[No: XXXVIII | May 1, 2015 | By Viveka Hansen]
Brocaded tabby type “krabbasnår” was just one of several decorative weaving techniques made by the farmer’s wives in southernmost Sweden during the 18th and 19th centuries. The technique in itself is fairly uncomplicated, but the brocading weft pattern picked by hand alternating with the shuttled weft-faced tabby gives the weave a certain complexity. The aim with this text is to share my experience of reproducing one of these beautiful decorative textiles, one which can be compared with an original bench cover and an almost hundred year old workshop drawing.
This time-consuming weaving technique was popular in many areas of Sweden and had often various local names, but in the southernmost part of the country this form of brocaded tabby came to be known as “krabbasnår”. The textiles were primarily woven by farmer’s wives and daughters for the young girl’s dowry or simply as decorative or functional additions to the homes’ textile storage. The uses for these woven treasures included diverse kinds of cushions alongside bench and bed covers – where usually the richly formed patterns almost covered the main weft. These interior textiles were woven in a variation of borders, but always in a symmetrical design consisting of shapes like stars, squares, hearts and hour glasses. Besides these facts; during the 1930s excavation of Birka (close to Stockholm), the late textile historian Agnes Geijer established that wool textiles of a similar technical nature, had been woven in Sweden as far back as the 10th century.
My reproduction of the “krabbasnår” bench cover has been made using the traditional methods and materials of the 18th and 19th centuries, which entails the using of a loom with a horizontal linen warp. The weft comprising of one-ply woollen yarn, used as a single thread in the shuttle for the main weft while three threads were used simultaneously in the brocading weft to reach the desired effect of creating a distinctive pattern. To create this richly patterned technique requires great precision, a fact which is accentuated by that the weaving process is also made more difficult when the weaver has the weave’s back towards her/him in the loom. Furthermore each change of colour in the pattern must be picked by hand with its individual small spool of wool, which in this case meant up to 35 colour changes/spools of wool used at the same time on a 60 cm width of the fabric. Please see the three illustrations below for more details of my reproduction attempt.
- Digitalt Museum (several examples of ‘krabbasnår’ from southernmost Sweden).
- Hansen, Viveka (Historical reproduction/weaving of “krabbasnår”).
- Nylén, Anna-Maja, Swedish Handcraft, 1976.
- Walterstorff, Emelie von, Svenska vävnadstekniker och mönstertyper, 1940 [in Swedish only].
PLEASE REFERENCE AS FOLLOWS:
- Hansen, Viveka, ‘Historical Reproductions – ’A Swedish Weaving Tradition’, TEXTILIS (May 1, 2015); http://textilis.net/ (Accessed: Day/Month/Year)