Grene rugs and blankets were a traditional style of blanket woven by the Saami on warp weighted looms. They were made of hand spun wool. The top edge of the blanket had a braid that was woven using a Saami weaving reed. The weft threads of the braid were the ends of the lengths of warp threads. This braided edge helped to provide the correct sett to the weaving and created a firm and stable border which was then tied to the top beam of the warp weighted loom.
Grene Blanket Edge
I recently worked on a commission to weave a Grene veving style Saami blanket. Since I don’t own a warp-weighted loom I had to figure out how to weave such an edge onto the blanket. Some years ago when I was visiting a textile museum in Finland, I saw a demonstration of Karelian tablet weaving. Textile fragments from Viking age gravesites have been found that feature card woven edges on aprons, and clothing edges. I thought that this method of weaving the braid after the yardage has been woven would work. Rather than using tablet weaving I wove the braid with my Beaivi weaving reed. Card Woven Braid Edging Blue Skirts and Golden Belts
Grene Veving, Rátno goddin or branch weaving has been part of the Saami culture since 600 AD. The warp-weighted weaving loom was easily constructed and portable as it was comprised of a few logs or branches that could be easily set up and moved. Grene blankets and rugs were woven with linen and wool yarns. The wool was hand spun and patterns were generally woven weft faced in a twill fashion. The warp yarns were tighly spun as singles yarn. The weft was more loosely spun singles yarn, spun in the opposite direction. To create a dense weave that would withstand the weather, the weft was firmly beaten so the warp didn’t show, except at the fringed bottom of the blanket. The wools were mainly of natural white and grey colours and decorative striped patterns were woven into the design. Because dyes were a scarce resource, these dyed yarns were mainly used in the reed woven borders that trimmed the rugs.
Grene blankets and rugs had many uses such as bed blankets, sled coverings, and tent covers. Because they were woven of wool, the fabric was was both insulating and water resistant. Grena fabric became valuable tender and the local Saami could not afford to make Grene fabric soley for their own use. The blankets were woven for payment of taxes and also sold mainly to Norwegians and others in order to purchase other supplies and goods that were needed.
Greneveving is still being woven today and can be purchased from the online store at Manndalen Husflid.
My version of a Grene style blanket. I wove this on my +100 year old Snickeri loom. The warp was mill spun wool. For the weft I used hand spun natural white and grey Blue Faced Leicester wools and wove this blanket in twill weave.
I threaded my Beaivi double hole weaving reed with dyed yarns in traditional Saami colours (Red, Yellow, Green, Blue, Black) As I was going to weave only a simple ground weave and not add a supplementary warp pattern, I used only the bottom set of holes and the slots. I left the top row of holes unthreaded. You can use a standard single hole weaving reed for this type of braid.
I tied the warp ends to the top beam of my double beam loom and wound the warp around the beam. You can of course tie the warp ends to just about anything – a clamp on the edge of a table, or any post that is of the correct height.
When I cut the blanket warp off the loom, I left about 5 inches of unwoven warp at the end of the blanket. This may vary depending on how wide you want the woven braid to be. I moved a table close to the warp and laid the blanket onto the table.
Grene Braid Warp
Using the same wool yarn as I used for the blanket, I first wove a few inches of plain weave for the braid, until I got the tension correct for the width of braid.
Using a large paper clip, I fastened the end of the woven braid onto a cutting mat or art board to help hold it securely while I weave. I placed the woven blanket close to the edge of the braid and fastened it in place with a few large paperclips clipped to the cutting mat.
I opened the next shed of the braid. Using the cut end of the warp threads I picked up the first 3 warp ends from the blanket.
Grene Braid Weaving Step 1
(You will need to experiment to see what is the correct number of warp threads to pick up to fit the sett of your woven piece. For this blanket I picked up 3 warp threads)
I passed these through the open shed to the left, to weave these through braid warp.
I changed sheds and pulled snugly on the 3 warp threads to pull the braid close to the edge of the blanket warp.
