Sunday, 6 April 2014

Look what I won! (An embroidery WIP)

I don't always flaunt stuff I win, but this time I just had to. Partially because it's also a WIP as it included both a big book and an wool embroidery kit.

In the last minute I managed to send my e-mail and participate in a contest at the website Textil hemslöjd where I could win a book by Ulla Oscarsson that offers glimpses into the textile history of Jämtland and Härjedalen (two provinces in northern Sweden) and an embroidery kit for a big bridal cushion modelled after one made in the late 18th century in Jämtland. The book is called Kvinnomöda och skaparglädje, which loosly translates to women's effort and creativity/joy of creating.

Just have to show you a few pages of the book. It really covers everything from what fibres were used, what textiles were bought rather than made at home, what clothes people used through the ages, what textiles was used in the house, how they did laundry, what the embroideries looked like and what a bride wore. And, yes, it does include the Överhogdal tapestries.

The book with the loose banner with the title on

(Notice how the wind tried to "help" me today. Don't know what photo assistants I prefer: weather or cats...)

A very interesting book to read, even for those that like me have no connection to the region. After all, some of the history we do share in the rest of Sweden or Scandinavia -- and other parts become interesting just because of the local and regional differences.

I finished the book last night (or morning if we're being picky) so now I'm turning my focus on the second part of the prize: the bridal cushion kit.

It'll be one of my bigger embroidery projects considering it's 50 cm wide -- and the first time I work with wool. This will be a meeting between a 18th century embroiderer from Jämtland and a 21st century beader from Skåne and I will be adding my own touch to it.

That's really where I am at the moment, planning on how and where to include beads. Because it will of cause need beads! I'm not one to follow a pattern -- and everything is better with beads. Beads don't seem to have been very common in the embroidery of that time and place: I spotted very little beads in the book. It seems to have be a bit more common in other areas (like Skåne), but in general swedish folk tradition didn't really include much beading. So this project really will be a fusion between places and ages once I bead it.

One big part of the planning process is determining what beads to include: they need to match the embroidery yarns I got in the kit as I won't be substituting with anything from my own thread stash. An excuse to buy more beads? Hrmm... Maybe. I will try to do my best and see if I can't use what I already have, but this is a bit different from my usual style so bead shopping might be necessary for the best result.

Might have to make a few swatches to test bead-yarn combos first. Or just test combinations of embroidery and beading stitches. I want to do some beaded herringbone stitch. That's all I really have decided at this point.

So stay tuned to see what happens, but I warn you: I'm a slow embroiderer. This won't be done in the next couple of weeks!


  1. Congratulations! The cushion cover will be much more you with some bead embroidery. It is a lovely design. Hopefully there will be room for more colour and patterns in Swedish design. Sweden is known for minimalism, but the traditions are far from that. Anna

    1. Thanks! Yes, it's interesting to see how Sweden and Scandinavia went from a tradition of bold colours and patterns (not all as bold as, say Dala-Floda, but still) to white minimalism. It pretty much happened in just a few decades. That's what happens when you want to be cutting-edge modern and designed, you start looking down on centuries of folk tradition -- or at least wanting to make a clean break with the old ways. With the current interest in slöjd and handmade, maybe it's at least a little better now than during the early stages of modernism.

      The textile tradition in Scandinavia is very interesting to read about (and you keep finding links to other countries, especially eastern european embroidery and costumes). Just wish there were more beads, of cause! One doesn't see that much beads in swedish tradition, but the more I search at Digitalt Museum, the more interesting bead embroidery I find. I've seen bead embroideries on norwegian bunads, but never on swedish costumes -- until now. Now I've found parts of old costumes, especially from Skåne, with interesting bead embroideries. So there is at least some little local tradition to draw inspiration from as a scanian beader after all.


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