Be sure to join us at the coffee and cookie reception for the Scandinavian Boundweave: Timeless Traditions exhibit.  It’s tomorrow – Saturday, April 24, from 10-2, at the Textile Center of Minnesota Community Gallery.

Here’s a krokbragd rag rug by Judy Larson, hanging on one of the two bright lime green walls.  Before we brought the pieces to the gallery we worried about which ones would be suited to that background.  It was a needless worry! For many pieces the intense green makes the colors and patterns pop.


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But if you miss the opening, you still view the show through May 22.

This beautifully-scaled runner is a perfect example of the challenges we encountered in mounting our exhibit.  The pieces varied widely in size and color and scale.  Veronna Capone’s “Playground Chatter” is exquisitely woven.  The sett is fine (10 epi) and the resulting patterns invite close scrutiny.  But it would be lost on a wall if displayed next to a broader weaving with larger patterns.  Also, it was the only piece using a shade of red tending toward coral.  If it is set next to a piece with a darker, purplish red, the effect is jarring.  Happily, this piece fit perfectly on its own narrow gallery wall.

Kathleen Calwell during our setup afternoon

On Tuesday, April 20, several of our Scandinavian Weavers Study Group met to mount eighteen pieces of varying sizes, colors, shapes, and scale on the walls of the Textile Center Community Gallery.  When we first laid them out on the floor the goal of displaying each piece to its best advantage seemed daunting.  Too much visual stimulus, too many opinions.  How would we get to the other side of this task?  We found one pair of weavings that worked together,  and other groupings fell into place.  Like filling in crucial words in a crossword puzzle, the remainder of the task got easier, though there were still challenges to finishing it successfully.  Hours later, the result was beautiful.  Many people helped, including Ann Haushild, Mary Litsheim, and Claire Caughey Most.  Sheryl Schwyhart from the Textile Center gave us great advice, and Margaret Miller helped place Sara Williams’ six-foot rug on a prominent upper wall using a pulley system.  Special thanks are due to Kathleen Caldwell and Sara Williams who didn’t stop for one minute all afternoon.

Please visit Scandinavian Boundweave: Timeless Tradition. The show is rich in color and pattern and variety.  A great time to visit would be Saturday morning, April 24, from 10-2.  Coffee and cookies will be served!

Robbie LaFleur Moore

The structure of boundweave invites experimentation with pattern.  When nineteen pieces by fifteen weavers are gathered together, that’s a lot of pattern and color to absorb as a viewer.  Within a single piece many of the bands can be different from each other.

The fragment from Mary Litsheim’s “Nordic Nature Color Memories” shows the fun of working with geometric patterns.  Is this a band of diamonds?  Or is it a band of Xs.? It’s both, of course, but it illustrates how a narrow band of white seen from a distance will be more interesting as you come closer.  Taking in the nineteen pieces in the “Timeless Traditions” show will be a pattern-intense experience.

A boundweave piece was used in a traditional Norwegian home as a coverlet on a wooden corner bed or as a covering in a sleigh.  Sometimes it was a decorative wall hanging.  Melba Granlund wove a laptop bag.  While that is a nontraditional use, it is a practical, protective use of thick wool yarn.

The weavings in the Timeless Traditions show vary greatly in size, something that isn’t clear from the details shown in this blog.  A detail, such as the one in this post, doesn’t reflect the scale or effect of the entire piece at all.   Pieces vary from long and narrow (less than nine inches), to a six foot long rag rug.

Inspired by a cradle coverlet in a Swedish museum, Jan Mostrom wove a rosepath cradle coverlet from a pattern in a Swedish book,  Väva efter gamla mönster på fyra skaft (cover photo) by Lena Nessle.  Similar baby coverlets were sometimes made from many narrow bands sewn together, but the pattern in the book uses rosepath for a similar densely-patterned effect.

Patty Kuebker-Johnson runs Color Crossing, a fabulous yarn shop, gallery, and studio space in Roberts, Wisconsin.  She has often said she doesn’t have time to get her own weaving done.  That may be true,  but she is responsible for helping many other weavers learn about looms and weave structures.

Patty’s  monochromatic krokbragd piece with danskbragd pickup, Purple Haze, is a beautiful study in geometry.  So many of the pieces in the exhibit have eye-catching, high-contrast  color combinations.  Patty’s piece draws you in with subtle shades of purple and gray forming restful lines and diamonds and crosses.

This antique coverlet inspired Mary Skoy

Note the wool header and festive tassel on Mary Skoy's piece.

