Saturday, October 22, 2011

Swedish Weaving

I finally got a chance to listen to the podcast of Mark Lipinski’s Creative Mojo yesterday morning. One of his guests was Katherine Kennedy of Swedish Weave Designs.  They were discussing Swedish weaving, a.k.a huck embroidery.

I vaguely remember seeing Swedish weaving designs in craft magazines back in the eighties, but the designs were so boring, plus you had to buy special fabric, that I wasn’t inspired to try it. However, I do recall thinking that it looked easy to do. Fairly recently, I saw a beautiful example of the technique that made me think it might be worth trying someday, but then I promptly forgot about it again.

As I was listening to the podcast yesterday, I started thinking that it sounded interesting, but that I really didn’t feel like tracking down special materials. Then Katherine mentioned that Swedish weaving could be done on aida with perle cotton rather than on the traditional monk’s cloth or huck toweling. That got my attention. Not only is aida readily available, but it comes in lots of different colors. I looked speculatively at the piece of aida I was cross stitching on, experimentally slipped my needle under one of the vertical floats, and thought, “Yeah, this might work.” Then she started talking about monk’s cloth: about how it’s made from 100% cotton (my favorite fiber), how it gets softer each time you wash it, and how Jo-Ann’s is now carrying it.

I paused the podcast and started poking around online to see if I could find a free pattern and basic instructions. Then, I raided my stash for a piece of aida. After deciding to liberate the fabric from an unopened kit and replace it later with a decent evenweave, I sat down to finish listening to the podcast.

After the podcast, I pulled up the free pattern I had found, chose some pretty colors of embroidery floss, read the general instructions, and got to work. I opted to follow the chart and ignore the rather complicated instructions beneath it.

After several hours of obsessive stitching I had this:

I also had a burning desired to buy books and supplies. After overcoming my initial impulse to buy everything I saw, I ended up ordering one of Katherine Kennedy’s charts, and a couple of books with more traditional patterns that were recommended as being good for beginners (Monk's Cloth Diamond Afghans and Learn to Make Monk's Cloth Afghans, both by Marilyn T. Magly). I’ll buy supplies after I’ve had a chance to peruse the books.

Swedish weaving is incredibly easy. You simply weave your needle under the vertical floats on the fabric, following a chart.

I used 14-ct. aida and 3 strands of DMC floss for mine. I like the way it came out; however, I did learn a couple of things the hard way. First, use a decent quality fabric. This cheap stuff I used was stiff and difficult to work with – my hand was sore by the time I got done. Second, I now understand why Katherine Kennedy says she prefers perle cotton over embroidery floss. The strands of my floss kept separating, twisting, and bunching up. I spent as much time fighting with the floss as I did stitching. In the future I’ll avoid anything consisting of multiple strands.

I haven’t decided what I’m going to do with my practice piece yet. Maybe I’ll frame it or make a small pillow.

1 comment:

  1. This is good to know! I haven't seen huck toweling in a long time.


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