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The Fantastic Seam Ripper

Grandson has finished his very colourful shirt, which has been in the works on and off for some months now. Last of all he sewed the button holes for the buttons.

Then he discovered what a wonderful instrument the seam ripper can be. It sheared open the button holes soooo easily. This was real fun.

A few minutes later, our test patch looked like this:

Too much fun to stop. Luckily, we have no shortage of fabric scraps to serve as test patches in this house.

🙂

Eldrid

“Kappakjolen” – the Story of a Dress

We have just celebrated my mothers 90th birthday this weekend, and during the festivities, an old family photograph turned up. Below I have cropped the photo so it just shows  a 7 or 8 years old me in the most beautiful dress I have ever owned.

My mother related the story of the dress, which for the most part I knew, but there were some new-to-me details. Anyway, here it is:

My parents had built their house close to my paternal grandparents’ home, and we moved in when I was two years old. At about the same time, an old chapel (bedehus) was taken from its original location and moved further into the valley, closer to the farms where we lived. My paternal grandmother, Helene, and neighbouring women formed a society with the aim of raising money for a new organ for the chapel. They organized bazaars and raffles, and my mother helped by making some of the prizes for the raffles. She made this dress and gave it to the society to use as a raffle prize. She made it out of a thin, white nylon fabric with tiny raised dots, using an old Bernina treadle machine, and at a time in life when she had 4 children aged 1 to 6, was expecting her 5th child, and still had no washing machine. How she mustered the time and energy I do not know. Just hemming all those ruffles would have taken forever.

My grandmother Helene won the dress at the raffle, and she gave it to me, probably because I was the right size for it at the time. Lucky me.

The first time I remember wearing it, was during the Christmas celebrations when I was 5. By then I was in a hospital in Oslo, 600 kilometres away from home, and alone, except for some distant relatives and friends visiting now and then. When it was decided that I would not be able to come home for Christmas, my parents sent the dress and a pair of not-quite-new shoes, which my father had made glossy and new-looking by applying some black lacquer, so I would have something nice to wear for the celebrations. I remember the nurses oohing and aahing over my dress, and I was very, very proud of it.

Later I remember wearing it to the Sunday school Christmas celebrations at the chapel, where there now was an organ, partly thanks to the dress that my mother made. We did not have a car (they were rationed till 1960), so my parents loaded the family on two kicksleds, two children on each seat, and one standing between the seat and the parent, who then kicked our way the 3 kilometres to the chapel. Once a storm blew up on our way home, and I can still remember the feeling of hails stinging my face as we crossed an open, boggy area before we got in between the trees. Of course we were all dressed as if we were going on a polar expedition, but the beautiful dress was underneath it all. So the first thing we did upon arriving, was to go downstairs to shed all the thick wool, put on our best shoes we had brought along, and then it was time for my mother to comb our hairs and put in the big bows (which I hated, by the way) before entering the big room. 60 years later I have been told by some of my contemporaries that they still remember that dress.

The photo above is the only one that exists of that dress, that I know of. I was then 7 or 8 years old, and the dress is already too small. Later it went to my two younger sisters, each in their turn. I am not sure what became of it after that, but it was probably passed on to some younger cousins, – that was how things were done back then. If so, I hope they enjoyed wearing it as much as I did.

🙂

Eldrid

 

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Fashion Show in Suzdal

I mentioned in a previous post that I would post some photos from the Fashion Show in Suzdal, and finally, here they are.

The Fashion Show was held on a stage built in the middle of the town square, and was part of the entertainment on the annual Suzdal Day, which is celebrated on the second Saturday of August.

They kept going for almost two hours, as participants of all ages were showing more than a hundred different outfits. Because of the crowd of people in front of the stage, it was difficult to get up close, so I had to use the zoom a lot, which lessen the chance of getting clear shots.

Below are a few of the outfits. All the information from the stage was in Russian only, so sadly we missed out on a lot of the details. So I will not be able to inform on the names of the designers or wearers of the outfits, except for a few that I have picked up on later.

