Marta and the Potato Analogy

As a weaving instructor, Marta Kløve Juuhl is energetic and supportive and creative.  She taught two classes at Vesterheim this summer and she created a class climate that was conducive to learning in a variety of ways – by self-exploration (learning by doing); by learning from the experiences of our classmates; and by learning from her instruction and lectures.  I think she was impressed by her American students, too.  There aren’t that many people these days weaving on ancient-style warp-weighted looms, yet one student in each of the classes came with her own loom.  There are quite a few Americans who are very interested in learning about and carrying on traditional Norwegian weaving techniques.

Marta demonstrating how to make a header for putting the warp on the loom
Marta demonstrating how to make a header for putting the warp on the loom

One day Marta was talking with Melba Grandlund, who was taking the second of Marta’s classes.  Melba is a somewhat new weaver; she started two or three years ago.  Melba has taken several classes from the Weavers Guild of Minnesota, studied for a week at Becky’s Vavstuga, and has purchased a large floor loom with a drawloom attachment.  She weaves in her “spare” time while working full time at a law firm.  She pays attention to darling grandchildren in Decorah (they all got knitted felt-soled slippers for Christmas). I think the clincher was when Melba told Marta she was also the music director of her church.  “You are like potatoes!” Marta exclaimed, and then explained the story to the rest of the class.

Melba working on her banded "West Coast" style weaving
Melba working on her banded “West Coast” style weaving

Besides weaving in her private studio, Marta is employed by the Osterøy Museum in the Hordaland region of Norway.  With only a few staff members, they all perform a number of duties.  They are constantly learning new skills in order to produce great programming and exhibits.  They are like potatoes, Marta explained, integral to every meal and always fitting in.   She thought we were like potatoes, accomplishing other jobs and responsibilities and also finding time to weave.  I’m not sure I quite got the analogy in this situation, but it was nice that Marta was impressed with the American students who are interested in Norwegian weaving and manage to find the time.  “You are all so talented,” Marta insisted, “and you do so many other things.  My whole life is weaving.”

I think Marta is right – I know so many talented weavers whose textile skills are only one of many talents.