Danskbrogd Weaving from the Krokbragd Study Group


5-harness danskbrogd by Lila Nelson (detail)

Each year the Scandinavian Weavers Study Group in Minneapolis, Minnesota, chooses a weave structure or theme.  In 1996-1997 the theme was krokbragd.  Each participant compiled a notebook with drafts and photos of the projects undertaken.  Many of the pieces included danskbragd, especially those woven by Lila Nelson.

In the days before easy digital sharing, compiling this documentation and the notebooks was a true labor of love. The only ones who saw the inspirational contents were members of the group, or people who viewed the notebook at the Weavers Guild of Minnesota or at Vesterheim. Now the inspiration is further shared.

The reproductions scanned here are not the full contents of the notebook; they include drafts and photos of weavings that included danskbragd.  To avoid making one overly large file, the pieces are found in these two files:  Danskbrogd weaving 1 (large, 14MB), and Danskbrogd Weaving 2 (8MB).

There was overlap between the Danskbrogd Study Group, which was national in membership, and the Minnesota-based Scandinavian Weavers Study Group.  In particular, Lila Nelson was the superstar of both groups and you will see many of the same pieces represented in each group’s materials.


The Norwegian Breakfast Club Danskbrogd Study Group: 1995-1997


Betty Johannesen

In the fall of November, 1995, Jan Mostrom coordinated a study group to work on danksbrogd. It was a long-distance group; the first four members were from Rhode Island, Oregon, Alberta, Canada, and Minnesota. The group focused on learning and sharing.  As Jan wrote, “If we were all experts on the technique, there would be no need for the group.”  Two people in the group were experts: Lila Nelson and Betty Johannesen.

To get the group going, Jan sent out information on weaving danskbrogd from a class taught by Betty Johannesen at the Midwest Weavers Conference in June, 1995, reprinted with permission here.  Overall, the class was on weaving krokbragd, but there is a section with instructions for adding danskbrogd.

The notebook that resulted from this study group is filled with valuable instructional material, inspirational photos, preparatory graphs, and hints from member’s experiences.  The scanned pages linked below include photos and documents from the group members, but omit much of the administrative correspondence and personal information that was shared during the process. Still, there are a total of 96 pages in the combined files.  A full copy of the notebook is available to view at the library of the Vesteheim Norwegian-American Museum in Decorah, Iowa.

If you want to weave danskbrogd, the detailed information in this notebook will be of great help.  If you just want to be inspired by the work of the study group, look at the files of weaving by the individual members.

Tips for weaving danskbrogd on two shafts, here.

Article by Lila Nelson in the September, 1995, issue of the Norwegian Textile Letter, “An Introduction to the Dansk Brogd Tradition.

Lila Nelson’s hints for successful danskbrogd weaving, here.

A 1983 article on danskbrogd, “Vest-Agder har landets rikeste teppe-tradition,” with a translation by Lila Nelson.

Weaving: Syvilla Bolson.

Weaving: Betty Johannesen.  Betty includes useful photos of the front and back of her danskbrogd piece.

lila-mondrian Weaving: Lila Nelson.  One. Two. Three.

Lila Nelson wrote around Valentines Day of 1998, sharing a photo of her Mondrian-inspired danskbrogd, and a description of how it was woven. Here

Weaving: Sharon Marquardt

Weaving: Jan Mostrom.  One. Jan even included her preliminary sketches for danskbrogd designs. Two. Jan describes her observations about coverlets she saw in Norway.  Three.

Weaving: Rosemary Roehl

Weaving: Sally Scott, One. Two. Three. Four.

Weaving: Norma Smayda

Mary Temple wrote a draft for weaving krokbragd and danskbrogd, here.

modern-norwayAt the time that American weavers were experimenting with danskbrogd, contemporary Norwegian weavers were inspired by the old coverlets, too.  Betty Johanessen visited the museum in Kristiansand in the summer of 1997 and took this photo of three beautiful banded danskbrogd hangings.  If anyone knows the weavers, let me know!



Weaving Danskbrogd

By Jan Mostrom


Typical danskbrogd designs

Traditional danskbrogd coverlets shown in an exhibition at Vest Agder historical museum in Kristiansand were of two types.  Pick up was used on plain weft face weave and on three harness point twill boundweave, i.e. krokbragd.  While light colored design spots on a dark background were woven in both techniques, larger motifs seem to be favored in the plain weave coverlets.  X and O patterns were often part of the designs and were perhaps protective symbols. On krokbragd threadings, smaller design motifs on a solid background would alternate with bands of multicolored krokbragd .

