In the upcoming two-issue focus on danskbrogd, a lesser-known Norwegian weave structure from Vest Agder, Norway, we received permission to reproduce the chapter on the technique from Katherine Larson’s excellent book on Norwegian weaving, The Coverlets of Norway. I hope she forgives me for once again making the mistake of writing Nelson instead of Larson in my post about the upcoming Norwegian Textile Letter issue. I think it comes from growing up in northern Minnesota, where so many of my friends were Olsons, Nelsons, and Larsons.
The first and second issues of Volume 22 of the Norwegian Textile Letter will soon be ready. Two issues will come out next month, on August 1 and August 22, on a special theme: 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. The most typical variant has bands of small danskbrogd designs interspersed with bands of krokbragd. The designs are picked up in an open krokbragd shed.
A second style has larger, bolder designs that are picked up on a tabby shed. These plain weave designs are bordered with bands of teeth and stripes.
The issues will include a compilation of photos of danskbrogd coverlets from the Vest Agder Museum in Krisiansand, Norway. In the United States, Lila Nelson is credited for spreading the word about the technique, and we will see how she used the technique both in a traditional format and as a way to enhance her expressive tapestries. There will be an article on a danskbrogd coverlet at Vesterhheim, a reproduction of the chapter on danskbrogd from Kay Larson’s book The Coverlets of Norway, and an instructional article on the technique by Jan Mostrom. And more.
These issues will be a feast for your eyes, and inspiration for weavers to try the technique.
The second issue will include a gallery of contemporary interpretations of danskbrogd. Have you woven a danskbrogd piece I could include? Please send photos and background information to me by August 15 at email@example.com.
The new issue of the Norwegian Textile Letter includes very interesting articles translated from Norwegian — an in-depth interview of Annemor Sundbø, and articles about a controversy you might not have known is flaring in Norway. Does the popularity of knitting signal the death of feminism? Hmmm….
Carol Colburn writes about a garment that might even be in the closets of some Norwegian Textile readers, a busserull.
Happy New Year! Please enjoy this collection of articles about weavings and textiles, both new and old, at norwegiantextileletter.com.
Many of us understand the continuing allure of the ancient warp-weighted loom, but a whole new audience discovered it during a home show exposition in Bergen this year. Read “Finally, Weaving is Now Trendy,” published with permission by journalist Nils-Ove Støbakk. We’re glad he attended the show!
This fall, our Scandinavian Weavers Study Group of the Weavers Guild of Minnesota decided to concentrate on Swedish art weaves techniques for our next study topic. An exhibit about Norwegian and Swedish weaving was held at Vesterheim some years back, and I decided to forward the article about it to our group members. Why wasn’t it in the archives of the Norwegian Textile Letter? I wrote to Kay Larson, who curated the exhibit. The article appeared in the Vesterheim magazine, the general museum publication, and not the Norwegian Textile Letter. This made me happy that I wasn’t completely crazy, and I asked for permission from Vesterheim staff members to link to a pdf copy, for the many Norwegian Textile Letter readers who may not have seen it earlier.
In a contemporary world filled with unrest and terror, this issue of the Norwegian Textile Letter brings a reminder of the power of textiles in another time of war and deprivation. Nina Granlund Sæther wrote on her blog, Hjertebank, about the handcraft of women prisoners at Grini Prison Camp in Norway during World War II. Besides this interesting article, her blog is filled with inspiration for the knitters among our readers.
Back when Mary Skoy was editing the Norwegian Textile Letter, she asked me to write an article about my series of textiles based on Edvard Munch’s Scream painting. I wasn’t quite done at that point, and then I was asked to write about the series for the British Journal for Weavers, Spinners and Dyers. I waited for that article to be published, and am sharing it now with their permission. The series was featured in an exhibit at the American-Swedish Institute from June-September, 2015, and I’d be glad to share it again.
Finally, publishing the Norwegian Textile Letter online has been a grand experiment, and there are many improvements in style and access that could be made. I hope to find a better software platform in the next year. The software and hosting access is paid through the fall of 2016 from the $300 that was “left over” from the former print version. By the end of this year, the newsletter may change to a paid online version, or I may ask for donations to cover the costs of the next years.
Tell me your thoughts on the articles, and please tell me about articles you would like to see (or write) in the future.
Hilsen, Robbie LaFleur
Stories about exhibits are featured in the newest issue of the Norwegian Textile Letter; both the current exhibit, “From Underwear to Everywhere,” at the Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum, and the National Exhibition of Folk Art in the Norwegian Tradition that was held last summer. You will be inspired by photos of all the woven pieces included in the exhibit, and new this year, background on the “Best of Show” piece and its weaver, Judy Ness.
In case you are interested in weaving your own Setesdal bunad skirt, you’ll be forewarned about the intense process in Sue Mansfield’s article, “Setesdal Pleating.” I guarantee that the next time you see this costume at an event or museum, you will be kneeling down to peer intently at the fabric, in total wonder.
Robbie LaFleur, Editor
The new issue of the Norwegian Textile Letter is now up at http://norwegiantextileletter.com/
With the death of Lila Nelson, we wanted to wait until the celebration of Lila Nelson’s life was held at the Textile Center on June 26. I was amazed at the varied and interesting reminiscences of Lila’s life. It was as if the speakers arranged ahead of time to present a perfectly balanced view of Lila’s life and accomplishments. We did not!
For those of you in the wide-flung network of Lila fans who were not able to join us, I hope you enjoy these stories. I can’t capture the other aspects of the event that were meaningful – the true sense of fellowship in Lila, the delight in being together. There was great food, too, and lovely flowers donated by the Textile Center, the Norwegian Consulate, and Francie Iverson.
In addition to the celebration of Lila’s life, this issue also includes three articles about aspects of the most recent Vesterheim tour to Norway. Those stories are yet another celebration of Lila’s legacy, as she was instrumental in starting the tours many years ago. There will be more articles inspired by the tour in the August issue of the Norwegian Textile Letter, too.
It was a sad week in Minneapolis, and Decorah, and in many other places in the United States and Norway — we lost Lila Nelson. She passed away gracefully, slipping away over the course of a few days. Less than two weeks before she died, she came to an evening celebration at the Weavers Guild. She was able to talk with many friends, and see her weavings up in the Textile Center Library, part of a retrospective of works done by members of the Scandinavian Weavers Study Group.
When informing a wide network of friends, Claire Selkurt included a poem written by Lila.
Two simple syllables, heard every day
And sometimes tossed out in a casual way.
Suggesting a person who happened to be,
In our complex existence on the periphery.
A slightly known neighbor who works at
Or one who’s absorbed with her house and
But friendship, dear friends is to you and
Something too big for a dictionary.
It’s basic and boundless
It’s built on a rock;
It’s silky as satin,
And tough as a sock.
It rolls with the seasons;
It withstands all weather.
And, high road or low road,
We dance it together.
A celebration of Lila’s life will be held at the Textile Center on June 25th, 2015, from 5-7pm. Here are two obituaries with details of Lila’s life: the first one, written by Claire Selkurt, Lila Nelson, and an obituary written by a staff writer, Lila Nelson, educator and artist of Norwegian textiles, dies at 93. There will be additional information in the next NTL issue, which will come out in late June, following the celebration.
norwegiantextileletter.com – finally!
This post brings apologies from your editor. Completing an interim position at the Weavers Guild of Minnesota plus other consultant work, and then family obligations, stalled the rewarding job of publishing the new issue of the Norwegian Textile Letter. However, there was one saving grace – the money I earned is earmarked for a trip to Norway in August. (Plus it was a fabulous experience.)
The keynote article of this issue, “Petrine’s Quilt: A Remembrance from America,” will please mystery fans, as Katherine Larson follows the threads of a story about a crazy quilt acquired by a northern Norway museum and the immigrant woman who stitched her family names. Follow along with Kay in her quest (and be inspired to document some of your own significant textiles, to help those in future generations).
As evidence of the continuing passion for rya in Minnesota, “Rya – The Adventure Continues!” describes Jan Mostrom’s most recent rya class offered at the Weavers Guild of Minnesota. This time the featured technique was weaving a rya with hidden knots on a base of houndstooth, inspired from an artifact from the from Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum. The students in Jan’s class came up with very creative pieces.
Also, you might be interested in reading about a student from Jan Mostrom’s rya class last summer, who turned into a teacher for her friend with Sami background. Read: “Rya Exploration: A Class, A Student, a Student Teacher” on the Weavers Guild of Minnesota website.
Though my summer trip to Norway will be mainly to show the beauty of the country to my husband who has never visited, it will include two important textile detours. First, Swedish tapestry artist Annika Ekdahl recently finished two large tapestries on display at the Andrea Arntzen’s Hus at Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences. Amazing! I’ve been following the progress of the tapestries on the Facebook site she created to mark the progress. It’s worth reading through all of the posts she wrote during this epic weaving project. Also, watch this video.
Second, this summer a retrospective of Frida Hansen’s tapestries will be shown at the Stavanger Art Museum. There was an interesting article in the Norwegian newspaper, Aftenbladet, “Nå skal Frida Hansen hedres” (Now Frida Hansen will be Honored). You should follow the link to see the accompanying photos, but I’ve translated the text below. I think it would be amazing if a Norwegian Textile Letter reader actually turned up a missing Frida Hansen tapestry! Have you seen one?
