In the beginning ov July I was in the city of Arkhangelsk, in the northwest of Russia. Together with other craftspersons from the museum in Midt-Troms I was invited to participate in the IIIrd International Pomor Craftsmen Gathering at the open air museum of Malye Korelye (Малые Корелы). My assignment was to give a short speech on “Tradition, innovation and entrepreneurship” together with Ingvild Espelien from Selbu minimill and to teach a weaving workshop.
The huge museum is situated about 30 minutes from the city and consists of over 100 historical wooden buildings from the surrounding land areas along the river Dvina and the White Sea. The oldest houses date back to the 16th century, and it takes many hours to stroll through the whole area of the museum. It is a gorgeous place with its forests, small streams, narrow winding paths, meadows, farm buildings and churches.
The Craftspersons Gathering consisted of lectures, workshops, demonstrations of crafts, a craft market, a fashion parade, folk dance and music, traditional food and so much more! Not many of our fellow crafters spoke English and my knowledge of the Russian language is completely non-existent. I am very grateful to our wonderful guides and interpreters Natalia Zvezdina and Natali Skomorochova, who looked after us, prevented us from getting lost and translated continually and very skillfully. Almost everyone wore a folk costume and it was a good feeling to wander the museum grounds in a folk costume dress.
The museum staff had organized an Ashford table loom with four shafts and it was perfect to weave twill with. However, I had never used a loom like this before and was rescued by Yana Solovyeva, a weaver from Moscow and owner of the company Natkala. She didn’t know English and I still hadn’t learned Russian, but when we discovered that we both knew French and German, we were able to communicate very well.
During the workshop I wove twill variations and answered questions. The interest was huge and there were lots of questions from visitors, and the interpreters had a very hectic time. The photo below is of all the weavers in the museum and the carpet they had woven during the festival, and the Norwegian participants.
I saw many small traditonal looms and people weaving plain weave and plain weave with picked patterns. The variations in the traditional plain weave based textiles is enormous. Everything from floor carpets to very intricate and delicate picked patterns, often combined with embroidery or crocheting. The photos are from the private collection of Natalya Kuzmina, who invited us to spend an unforgettable day at her summerhouse on an island in the river Dvina.
An absolute highlight was the fashion show. On the catwalk were traditional folk costumes and modern designs inspired by folk dress tradition
I was very impressed by the many young designers showing outfits for modern people, based on traditional clothing. I liked especially the designs by Katerina Kondrateva and Ethnomorphosis. Valentina Sundukova, the owner of the fashion label Ethnomorphosis, showed many gorgeous dresses in delicate colors, often in linen and combined with quilting. I was so lucky to be able to buy one of her dresses, so now I just wait for temperatures over 15 degrees and an invitation to a summer party!
Katerina Kondrateva bases her beautiful work on the traditional blueprinting technique of Kargopol, using both traditional and new ornaments for her printing blocks.
If you would like to weave the twill sampler, you can download the pattern and the instructions here.
If you don’t feel comfortable downloading files from the internet, just send me an e-mail and I will send you the pdf-file.
The warp is cotton 8/2, white and black and the weft is linen 16/2, blue and black, reed 50/10, 1 thread per heddle, 2 threads per dent. You can use any colors you like and you can use other yarns, just remember to adjust the warp density (ends/cm) if you should use thicker or thinner yarns. Weft and warp should have the same thickness. You can just weave a sampler, or you could make a cushion or a table runner. I have used the following binding patterns: Straight twill – 6-End pointed twill – 8-End pointed twill – Broken twill – Herringbone – Bell celtic – Advancing twill – Advancing point twill
This blog post is already very long and still I have not written about the lovely music, the great food, the beautiful churches, the extraordinarily warm and generous people and the gorgeous sunsets over the river Dvina. I hope I will be able to return some day!