When I finished my week-long weaving adventure at Sätergläntan in June, I had no idea what fun and adventure I would pack into a whirlwind, one-day visit with Kirsi Manni, a kindred weaver I only knew virtually to that point. When Kirsi picked me up at the school, my suitcase weighed more or less the same as when I arrived. My rugs were rolled up, and fit the length of my suitcase perfectly. I left many of my own trasbollar, or balls of fabric strips, at the school for future weavers. But when I left Kirsi’s house for Stockholm, I could barely lift my book and textile-filled bag up the few steps on the train. And if information and observations weighed grams or ounces, I would not be able to hold my head upright either.
When Kirsi arrived at Sätergläntan she was wearing her Leksand folk costume, in honor of Midsummer Eve the next day. It was a great opportunity to photograph her costume (Kirsi is in the costume with a scarf) and that of Sara Kånåhols. Sara taught a beginning weaving course with a focus on traditional weaving.
I learned a great deal about Leksand and the Dalarna region, historically and culturally. We drove along forested highways reminiscent of northern Minnesota (with narrower ditches). Kirsi kept checking her GPS during the half-hour ride to Wålstedt’s Ullspinneri, the mill where Helena Hernmarck has her yarn spun. “I could get lost in my back pocket,” she claimed. “Miss the turn, and you end up in Norway.” This opportunity was unexpected, but Kirsi knew of my ongoing search for yarn for Frida Hansen’s transparency technique. We toured the mill rooms, bought some yarn, and had an informative conversation with Roger Bush, one of the owners.
The road to the mill ran over the last covered bridge in Sweden, barely wide enough for one small car and one person at the same time.
We stopped at two secondhand/antique shops, where Kirsi bought amazing objects. One was a warmer used by people at church; you would put hot coals in it and set it under your seat. She also bought antique lace, bentwood boxes, and old carved loom parts. At the Floda Hemslöjd (the handcraft association) we were given entrance to a special small house with traditional costumes and other textiles. There were a pair of woven blankets with rosepath and geometric krabbesnår designs, for only $40 each. “You should buy one,” Kirsi said, “the designs are local to the area and you won’t be sorry.” Still, it was big and I don’t really want to amass so many textiles. A photo works well! (Later, Kirsi returned and purchased one.)
I wanted to buy something to support the business, but Kirsi took care of that aspect. She bought a women’s leather work apron adorned with a small knife in a sheath and a needle holder. She was sure that those metal objects alone would fetch way more at auction than the price she paid.
Now I am a little sad that I passed up the red weaving with rosepath. I am also quite sad about not buying a bedsheet trimmed with deep, gorgeous Hardanger lace, for only $25. Again, I was being practical.
Kirsi was wearing her Leksand folk costume during our visits to shops, and she had many appreciative comments. “It’s Midsummer Eve, so I thought it was a good opportunity,” she told everyone, including the liquor store clerk. We stopped to buy red wine, as I had no alcohol for the whole week I was at Sätergläntan. (My husband was incredulous — no red wine for a whole week?) I was surprised at the number of wine bottles that were plastic. It seemed wrong somehow, but on the other hand, we accept that good wine can come in paper boxes. Kirsi chose a delicious South African red.
A few days earlier I visited the Leksand Hemslojd shop, which featured an exhibit of handprinted fabrics from Jobs Handtryck (Jobs Handprinted Fabrics). The designs are from the 1930s on. As we drove by the small factory where the fabrics are made on our way to Kris’s home in Siljansnäs, I mentioned that I especially loved the thistle pattern, but didn’t want to invest in a panel because I don’t have a place to display it. “Oh, my friend just upholstered two chairs in that fabric. I’ll see if she has a remnant for you.” In a blink Kirsi was on the phone and her friend left some remnants in a bag on her door. “See, I can get anything for you,” Kirsi said.
Kirsi Manni is a textile conservator and weaver who often takes on historical reconstructions. For a local church she recreated a pastor’s jacket based on an old coat found in a cellar, rotted and covered in pigeon dung. An amazing reconstruction underway is a cape based on fragments excavated from land near the Lexand church, buried with a woman who was of great wealth. Bright gold finely woven fabric is edged with beautiful bands. It is lined with the pelts of 80 ermines! Kirsi said she first used rabbit for the lining, but when she discovered how much more beautiful the authentic ermines were, she had to use them. It took a long time to find enough enough pelts.
That evening Kirsi showed me the various parts of her Leksand folk costume. She has many aprons; most in bands of meticulous rosepath, and a shiny wool one for special days. She has a stack of scarves, too, including many with printed roses. There is a whole book on dressing appropriately for every holiday and religious season.
Follow Kirsi on Facebook! You will want to know more of the story of the cape as she shares it. You will also want to see the results of her consummate skill at finding the best textile-related antiques. And she posts frequently on Swedish weaving and costumes.
Soon I will write about the things I did buy; doesn’t this pop-up antique store look tempting?