Editors Note: We have been following the great work done with warp-weighted looms by Marta Kløve Juuhl and her colleagues at the Osterøy Museum. See “Diamond Twill Weaving on a Warp-Weighted Loom.” Interest in the ancient type of loom is growing. Thanks are due to Nils-Ove Støbakk for permission to translate and present his article in the Norwegian Textile Letter. Read the original in Norwegian: www.bygdanytt.no/nytt/Endeleg-er-veving-trendy-378840.html
Why in the world is Osterøy Museum at the Interior and Home Show at Griegshallen in Bergen?
It’s a completely ordinary Saturday afternoon in October. As a responsible and conscientious husband, your reporter for Bygdanytt is naturally at the Interior and Home Show at Grieghallen, together with my better half.
Suddenly something popped up that was completely different.
Right in the middle of enthusiastic salespeople from Adams Matkasse, fancy chairs from various Danish designers that no heterosexual men can manage to remember the names of, new paint colors from Jotun, and two gregarious celebrities from TV2, a delegation from Osterøy Museum turns up. With a huge loom.
What in the world? Have they made a mistake?
I man up, get in line behind curious Bergen-ites and finally blurt out the question I just had to ask: What in the world IS that?
Marta Kløve Juuhl looks at me and smiles. She works as a curator for the museum, with responsibility for textiles, and manages, luckily, to describe historical knowledge in a simple and clear way – even to a clueless newshound on a city tour. “We’re not selling anything; we’re here to spread knowledge about the warp-weighted loom (oppstadveven) – which has survived at Osterøy,” she told me.
Oppstad? Is that a historic person from Osterøy?
“No, the loom gets its name from the manner in which it stands – up against the wall,” the curator explains. We are weaving something we call a varafeld. For the Vikings it served as rain gear, a boat coverlet, a bed covering – basically, a total outer garment.
The varafeld at Grieghallen was woven with wool right from the sheep. Good sheep from Osterøy, of course. “Using this wool makes the water run off. It was waterproof,” explained Kløve Juuhl, who hopes to inspire many others to weave. She smiled and said, “You know it’s a trend now to use natural colors and natural materials. It works well for us, too.” Kløve Juuhl emphasized that the museum group was invited to the home show; it wasn’t anything they had planned. “It’s great that they placed us on a stand with the title #vevlab. “We aren’t a weaving studio or factory, but a laboratory,” she laughed.
In addition there are references to the oppstad-loom on the walls and floors all over the hall, which lead people to the stand. Excuse me, the lab.
A Manly Loom
The professional weaver had several helpers who have attended a weaving course. They took turns weaving during the entire run of the show. Right now Birger Berge (27) stood and managed the loom. Berge is a masters student in history. He ended up taking a weaving course after an internship at Osterøy Museum.
“This is really a man-loom,” he said and grinned as he put more wool in the large upright loom.
Ancient Norwegian, Yet Modern
Around the Osterøy Museum delegation are several others who are selling woven products. Has weaving become honestly trendy? “Yes!” Marta Kløve Juuhl responds quickly. “We’re getting many signals that’s true. That we were invited here is a part of that picture.”
She said that these days it’s possible to even learn weaving on YouTube. “That’s what is new. People learn weaving in a variety of ways, and it pops up where you don’t expect it.”
The weaver from the museum is happy that the rough and ancient tradition is on its way to becoming modern. “And especially among young people. That’s what’s so inspiring.”