Knitting Right from the Spelsau Sheep

Scandinavian Weavers Study Group members members Mary Skoy and Jan Mostrom enjoyed a class from Annemor Sundbø in Kristiansand, Norway, today. They knitted right from the fleece of the traditional Norwegian spelsau sheep–you know, skipping that pesky spinning step… Read more here. (And read more posts about the Textile Tour here.)





“Traditional Norwegian Weaving: American Reboot:” Take Classes Right in the Gallery

The Norway House/Weavers Guild of Minnesota exhibit this summer, Traditional Norwegian Weaving: American Reboot, includes special events and programming.  (Full list here.) Three classes by Weavers Guild instructors will be offered, all on Mondays, and will be held right in the Norway House Galleri.  This is a great opportunity to learn a new skill while surrounded by the color and texture of the textiles in the show.  Sign up soon!

Viking Metal Bracelet: July 24, 2017, 10 am – 2 pm. Instructor: Melba Granlund


Learn an ancient wire looping technique called Viking knit.  Dating back to the Viking era, it was used in jewelry making and as ornamentation on garments.  In this class, students will learn how to use various nickel-free wires (stainless steel, copper, brass, or gold plated copper) or colored artistic wire to create a one-of-a-kind bracelet.   Materials fee of $12 payable to the instructor.  Maximum number of students: 8. Sign up


Cardboard Loom Weaving for Kids: August 7, 2017, 10 am to 12 noon.  Instructor: Melba Granlund


Easy to learn weaving for kids (age 9 and older).  In this class, kids will learn basic weaving skills to make a bookmark using a needle, yarn or embroidery floss, and a cardboard loom.   All materials are provided.  A great project to keep little fingers and minds occupied on a long road trip or as an alternative to an electronic device. Choice of yarns and threads in bright, vivid colors make weaving fun.  If project does not get finished during the class, child may take their work home to complete on their own.  Materials fee of $5 payable to the instructor. Maximum number of students:  8. Sign up


Sami-Style Band Weaving: Mondays, August 14 and 21, 12-4 pm.  Instructor: Keith Pierce


keith-band-classLearn to weave intricately patterned and colorful bands found throughout Scandinavia and the Baltic regions, and used by the Sami people as embellishments on their folk costumes. Students will weave using methods and tools traditionally used for centuries in northern Europe. In the first session students will start weaving immediately with a pre-warped heddle and will learn to read a pick-up pattern to create short bands for bookmarks or key fobs. In the second session students will learn to warp a heddle for weaving a pattern of their choice. Maximum number of students: 8. Sign up

A $20 materials fee is payable to the instructor and includes a variety of yarns and a heddle and shuttle that you can take home to create additional bands on your own.



Phyllis Waggoner’s Liturgical Textiles at Hennepin Methodist Church

Several members of the Scandinavian Weavers Study Group were lucky to get a private tour of an exhibit of Phyllis Waggoner’s liturgical textiles, on view at the Hennepin Avenue United Methodist Church through June 6, 2017. The display includes six sets of liturgical textiles she wove in cotton damask for the church 25 years ago, one for each of the liturgical seasons. They were woven in 10/2 mercerized cotton, at 30 ends per inch, on a 20 shaft drawloom, with the ground shafts tied for a 6 shaft false damask. This example shows the difference between the front and the back in the type of weave structure she used.


The labels in the exhibit give detailed information on the seasons and symbolism, but it was especially fun to hear Phyllis recount stories of their creation—inside stories that her group of weaving friends would understand.

The first set we examined was green, the color of the long season between Lent and Advent, sometimes referred to as the “Sundays after Pentecost” or “Ordinary Time.” Phyllis wove many symbols, including grapes for wine and wheat for the wafers of communion. “I had to start all over on the wheat,” she admitted, as her first attempt looked like little trees.  Along the edges is a border of small squares that mimics the borders on the beautiful stained glass windows in the church.  Phyllis was in the choir, and each each Sunday she examined the windows during two church services,  imagining textile patterns.


The red set is for Pentecost, and they should be displayed only on that day. But people love red, Phyllis noted, so often they are up for more Sundays. Note the bright pops of color in the sections of squares; Phyllis said she was inspired by a Pentecost choral anthem sung by the choir with an electronic accompaniment. It was modern, with intermittent, distinct sounds meant to portray wind, flames and many languages all spoken at once.


Planning, weaving and sewing all the sets of paraments took two years in all. It was for her own church and she said, “I was motivated. I strongly wanted to do it.”

Though she was paid, it was hardly a living wage for the long project. But Keith Pierce pointed out, “If you worried about money, you would have been a lawyer.”

In the pattern for the blue Advent textiles, the red rose is for the Virgin Mary.


When we looked at the purple Lent textiles, Phyllis felt compelled to point out a problem. “I messed up the lamb legs. Karen,” to which Karen replied that no, they all have four legs!


The weaving looks difficult, but Phyllis minimized the complexity and emphasized the joy of draw loom weaving.  Examining one piece, she pointed out, “I just pull up when I want pink to show. It’s just pulling a cord. It’s fun! More important is the sett and beat so that the squares are equal.”

