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!

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