Scandinavian Heirloom Textiles

Over the years, my friends have told me about their fabulous old Scandinavian textiles — inherited from family or friends in “the Old Country;” found in out-of-the-way antique stores, thrift shops, garage sales, or flea markets; or even rescued from barns.  Let’s tell their stories!

Later this fall we will be mounting a display of historical textiles from the Nordic countries, along with their stories, on the walls of the Weavers Guild.  The items will also be featured in the upcoming (November) issue of the Norwegian Textile Letter.  Pieces will be submitted not only by the members of the Scandinavian Weavers Study Group, but also by other Weavers Guild of Minnesota members.

At yesterday’s meeting of the Scandinavian Weavers, we saw great examples of old textile finds.  Jane Connett said that she had been a bit laid up recently, so she spent a lot of time on Ebay. Look at this beautiful Norwegian tapestry find.  It was advertised as an “Albanian kelim,” but fans of Norwegian tapestry know perfectly well that it is a replica of a portion of a Norwegian Wise and Foolish Virgins tapestry.  It was faded on one side, but the colors were clear and strong on the other.  And since the weaving followed Norwegian tradition, all the ends were sewn in so that either side is equally beautiful.

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Jane said she didn’t remember how much she paid, but probably only around $25.

She also bought a beautiful small rolakan weaving.  Judy Larson noted that the loops on the back side, where the colors jump over a few threads, are typical of Swedish rolakans.

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Lisa Torvik showed a treasure-in-progress.  She rescued it from a friend’s barn, where it had supported feed sacks and whatever else needed a resting place. The bench was badly damaged, but still retained one crudely-carved dragon foot.  The top of the bench cover was so dirty that no color peeked through.  Was it even woven, or just embroidered, Lisa wondered.

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Once it was off the bench, however, you could see that it was a nicely-woven dukagang.

The mystery remains – will Lisa ever be able to retrieve color on the dirty front side?  She had just taken it off the bench hours earlier.  Perhaps we won’t know for a while, as several members of our group thought that waiting until winter for a thorough snow-washing might be the best route.

 

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.

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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.

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RED – Judy Larson

“Rolokan Reds.” 30″ x 29″ Cotton warp, cotton weft.  Rolokan.

Judy used a variety of red quilting cotton prints in a rolokan (Swedish tapestry) technique, spacing out the “flames” with tabby stripes.  At a distance, the sharp edges of the flame-like image is graphic and bold.  It’s worth a close look, too, where the patterns in the fabric strips look unusually dizzying.

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RED – Lisa Torvik

“Transparent Tapestry #2 – Friends” 17″ x 13″ Linen and refleksgarn (reflective yarn).  Transparency Technique

This is part of a planned series of four transparent tapestries featuring a Scandinavian reflective yarn.

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RED – Lisa-Anne Bauch

Hraun. (Lava) 11.5″ x 7″  Technique: Boundweave. Materials: Cotton warp, wool weft, wood button.

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Inspired by lava!

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RED – Connie LaTendresse

Checkered Pillow.  18″ x 18″  Linen, poppana fabric strips.

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IMG_4777Connie’s checkered pillow is one of a pair woven in a beautiful design from the book Scandinavian Weaving by Tina Ignell.  She ordered red and navy popanna, a bias-cut cotton fabric, from WEBS and the seine twine from Vavstuga. The weaving went incredibly fast and looked just like the photograph in the book, but when she took it off the loom, she just didn’t really like it or know what to do with it. It languished in a closet.  When the Scandinavian Weavers group began its focus on red, she took it to the fabric store and found the perfect backing to complement both colors.  Sometimes a weaving just has to wait for the right moment to be the perfect something.  The checkerboard pattern works especially well  as a pillow, as the curved edges of the pillowtop give an “op art” effect to the small squares.