This morning I was a guest on WTIP, North Shore Community Radio, to preview the class I am teaching next month at North House Folk School, Scandinavian Fringe Embellishments: Folk Art on the Edge(s).
My radio gig was an interview with Tracy Benson on the “North Shore Morning” show. These were the questions I received yesterday. I planned my responses, which you can read below. Of course, the actual interview varied from the script–and our connection dropped in the middle! Despite the brief technical glitch, it was fun.
Tell us about the class – what will participants learn?
Let me start one step back. I became obsessed with fringes and other ways to embellish folk textiles during a textile tour to Norway in 2013. On that trip, it seemed that everywhere we visited, everywhere we turned, there were more colorful textile embellishments on costumes and weavings and embroideries. It was all so exuberant. So I have been reading about and learning techniques since then and taught my first class a year ago. At North House, we are going to learn about embellishments used in traditional Scandinavian folk art, things like fringes, pompoms, and tassels.
We are going to learn a variety of techniques, including fringe that you make alone, and a Swedish two-person technique. I’m especially excited about making a fringe that the Swedes call kavelfrans. It’s often used on the edges of mittens and it resembles a tight, fuzzy wooly worm. I’ve read that originally this fuzzy worm on the edge of a mitten served the purpose of preventing cold air going up the sleeves of jackets; it was tucked into a jacket cuff. But when you look at pictures, you see that they become fabulous decorations as well.
What materials will be provided? What will students need to bring?
I’ll be sending out a list of materials that students might scrounge from home before coming, like a variety of wool yarns, plain hand-knitted or store-bought mittens, and wool fabric for pillows. But even if students come with no materials, I’ll have yarns and fabrics to use. They just need to come with enthusiasm.
Examples of mittens with kavelfrans added to cuffs:
Is any experience needed?
Little specific experience is needed. It helps to be handy with a needle and thread and a sewing machine.
Will the class take home their project?
The students will absolutely create one project, and there’s a good chance that they will finish more. Certainly they will have ideas for more items to complete in the future. Here are pillow examples.
How did you become interested in Scandinavian textiles?
I learned to weave at the Weavers Guild when I was in college at the University of Minnesota, and after college I studied at a traditional Norwegian Husflidsskole in Valdres, Norway, so I have a thorough grounding in many Scandinavian weaving techniques. I continued to weave throughout my other career at a library director, and now I work in my studio in the Casket Arts Building in Northeast Minneapolis.
Is there a fee to attend?
Yes, it’s a two-day class, and it costs $190.
Who would you like to see sign up for this class?
People who like to make things and people who understand the importance of finely-crafted handmade textiles. I would love to spend time with students who are interested in Scandinavian folk art and contemporary Scandinavian design. I’m interested in project ideas that the students generate, especially after seeing slide shows of historical and contemporary pieces, and looking at all of the examples I bring.
You are also doing a presentation on Norwegian medieval tapestry, correct?
Yes, it is titled “From Virgins to Spaceships: A Visual Voyage Through Norwegian Tapestry.” It’s really more like an hour of fabulous photos with stories. I’m interested in medieval Norwegian billedvev (which is the Norwegian word for tapestry), and also how tapestry artists in Norway today are influenced by the distinctive techniques and imagery of the past.
I’ve been streaming WTIP since the interview–what a great selection of music! There is still space in my class. Sign up for my class or others! The Fiber Retreat weekend includes many fun classes and extra talks. I look forward to this weekend in beautiful Grand Marais.
See also these posts on fringe-y things: