My Weaving BFF from the 1800s

img_2047While weaving this monochromatic danskbrogd hanging, I thought about privilege and luck – my own, specifically.  My inspiration piece is a coverlet made in Norway in the 1800s; I loved the combination of stark, graphic Xs and diamonds, contrasted with thinner pattern bands.  I laminated a photo of the piece I liked and consulted it when deciding which patterns to add to my own.

img_2061Who made that piece?  In my imagination, it is this woman, from a painting by Herbjorn Gausta at the Vesterheim Norwegian American Museum.

gaustaWhat do I have in common with her? She probably had to stop to tend a fire now and then; I zap my coffee in the nearby microwave. She probably didn’t have great light to work by; I recently stopped at Home Depot to get an additional LED light fixture to add to my studio ceiling.  The sounds we hear of the loom beating with each shot are probably much the same, but I also stream music or news, whatever I like, all day long. If my weaving friend wanted to keep working when a meal time neared, she couldn’t choose to just keep throwing the shuttle and then pick up take-out. The piece she was weaving would be a necessary and warm bed covering. My weaving will hang on the wall. Even before starting to weave, she may have spun and dyed her own wool. My beautiful wool comes in skeins, ready to go.

For my piece, I used all the gray and black yarn I could find in the studio, sparked by a bit of red. Some yarn was thick, some thin. Occasionally I doubled the yarn; at other times, it didn’t really matter if a thinner yarn was used next to a thicker one.

As I wove, I started to think about the similarities between my 1800s friend and me.  Our looms are probably not so different. I’ll bet she encountered just as much fun and challenge in choosing patterns and colors for each band as I did.  What should come next? A fat band, a narrow band? How many shots should I put in to make a stripe tall or squat? Am I going to run out of a specific color? As I weave, I fret that my design choices at the beginning won’t balance the bands I weave at the end.  She probably worried about that too.  As I come to the last bands, I become antsy to just get it done so that I can cut the warp threads and take it off the loom.  I’m sure my friend enjoyed unrolling the cloth from the beam just as much.

Here are some photos along the way.


I unrolled the weaving several times, to determine which bands I should add next.
I unrolled the weaving several times, to determine which bands I should add next.


I still understand that I am privileged to weave in comfortable surroundings and have time to do so.



    1. Sorry I was distracted…. I love the simplicity of color and that touch of red. The variation of the stripes adds a lot of interest, also the fuzzy yarn is a fun detail!!! Yes, I also feel very privileged and full of gratitude for all the gifts and ease of daily living.

  1. I love this post. I spend all kinds of time thinking about other women crafters while I do my own work, and imagining their thoughts and actions. I think it’s why I like to make things–that connection with other makers.