Mary Skoy and Jan Mostrom were inspired by beautiful Swedish cradle coverlets at the Zorn Museum in Mora, Sweden.  After the trip Jan purchased a similar antique piece, which Mary used as inspiration for her deep red banded krokbragd coverlet.  The solid red bands are woven in plain weave.  Switching from krokbragd to plain weave saves yarn, in that only two shots instead of three are used to cover the warp threads.  Using some plain weave along with the krokbragd makes the entire piece more drapey and supple, which would be better for a baby’s coverlet.  There is a wide strip of wool at one end, and it is edged on four sides with a narrow handwoven band.

Festive tassels trim the coverlet.   Were they traditionally added to amuse the baby?

Some of the weavings for the show have come by mail or been delivered to the Weavers Guild.  Opening the boxes or bags to reveal color and pattern has been like receiving gifts.

Today I picked up pieces left for me by Sharon Marquardt.  Sharon lives in Henning, Minnesota, and has been known to brave snowstorms and icy roads to enjoy the inspiration of meeting with her fellow weavers.  Our study group has several loyal members who drive quite quite a distance to attend monthly meetings – from Stillwater, Cannon Falls, Decorah, Iowa, Roberts, Wisconsin, and South Dakota.

Most of the pieces in the show were woven on floor looms.  Sharon wove a krokbragd with brilliant oranges on an upright two-shaft tapestry loom, using additional heddle rods to create extra sheds.  She weighted the warp threads with rocks!  See the picture.  She enjoyed using the upright loom for experimentation on this piece because a lot of the woven cloth is visible on the loom.   She used doubled cotton rug warp for the warp.  Narrow poppana fabric strips and cotton rug warp thread in the weft created wonderful variation in the pattern.

The Scandinavian Weavers Study Group of the Weavers Guild of Minnesota has been meeting for inspiration and education since the mid-1990s. Each year or two the group chooses a weave structure to study and we help one another in our explorations.  There may be a formal workshop set up to learn a technique, but more often the tutoring is by way of information sharing – of plans, problems along the way, and finished pieces.  Most studies result in an formal or informal exhibit.

Our 2009-2010 study of various boundweave patterns led to the Textile Center Community Gallery exhibit, Scandinavian Boundweave: Timeless Tradition. (exhibit flyer: tradition1)  For fans of krokbragd and bound rosepath patterns, or anyone who is intrigued by 21rst-century weavers approaching a traditional technique,  this is a great collection.

Creativity is sparked by challenge.  Veronna Capone’s wove with vibrant hand-dyed wool she purchased from Mary Zicafoose, the “extras” left at the end a workshop.  Robbie LaFleur translated an article from a 1983 Norwegian magazine and recreated “The Old Pattern,” with motifs from Lom and Skjåk in Gudbrandsdal.  Sara Williams was drawn to a palette of fabric colors while shopping one day and decided to weave a large boundweave rag rug.

On a recent trip Mary Skoy and Jan Mostrom were captivated by a museum exhibit of cradle coverlets at the Zorn Museum in Mora, Sweden.   The small coverlets had narrow stripes, were edged with woven bands, and had festive tassels.

The squares of the geometric krokbragd pattern can be graphed to create rows of small figures. In Nancy Ellison’s fresh and appealing “Pasture by the Graveyard,” pastors, grave markers, and sheep line up on a grassy green background.

These are just a few of the 19 pieces featured in the exhibit!  (Details from some pieces are in the grahic at the top of the blog.)

The “Timeless Tradition” exhibit is a great opportunity to see how boundweave pieces vary greatly depending on the materials.  Thin wool gives a fine, precise result.  Heavier wool and thin fabric strips, woven on fewer warp ends per inch, yield a bolder, graphic impact.

Boundweave coverlets were prominent in many Norwegian homes, adorning the wooden corner beds, as in this photo from the Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum in Decorah, Iowa.

Boundweave holds the same appeal to contemporary weavers as it might have to a 19th-century weaver on a Norwegian mountainside farm.  The technique can be tricky, but is relatively easy to learn.  It gives the weaver wide latitude in creativity with color and pattern.  As the nineteenth-century women threw the shuttle at their looms, I’m sure they were as captivated as we are at the magic of designs unfolding on the loom – just by choosing the right color to enter.  But they surely couldn’t have imagined some pieces in the show.  Sara William owned an interesting vintage telephone table in need of reupholstering.  Melba Granlund wove a computer bag. None of the contemporary pieces are headed for a corner bed!