Grene Braid Weaving Step 2
Holding the warp edges firmly to the edge of the blanket, I then wrapped and passed 2 of these warp threads back through the open warp (to the Right).
(I left the third warp thread on the left side of the braid so that I can sew this in later to help further secure the edge of the braid and to fix any possible skips etc. Thought you can weave this through at the same time if you wish)
Grene Braid Weaving Step 3
I then picked up 3 new warp threads from the blanket edge and passed these through the same open shed (to the Left)
Then I changed sheds, tightened the warp ends and beat the weft into place with my fingers.
Grene Blanket Braid Weaving Step 4
Continue weaving the rest of the braid to the blanket repeating the steps above.
Pickup up 3 warp ends
(To the Left) Weave these through the open shed.
Change shed and pull the warp ends to adjust the tension.
Drop one of the warp ends and weave the 2 remaining warp ends through the open shed. (to the Right)
Pick up 3 new warp ends from the blanket and weave these through the same open shed (to the Left)
Change shed and adjust tension.
Weave to the end of the blanket, and then using the same type of yarn as the blanket warp, weave another 2 of inches of braid.
Cut the warp ends and sew the braid end to finish.
Grene Blanket Braid
Trim off the woven edges of the warp close to the edge of the braid. Using a sewing needle weave the remaining warp ends (from the outside Left edge of the blanket back through the woven braid to further secure the braid to the blanket.
How to Weave A Grene Saami Band onto a Woven Blanket Video
Simple finger-woven bands, soda-straw loom bands,hungarian-loom bands,twining-loom bands,rigid-heddle bands,band weaving on the american inkle loom,card-woven bands andweaving variations for special effects.
Having read India Flint’s wonderful book on eco colour and printing, I discovered that you can get some beautiful natural dyes using Eucalyptus leaves. So during a recent holiday in Corfu, I gathered a bag full of Eucalyptus leaves from the trees that were growing along the roadsides and thought I would give it a try.
The leaves had dried out by the time I started this project. So I sprayed them with a bit of water to moisten them. Then I layed the leaves out onto one side of a silk scarf that I had dampened with water.
Eucalyptus Dye on Silk
When I had spread out all the Eucalyptus leaves, I turned the scarf over to cover the leaves.
Eucalyptus Dye on Silk
I then rolled the scarf around a cardboard tube.
Eucalyptus Leaf Dye on Silk
I tightly wrapped the dye package with linen yarn so that all of the bundle was covered.
Eucalyptus Leaf Dye
I then placed the silk scarf dye package into a dyepot and let it simmer for a few hours – no mordant was used. Then I turned the heat off and put a lid onto the pot.
It can take several days for all of the colour to disperse from the Eucalyptus leaves and to imprint onto the silk fabric.
I let this dyepot sit untouched for about 3 weeks. The dypeot will get a bit smelly as the dye ferments, so it is best to leave it outside while the dye matures.
Eucalyptus Leaf Dye
The Eucalyptus dye project looks very hopeful as I begin to unwrap the scarf. The linen yarn that I wrapped the dye package with has a nice colour.
Eucalyptus Dye on Silk
Eucalyptus Dyed Silk Scarf
It worked! I am quite happy with the result 🙂
Eucalyptus Leaf Dyed Silk Scarf
There is still quite a bit of dye colour in the dyebath, so I think I will try to reuse the dyebath and dye something else.
This pattern is woven in tabby but use different types of yarns giving an interesting effect. The placemats and table runner are woven using 22/2 cottolin for warp. This is woven in a thick/thin rep weave, using paper yarn and hemp single ply tow yarn as the weft. You can substitute the hemp with a single ply linen yarn, a cotton yarn or the same type of cottolin that you used in the warp.
This pattern will make 4 placemats and 1 table runner.