 

fashione10Nina Lee in her beautiful skirt and waistcoat.

fashione11I believe this is also one of Nina Lee’s creations.

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Ludmila Charest presents a collection of outfits made in a class with Xenia Dmitrieva. See also video clip below.

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Many of the dresses seemed to be inspired by folk costumes.

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Denim was popular, either as new fabric or re-purposed jeans. Note the bird theme.

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There were a few collections of children’s outfits. They were adorable, – all of them.

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A few of many, many skirts, coats and jackets.

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A collection of outfits in an old fashioned style, and with some patchwork details.

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This one got a lot of attention. The design was inspired by the town of Suzdal, with all its churches and bell towers,

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A couple of fanciful skirts, – very original. I liked them better and better each time I saw them around town during the following days.  There was a whole collection with similar dekor.

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Behind the scenes:  Cuddling the baby while waiting to enter the stage.

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“Backstage” was in reality at one of the sides of the stage, so while the participants were lining up waiting for their turn, some lucky persons got to photograph the outfits up close.

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Walking around the square after the show doing some shopping in one or more of the many booths, there were some interesting clothing items around to study and admire.

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Some video clips from the fashion show:

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Enjoy.

🙂

Eldrid

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The Quilted and the Non-Quilted Feast

The first day of our tour we spent sightseeing in Moscow, and in the afternoon we ended up inside the Novospassky Monastery, where a delicious meal had been prepared for our international group.

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We were to dine in one of the towers that sit on every corner of the wall surrounding the monastery.

The entrance was through a low door in the inside wall, up some long and narrow steps to the gallery, and again ducking through low doors and into the tower room.

It was a lovely sight: tables already set with lots of delicious food, old cupboards against the walls holding beautiful pots and crockery, traditional costumes on display, along with various crafted items, – and everything lit only by candles and the natural light coming through the small windows, filtered through blue and white glass.

Many old and newer samovars were displayed around the room and on the steps to the upper room:

We were told that we were going to have a traditional Russian meal, – as in a feast, – and our guide inside the monastery described each course as they were served: what they were, a little about tradition and production, how they should be eaten, etc.

I think there were more than ten different courses, – I lost count somewhere during the meal, – and all of it was delicious; the pumpkin soup, chicken and mushroom pie, pancakes with caviar, fish, pork, cucumber rolls and everything else.

We had sweetened mint flavoured juice to drink, – very good after a long and warm day out in the streets. Then there was cake and desserts along with hot tea made from lots of different sour fruits and berries, and sweetened with comb honey.

What a treat!


 

A week later we went into another monastery, in Suzdal, and inside one of the churches there, we laid eyes on another feast.

22 year old Xenia Shlyakova had single-handedly provided a full table of yummy food, – all made from fabric and set onto a large, handmade, table cloth.

There were all kinds of food:  fish with both red and black caviar, mushrooms, and chicken…..

……. pelmeni, cucumbers, roasted pig with vegetables, goose and apples, prawns with lemon and strands of dill……

….. breads in a basket with an embroidered napkin, and decorated bread or cake.

Bearing in mind the topic of the festival was Love, and Wedding, this would probably be the kind of decorated bread made especially for weddings. Note the poppy seeds on the braided loaf, – they are all tiny french knots.

Of course there were desserts too, – fruit, berries, cake, and cookies.

No feast is complete without something to drink.  In the bottle there is moonshine, and my guess is tea in the teapots and the samovar.

I wondered a bit about the boot on the top of the samovar, but Mr. Google informs me that it is used instead of a bellow to fan the fire inside the samovar.

And then the tea is sweetened with comb honey, – everything so neatly made, down to the last detail.

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One the artist’s beautiful quilts was overlooking the table.

 

Both feasts were amazing experiences, and even though the last one was for the eyes only, it is remembered just as well as the one which we could also taste and smell.

 

🙂

Eldrid

 

 

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Dolls, – Tradition and Art

 

Dolls were a prominent part of the Quilt Festival in Suzdal. There was a separate competition category for dolls, and there were also several doll making classes during the week.

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The dolls exhibition and classes took place in the library building, an interesting sight in itself.

