Nordic Classics

Intriguing techniques from Norway, Finland, Denmark, and Sweden

Instructor: Becky Ashenden

Dates offered 2018: Mar 19–23, Apr 2–6 (class full; waiting list only)

This class offers a group of intriguing techniques not only from Sweden, but from the surrounding countries as well. It supplies something new and different for our Vävstuga Basics alumni, who want to come back to Vävstuga for an experience off the mainstream.

The Techniques


Halvdräll – Sweden

A beautiful and underused Swedish block structure that requires only four shafts. The threading takes interesting twists depending on how many threads are in each of the two blocks. This piece can make a lovely little table square or cushion cover. The use of multiple colors in both warp and weft ensures that each piece from this warp will be unique, making it a valuable color study.


Treadled Opphämta – Finland

Becky was intrigued by this pattern in a Finnish weaving book, and asked a Swedish friend for help with the technique. The friend in turn asked a Finnish weaver, who described the intriguing solution. Two sets of shafts are used, employing both the counterbalance and countermarch tie-ups in combination with each other. All the patterning happens with treadles, and requires no pick-up or drawloom, contrary to how it might seem at a first glance.


Enkel Skillbragd – Norway

Make your own mini sheepskin coverlet in this traditional 6-shaft weave from Norway. The straightforward threading can be woven in so many different ways, and even a small piece of this beautiful textile can be mounted on a small sheepskin to be used in a traditional Scandinavian way to cover a baby while sleeping outside. The natives keep this tradition alive even all through the winter, claiming that the fresh air is best for the baby's lungs.

treadled leno

Treadled Leno – Sweden

The curtain that hangs in the Vävstuga dormitory, directly across from the WC, has raised more questions than almost any other piece of weaving in our studio. This fascinating technique, which we learned from one of the many older Swedish weaving books in our library, introduces a practical and clever way to weave this structure with no fussy pick-up. It's all done in the threading on a warp of linen and cotton combined.

figured fabric

Figured fabric – Denmark

We have a fantastic weaving book from Denmark nearly 2 inches thick, with a fascinating weaving draft on each page. We have chosen a 12-shaft fabric on a linen warp that is nearly covered with the wool ground and pattern wefts. The picture here is only a jumping-off point. As a group we will try out various treadlings to see how much variety we can come up with in pattern and color.

gagnefkrus (honeycomb)

Gagnefkrus – Sweden

Honeycomb weave can be woven in fine cotton and is used for blouse material in some of the traditional costumes in the area near where Becky went to weaving school in Sweden. Whether you choose to weave with a single color just to show the texture of the weave, or use multiple colors framed by the heavy lines, the weaving is a joy to experience. This structure opens the door to a new way of thinking about weaving other projects as well.

In this five-day class, we'll spend Monday doing a little bit of set-up on each project, becoming familiar with the weave structures and the exotic variety of fascinating tie-ups. Weaving will start Tuesday morning.

Daily theory classes will include drafting for the structures being woven as well as designing with colors and proportions. We'll analyze each project sheet in detail to ensure that you go home with all the information you need to reproduce these amazing textiles at home.

Finishing techniques will feature the option of sewing sheepskin backings to our Norwegian skillbragd mini-coverlets, with a little outlining band. Hemming techniques will be reviewed and expanded upon for the Halvdräll and Finnish Opphämta. We will explore a few items that could be made from the Danish fabric and Gagnefkrus, including cushion covers and bags.

Location: Water Street Studio

Prerequisites: Vävstuga Basics (Why does everyone need Basics?)

Max enrollment: 8

Course fee: $850 (includes all instruction and studio time, course handouts, lunch Mon–Fri, dinner Thu)

Materials fee: $95 (plus extra for optional mini sheepskin)

Room & board: $450 (includes lodging Sun–Thu evenings, breakfast Mon–Fri, dinner Mon–Wed)

For more detail: See also costs & logistics, food & accommodations

Days offered: Five-day session, Monday–Friday

Schedule: Studio open 9:00–6:00, instruction time 9:00–noon and 2:00–5:00. Exceptions: on Friday, instruction ends at noon, checkout must be completed before 3:00, and the studio closes promptly at 3:00.