Warp: 22/2 cottolin, 3160 ypp
>Warp Length: 6 yards
Black – 40 ends
Navy – 180 ends
Black – 40 ends
Sett: 20 epi
Width in Reed: 13 inches
For the edges of each placemat, weave 2 inches of tabby using the 22/2 cottolin yarn.
The placemat is woven in tabby using 2 shuttles alternating shots of:
Paper yarn – 430 ypp (White)
6/1 Hemp – 1800 ypp (various colours)
Weft: 16 ppi
To weave with paper yarn, the yarn must be damp. Wind the yarn onto a bobbin. Fill a bowl of water and soak the bobbin for a few minutes to wet the yarn. Wipe the bobbin with a dry wash cloth to remove the excess water.
Placemat Pattern length: 16 inches
For these placemats, I used a different colour of hemp weft for each placemat, so that each one is slightly different, but complementary.
Table Runner Pattern length:
The table runner was woven with varied stripes of colour: red, green, blue, yellow.
Cut the hem between each placemat, and sew.
Care and Washing
It is best not to wash paper placemats in the washing machine. Rather, they can be wiped clean with a damp cloth, or can be gently handwashed.
Tenntrådsbroderi, or embroidering with pewter or tin thread is almost a lost art. The Saami used tin thread since the 1600’s to decorate their clothing. The tin was obtained by melting down old pewter plates and dishes and was spun into thread. The use of pewter thread has recently become fashionable in jewellery items such as pewter braided reindeer leather bracelets worn by actors such as Benedict Cumberbatch.
Tin thread is quite difficult to work with and requires a lot of patience and practice to make. This is a how-to project for making a reindeer leather keychain with tin embroidery.
Working with tin and leather can also be quite hard on your hands so if you have any hand, wrist or shoulder problems, please do not try this project. If you do this project or any other needlework project be sure to take frequent breaks and or work on a different type of project, to give your hands a rest.
Reindeer Leather Keyring
You will need:
a small piece of reindeer leather, about 9 cm x 7 cm
a narrow strip of reindeer leather, 1.5 cm x 24 cm
Tin thread, about 1 meter length
a small square of wool felt, wadmal or a sturdy piece of wool cloth, about 7 cm x 7 cm
light iron on interfacing, linen fabric or natural cotton fabric, about 7 cm x 7 cm
fine leather needle
silk thread or good quality polyester thread
invisible sewing thread
metric graph paper
fine permanent marker felt tip pens
Sketch the pattern onto metric lined graph paper. This pattern has been drawn on 5 mm lined graph paper.
Snowflake embroidery pattern
Trace the pattern onto iron on interfacing using a permanent marker. I have marked the end points of each snowflake with dark blue ink. This makes it easier to see the end of the stitch when you are embroidering.
Iron the interfacing onto the back of the small piece of wool felt or fabric. In this example I have used a small piece of handmade wool felt but you can use wadmal (which is a woven wool fabric that has been felted) or other sturdy wool fabric. I have also used linen fabric for the pattern rather than interfacing, because I happened to have some in my stash.
I have stitched the fabric onto the felt using a basting stitch.
Tin Thread Embroidery Pattern
You will need about a meter of tin thread for this project. If you have a longer length of tin such as on a spool, don’t cut it at this point. Instead I sew with it while it is still on the spool and cut the end when I am done, so that I don’t have any waste as the pewter thread is quite expensive to buy.
Tin thread comes in a number of thicknesses ranging from .25 to .5 in diameter. For this project I have used .3 but you can use a finer tin thread .25 or a thicker one if that is what you have on hand.
Tin Thread Unraveling
To make it easier to thread the end through to the back of the felt, you will need to unravel a bit of the tin from the core thread. The tin has been spun around a core thread. Pinch the end of the thread between your thumb and forefinger about 2 cm from the end. With your other hand give a bit of a twist to the thread. The tin will untwist and can be stretched out.
Tin Thread Unwound
Starting at the centre of the snowflake thread your sewing needle through the felt and pull the unraveled ends of the tin thread through to the back of the work.
