Monday, October 4, 2010

Norway Part 3: crafts, museums and lots of spinning whorls

After telling you about the Norwegian landscape here and there, now I come to the more crafty side, because I was really curious to see what is and was going on in fiber and folk arts.

First, there are the omnipresent wool sweaters, hats and mittens with 2 colored patterns like stars (I really love those! And I just learned, that they are in fact resembling roses), reindeer, snowflakes and other patterns, which you can get everywhere in souvenir shops.
But there is so much more than that. The Norwegians really seem to be much into knitting. I saw yarn and needles even in a little village in a souvenir shop.
In the bigger cities there is a chain of craft shops called "Husfliden" with a big offer in yarns and knitting supplies (also knitting kits, and I decided to rather knit my own mittens than buying touristic ones, so I bought a kit of Norwegian wool with a nice pattern), but also tools for spinning (fiber, handspindles, the one and the other wheel), weaving (cards and rigid heddles for band weaving, weaving yarns and in the old location of the Husfliden in Oslo there was supposed to be a big loom on display, but they moved into a fancy shopping center and there was no loom anymore). There are also all accessories and things you need for making your own folk dress, called "bunad". These are worn for special occasions like the national holiday, weddings and so on. The folk museum in Oslo hat a big display of them. They are reallyreally pretty, many I saw were red and white with a black apron. All have very beautiful embroidery, and I was considering to get a small one of the sew/embroider kits they sell, but I am not much into embroidery and I did not want it to lie around in the boxes until I may or may not come around to do it. Some of them would surely be able to be converted it to a knitting or a weaving chart.
Because the band weaving really it something I want to continue. I already did some card weaving a while ago, and discarded rigid heddles or tape looms as just less complicated and more limited, but that is not entirely true. I found the Yarn Jungle blog, featuring the most beautiful handwoven bands, which are exactly my taste (again, stars, snoflakes...). Ok, it is surely not trivial, but I really want to try. In the museums I also saw nice bands from the Sami people in Northern Scandinavia.

And in the Viking Ship Museum there were remains of tablet woven bands from the Oseberg find, and it was very amazing to see a around 1000 year old band from a craft I could do. Here is a good article on the textiles they found in the ship.
Rigid heddles are often beautifully embellished and in Bergen they had a small heddle from bone, in a special exhibition on bones and objects made thereof, which was small but oh so beautiful:

Another ancient craft is nalbinding. I also tried that some time ago, and found it interesting, but made just one piece and never continued. But seeing it in cultural context was really cool and that beforementioned bone exhibition featured some nålbinding needles. And they also had replicas which they sold, so I did not hesitate to get my own bone needle :)

We saw another archaeological museum in Oslo which was free to visit. It had many many many spinning whorls. Amazingly many. But again, before spinning wheels were invented, handspindles were the only means to make yarn and stone the material of choice. It would be too great to own a very old whorl. In the same museum they have a special exhibition on runes and there was - guess what - a spinning whorl with runic inscriptions. It says something like "Gunnhildr made this spinning whorl". In the museum they had also a display of plant dyed yarns. I just have to figure out from the name of the plants they showed what they used. And indigo and madder are most certainly dye stuff I am eager to try out.

I also saw some spinning wheels, they were all "castle wheels", and often there were also yarn winders and at the Viking Ship Museum there were pieces of a niddy noddy. Very amazing!

Oh and Hardanger embroidery is also very nice! We made a cushion cover at school, but the lace I saw is much more sophisticated with very fine threads..

Now I just need the time to do all this knitting, spinning, dyeing, weaving and nålbinding! And to decide what to start with.

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