[My Chamber of Textile Thoughts. No: XL | 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 “Textile Thought” 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.

Historical reproduction of a bench cover in brocaded tabby type “krabbasnår” originating from Herrestads district, Skåne, Sweden. Photo and woven fabric (in full size, 63cm x 120cm): Viveka Hansen.

Historical reproduction of a bench cover in brocaded tabby type “krabbasnår” originating from Herrestads district, Skåne, Sweden. Photo and woven fabric (in full size, 63cm x 120cm): Viveka Hansen.

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.

Early 19th century ‘krabbasnår’ showing similar type of patterns from south eastern Skåne – exhibited at Kulturen in Lund, Sweden. The museum’s textile gallery displays among its many fabrics/embroideries/lacework a selection of local weaving techniques; where the illustrated example was studied during the spring 2014. Photo: Viveka Hansen.

Early 19th century ‘krabbasnår’ showing similar type of patterns from south eastern Skåne – exhibited at Kulturen in Lund, Sweden. The museum’s textile gallery displays among its many fabrics/embroideries/lacework a selection of local weaving techniques; where the illustrated example was studied during the spring 2014. Photo: Viveka Hansen.

Workshop drawing of brocaded tabby type “krabbasnår”, produced by Svensk Hemslöjd (Swedish Handcraft) Stockholm in 1928. This early 20th century drawing with pattern and chosen colours also mentions a very exact geographical location – Fårarp village, Hoby parish, Ingelstad district, Skåne, Sweden. (Courtesy of: Nordic Museum, Stockholm, NM.0323494, & historical facts from catalogue card. Creative Commons).

Workshop drawing of brocaded tabby type “krabbasnår”, produced by Svensk Hemslöjd (Swedish Handcraft) Stockholm in 1928. This early 20th century drawing with pattern and chosen colours also mentions a very exact geographical location – Fårarp village, Hoby parish, Ingelstad district, Skåne, Sweden. (Courtesy of: Nordic Museum, Stockholm, NM.0323494, & historical facts from catalogue card. Creative Commons).

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.

Close-up from my reproduction demonstrating how the colours for the pattern – here red, yellow, green and blue – were used simultaneously on the dark brown main weft-faced tabby. Photo and woven fabric: Viveka Hansen.

Close-up from my reproduction demonstrating how the colours for the pattern – here red, yellow, green and blue – were used simultaneously on the dark brown main weft-faced tabby. Photo and woven fabric: Viveka Hansen.

 The close-up of the back, showing that the ends of the yarn for the pattern are not attached to the fabric, but instead a couple of centimetres of each yarn is left – both on this reproduction like the original 18th and 19th century originals. Photo and woven fabric: Viveka Hansen.

The close-up of the back, showing that the ends of the yarn for the pattern are not attached to the fabric, but instead a couple of centimetres of each yarn is left – both on this reproduction like the original 18th and 19th century originals. Photo and woven fabric: Viveka Hansen.

 The last close-up shows the differences in appearance between the back and front of the reproduction. Photo and woven fabric: Viveka Hansen.

The last close-up shows the differences in appearance between the back and front of the reproduction. Photo and woven fabric: Viveka Hansen.

Sources.

  • 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)