Tin Thread Sewing
Tin Thread Sewing
Tin Thread Embroidery
Thread a sewing needle with the invisible nylon thread. I find it best to tie a couple of knots at the end of the thread, one on top of another to make a secure knot.
Sew a few stitches to secure the ends of the tin thread to the back of the fabric.
Using the pattern drawn on the back of the work as your guide, follow carefully along the lines as you stitch the tin thread to the wool felt. Pull the needle to the front of the work, and stitch the tin thread to the wool felt. Work your way along the pattern being careful to keep the stitches in line with the pattern. Use very small stitches to sew the work.
Tin Thread Embroidery
When you get to a corner, push the needle through to the front of the work, and wrap the tin thread around the needle to form the corner. I give the tin thread a bit of a pinch to help hold the shape. Sew the corner securely in place. Pewter thread is quite soft. The thread can break while you are working with it, so do this carefully.
Tin Thread Embroidery
Tin Thread Embroidery
Once you have stitched your way around the pattern cut the tin thread leaving an end of about 2 cm. Pinch the end of the thread and unravel it as before.
Thread this through to the back of the work.
Tin Thread Embroidery
Draw an outline cutting pattern for the key fob on a piece of graph paper and cut it out.
Key Fob Pattern
Using this paper pattern cut the embroidered felt to the shape of the key fob pattern.
Cut a piece of reindeer leather using the same pattern.
Put the cut reindeer leather and the embroidered felt together. Using the leather needle threaded with polyester or silk thread, stitch around both of them using a whip stitch. Fold the end section of the reindeer leather under and stitch into place.
To make the key fob a bit thicker insert a small piece of plastic or other thick material in between the felt and the leather.
Reindeer Leather Snowflake
Reindeer Leather Edge Finish
Fold the 24 cm strip of reindeer leather in half and cut a small slit in the centre. This will fit over the top part of the key fob.
Reindeer Leather Key Fob
Leather Key Fob
Sew the leather edge to the key fob using small backstitching.
Reindeer Leather Keyring
Paivatar Yarn on Etsy
I hope that you will visit my shop on Etsy and add a like.
I had heard that it was possible to dye yarns using black beans but have never tried it before so last week when I went grocery shopping I looked for some. I purchased a 500 gram bag of Turtle Black Beans from my local Waitrose grocery store.
I placed all of the beans into a large plastic jar and covered them with ordinary tap water. Overnight, the beans expanded and filled the whole jar, so then I split the bean solution into 2 jars and added more water. I let this bean stock sit on my kitchen counter for 3 days. The water in the jars started to look quite blue so I was hopeful that this would work.
Meanwhile, I spun 100 grams of white wool and divided the wool into 2 50 gram skeins.
I mordanted the wool in a 5% solution of alum and water. (5 grams of alum to 100 grams of wool) I left the wool in the hot mordant for about an hour, then I turned off the heat and let the yarn sit in the mordant solution until cool.
I then strained out the dye water from the beans into 2 plastic bowls and placed the skeins of wool into the dye solution. I refilled the bean jars with water, as I am hoping that I will be able to extract more dye from the beans.
Wool in Dye Bath
This is the wool in the black bean dye bath after about 2 hours.
Black Beans Dyepot
I let the wool sit overnight in the black bean dye bath – pH 5.
Black Beans Dyepot pH5
I removed the wool from one of the bowls and added some washing soda to the dyebath to change the pH to 9. Then I put the yarn back into the bath. Almost immediately the colour changed to more of a grey-blue shade.
Wool in Black Bean Dye pH9
Black Bean Dye Batch No. 1
On Left – wool dyed with black beans and alum – pH5
On Right – wool dyed with black beans and alum – pH9
The blue wool turned to a greyer shade of blue when the pH was changed to 9 with the addition of washing soda
Wool Dyed with Black Beans
I am pleased with the results so far. My only concern is whether they will be very colorfast or will fade in daylight. I will put some into a sunny window for the next month to see if any fading occurs.