When weaving danskbrogd on plain weave, all of the design work is done by pick up.  When you are picking your design, you will push down the bottom layer threads of an open shed that are to be covered by the design spot.  Then put your pick up stick on its side to open a new shed within the bottom layer.  Throw your pattern thread through this new shed.  Remove your stick and now push down all the threads in the bottom layer that are not covered by the design thread.  Insert your background thread in this new shed.  Check to be sure you have covered every thread of the bottom layer with a shot of either design color or background color.  Now you are ready to change to your next tabby shed and if you have no design spots in that shed, insert your background color.

You will need to repeat until the spots are at least square or elongated a bit.  When you have squared your design spots and are ready to begin weaving the next row of design spots, be sure there is a shot of background on top of the earlier spots to separate them so that they do not touch the new design spots at the corners.  You may need to weave a complete repeat of sheds 1 and 2 in background to make this happen or it may happen naturally depending on which tabby shot the spots in the designs land.  Most of the old coverlets have the spots separated but the coverlet in Vesterheim’s collection has all of the spots touching at the corners which gives the designs a honeycomb look.  The important thing is to decide if they should all touch or all have background separating the corners of the spots and be consistent.  If some touch and some do not touch the designs will look like there have been mistakes.

Danskbrogd drafts

Danskbrogd drafts

When weaving danskbrogd on krokbragd threading, you treadle your shafts in order 1, 2, 3 and constantly repeat  just as you would when weaving plain krokbragd.  Design spots are planned on every other thread of a point on shed 1 or 3 or on every other pair of threads on shed 2.  Traditionally, light design spots float on a darker solid background.   To weave, treadle shed 1.  If there is a design on this shed,  pick down the threads that need a design spot and throw your design color in this shed.  Before moving to treadle 2, you must now pick down the uncovered threads in shed 1 and cover them with background.  Now you may move to the next shed.  If the design spots are on the second shed, you will likely be picking down every other pair of threads to create your spots.  Be sure to cover all of the threads in a shed before you move to the next krokbragd shed.  You will need to repeat the design pattern until it is at least square.  Usually the design spots are separated with background so that the spots will not touch at the corners.  When you are ready to lay in the next row of design spots, look at the design spot of the prior row of pattern and see if there is a shot of background over the spot.  If there is no background shot, you will have to continue in the krokbragd 1, 2, 3 treadling with background color until the spot has a background shot above it when you return to the design shed.  Now you can add the design spot color.  For instance if your design spot is on shed 1 in the first design row and in shed 2 for the second design row, you will need to weave background on shed 2, 3, and 1 before you put in the design color on shed 2.

Danskbrogd combined with krokbragd; sample, front and back, by Jan Mostrom.

Danskbrogd combined with krokbragd; sample, front and back, by Jan Mostrom.

Modern weavers Mary Temple and Lila Nelson developed a way to thread danskbrogd designs without using a pick up stick by using a five shaft point twill or a six harness threading.  Lila Nelson used a five shaft point twill; Mary Temple devised a six harness threading. Both are shown in the diagram above.

The five harness point twill allows you to treadle many designs that you might choose to pick up in a danskbrogd design.   It effectively divides the shed you would raise on treadle 1 in krokbragd by raising every other thread of that shed on treadle 1 and 5 and divides the second krokbragd shed raising every other pair of threads on treadles 2 and 4.  The third krokbragd shed is not divided in this threading and is woven on treadle 3.  In krokbragd you always treadle sheds 1, 2, 3.  With this threading you will treadle 1, 5, 2, 4, 3. When you have no design to split a shed, treadle shafts 1 and 5 together or 2 and 4 together.  When you have design spots, you are able to treadle them separately but you need to treadle both 1 and 5 or 2 and 4 before you move to the next krokbragd shed just as you would if you were using a pick up stick. It helps to think of 1 and 6 as two parts of the first shed and 2 and 4 as two parts of the second krokbragd shed.

The six harness threading allows division on all three of the krokbragd sheds.  You must remember to treadle in order, 1, 6, 2, 5, 3, 4 but remember if there are no design spots on a krokbragd shed, you can treadle 1 and 6  or 2 and 5  or 3 and 4 together to make a krokbragd pass.  You only need to treadle them separately if there is a design that splits the shed.
Contemporary weavers can explore beyond the traditional spot patterns and solid backgrounds, as well as looking at different materials and setts.  Lila Nelson and other researchers and experimenters in danskbrogd can provide us with much inspiration.  Many of Lila’s beautiful danskbrogd weavings are in the Vesterheim collection.

Danskbrogd sample, front and back, woven by Jan Mostrom

Danskbrogd sample, front and back, woven by Jan Mostrom