Handweaving, along with hand spinning, continues to be a popular craft in many countries. Traditional weavers used wooden looms to create rugs, fabrics, and tapestries. It is an old craft that has been kept alive in communities where it used to be a way to supplement the income of rural people in tough times.
Creative with thread - traditional weaving Norway
Inger Rishaug Gundersen believes weaving is keeping her healthy. And the threads are keeping the fabric of her life together.
The summer evening is warm. The sun is still powerful on the building where - inside - three women are busy weaving the material for national costumes. While Inger Rishaug Gundersen is helping and supervising. Behind the loom the time passes quickly.
There is a seeming confusion of threads – but there clearly is a system behind them.
Traditional Weaving Norway
Each thread has its place. If one is missing it will be noticed throughout the project. It is the same if there is an error. Inger says that a project can have as many as 3000 threads. It is almost like she herself is a necessary ingredient – without her the room with the weavers would not be the same. She fits in as well as any of the threads.
Lately Inger has become known through the handicraft markets in the area. The exhibitors sell out and steadily more visitors come to the markets. Inger has organized the exhibits.
To show what the members of Mandal Husflidslag has been doing is a joy. Members are creative. For me it is a joy to see what others are creating, says Inger. She is very much a part of "traditional weaving Norway".
Inger forgets to emphasize herself. She started weaving in 1978 in a group named Holum Bygdekvinnelag.
I had intended to start weaving a long time ago. But nothing happened until I took a course. I had an old loom from Laudal. I set it up in my bedroom after the course.
Inger started handicrafts when she was in the fifth grade. She knit a Setesdal sweater that she kept for many years afterwards. She was justifiably proud of that item.
Traditional Weaving Norway
Inger, the weaver, grew up in Kleven. Her mother took in knitting and she was among the first to acquire a knitting machine. The family had no TV and there was ample time for handicrafts.
To create something with your hands is very rewarding. I have been active in Mandal Husflidslag for 20 years. At the moment I am leading the Risøbank weaving room. It gives me great pleasure.
Her courses are fully booked at all times. And no one ever quits.
The best thing about the courses is to see the engagement of the participants. And that many of them invest in a proper weaving loom after the course is over. I personally believe weaving is like a balm for the soul. Particularly in difficult periods of people's lives. At the loom it is possible to forget health problems and crisis situations.
Inger knows whereof she speaks. She has suffered from arthritis.
One of her knees has been replaced by an artificial one. And at times there are aches and pains.
The weaving keeps me active. And that helps with the arthritis. Though I am spending quite a bit of time with the weaving, my husband is happy that I am active and have less aches and pains than I otherwise might have.
No one ever tires of weaving once they get started.
Something is happening all the time. Old patterns live anew. And I meet new people constantly. In the weaving room there is a social contact. If you were weaving at home you would likely be alone.
Traditional weaving Norway
The old weaving loom from Laudal has been removed from the bedroom to a more appropriate place.
The courses at Risøbank are not the only courses she is involved in. For two years Inger has traveled to the cradle of the loom she owns, Laudal, to conduct courses. This is especially meaningful for her.
Since the loom came from Laudal, I feel like the circle was completed when I came to give courses there.
Inger is actually trained as a "husmorvikar". (A sort of position where you step in to do the work of a homemaker that for one reason or another is unable to care for a family). For several years she worked for the Mandal municipality in that capacity.
I was in a home eight hours daily. Doing what a housewife normally does. It was required to step in and familiarize yourself with a household down to the smallest detail. The most time she ever spent with one family was three months.
Inger believes the position of "husmorvikar" would have been a good municipal service to make available to families that need it. Many families struggle with stress and marital problems. Maybe we need this kind of service more than ever. I do not work anymore, because of my arthritis.
In a situation like that things you can do with your hands become more important. It fills an empty space in your life.
Traditional weaving Norway can not be discussed without covering the weaving of "åklær" (tapestries or coverlets). It is among the kinds of projects Inger values most of all. She has four of them on her own walls at her house, in addition to tablecloths that she has created.
Weavings of this sort must be created as you go along, and you have to use your head. Works that you have created yourself gives a special satisfaction.
In the past I created some tablecloths in "gammelrosa", a color not in favor today. Now I advice the course members to use neutral colors to avoid having works they spend a lot of time on end up forgotten in a drawer somewhere.
For Inger it is the large flat loom that means a "real" loom to her.
Traditionally the loom and weaving was necessary for daily life on small farms in the area. Clothes and articles were created among the threads of a loom. Inger would have liked to see weaving become a course available in public schools.
In Laudal they were careful to nurture the weaving tradition. We could learn from them. The patterns from those times are still seen today. Women made sure of that.
In Marnardal and Laudal there were no foreclosures on farms, women on those small farms contributed to the income of the family by weaving.
The weaving work is in bloom again in Laudal. And Inger does not have a gloomy outlook about the future of the craft of weaving.
Traditional weaving Norway
Fully booked courses and great engagement tell the story. And Inger is actively encouraging the revival of old crafts. She is a woman with engagement for life and the threads that hold it together.