I am also going to repeat this experiment using a different mordant solution, so please stay tuned.
Tugging on a bit of pewter thread has led me down a new path of unraveling some of the intricately beautiful textile crafts of my ancestors.
The first use of pewter dates back to the Bronze Age. Pewter was used by the Egyptians and later the Romans, and came into use in Europe for tableware and jewellery from the Middle Ages.
Pewter is a malleable metal alloy, traditionally 85–99% tin, with the remainder consisting of copper, antimony, bismuth and sometimes, less commonly today, lead. Silver is also sometimes used. Copper and antimony act as hardeners while lead is common in the lower grades of pewter, which have a bluish tint. Wikipedia – Pewter
Although pewter was an alloy of tin and other metals such as lead, in modern day pewter or tin thread,heavy metals are no longer used. Silver is added to stabilize the tin instead.
Thread spun from metals such as gold and silver have been found in Viking age textiles in sites such as Birka. Pewter or tin could also be spun into thread and used for the making of jewellery or decoration for clothing. Pewter became known as the poor man’s silver. It is thought that the use of pewter thread has only been produced by the Saami. Earliest evidence of the use pewter thread has been found in Saami textiles from the 1600’s, though fragments of pewter have been found 500 years earlier.
Tin Thread Making Tools
The tools for making pewter or tin thread are a die made from reindeer antlers and a spindle. The die is carved from a reindeer antler and has as many as 60 different sized holes drilled into it. The tin is dragged through the successively smaller holes until a fine tin thread is produced.
Die for Dragging Tin
Die made of reindeer antler, used for dragging and making tin thread.
Spindle for spinning tin thread
Linnaeus: Tin Dragging and Spinning
Dragging Tin Thread
The tin thread was produced from bars of tin or from tin melted down from pewter plates and tableware. The tin is formed into narrow bars with a knife and hammer. It is pounded and shaped into a rod or dowel and pulled through the holes in the die with the use of pliers or even teeth.
to make it easier to pull through the die, the tin is dipped in fat, produced by melting reindeer hooves.
Tin is being pulled through the die with the use of pliers.
Tin thread is being pulled through smaller holes in the die.
Fine tin thread is being dragged through the die with the use of teeth.
Spinning Tin Thread
After the tin has been dragged, it is plied with a core thread using either a drop spindle or a Spin Cross.
The core thread should be the same thickness as the tin wire, in order to produce an evenly spun thread. The tin wraps around the core as it is spun using a similar plying technique as with other core spun yarns.
Tin Thread Embroidery
The spun tin thread can now be used for embroidery. It can be sewn directly onto tanned leather, though wool fabric or wadmal is used more often as the base for the embroidered thread.
The core thread is sewn to the back of the fabric to fasten the tin thead in place.
The tin thread is stitched to the top side of the leather or fabric with very small stitches.
Wadmal is a coarse, densely woven wool fabric that has been felted so that the weave structure is no longer visible. This creates a very warm and windproof fabric.
Instead of embroidering onto wadmal, I thought that I would try to embroider the tin thread onto handmade felt instead, as the felt would have a similar weight and consistency as wool felted yardage. I felted a small sheet of 21 micron merino wool and stitched a small sample of tin thread embroidery. I was quite pleased with the result.
One of the traditional Saami duodji crafts is leathermaking. I thought I would give it a try. I started with something simple by purchasing a Sami bracelet kit from a Sami supplier in Sweden TNKReativt.
The bracelet kit includes a piece of reindeer leather, tin thread, artificial sinew, clear nylon thread, sewing thread, a sewing needle, a leather needle and a reindeer antler button.
Weave the Braid
The kit includes enough tin thread to make a six strand braid.
Cut the tin thread into 3 equal lengths and fold these in half to create 6 strands.
I use a foam felting mat to work on.
Pin the folded end of the tin thread onto the foam mat.
