Scandinavian Fringe Embellishments: Folk Art on the Edge(s)

I finished teaching a two-day class at North House Folk School in Grand Marais on the beautiful shores of Lake Superior. This photo was taken yesterday morning, right before the class started–and before the seven inches of snow that fell today!


Jeanne Lepper and Carol Morgen are making fringe with a small heddle.

The class was a privilege to teach because of my six interested and creative students.  On the first day we went through many techniques, with lots of hands-on time. These included making Scandinavian fringe with a small heddle “loom” and a PVC pipe, a Swedish two-person fringe technique, and a forked fringe technique. We learned to make kavelfrans with the fringe from our forked fringe technique and by sewing directly onto a base fabric.  We learned about Swedish methods for attaching yarn and fabric tassels to pillows.  All along we had discussions about the types of wool yarns that full up best, and about the ways that the embellishments could be used. (Below, some sampling from the first day.)


Carol Morgen experimented with steaming Lamb’s Pride yarn to make the perfect pompom for a recently-made hat, and then used the forked-fringe technique to make kavelfrans for a gray and black bag she had felted. I had to take a photo of her standing by the door to document the wild weather outside.


A couple of students made their small samples into pincushions.  Faith Clover took a strip of fringe she made and applied it to a wool fabric scrap.  She sewed up three sides.  Fringe too short?  She made a fulled pompom.  Then she added a border.  Voila–it became a glasses case.

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Martha Ritter made a kavelfrans necklace by sewing the loops directly to the base of a bias-cut piece of wool; the color combinations were so appealing.


In the video clip below, Kevin Olsen and Jeanne Lepper are making the two-person fringe. And wow, after nearly a full day of demonstrations and talking about all the samples, the room is a bit messy…


I think the students had a rewarding time.  I know they left with plans for using the tools and techniques learned in class for further projects–and with each idea they would mention, I followed up with, “You’ll send me a photo, won’t you?” I had a lunchtime discussion with Barbara Jeffries, who is an avid weaver, about the possibilities of using handwoven fabric for pillows with coordinating fringe.

It was a busy two days. As the guest artist for the North House Fiber Fest weekend, I gave a lecture last night on Norwegian tapestry, with lots of photos of medieval to contemporary tapestry. Afterwards, a woman thanked me for the lecture and said she was so interested in the part about the popularity of the Wise and Foolish Virgin image in the medieval tapestries.  “Do the Norwegians say that is the way they are now?”  I was baffled.  “You know, the way they save their oil?” I had never heard of that, but I wonder if anyone has ever made the correlation between contemporary Norwegian oil policy and the “wise virgins” of the Bible story who save their oil, versus the foolish virgins who use their oil up. You never know.

Earlier fringe-y posts:

WTIP Interview about the North House Class

Pompom and Fringe Obsession

Looking Forward to Teaching at North House in the New Year

Scandinavian Fringe Embellishments

X Marks the Spot

Featherweight Fleece Slippers


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