A Year of Scandinavian Craft: The First Weaving

Although my love for Scandinavian crafts seems to stretch back beyond memory (let’s be honest, it probably truly began with that Kirsten doll I got in the second grade and all her fabulous fiber art accessories) ,my love for Swedish weaving has grown just within the last few years.

It all began at a fiber art retreat I attended in Eureka Springs, Arkansas one winter, and one of the classes I signed up for was learning to weave. On a pretty little 4 shaft loom in a corner, my instructor Debbie Davis from Red Scottie Fibers had us set up to make Swedish Rose Path patterned towels, and although I had doubts about my abilities, I was terribly excited to give it a go.

Before my introduction to weaving with Debbie, I’d never really considered weaving. The set-up of the whole thing blew my mind (well, still does!) and I knew myself well enough to know that exact attention to detail has never really been ‘my thing.’

But like with all fiber arts, one thing just seems to lead to another….one free knitting lesson at a yarn shop on my birthday has now, years later, found me knitting, spinning, dyeing, and now weaving. Not to mention all the fiber art artwork its all inspired. As any sage fiber artist will tell you, it was probably only a matter of time before I got a weaving shuttle in my hand and stars in my eyes.

The towels we made were made out of simple cotton. The body of the towel was a deliciously plain,crisp tabby weave (the simplest of simple weaving, basically just two treadles* in use) and then…..then we got to add a little flair with color and a bit of Swedish Rose Path.

The pattern of Swedish Rose Path, I have now learned, is a timeless and iconic pattern. It’s a basic twill pattern, but with a little punctuation of the dot in the center of the diamond design. It is a pattern that, depending on how you’re working your treadles, can be altered into a variety of designs. In the weaving I’ve done since, it seems to always come to mind as a favorite. And I love the simple yet visually pleasing look of it.

My next hope for Swedish Rose Path is to use the design while weaving rag rugs. Even in this endeavor, the Scandinavians are already there, with a rich tradition. Beautifully woven and extremely practical rugs were (and still are) a central item found in homes in these northern lands, adding warmth and comfort and practical function. In Swedish, rag rugs are called Transmattas, but they are a subject for another day an another love letter of a post.

For today, we will start and stop with Swedish Rose Path, and I will be forever grateful for the spark of inspiration that little pattern gave me. It was after that lesson on the loom that I got a wild idea that maybe I needed a loom and just the right friend happened to be sitting in just the right place at just the right time (As Angora Jane usually is!) and mentioned, “I think I know where we can find you a loom for free.”

Almost as soon as I was home from the Ozarks, I was borrowing a van from my Dad and clunking my way into Tulsa and loading up a vintage LeClerc Mira to take home. Luckily, she just fit up the stairs to the studio and now I’ve spent many hours with her, learning and failing, and making mistakes, and fixing them and then shocking myself that I am actually weaving.

I was fortunate enough to find a weaving instructor in Oklahoma who knew just what I wanted to do (my heart wanted overshot weaving) and she was willing to give me some private lessons to at least get me going in the right direction. I had a great time with Jeannie Wheatley in her studio at Har-Ber Village up in Grand Lake and now….here we are. waxing poetically about Swedish weaving.

And oh, this is just the beginning! Who knows what sort of weaving I’ll get up to during this endeavor to explore a year of Scandinavian Craft.

If you have any suggestions for crafts, or stories about your own projects, I’d love to hear about them! Other artists and crafters inspire me so much. I know I dabble in many things, and my knowledge and skill as a weaver is still very basic. But I’m happy to show up and get started, and sometimes that’s the hardest step!

Thanks so much for your visit today!

Take Joy!~

H

*Treadles are the name of the peddles you use to raise or lower the weaving shafts on a loom, and how the pattern of a weaving is created!

6 thoughts on “A Year of Scandinavian Craft: The First Weaving

  1. It’s so beautiful, Heather! I can remember standing at the Tasha Tudor museum, in front of Tasha’s big loom, and you saying “I would really love to be able to do that.” And here you are today. Dreams can come true!

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  2. This pattern is beautiful in it’s simplicity! I love that you followed a curiosity and ended up with this magnificent free loom, help here and there getting things in place, and artistic determination to master the kick off of weaving! It looks like 2020 is off to a roaring start, and Scandinavia is closing in on the miles and coming here where we can all hear and enjoy the journey. I can say this for sure; Amanda Nilsen (later Nielsen at NY immigration) and Oneida Olsen (Tanta Tillie, the SWEDE and Warren’s Nanna) would be so proud of you! They were crafters of crocheting and cross stitch for home decors and were following the traditions of using fiber art to bring beauty in their simple homes. Their spirits are cheering you on!!

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    1. Awww, I love that idea so much! Its so amazing to think of their adventures across the vast ocean, and the way they brought their crafts and skills with them. If only we could all sit around for a little “fika” and chat! Warm hugs to you!~ h

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