Spinning with friends in Sweden


In August I was in Sweden and met old and new spinning friends. The photo above is from Luleå, where spinners meet quite often to spin together. As you can see, E-spinners are popular! Nancy is showing her blending board, and Yvonne is spindling.


Fibers! Britt-Marie is a skilled dyer.


More fibers. The group members buy, sell, and swap fibers. I came home with lovely red and green BFL/silk tops, and a beautiful grey Cashmere/silk top that I long to spin. I also have several bags of fleece.

After a couple of lazy and fun days in Luleå with Britt-Marie, we went still further north to Överkalix, where a couple of new spinners met up. We stayed at a self catering cottage, and spun in the evening before the final day of Överkalix Craft Week, when we spun in public in an old house that is now a museum.


The main building is an impressive building, especially when you know how harsh the conditions have been here in the north. It’s filled with beautiful furniture and artefacts, and also has a fine textile collection.


There are two rows of rooms in the house. Two spinning wheels, painted blue as they often are in northern Sweden:



A distaff for flax tow:


More distaffs:


The furniture is gorgeously decorated.


Louise Ström, one of Sweden’s best band weavers, taught a weaving class in the old house. These are some of her tablet woven bands:


A man showed ropes and cords made from different animal fibers: camel, yak, horse etc.


I forgot to take photos of us spinning in public in that fascinating house… so I can’t show any. But here’s a display of Swedish wools shown by one of the sellers at the market place:


Sweden has a lot of interesting old sheep breeds, with wools from harsh to super fine and soft. I have only spun Swedish Finull and Gotland so far.

Kasper stayed at home with hubby, but I wasn’t totally dog-less. Britt-Marie’s two lovely dogs kept me company once in a while:


I was invited by my friends to Luleå and Överkalix, and I enjoyed it so much! Thank you all, and special thanks to Britt-Marie who kindly invited me to stay in her home!


  1. Marilyn F.

    Always nice to get in a good vacation before winter sets in. Love all the old saxony spinning wheels, especially the one in the background of pictures taken in Lulea. The hair ropes and cords look very useful and their natural colors are warming to the eye. The box displays of Swedish wools is nice to see also. I have a distaff similar to the ones hanging on the wall from Lithuania that I enjoy. Thanks for sharing your pictures and experiences. I just returned from a day at a wool show called Lambtown in Dixon, CA yesterday. It was refreshing to take a day concentrating on our craft, meet and see old friends. Thanks, Mariliyn

  2. spinningsheepfeathers

    Such lovely photos of everyone enjoying their spinning!! The painted high chest, as well as the spinning wheels, are truly beautiful.

  3. Susan

    Such a special place to meet and spin! A blue spinning wheel…….that really caught my attention. And that furniture is amazing.
    Always nice to have dogs, ANY dogs, for company. Great colours of dyed fleece. I immediately picked out the Gotland fiber, quite a difference in their lock. Thank you.

      • Marilyn F.

        Ah, so, you are in Finland. My first spinning wheel 37 years ago was a Toika. I still have it and used it for many years demonstrating at various events. It is very light weight, made from birch I think, and was easy to carry around, and came apart in pieces. Everyone loved it because it looked like Sleeping Beauty’s wheel, and I heard from one fellow that it was typical in design to all wheels over the ages in Finland. Also, one fellow said his family made bobbins and sold them. Others remembered how they sat at their mother or grandmother’s wheels and carded wool for them to spin. This is a generation that is almost gone now. Such wonderful stories.

        • Barbro Heikinmatti

          Yes, I’m in Finland! But I’m interested in where you found a Toika wheel? They’re not made anymore. Toika sells Ashford wheels nowadays. The Saxony out conquered upright wheels in the early 19th century. And there are no children that know how to sit by the wheel and card now…

          • Marilyn F.

            Hello Barbro – I bought my Toika from my spinning teacher, who had moved from Washington State to California some 37 years ago. I don’t know where she got it. I believe she said it was perhaps 50 years old when she sold it to me. There was a lady in Portland, Oregon that handled Toika products at one time, but is not around anymore. I had another friend here in nearby Santa Rosa, California that had a Toika wheel also, but I have not seen her in ages. Sorry to hear the Toika wheels are not being made any longer. Is there is another wheel maker that is carrying on the traditions of Finlands wheels? I hope so. But an old wheel can be made nearly new and spinnable, if it was cared for well through the years. I forget the pleasures of demonstrating spinning hearing stories from pre-WWII folks about their days living on farms, but the last time I demonstrated at a Norwegian festival a couple years ago, it did seem like a whole new crowd, and not particularly interested in spinning. The little kids of course are fascinated with it and parents like to have them learn about it. Thanks and Take care, Marilyn

            • Barbro Heikinmatti

              Toika still makes very good looms. I think all of my shuttles are Toika, but my loom was made in a prison workshop. It seems likely that Toika Looms retailers sold spinning wheels while they still were made by them. We don’t have any wheel makers in Finland now. But there’s a lot of old wheels on the market, so if you want one you have plenty to choose among. About Norwegians: they seem to have a vivid spinning tradition, so it may be the audience knew what spinning is and thus not so interested. What’s sure is they have loads of interesting sheep breeds and wool!

  4. Marilyn F.

    Ah, yes, you are right, the Norwegians have a lot of sheep breeds. I made a poster of them. I haven’t spun much of their wool though – I like to spin soft fine wool. I looked over the wheels in your class and they all looked very similar. But my Toika looks a little different. Maybe I can email you a picture. I think my wheel may be a little smaller, the shaft for the wheel sits in a groove and does not go through the uprights, it is held firm by wooden screws. All the turnings on my wheel look similar to the wheels in your class. Of course, I’d love to have an antique working Finnish wheel, but I think the postage to get it to California would be prohibitive. Unless I could actually come for a visit and take it home in pieces – maybe thats a possibility. Finnland in Spring and Summer must be beautiful. I am so glad you have many older wheels to choose from in your area. When I taught spinning I started my students off with a drop spindle so that they could get the basics of drafting, twist, and control at a slower speed than spinning on a wheel. Some people took to the spindle and other just didn’t. But they all learned at any rate. Glad Toika is still making looms, perhaps the wheels were just a side business to attract customers to looms.

    • Barbro Heikinmatti

      It would be wonderful to meet you! Hope you can visit Finland! Toika: I thought the wheel could’ve been made by them, because I saw one that resembles it in a Swedish group (don’t remember which), and it was said to be a Toika. “Toika” is an acronym for Toijalan Kaidetehdas, “Toijala Reed Factory”. There’s a short history on their site http://www.toika.com/en/company/history/ . It doesn’t mention the wheels at all, and I’m sure you’re right: they were just a side business.

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