Scandinavian Fringe Embellishments at the North House Folk School

Winters have been fairly wimpy here in Minneapolis lately, without stretches of sparkling snow, so I am looking forward to traveling north in February to North House Folk School, where I will teach a two-day course, Scandinavian Fringe Embellishments.  The course catalog is not out yet, so this is a sneak peek at the description:

In Scandinavia, fringes from yarn were traditionally used to embellish the edges of mittens, of woven textiles like tablecloths or wall hangings, or pillows. Students will learn three different techniques hands-on: one using a stick and playing-card-sized heddle with one slot and two holes; a two-person technique winding fringe on a stick; and a looping-style technique using a two-pronged, long-tined “fork.” Dense fringes can be clipped and formed into kavelfrans, a Swedish word for a fuzzy-worm-like fringe. Not only will students create a pillow with a graphic kavelfrans design, they will leave with samples and ideas for many more projects. Inspiration will be gained through a slide presentation and discussion of traditional objects, as well as liberal experimentation during class. Knitters, weavers, and other fiber enthusiasts will enjoy adding these techniques to their textile toolboxes. No experience required.

The Northern Fibers Retreat runs from February 14-18, 2018. Watch for more information on the North House Folk School site soon.  For the main project, students will complete a pillow along these lines.


Researching the use of fringes in old Scandinavian textiles has been surprising.  As an observer of Norwegian weaving, I seldom saw fringes around the edges of pieces.  That is partly because the edge finishings, like fringes and pompoms on pillows and seat covers, were worn out and removed.  Here is a page from Norsk Billedvev 1550-1800, Volume 2: Bøndenes Billedvevninger 1600-1800, by Thor Kielland, 1955.


Of course now that I am paying attention, fringes are turning up more frequently.  Here is a beautiful tablecloth that I saw this summer in Denmark at Greve Museum near Copenhagen.

IMG_3804In Norway I purchased a recent issue of Husflid magazine, which had an article aimed at young people about using a fringe technique to make bracelets.


My friend Carol Colburn was in Norway this summer too, and she sent me this photo of some lovely embroidered gloves she saw in the Norsk Folkemuseum.


Whether traditional or trendy, it seems like the right time to learn some new embellishment techniques.  If you want to feel inspired, just google the Swedish word for fringes, kavelfrans.

The Northern Fibers Retreat sounds like a lot of fun, and maybe it will be cold enough to wear my felted slippers with kavelfrans.  Please consider coming!





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