Zen in Skåne (the making of)

I meant to make this post few months ago, but better late than never (the motto of this blog) , so here it goes.
This is my crazy project of making round meditation cushion in Skåne rölakan technique.
In the end it somehow became a cushion, or something cushion-like, almost round.

And it was accepted for the local “Utvalt i Skåne” craft show and now traveling around from Malmö to Simrishamn to Helsinborg and then to Germany.



a little doodle from two years ago:


Pictures from the process:

rölakan weaving


weaving side stripe – with halvkrabba inlays (here was the part when I had serious doubts about it all working out)






I filled the cushion with kapok fibers

(Don’t take seriously the last picture)


Latest weaving – two cushions in rölakan (interlocked tapestry)  technique




This one is variation on antique carriage cushion from Bara district, Skåne.




And this one is a little sampling of local birds from folk textiles



I have used wool yarn from Wålstedts spinning mill -Wålstedts gobelänggarn Nm 5/2.


a goat from Pamir mountains

one day i went to the post-office and fetched a package that looked like this:


This is how posted parcels looked like in f. Soviet Union when I was little – you were supposed to sew it all in a white cloth with white thread and postal lady would seal it with brown pitch stamps. And they still look like that in Tajikistan. Because this parcel is from my former gene bank colleague from Dushanbe! I worked there on the Tajik gene bank development project three years ago. Together with the most hospitable, generous and kind people in the world.

And now they send me 2 kg of local goat fiber! (they kept asking me what I want and I said that little piece of some local wool would be perfect)


It is softest and fluffiest kid mohair. First I quickly ran it on a drum carder and then comb with my mini-combs


First portion of the yarn

Heavy, smooth and silky stuff.
I am thinking of a large woven  throw-plaid sort of a thing (I would need three times more yarn) , we’ll see.

singlad boll

Few months ago we had really fun day at work  – we sat together all day  in the library and made yarn balls – in traditional for Skåne “singlad boll” technique.

singlade bollar

singlade bollar

scraps of cloth and yarn are wrapped around a piece of champagne cork, all construction is then secured by wrapping a sturdy thread along the segments.
Then the whole ball is covered by buttonhole stitches with wool yarn.

singlade bollar

Our colleague Camilla has been researching on this tradition and had many workshops on making these balls, so we had our own in-house teacher.

singlade bollar

singlade bollar

a couple of weeks ago I  found my unfinished little ball in the yarn basket and felt  a bit sorry for it, so I had to finish it

singlad boll
singlad boll

It is the size of a tennis ball. A bit time-consuming in making, but fun, safe and eco-friendly  toy!

Here are more balls from Nordiska museet

UPD: have found this little video showing the technique (by Cammila)

winter knits

uncomplicated basic stuff – a sweater, a hat, a pair of mittens and a pair of wrist-warmers IMG_20150105_111848 Untitled “Heathered” cardi – I am not 100% happy with the way it turned out and the yarn (from laid-down little spinning mill Morjärvs ullspinneri) is definitely on the prickly side, but it is warm! Untitled Untitled A bicycle hat for my husband (this simple pattern) , want to knit one for myself Untitled Untitled mittens (inspired by the colors of this winter) from my handspun yarn stash Untitled simple wrist-warmers Untitled and fun free-form pullover on it’s way IMG_20150206_092755

Hemslöjdens samlingar

Long time no see (again). I want to post here more regularly in this new year. Let’s start with some catching up then.

For the last few month I have been working for the handicraft association of Skåne – Skånes hemslöjdsförbund, on a digitalisation of  the collection of the handicraft association. The collection (catalog information and the pictures) is displayed on a web-resource called Digitalt Museum, used by many swedish museums for making their collections available for the general public in a digital format. The largest collection is from Nordiska Museum (Swedish Museum of cultural history).

In Hemslöjdens collection there are many antique folk art items, modern reproductions and works of local designers – home textiles, folk costumes, clothes and other items (not only textiles, but f.ex. baskets and candle holders). I have been working with the picture part –  fixing up existing pictures, taking new photos and putting them into the database. Being in those archives and seeing all those beautiful things is quite overwhelming experience. I think I had a bit of visual overload, probably that’s why the blogging become neglected, but I am all fresh and rested now after the long christmas holidays, haha)

LKLH-21_B MSSHDG-557_ALKLH-280_A MSSHDG-13_B MSSHDG-623_B litenVäska ApelMSSHDG-47_B MSSHDG-157_C  MSSHDG-621_G liten MSSHDG-895-2_CMSSHDG-1141

Here are all the folders of Hemslöjdens collection (not just from Skåne but from other regions of Sweden too) and new  folders are being added and completed on a regular basis.

