on two or four shafts, and the pattern is usually on 4 or 6 shafts, but a larger number of pattern harnesses is possible if the loom can accommodate them.  The warp is first threaded in regular heddles on the ground harnesses for plain weave.  Then contiguous groups of warp threads, often four at a time, are threaded through pattern harnesses in front, using long-eyed heddles or by threading the group of warp threads under the eye of regular heddles.  A single square in the drafts we used corresponds to one group of four threads in a pattern heddle. 

The two groups of harnesses should be separated by a few inches.  The sinking-shed pattern is created by treadling the pattern harnesses, one or more at a time, and following each pattern shot with a plain weave shot.  A side fringe of loops can be created by catching the pattern weft around a finger.  The ground weft is usually threaded so 2 or 4 warp threads create a selvedge that is not threaded through a pattern heddle.  This selvedge locks in the loops or hides the pattern weft turns on the backside of the weaving if no loops are desired. 

IMG_5860

Loops at the edges. The two outer pieces are showing the “right” side, with the narrow selvedges.

We set up two warps in succession, both with Bockens 16/2 unbleached linen yarn.  Weft was the choice of the weaver.  The second was narrower than the first, but on the second warp, a smaller number of weavers wanted to weave longer pieces.  In all, fourteen weavers completed nearly 30 pieces of varying lengths between the two projects.  Most used wool weft, but some pieces were finished with all linen weft or perle cotton. (Draft for the first warp in pdf; draft for the second warp in pdf)

IMG_6524

Lisa Torvik used used linen weft to make skillbragd flowers.

I would like to acknowledge the weavers and, of them, the many that helped set up the two projects:  Phyllis Waggoner, Robbie LaFleur and Lisa Anne Bauch worked with me to set up – and set up again when THAT didn’t work – the first warp. 

IMG_1750

Robbie LaFleur turning the crank; Lisa Torvik supervising and rolling on the warp, and Lisa Anne Bauch braced with the taut warp.

Robbie helped me monitor and aid those unfamiliar with the technique.  Melba Granlund, Lisa Anne and I set up the second warp, though we agreed four is best!  Thanks to Donna Hanson for instruction and tips on restoring the loom for the next group/class since I was not familiar with the vertical countermarch setup on the Glimåkra loom and technicalities of texsolv.  I’m more old school!  And last but certainly not least thanks to Jan Hayman for insights on aspects of newer linen yarns and assistance sweeping up the “chaff” we created. Help came from afar, too, with an “emergency” phone call while warping to Robbie’s colleague Shawn Cassiman in Michigan and a detailed letter from Ruth Ida Tvenge of the Øystre Slidre Husflidslag in Norway.

Thanks all!

 

Skillbragd Inspiration

Just as the students in Jan Mostrom’s Swedish Art Weaves class could view lovely pieces in that technique as part of the exhibit, “A Passionate Pursuit: Scandinavian Weavings from the Collection of Carol Johnson,” the members of our Scandinavian Weavers Study Group can view skillbragd weavings to inspire and inform us as we participate in our group project.  Here are the skillbragd/opphampta pieces on display right now.

 

For more wonderful weaving photos and information about the current exhibit of Scandinavian weavings and the tapestry collection of Carol Johnson, too, see the new issue of the Norwegian Textile Letter, which includes these articles:

A Passionate Pursuit: Scandinavian Weavings from the Collection of Carol Johnson

Dipping Into Carol Johnson’s Tapestry Collection

The Swedish Art Weave Tradition Continues in Minnesota

 

 

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.

skillbragdaakle_fra_gol_fullwidth

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.

Skillbragd1.xlsx

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.

lisa-driving

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.

warpgroup

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.

endofwarp

Many tricky warping steps remain.