I loved the two quilts fitted into the arcs in the upstairs room. The large angel wings, put together from lots of individual wings made by children, was a popular selfie spot.

 

Old doll making traditions seem to have survived and are very much alive and kicking in this country, – maybe because dolls were not seen only as toys for little children, but were also part of traditions connected with adult life. Linda Walsh has an interesting article on her blog about Russian folk art dolls and their use.

According to tradition, rag dolls should be without facial features so that evil spirits would not mistakenly recognize them as humans and inhabit the dolls, – thus it would be safe for little children to play with. This old belief implies that dolls at some time must have been regarded as something more than just the sum of the fabric scraps they were made of.

There were a few faceless dolls in the exhibition, but most had facial features of some kind.

Anyway, regardless of face or not, the dolls were highly individual creations, – not two of them were alike.

The amount of work and attention to details were impressive.

People could enter works related to the terms “Urban Fashionista”, and also “Birds”, “Fish”, “Bears”, and “Bunnies”. Hence, there was a collection of imaginative, stuffed, animals, and, not surprising perhaps, – also cats.

 

“Angels Everywhere” was another subcategory of the dolls competition. And there were lots of angels and angel wings in many variations. One could also see the main theme for the festival, “Love”, reflected in many of the creations.

And even more angels:

The artist Nata Shulepina had created a special project called “Pray for me”:

Svetlana Minina taught classes on doll making at the festival. What she can express through a plain piece of cloth is truly amazing. Her small sculptures are really works of art.

I also loved the bird-woman sculptures, also made by Nata Shulepina  .   According to Wikipedia, these are mythical creatures, some telling the future, and some akin to the Greek sirens.

Not all dolls were as esoteric as the ones above, though. Some were engaged in down-to-earth, practical, activities:

Dolls could also be seen in other venues.  In the vendors’ area there were two life size dolls:

I loved the doll with three pairs of arms and hands. That could sure come in handy on many occasions.

Linda Walsh writes in her article about dolls with many arms:

“Ten-handed doll is a ceremonial multihanded doll. This doll was a common gift for weddings or for young hostess wishing everything to be well. It was considered the doll to help a woman to do all the housework , needlework, weaving, sewing, embroidery, knitting. The doll was made of bast fiber or straw. The doll can be put in the place, where woman spends her time working.”

The tradition of giving dolls as gifts with accompanying good wishes, has certainly not been abandoned. I have received such gifts on previous visits to Russia, and again on this trip.

This lovely doll was thrust into my hands by a fellow quilter on the opening night of the festival. Just like that, for no reason I can think of, other than that we had just been introduced. She is an amazing quilt artist, and the doll now sits right next to my sewing machine.

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I bought this colourful, small, mat from a lady in a stall on one of the first days. On our last day we ran into each other at the Apple Festival inside one of the monasteries, and she gave me this small doll. We had no language in common other than body and facial expressions, but I understood this was meant for good luck.

According to this site, it seems this kind of doll is for wishing good health to the receiver.

Thank you! 🙂

 

🙂

Eldrid

 

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Quilts in Suzdal

At the International Quilt Festival in Suzdal there were many different exhibitions located in different venues around town.  There were both quilts for the Festival’s different competitions, and also special exhibitions of interesting and outstanding works. Most venues had a combination of the two.

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The quilts in this post were exhibited in the small church (winter church) to the left, behind the market square trading arcades.

The first glimpse through the door looked promising, and we were surprised to find not only quilts in the entrance room, but also some interesting ceramic sculptures, and a large egg covered in mosaics.

The medieveal themed quilts were made by Anna Veksler from St.Petersburg, and we were told that the ceramic sculptures were made by someone called Popov. I am not sure about the egg, except that it was beautiful, – that I know.

 

The main room was all painted white and with light coming in through low windows.  The building is not in use as a church any more, – not for the time being, anyway.

The exhibition in here was also a mix of quilts and ceramics.

 

In the room were a few benches to rest on, and they were also works of art. We were persuaded that it was ok to sit on them, though. They were very solid.

