By Robbie LaFleur
This month’s double issue of the Norwegian Textile Letter focuses on danskbrogd.
Danskbrogd is a little-known weave structure found in a small area of Vest Agder, Norway, with characteristic geometric patterns in a light color against a dark background. In typical danskbrogd coverlets, bands of small geometric designs were interspersed with bands of krokbragd. A second style has larger, bolder designs, bordered with bands of teeth and stripes.
This issue begins with a digital display of traditional danskbrogd coverlets in this technique, originally documented by the Vest Agder Museum in Kristiansand, Norway, in the 1980s.
To understand the history and technique of danskbrogd, Kay Larson’s book, The Coverlets of Norway, is a thorough introduction. We are pleased to receive permission to share a chapter with Norwegian Textile Letter readers.
An article by Jan Mostrom describes how Lila Nelson and her husband Marion were able to purchase a danskbrogd coverlet for the Vesterheim collection.
In the United States and Canada, there was a burst of danskbrogd weaving in the 1990s, all stemming from Lila Nelson’s discovery of, and interest in, the technique. We will see how she used danskbrogd both in a traditional format and as a way to enhance her tapestries. She taught the technique and shared it with other weavers through study groups. Lila’s expressive use of the danskbrogd technique embodies the intention of the Scandinavian Weavers Study Group, in which Lila was so influential, to learn about and preserve traditional Norwegian weaving techniques, not by only creating replicas of old textiles, but by using the techniques for expression in contemporary weavings.
Finally, an instructional article by Jan Mostrom may encourage several weavers to start winding warps. However, you may want to wait until the second danskbrogd issue is published later this month, in which many projects undertaken through the 1995-1998 Danskbrogd Study Group and the 1996-1997 Krokbragd Study Group will be included. Scanned sections of the study group notebooks include interpretations by several talented weavers, along with drafts and notes.
These issues will be a feast for your eyes, and inspiration for weavers to try the technique. Since the 1990s, and the time of the Danskbrogd Study Group, several weavers in the Minnesota-based Scandinavian Weavers Study Group have used the technique. Through the wonders of technology, danskbrogd has spread even to New Zealand. At the end of 2013, Laurence Gatehouse read a post on the Scandinavian Weavers Study Group blog about a piece woven by Veronna Capone (Danskbragd Done More Cleverly than I Knew), and he wrote to me for information on the technique. I sent him materials from the Norwegian Textile Letter and Kay Larson’s book. He wove test pieces and then a beautiful danskbrogd piece with a honeycomb motif and small bees.
This piece was exhibited at New Zealand Creative Fibre, a national exhibition, in 2015. The technique was introduced to a whole new audience through his piece and accompanying explanation:
Green Danskbragd with Bees. 96 cm x 188 cm. Wall hanging/floor rug woven in danskbragd with hexagons and other geometric designs. This design is based around a green that was produced by plying ancient thin singles of unknown origin. I have taken a very geometric approach to the design although the hexagonal pattern irresistibly suggested the bees. Danskbragd refers to a class of weaves often involving pick-up techniques and long floats on one side (usually the back), allowing for an interesting range of design possibilities. This danskbragd is loom controlled, is based on krokbragd and has frequent interlacement that produces a strong dense weave structure. As all the floats can put on the back it is a good weave for rugs, albeit, like krokbragd, one sided. Danskbragd is a Norwegian word meaning Danish weave although it is unknown, at least by that name, in Denmark.
With these two issues of the Norwegian Textile Letter, we continue to spread the word — and images — about danskbrogd. From its roots in Vest Agder, where will it continue to spread?
A note about spelling: To be consistent, we have chosen to spell danskbrogd as one word, with an “o.” However, you may see references to Dansk bragd, Dansk brogd, and danskbragd.