 

Dukagång Group Project Underway

By Robbie LaFleur

Last year and this year our Scandinavian Weavers study Group is focusing on Swedish weaving, with a particular interest in linen.  We’ve begun a group project on one of the two Glimakra looms at the Weavers Guild of Minnesota.  We put on a 12″ wide warp of 20/2 half-bleached linen, set at 24 epi, to experiment with dukagång. Jan Mostrom deserves special thanks for ordering the yarn and winding the warp.

jan-wind-warp

Jan and Phyllis Waggoner warped; Melba Granlund helped, too.

jan-phyllis-warping

Their efforts resulted in a even-tensioned warp with a beautifully wide shed. Each of 12 weavers will weave 12-18″. I was the first to test the warp, and I chose an image I frequently weave — can you tell from the back? Dukagång is woven from the back.

scream-back

Jan Mostrom was the second one to weave, and the right side of my piece peeked at her as it wound through the loom. Now you’ll get it.

scream-under

Jan Mostrom was next on the loom; look at her beautiful stars–or as much as you can see, at this point. Melba Granlund was the third person to weave; you can see the back of her piece here.  A little hard to decipher…

jans-stars

Here’s Melba’s pattern: birds, a fabulous griffin, and a stylized floral border.

IMG_2245

A problem with weaving grid-based patterns is remembering where you left off.  I solved it by highlighting each new row before I wove it.

scream-grid

Melba’s system was more ingenious.  She asked her husband, “Don’t you have a magnetized clipboard?”  Shortly after, he came from the basement with a tool, a discarded metal refrigerator rack with a strong magnet. Melba moved the pattern as she finished each row.

IMG_2246

I’ll share more photos as this magical warp progresses, and the cut-off day will be super fun.

 

 

 

Krokbragd, Big and Small

img_2192By Robbie LaFleur

This month Melba Granlund, a member of our Scandinavian Weavers Study Group, gave a talk at another of our Weavers Guild interest groups, the New and Occasional Weavers, about krokbragd.  She asked me to bring along a piece I made, a krokbragd backed by a skinnfell.

 

The weaving incorporates traditional pattern elements from Lom and Skjåk in Norway.  For the Norwegian Textile Letter, I had translated an article from a 1985 issue of the Norwegian magazine, Husflid, and wove five pieces, experimenting with the traditional pattern bands.

You can read the article and see photos of some of the “old pattern” pieces, here.

At the New and Occasional Weavers meeting, one person expressed interest in trying out krokbragd at a fine sett. That seemed like a fine experiment, though no one had any particular guidance to give.

A few days later, for a completely different reason, I was looking through previous issues of the Norwegian Textile Letter, and ran across a photo of a small-scale krokbragd woven by Catherine Forgit, in the same pattern as my larger one.  She wove it from the pattern I had published.

cathy-old-pattern

Cathy’s version is 11″ x 16.” Shrinking down a coverlet technique traditionally used for bed coverings in the cold climate of Norway makes a piece that could even be called darling. She used a wool warp (but doesn’t remember exactly what brand of yarn), set 16 ends per inch.  The weft was Rauma billdevev yarn (tapestry yarn). She wove it on her four-shaft floor loom, and doesn’t remember having any particular difficulties. “It was fun to weave.”

Cathy lives outside of Fertile, Minnesota – way up north.  She reports, “It’s been a good winter for weaving and other fiber things – too cold to go outside!”  I hope her sheep are warm, too.

RED – Phyllis Waggoner

“Untitled”  8’6” x 27”  Technique: 4 shaft point twill variation, treadles tied for 2/2 twill, “woven on opposites”  Materials:  5/8 linen warp, sett 6 epi, 3 ply rugwool weft.

In the case of Phyllis’ long, beautiful rug, red was part of a color challenge — could she make the red work with the other colors? She had a great deal of yarn left after completing a commission. Rather than weave a shorter red rug, she chose to use all the colors to weave a long rug.  “Necessity is the mother of invention,” and Phyllis invented a design to make use of her red, and more.

Unfortunately, the gallery configuration made it impossible to get a great head-on shot of Phyllis’s beautiful rug.  You’ll have to visit it in person, or look at it obliquely here.

FullSizeRender

 

RED – Veronna Capone

Five Studies. Each 6″ x 6.”  Linen weft, wool warp.

Five small tapestries.  The first of these five small tapestries uses traditional Norwegian ‘lynild,’ or lightning weave’; the others are in rutevev, or square weave.

veronnaFullSizeRender-4FullSizeRender-3FullSizeRender-2FullSizeRender-1