Busy summer – some results

My summers tend to be busy, considering I’ve been retired the last 5,5 years. I’ve been spinning in public and teaching. I’ll post more later, for now my trip to Överkalix in northern Sweden is quite enough for one posting.

Let’s start in Torneå (Tornio in Finnish) in northern Finland. This was my husband’s home tome in his teens. It’s a lovely small city with the impressive Torne älv (the Tornio river, Tornionjoki in Finnish) running through it, and the Swedish town Haparanda (Haaparanta in Finnish) on the other bank. Those two cities live as if there’s no state boundary at all between them! People cross the bridge all the time for shopping, it’s part of everyday life. The area has been inhabited for at least 8000 years, as the climate is milder and friendlier than you’d expect so far in the north.

Three photos from the city museum: a beautiful spinning wheel and a few of the many distaffs they have on display. I wonder, can you walk into a museum in Finland and not find at least one distaff?

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And of course there were spindle whorls:

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Then let’s drive over the bridge to Sweden. Hubby and I, and of course, Kasper the dog, drove some 100 kilometers north from Torneå to Överkalix, where they have a crafts event every August. I was to teach tapestry crochet and spindle spinning. I also met some of my spinning friends, who meet in Överkalix during the wool weekend that ends the craft week. It was a very cold weekend for them during the Spin in Public. It can be very warm and nice in Överkalix in August, as we noticed last year when it was hot and sunny. But not so this year. They were freezing!

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They had some lovely fibers and knits for sale:

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My introduction classes had tempted some lovely people. All learned the basics of the not so easy tapestry crochet technique. All also learned how to use a drop spindle. Eight hours is just enough to learn the basics, and sometimes it’s not at all enough. We run out of time during the spinning class, because there was quite an amount of curious people dropping in all the time, and they proved to be a bit of a disturbance. I didn’t want to show them out, as we had onlookers during the crochet class also, but they stayed in the background and didn’t interfere.

A snapshot from the crochet class:

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My classes were in a beautiful old mansion that has been restored into a restaurant and hotel. It’s not always you see a table cloth like that in a classroom! And the food was excellent – I miss the salmon pudding and the delicious corn soup.

My spindle class and me with my laptop showing pics of my wool combs:

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There was one lady who didn’t come to the class to learn, but to show something. I was so happy for this, and the others where amazed as they couldn’t imagine this can be done. It was a lady from Afghanistan. She sat down beside me and picked up a stone from her purse. Now you who know the history of spindle spinning recognise a stone as a spindle if you have fiber and want to make a thread, which she did.

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She spun a perfect yarn from my batt:

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I also want to show an item that made me just as happy as the stone. It’s a spindle whorl owned by one of the officials involved in the arrangements during the crafts week. This is the first time I’ve actually been able to hold a whorl that old in my hand (except for one from Israel that I own and use). It was a solemn moment at the lunch table and the salmon! Salmon was most probably a common meal in the time that whorl was used, by the way.

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And here is Katarina, one of the volunteers making things happen during the crafts week. As being one who’s had to arrange events as part of my job (no, I wasn’t at all fond of that part!), I can imagine how much she’s had to fix for this event. Here she’s selling products from her and her husband’s sheep farm.

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On the way home Kasper had to look at the world through my new companion. My friend Elaine found it for me 620 kilometers south from Överkalix. She took it a few hundred kilometers north, where my friend Britt-Marie somehow managed to get into the back seat of her car, and she took it to Överkalix. And then it traveled 640 kilometers south again, but in another country and on the other side of the Gulf of Bothnia. May I present Hilma-Elaine, my new love:

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I’ll show you more of her in another post. She’s worth a post of her own.

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9 comments

  1. Marilyn F.

    Oh, what fun to read this blog posting. And you ended up with a new wheel too!!! It is hard to imagine an area being inhabited for 8,000 years as with Tornio and Haaparanta. What history. I just returned from a 2 week vacation in and around Paris and saw so many old and ancient things. Our history here in America is in its infancy compared to yours – but still cherished by us. I luv your museum tours and seeing old wheels and distaffs. How wonderful it would be to have a wheel like your first picture. And the stone spinning of the Afghani woman! I will be looking for a similar stone to try this myself. How practical and inventive. The ancient round stone whorl is lovely. I have some with intricate carvings from the central part of the Americas. Makes a spinner of today wonder about the spinners of the past – what was their daily lives were like – what they used their handspun for, etc. Thank you for sharing your vacation highlights.

  2. Kris

    OH, how I wish I lived closer! Such beauty in the distaffs, and that wheel is magnificent! Thank you for sharing

  3. Susan'

    Marilyn and I were just talking about how interesting this post was. NICE yearn spun by the woman from Afghanistan!! Looking foreward to hearing about Hilma-Elaine. Sweet Kasper. Thank you.

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