 

One of the competition categories was called “Made by Men”, and those quilts hung in this room. They were all made by male quilters, of course. A versatile collection with some nontraditional construction techniques.

 

There was also a collection of quilts from Japan, made by Yuriko Moriyama.

 

I also liked this work by Olga Bernikova.

 

The front end of the room was occupied by some of Galla Grotto‘s quilts, who also taught some classes at the show. She is an artist with an impressive body of works, – and not only textiles. I heartily recommend a visit to her website.

 

Alevtina Shevaldina made this quilt in the rug making technique. She had one in another exhibition too.

There were also several rugs in a special exhibition of old Russian quilts, which I will show in a later post.

 

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Also, Japanese Keiko Nakamura was inspired by Alevtina Shevaldina’s quilts to make her entry for the Quilted Field.

 

And there were more ceramic sculptures, – in every corner, – and more quilts.

 

I’ll stop with these photos of Nelly Saveljeva’s quilt.

More to come.

🙂

Eldrid

 

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Skarvsöm in Sweden and Yakutia

When visiting quilty events in foreign places, especially abroad, I hope, and expect, to see something different, – something we do not have at home, something new and exciting, – even exotic perhaps. But I also notice things that are familiar and similar to things I have seen before. Some times I know right away what the object reminds me of, and at other times it is just a feeling that I have seen it before, but cannot quite pinpoint what, where or when.

When walking the Quilted Field in Suzdal I came across a couple of quilts made in a technique I thought looked familiar. When studying the photos after I got home, I recognized the sewing technique as “Skarvsöm”.

I remembered reading about this technique many years ago in “Norsk Quilteblad”, the newsletter of the Norwegian Quilter’s Association. It was then described as a traditional patchwork technique in Sweden, well documented as far back as the 1700s, and mainly used for ceremonial cushions for weddings.

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“Skarvsöm” is made with woolen fabric which is felted so it will not unravel. It is often traditional patterns formed with squares, rectangles and triangles, but in between each and every patch or design element, a narrow strip, most often in a contrasting colour, is inserted, like a passepoil or piping. When the seam is finished, the strip is cut even with the surface on the right side of the work.

Here and here are examples of how it is made, and in Sweden’s Digital Museum you can see many examples of old items made in this technique, so it  is well documented. Here is a blog post with a short article on the history of this kind of quilting in Sweden.

Åsa Wettre also dedicated a whole chapter to this technique in her book “Old Swedish Quilts”.

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Since I could see no names on the quilts above, I wondered at first if someone from Sweden had entered their work in the Quilted Field project, but dismissed this idea as I thought our Swedish travel companion, Anita Fors, would have mentioned it if this was the case. My curiosity aroused, I messaged the organizers and asked about the names of the quilt makers, and if this was a traditional quilting technique throughout Russia. Within a few hours I got to know that this is a traditional technique from Yakutia, and the two makers are Anna Zverova and Vera Vorfolomeeva.

The latter also made these two quilts hanging in the special exhibition of Best Quilts from Previous Quilt Shows:

I noticed she had used not only one, but three strips of fabric in the seams between the patches, all throughout the red/yellow/black quilt, and in a few places on the other quilt too.

Further study of my and my husband’s photos revealed that this technique was also used in some of the clothing and other gear presented at the Yakut wedding demonstration, like on this coat:

…. the mittens:

 

… and the saddle bags/carpets:

 

It has been interesting to observe and learn about all this, and as often happens, new information creates new questions and more curiosity, – in this case as to what could be the connection between the Swedish and Yakut traditions.

Given that the two geographical areas are almost half a world apart, it is probably pure coincidence, – but I cannot help but wonder.

After studying all this, and also having long online conversations about the subject with our travel companion Anita, I got a sudden urge to try my hand at “skarvsöm”.

Just take a look at the beauty here.

 

Edited:

This kind of sewing is called “kybyty” in Russia. Here is a You-tube-video where Vera Vorfolomeeva shows how to do it.

Here is also a stunning picture of the StBasil cathedral in Moscow that she has made in this technique.

 

🙂

Eldrid

 

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