Vesterheim’s Danskbrogd Coverlet

By Jan Mostrom

1989.066.001The Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum acquired a danskbrogd coverlet from Norway in 1989. (accession # 1989.066.001) Director Marion Nelson noticed the coverlet in the window of an antique store in Oslo and recognized it “as a very rare type from Vest Agder” which his wife Lila had been researching.  After a year of negotiations with the shop and the Norwegian government, permission was granted to allow the coverlet to leave Norway and become part of Vesterheim’s collection.

1989.066.001aThis beautiful coverlet dates from 1800-1870 and is woven in bands of red, cream, green, black-brown, gray-brown and yellow. It measures 73” by 47”.  At least some of the colors could be natural dyed, especially the red.   The cream and browns appear to be natural sheep colors.  The warp of cotton seine twine is sett at about 8.5 epi.

The back side of the piece show the long floats created by the danskbrogd technique

The back side of the piece show the long floats created by the danskbrogd technique

The coverlet is woven on a plain weft face ground with danskbrogd pick up technique for the pattern bands which are separated by bands of color stripes. The designs vary in how they are combined in the danskbrogd bands.  It was likely woven on two harnesses.  Once I started charting the designs, I realized that they could all be woven on krokbragd threading with pick up on two sheds, saving a few rows of pick up.

The overcast edge

The overcast edge

One interesting technique to weavers is that the weft ends are carried up one edge of the weaving and overcast with black-brown stitching rather than working the ends into the weaving.   Another interesting thing about this coverlet are that the “spots” that make up the design are a bit elongated rather than square and all touch at the corners, creating a honeycomb look to the designs.  In most other danskbrogd coverlets, the “spots” are squared or slightly elongated and separated with background so that they do not touch at the corners.

 

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