Flesberg Technique in the Norwegian Textile Letter

Over the years, people would write to me about flesberg technique. Perhaps they saw a piece I made, or connected it to the 2006 issue of the Norwegian Textile Letter. Our Flesberg Study Group of 2004-5 received patterns from a group in Flesberg, but it was not clear whether I could share them widely. So in 2018 I wrote to the group in Norway who put together the patterns. Sure, it was fine to share. My friend Jan Mostrom and I mused, “Perhaps we should make this a special issue of the Norwegian Textile Letter. She brought me her beautifully arranged and complete notebook (contrasted to my scribbled-in, messy and mixed-up one). It sat for two years on my buffet! It always felt like I had so much good content for each newsletter issue.

Notebook waiting for two years

I think there are basic ways that weavers approach learning new techniques, and this issue has both camps covered. Some weavers approach drafting and weaving structure like engineers and mathematicians. Why does this thread go up? Why does this thread go down? Numbers, letters, formulas–it’s all engrossing. The articles by Katharine Dickerson (Retro Reprint: Flesberg Bound Weave System) and Bonnie Datta (How to Draft Your Own Flesberg Patterns) are amazingly in-depth, technically. In the other camp are those weavers who find inspiring weavings and then follow the threading and tie-up and treadling and enjoy the magical results–or just keep sampling and experimenting until it turns out right. (For that group: “Flesberg: The Norwegian Pattern Book Shared“) Of course all good weavers are a hybrid, but I definitely tend towards the “sample and experiment” group.

Norma Smayda’s pretty sampler of flesberg technique patters, from the Flesberg Study Group exhibit.

Putting together all the pieces of this issue was a time-consuming challenge, a good pandemic project for this fall. It could definitely have been a year-long project. I would have liked to weave all the samples myself. In my messy notebook I have several notes on patterns, “this does not match the pattern.” In retrospect, I chalk that up to “weaver error” for the most part, but there might be some mistakes. I’d like to reproduce the treadling charts with easier-to-read colored blocks. I’d love to go to Norway and take more photos. It would be fun to research some of the documented historical pieces and put them together with photos of the area and the farms where they were found. There are many more historical and more newly-woven flesbergplegg in the area. It could be a book. I’ll think about that…post-vaccine.

You could spend your winter weaving wonderful pattern bands in flesberg technique

For now, I’ll just be extremely thankful to all the people who helped me put together this issue of the Norwegian Textile Letter. Marit Stevning from the Flesberg Bygdekvinnelag (Women’s Community Association) was so enthused and responsive. And she even drove around during the pandemic to take photos of old pieces. (“On a Flesberg “Fotojakt” (A Photo Hunt) with Marit Stevning“) Katherine (Kay) Larsen and Jan Mostrom were conveners of the Flesberg Study Group and they had wonderful documentation. Kay scrounged the depths of her hard drives for photos of the study group exhibit. (“Flesberg Exhibit 2005: Americans (and a Canadian) Try Out the Norwegian Technique“) Thank you Nancy Ebner and Lisa Bauch for transcribing and proofreading. Thank you Katharine Dickerson and Bonnie Datta for sharing your expert analysis.

Details from Katharine Dickerson’s flesberg technique coverlet for a futon cover

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