Thursday, June 27, 2013

Finnish Travels - Pt 2

Blankets on display at the Korsnäs Hembygdsförenings

As a weaver, I was really excited and surprised by all of the wonderful weaving that I saw in the Korsnas region of western Finland.  Even though the Korsnäs Hembygdsförenings museum is a tiny regional museum it is filled with surprises around each corner.  There are several rooms with coverlets and blankets that have been hung to show off their range of color and weaving style.  Several are woven in plain weave and several are woven in monk's belt.

More woven coverlets and blankets at the Korsnäs Hembygdsförenings

A display in one of the rooms that focused on the history of seal hunting in the region suggested that some of the coverlets would have been used for decorative purposes on top of a sheep skin 'blanket'.  A close look at the 'blanket' showed the seams where several skins had been sewn together.  The 'blanket' was displayed fleece side down.

Monk's belt coverlet on top of sheep skin 'blanket'.

Several of the coverlets were displayed as curtains on the box beds.  In the displays I saw, the curtains were often woven in monk's belt patterning.

Bed curtain on box bed displayed at the Ostrobothnian Museum in Vasa, Finland.

While visiting the city of Vasa, I had the opportunity to also go to a few antique shops.  Much to my surprise, I found one of the old monk's belt coverlets for sale. After picking the moths off of it, I brought it home (it also did a stint in my freezer for good measure).  The piece was obviously woven after the use of aniline dyes came into use.  The ground appears to be a mix of a florescent yellow two ply cotton yarn and a red single ply cotton yarn.  The pattern is a bright Barbie pink handspun singles wool yarn.  The blanket was woven in two narrower panels and then stitched together by machine. ...If you saw me on the street, you would find that I always wear shades of brown, olive or blue with lots of gray mixed in, so it was quite a shock to me that I really liked this bright coverlet!

Monk's belt coverlet from antique store in Vasa.  Actual block size is about 1/2" square. 

The sett on this colorful coverlet is about 60 epi with close to 50 pattern picks per inch and 50 ground picks per inch...and I thought that I did fine weaving on my coverlet patterns at 32 epi!  Each of the two panels was woven 25" wide and 65" long with a tiny 1/4" hem on the ends and a bit less for the center seam. 

Weaving from the Bengt Carlson farm in Molpe

The other woven treasure I returned with was an single panel of a monk's belt coverlet or bed curtain given to me by the wonderful folks we stayed with, Bengt Carlson and Greta Björkqvist.  The ground appears to be a black two ply cotton with a sett of 60 epi. The red and green part of the pattern is a single ply handspun wool while the yellow and white accents are a two ply commercial cotton.  The picks per inch in the pattern are about 50 ppi for both the pattern the ground.  The piece measures about 26 1/4" wide and 73" long with a tiny hand stitched hem on each end.  However, at some point this panel had one of the long sides turned over about 2" and was then hand hemmed.  Perhaps for use as a decorative valance for a bed?  (There is no evidence of fading on the back side which would suggest it had been used for a window valance). 

My two woven treasures from Finland

While at the Korsnäs Hembygdsförenings I also noticed the woven runners on the floor.  These weft faced wool rugs have colored patterning that was quite unique to Korsnäs. 

Korsnäs woven rug

Band weaving also played an important part of the textile production in the area.  These bands were woven on a rigid heddle loom.  They were used for decoration on the both the folk costumes and household textiles in the region.

Woven and tapestry crochet bands at the Korsnäs Hembygdsförenings
While visiting Stundars Open Air Museum in Solf, we had the opportunity to watch some of the local crafts people do demonstrations.  Barbro Sandin was using the rigid heddle loom to weave traditional patterned bands.  These particular bands are used to wrap around the waist of skirts for the women's folk costume and to hold up aprons and pockets.

Barbro Sandin demonstrating at Stundars
This women's ikat, weft faced wool skirt from the Korsnäs folk costume would have been wrapped with a three meter handwoven band around the waist.  The band was finished with decorative wrapping and tassels.

From the folk costume collection at Brage in Helsinki, Finland

I can only say that I am thrilled that my sister, who accompanied me on this trip, showed great forbearance as I slowed my pace to that of a snail as we explored all of these wonderful places!

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