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Finally, A Varafeldur, 2017

A weaving adventure begins this week, thanks to my friend Melba Grandlund, who thought it would be a great idea to demonstrate weaving on a warp weighted loom at the upcoming Shepherd’s Harvest Sheep and Wool Festival on May 14-15, as an outreach project of the Weavers Guild of Minnesota. The first thought was that we would weave a piece inspired by traditional Icelandic varafeldur.  That technique is a rya (or pile weave) variant, in which the pile is made of unspun wool locks. You can read more about varafeldur in an article in the Norwegian Textile Letter, “Varafeldur: An Icelandic Rya Reconstruction.”

A grene underway at Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum, 2013.

Our aspirations grew, and now there will be TWO warp weighted looms with projects: my loom with the varafeldur, and another loom on which Melba will weave a grene, a wall-hanging in the style of those woven by the Sami in northern Norway.  Read more about that technique in the Norwegian Textile Letter article, “Warp-Weighted Loom Classes at Vesterheim, July 2013.”

It’s a good thing that Melba has a large vehicle for transporting the looms to the Washington County Fairgrounds.

The official time for the weaving demonstration on the main stage (so to speak) is on Saturday at noon.  But both looms and both pieces will be there all weekend, near the Weavers Guild booth.  If you are there, please come to visit, and try your hand at the loom, too.

This will be a project made especially cool by the hard work and contributions of many people (and sheep).  Right off the bat, Andrea Myklebust of Black Cat Farmstead donated two fleeces. Look how beautiful these long locks are.

Andrea donated a second fleece.  The locks weren’t so long on that one, so Melba is using it to spin yarn for her grene.

Melba washed all the fleece under the expert tutelage of Maddie Bartsch.  Then, expert spinner Celeste Grant spun some gorgeous heathery dark yarn for the weft of my varafeldur from the shorter parts of the fleece.

Melba noted an interesting effect when she spun her yarn; the fleece looked quite white, but when spun, the darker colors become more evident. She also said she had a hard time spinning a thick yarn; after perfecting her spinning of thread-thin yarn, switching to thick was more difficult than she guessed. That yarn is on the spool shown below.  Above it is yarn spun by Nancy Ellison from her Icelandic sheep; it will be a wonderful addition to Melba’s grene.

Warping starts tomorrow; I will use gray and black Norwegian spelsau wool for the warp, Rauma prydvevgarn. I buy my Rauma yarn from Blue Heron Knittery in Deborah, Iowa.  Than you, Sarah Iverson, for such speedy delivery!

In future posts, I will describe the two warp-weighted loom weavings separately; it will be less confusing.  I think you can see that this is going to be a wonderful collaborative project.  I especially love the fact we even know about the sheep that are contributors, too.




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