Here are my favourite folders from our (Skånes Hemslöjd) collection (some pictures are new, some old)

Skånsk rölakan (double interlocked tapestry)

Spedetröjor (knitted womens jumpers, part of local folk costume)

60-tals broderi (Swedish emroidery from 1960s)

Tröjor från Sydöstra Skåne (very peculiar little jackets from southeast of Skåne)

(in DigitaltMuseum, once you have clicked on a picture to enlarge it you may want to use > and < pointers to flickr through the detail pictures ).

dyeing with japanese indigo (and woad)

Long time no see! But here  I am and here is how my micro-plantation of Japanese indigo looked like a month ago (20-25 plants or so in total, seeds are  from Wildcolors in UK)

Japanese indigo

For growing the plants and then dyeing (sodium hydrosulfite method) I followed this instructions from the Journal for Weavers, Spinners and Dyers (free download article) and peeped in Wild Colour by Jenny Dean.

Japanese indgo

thick blue film appeared on the surface of the bath after simmering the leaves for a couple of hours at 50-60 degr.C



(the “foaming” stage after adding sodium carbonate didn’t really work for me, there was no blue foam). But the dyeing worked anyway:

yarn dyed with j. indigo from the garden

a week later I tried the same process with woad, with same amount of leaves and this time there was the blue foam.


Woad dyebath gave paler and cooler blue compared to japanese indigo.

Here is some woollen yarn (and little pieces of rya wool) dyed with j.indigo on the left and woad on the right, same number of dips:

yarn dyed with indigo and woad

Next year I want to try indigo with yeast bath or urine bath and fermenting the plant material (mainly just to try and see if it works)

Being in indigo mood I have finished the shawl from my handspun yarn (which I dyed  with synthetic indigo last year).

shawl Coeur de Lion

the pattern is Coeur de Lion from Ravelry. I first saw here in February Twelve blog.

shawl Coeur de Lion

Swedish dove-tale tapestry

In August I went to a seminar on dove-tale tapestry (flamskvävnad) at Lilla Rödde museum – an old unique Skanian farm known for it’s textile collection and a tragic story of two sisters who lived on that farm.

Typical local dove-tale tapestry motifs :
Lilla Rödde museum

Lilla Rödde museum

Lilla Rödde museum

Lilla Rödde museum

Most of the dove-tale tapestry woven by the sisters were used for furniture upholstery , there are about 2o chairs like this in the museum

Lilla Rödde museum

Lilla Rödde museum

and two sofas:

Lilla Rödde museum

Lilla Rödde museum

Lilla Rödde museum

Lilla Rödde museum

Apart from all that furniture and wall hangings there are many other textiles

Lilla Rödde museum

hand-woven linen:

Lilla Rödde museum

Most of the textiles were produced by two sisters as their dowry (hemgift) – in a hope that they will get married and take all those things with them to their new homes

It never happened – after their mothers unexpected death their father basically shut the house down, not letting anybody in or out and not agreeing on marriage proposals for his daughters.  One of the sisters continued to live on the farm in total seclusion untill she was 89, the farm was never modernised and remained as a time capsule from the beginning of 1900s.  New owners sold the farm  to the local commune and it became a museum. Here is an article (in Swedish) by Annhelen Olsson telling the full story of the place.

Lilla Rödde museum

Few pictures from the  “show and tell” section of the seminar

Lilla Rödde museum

Lilla Rödde Museum

Lilla Rödde Museum

Lilla Rödde museum

modern translations of the old motifs by Rebecka Winter

Lilla Rödde museum

Lilla Rödde museum

Lilla Rödde Museum

I have some more pictures in my flickr

wool distraction

I am back  from my self-proclaimed and self-indulgent summer holiday. I have spent it mostly sitting in the garden and carding and spinning wool.

handspun yarns

Last autumn my father-in-law left two huge sacks of wool in our garage.
Unsorted, unwashed, from unknown breed, full of straw and dirt,  “just wool”.

I’ve decided to have a look at it (and may be try to sort it) mostly because those sacks take space in the garage, I thought I don’t have time to process it.

All the possible colors and fiber qualities.


I have never tried to sort wool before, after throwing away 2/3 of it I still have 10 kg left, at least, may be more.

washing wool

Since it ‘s been exceptionally warm and dry weather I have been washing the wool outside in the garden – soaking in cold water for a few hours and then drying on a net.
drying wool

I liked this kind of washing (contra – warm water with detergent) because while all the dirt and dust is removed – the lanolin remains, staples remain almost intact, which makes it very easy to spin.


Carding and spinning in the garden  is so much more convinient than in the house –

all the debris is left outside.  (I am very happy with my Strauch drum carder).


I wanted  just to try to spin one color, but ended up spinning for many days – talk about easily distracted.

First I thought I could use the yarn for weaving blankets in all those beautiful natural colors, but now I realise that most of the fleece is double-coated – mixture of both fine wool and coarse hair , “peasant” sort of wool,  which in the end makes it more suitable for carpet-weaving.

But I still like the colors, here are some:
handspun yarns

Ah, may be it will become a carpet one day – rölakan-style little carpet….(I have spun only one kilo, I think I would need at a couple of kilos more) . We’ll see.

Well, it’s been a real summer wool-camp for me :) Now the summer weather is (totally) over here and I am back to my weaving loom.

birds, rölakan and a couple of old ladies

My summer is colorful. The kit for an embroidered cushion which I bought two years ago, and finished the embroidery a year ago – finally has become a cushion.