Next year Stavanger and Rogaland’s most internationally-recognized artist will be celebrated with a major exhibition in Stavanger’s art museum. The textile artist Frida Hansen had her international breakthrough at the World’s Fair in Paris in 1900, where she received the Gold Medal.
Her textile works were purchased by several arts and crafts museums in Europe, for which the Stavanger Art Museum can be thankful today. Many of the works in the upcoming exhibit are borrowed from these museums in Norway and Europe. Our regional art museum owns none of her works, but has deposited four pieces that the Norwegian SpareBank purchased.
Where are they now?
Several important weavings by Frida Hansen have disappeared, some in Europe and the United States, and some in Norway, maybe even in Stavanger. And there may be others, unknown works by her hanging in private homes, notes Inger M. Gudmonson, the conservator with Stavanger Art Museum and one of the two curators for the upcoming exhibition. “De Fem Kloge or de Fem Daarlige Jomfruer” (“The Five Wise and Five Foolish Virgins”) is one of the works that everyone thought has disappeared, but which perhaps still exists somewhere. The weaving is dated 1900 and was displayed at the World’s Fair in Paris. It was also displayed in Glasgow, Florence and Stocklholm. It was sold in Florence, but disappeared during the First World War.
“Sørover” (“Southward”) from 1903 was exhibited several places in the United States, and was purchased by Mrs. Berthe Aske-Bergh. The current owner is unknown. “Svinedrengen” (“The Swineherd”) was accepted by the salon in Paris in 1909, and sold from an exhibition in Berlin the year after. “Frieriet” (“The Wooing”) was displayed and sold in Oslo in 1903; it’s owner is unknown.
Frida Hansen dreamed of becoming an artist, but had to drop her plans when she married the wealthy Wilhelm Severin Hansen. When her husband went bankrupt they lost two large businesses and a model farm in Hillevåg. Not long after Frida Hansen began an embroidery business in Stavanger and discovered old Norwegian coverlets. In 1892, nine years after the big collapse, the family moved to Kristiania (Oslo) and Frida Hansen established a weaving and dyeing business in Tullinløkka. She had many employees, but participated in the operations. She patented the techniques she developed.
Forgotten for many years
Frida Hansen was famous and successful as a textile artist, but was more or less forgotten until the 1970s. Gudmonson believes this was because interest in Art Noveau died out. Frida Hansen’s work places her in the direction that was popular around 1900. But not long after her work was considered both tasteless and excessive for years. When interest in Art Nouveau revived around 1950-60, so did interest in Frida Hansen’s works.
Another reason for a lack of interest in Frida Hansen, Gudmonsen explained, was that she was too internationally-oriented. Norwegian arts and crafts museums preferred works that referenced Norse mythology or Norwegian folk tales. Therefore they chose Gerhard Munthe and not Frida Hansen.
Art Historian Anniken Thue is the advisor for the two curators who are working with the upcoming exhibition at the Stavanger Art Museum. She wrote a book on Frida Hansen in 1986, building on her master’s thesis in 1973.
This year the Museum of Decorative Arts and Design (Kunstindustrimuseet) in Oslo created a traveling exhibit, shown also at the Stavanger Kunstforening and the Vestlandske Kunstindustrimuseum i Bergen. It had been over one hundred years since Frida Hansen’s art was displayed in a large exhibit in Norway.
From the Editor’s Note:
As the editor, I considered each of these articles as gifts – I hope you do, too.
We may all have to add band weaving to our New Year’s resolutions; Heather Torgenrud’s new book will be out this month to inspire and instruct us.
Or maybe you will be inspired to weave a new piece on a warp-weighted loom after reading about Marta Kløve Juuhl’s exploration of diamond twill.
This issue inaugurates a new series. Occasionally we will publish the story of a “fabulous find,” a Scandinavian textile that has been found and and now preserved and loved. We’ve all heard stories of marvelous runners or coverlets or tapestries found in a pile of textiles in an antique store or thrift shop, or handed over from a distant relative, or at the bottom of a box at an estate auction. The thrill is in the find. To share those stories, and display our finds online, I’ll continue to search out stories and images of “fabulous finds” to share. Do you have one? This series will serve as a virtual exhibit of the beautiful Scandinavian textiles we have in our homes. They may never be displayed in a museum or gallery, but they will be shared and appreciated within our Norwegian Textile Letter community.
The new issue of The Norwegian Textile Letter is up. Read about student experiences in recent rya classes taught by Jan Mostrom, see the ribbon-winners (and all of the pieces!) from the 33rd Vesterheim Exibition of Weaving in the Norwegian Tradition, and learn about a new inexpensive loom for teaching Scandinavian boundweave techniques. Enjoy!