The group was amazed at this large project.  “Did you run your designs past anyone?” someone asked.  No! Phyllis assured us.  Clearly, she was trusted.

Through her weaving career, Phyllis made liturgical textiles for a number of churches in the Twin Cities and elsewhere, with her first paraments for Augsburg College. For  Concordia College in Moorhead, she was commissioned to weave challenging doublewoven sets in white and green, red and blue.  Each side was dominated by one color, so the same textiles could be turned over as the seasons changed.

For a Lutheran church she wove a stole with a space-dyed warp. Unfortunately the pastor rejected it, saying it looked too much like tie-dye. Here, Phyllis holds a sample showing a space-dyed warp.


Whenever Phyllis undertook a commission, she took many photos of the pulpit and the area surrounding it, to get an idea of the architectural elements in place.  She aimed for textiles that wouldn’t stand out, but used designs to enhance the surroundings, rather than create too much visual contrast.

For a Norwegian Church in South Dakota, she made a pulpit fall.  “In the old days,” a friend of Phyllis’s once explained, “the Bibles were so valuable that they were wrapped.”  That meant when the Bible was read during the service, it was unwrapped, and the “fall” draped over the front of the pulpit.

This fall was on the pulpit when we visited.  “Look Mary,” Phyllis pointed out to Mary Skoy, “Do you see the Swedish knitting pattern in it?”


This work was inspiring; you might see a rash of drawloom weaving interest pop up at the Weavers Guild of Minnesota soon!

Traditional Norwegian Weaving: American Reboot

Traditional Norwegian Weaving: American Reboot
An Exhibit at Norway House: July 20-September 10, 2017
Sponsored by Norway House and the Weavers Guild of Minnesota

Make Minneapolis your destination thus summer for an exhibit joining Norwegian weaving past and present. Inspired by historical textiles, American weavers have used Norwegian weaving techniques to create a new body of work, contemporary in design or materials. Enjoy traditional pieces from the collection of the Vesterheim Norwegian American Museum and outstanding weavings from recent decades that honor the past and break through with modern expression.  

The exhibit of invited pieces (40 in all) is based around several techniques, including rya; tapestry; krokbragd and other boundweave variants; band weaving; and overshot weaves such as monks belt and skilbragd.  Other pieces are chosen to illustrate where American weavers learned their skills in Norwegian techniques, and where weaving in the Norwegian tradition has been exhibited over the years.

Related events include lectures and classes and weaving demonstrations.  A loom will be set up in the gallery where members of the Scandinavian Weavers Study Group will weave a rutevev (square weave) runner.

  • Opening celebration: Thursday, July 20, 2017, 5-8 pm.
  • Gallery talks: Sundays and July 23, August 13, 2 pm.
  • Weaving demonstrations: Wednesdays and Sundays from July 23-September 17, 12 pm-3 pm
  • Afternoon with an Expert, featuring Laurann Gilbertson, Curator, Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum: Saturday, September 9, 1-3:30 pm.  Following the lecture, “Warmth and Color: Traditional Norwegian Coverlets,” Gilbertson will conduct an Antique ID clinic.  Members of the public are encouraged to bring Nordic textiles to learn more about their age, origin, and function (but no appraisals).   
  • Classes: Sami-style Band Weaving, Mondays, August 14 and 21, 12-4 pm; Make a Viking Knit Bracelet, Monday, July 24, 10 am-2 pm; Cardboard Loom Weaving for Kids, Monday, August 7, 10 am – noon.

Information on the exhibit will be posted on the Norway House website soon. For now, sign up for Sami-style Band Weaving with Keith Pierce, or Make a Viking Knit Bracelet with Melba Granlund. Maybe you know a kid to sign up for the fun introduction to weaving. This is a special opportunity to see the weaving exhibit in depth, as these Weavers Guild classes will be held at Norway House, right in the main gallery.

Also, follow the Scandinavian Weavers Study Group blog in the coming weeks to read about many of the individual pieces.

This 19th century “boat rya,” a treasure of the Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum, will hang next to several contemporary rya weavings.


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.)


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


Melba Granlund was the designated snipper.


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.

Grene Demonstration on a Warp-Weighted Loom

Melba Granlund set up a warp-weighted loom (courtesy of the Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum) at the 2017 Shepherd’s Harvest Festival, as part of the Weavers Guild of Minnesota booth.  She started work on a traditional Sami-style grene, a banded coverlet technique woven with thick, lofty wool.  It was a smashing success!  Though she planned to give a formal presentation at one point, that never happened.  Instead, she was inundated with questions from curious visitors from beginning to end.  And all that didn’t leave time for much actual weaving progress, only about 4-1/2 inches.


With the festival over, and the loom moved back to her home, Melba is continuing the project.  Watch the blog for updates on the grene, and a description of the wonderful yarn she is using.


Did you miss this cool loom at the Shepherd’s Harvest Festival this year?  There’s always 2018.  Melba said that there was so much interest that a warp-weighted loom demo would be great for next year, too.

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.


Lisa Torvik’s bright and festive star pattern


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


Sara wove a blue star.