It’s been quite a tedious work to assemble it all together – thick felted woolen back piece and sewing in the tassels, had to buy new proper quality needles, old ones kept breaking  (no wonder it was lying in the basket unfinished for so long!)  But I’ve made it and now we have a fun cushion)

finished cushion

the cushion is composed by Hemslöjden Skåne, they have gathered all the birds from local folk embroideries.



And weaving. In my mind I made the list of things to weave – all those cool linen scarves and thin cloth in somber greys and white, different pattern samples I want to try… But my heart is directing me to something totally different:

rölakan weaving

it’s rölakan again, slow and colorful,

rölakan weaving

I love making these interlocks on the back side, one after another without thinking what is next.

finished rölakan piece

made a sketch for another side
Rölakan sketch

Speaking about heart – few days ago I bought an old book (from 1916), rough translation of the title is
“Old folk handicraft from Malmöhus county, published by the county’s handicraft association”
(former Malmöhus county is where we live, but now it’s part of larger Skåne county).
The book is sort of a bible of local textile handicraft.


inside there  are lots of pictures of different weaving and embroidery from 16-18 century with detailed descriptions – warp and weft density, material, and who has made it and whom it belonged then, in 1916.


On the fly-leaf it says “This book is dedicated to the handicrafting women of Malmöhus county”. And a couple of names in old handwriting.  I am really curious about them, specially about Kristin Holm from Knestorp (Knästorp in modern writing, little village 4 km from ours). Did she just own the book or was she a weaver and used it as an inspiration?


I couldn’t resist to write my name down too. Now we are a little local gang – Kristin, Birgit and me :)

a hammock, a monk and a chick

I have finished weaving the flying trasmatta. The last 20 cm took me forever .

rag rug hammock

my husband has made the sticks and we’ve hung the hammock  in the garden (it’s quite a huge thing).

rag rug hammock

I get a bit dizzy when I lie in it, but other people feel quite comfortable.

rag rug hammock

and here is  a little zen monk for the  rag doll show in Landskrona museum.


his kimono  is sewn from vintage japanese kimono fabric


(while making him I had this constant thought – hmm, may be  I should sit on my zafu more often…)


few days ago a  tiny chicken came out of an egg that we forgot to remove from under one of our extremely broody hens and another one hatched today (we thought that the odds are probably not so high, but they thought otherwise  :)


birthday present for a good man

While I am digging in the garden and not weaving much I will post some pictures from a month ago –
our joint (my husband’s and mine) birthday present for my father in law – a stool with a cushion
My husband made the stool after Peter Follansbee’s 17 century model, and I tried to come up with a cushion – free variation on 18 century Skåne weaving :)


I forgot to take a picture of the backside, here you can see a little.

Gröna trasor / green rags

Our very last school assignment before it all ends this week (it’s kind of hard to believe, but it’s true)  – a rug in any material, size  and form.

Since rugs are not so popular in our house (mostly because of an old cat with poor digestion) I am weaving a “flying carpet” for the garden instead – a rag-hummock.

Tabby with some rosepath stripes

(I made black and white warp stripes only because I didn’t have enough of the green).

Thank to this project we (my family and me) have assembled the second-hand loom I bought half a year ago –  an Öxabäck, in Sweden it  is considered to be ” loom of the looms” , this one is huge – 150 cm weaving width and it takes all the free space in our guest room. Come and be our guest :)

Everything in this loom is so smart and smooth! Ulla Zyrus-Zetterström, who constructed this loom- is genius.

I have another meter to go and hope for a nice summer!

Himmelskt vackert i Ystad

“Heavenly beautiful” – called the exhibition of folk weavings  from Skåne (Skania) in Ystad. I went there three times already, two of them to demo-weave at the “weaving cafe”, and it is still overwhelming , to think that this just a tip of an iceberg of all the textiles that where produced in ordinary homes in this area of Sweden  in 17-19 centuries.

The museum building is an old Franciscan monastery from XII century.

The weaving cafe – the most luxurious weaving shed I have been to. I will be there again this weekend.

Some pictures from the exhibition, sorry for the quality, all the textiles lighted with special museum light,
wich is good for the cloth, but pictures need severe color correction, which they barely survive.



Blådrätter – dukagång, blue wool on white linen base:


reindeer is a  popular motif in rölakan:


a photograph showing Skanian textile mounter at Baltic exhibition in 1914:

I have more pictures here.

my world is flat

Little experiments for the last school assignment  – three dimensional weaving using unusual materials as a weft (anything but yarn).

number one –  spring comes to our little world :

technically it’s not quite 3D,  but it’s not 2D either

number two – Ash bird (used nice long and curly ash wood shavings from my husband’s woodworking),
again quite flat, except the tail.  100% biodegradable, very eco-friendly bird.

Well, at least I kept my family entertained :)

The rest of the time I spent doing traditional flatweave – finished the rölakan sample

and started new folk weaving with the same happy colors:

krabbasnår and munk’s belt (munkabälte) this time:

%d bloggers like this: