The Vesterheim Study Tour class in “Bragd” weaves focused on creating samples of three traditional Scandinavian overshot weave structures; tavlebragd (monks belt), Telemarksteppe, and skillbragd. It was hands-on from the first hour. Some students started in weaving; others were challenged by setting up looms and warps. Our instructor, Kari Thue, teaches at the Vestlandskse Folkekunst Lag (the Western Norway Folk Culture Group). She was smart and precise. Together Kari and Ingebjorg Mønsen dashed from loom to loom through the days of class; fixing, instructing, advising.
Weaving in a group in a class setting yields many benefits. It’s a joy to experiment with colors chosen from a full palette of yarns, instead of “Hmmm, what colors do I have in my cupboard?” Because you are weaving samples, the stakes are low if you don’t make a great color or pattern choices, and it’s fun to see all the combinations chosen by your classmates. Working on a variety of looms is instructional. I had never used a counterbalance loom with pulleys, or hester (horses), holding the shafts. And of course learning to FIX errors, whether they are your own or already existing in the warp, is always good experience. Each student came with different levels of weaving experience and experience with the weave structures. Melba Granlund commented that the class came just at the right point in her weaving learning curve – but we could likely all say that. The class concluded with an exhibit of all the completed samples, an impressive number and variety.
I asked Kari what she is weaving personally. She showed me a photo of a cape in progress, breathtaking despite the tiny cell phone screen. She started with a bandwoven edge, warped the band onto the loom, and is weaving a plaid cape in brilliant blues. On each side of the cape she is weaving a cardwoven edge, so that the finished piece will have a woven band on three edges.
Kari had tremendous energy and an obvious commitment to teaching. She told me that she did not begin weaving until she was forty. Her husband commented recently, “I thought this was a hobby, but it’s a disease” (from which her students all benefited!).
She also mentioned a saying that I will always remember. When the tour bus drove in a big loop instead of finding the intended museum, it wasn’t a problem. “Ut på tur, aldri sur,” she said, which roughly means, when you are out on tour, you are never sour. Or, no crabbiness allowed on vacation! My husband will learn this bit of Norwegian.
Here are the samples I wove.