Separate the 6 strands into 3 strands of 2 threads each.
Work a 3 strand braid along the length of the thread.
I pin the braid onto the foam about every inch or so, to hold it in place as I am braiding.
When you have finished braiding, secure the ends by tying a short piece of sinew around the ends. The sinew that is supplied is a short length, but this can be separated into several strands. Use a small strand to tie the tin braid.
Hand Stitch Braid to Leather Strip
To adjust the bracelet to the correct size, measure around your wrist. Add 1 cm to this measurement. Cut the length of reindeer leather to this size.
On the back side of the leather strip, measure and mark a cutting line 1.5 cm from the end of both ends.
Fold the leather strip in half and carefully cut a small slit into the leather, the width of the woven tin braiding.
Place the woven braid on the right side of the leather strip and slip the ends of the braid into the slits that you have cut.
Using the regular sewing needle that came with the kit and the nylon thread, stitch the braid onto the leather strip.
(The instructions that came with the kit, suggest using glue to attach the braid to the leather, but I do not recomment this) Hand stitching will make a better bracelet.
Attach Braided Loop to Leather Bracelet
The bracelet kit includes a short piece of leather strip and some imitation sinew. Split the sinew into a narrower thread and twist the sinew around the leather strip. The sinew will give the leather a bit of extra strength in the loop.
Thread the leather strip and sinew through the loop at the end of the tin braid. Then twist the leather strip and sinew together tightly and ply them together to make a spun thread. Tie the ends with the remaining sinew.
Thread the leather sewing needle with the end of the sinew and stitch the 2 ends of the leather braid together forming a loop. Sew this securely.
Trim the cut ends of the tin braid to 1 cm. Sew these end together with a bit of sinew.
Using the leather needle, thread it with the polyester thread that came with the kit.
At the back of the bracelet, fold the ends of the leather together and neatly stitch them together.
Sew the reindeeer antler button to the other end of the bracelet.
Once you have made your first Saami bracelet you might decide that you like working with leather, as I did. To make life easier, you will need to purchase a few extra tools.
1) A good lamp with a magnifying glass. Once I bought one, I don’t know how I managed without it. The hand can do what the eyes can see. Mighty Bright LED Floor Light and Magnifier
Sami Duodji is all traditional handicraft that is made by the Saami people. The crafts are both artistic and have a functional purpose such as tools, clothing, knives, cups, bags, hats, belts, laces. These items have been made by hand for many centuries and were used in everyday Sami life.
Recently there has been a growing interest in Sami crafts throughout the world. I think it is wonderful that other crafts people are learning about traditional Sami style handicrafts and techniques.
In the early 1970’s, the Sami organized their cottage industry into Sami Duodji craft organizations whose purpose is to promote Sami handicrafts and provide an advocacy and monitoring role in quality control, training and professional development. The organizations help to ensure raw materials and supplies for makers and producers, and promote the protection and legal knowledge on a non-profit basis. Also the organizations help to foster contacts with government entities and organizations in the Nordic countries.
Members of the Sami Duodji association use a Duodji mark that identifies the products as made by authentic Sami people. The Duodji mark is administered by different organizations.
In Finland, Sami Duodji Finland
In Norway “Sámiid Duodji”
In Sweden, “Riksorganisationen Same Ätnam2
In Russia, “CEPES Sam Arts and Crafts Association”
To be a member of the Sami Duodji organization the person must have previous handicraft training and experience.
The Sámi means a person who considers himself a Sámi, and
– Who has learned the Sami language as their first language, or the father, mother, grandmother, or grandfather has learned Sami as their first language, or
– Whose parents meet at least one of these Sami mentioned conditions
The purpose of the Sami Duodji trademark :
– The mark is a trademark of Sámi handicraft
– Indicates the buyers that the manufacturer of the goods is the Sami
– To protect Sami handicraft quality
– To be a sign that the Sámi handicraft is a living tradition.
The products must be developed in a traditional way or use traditional materials.
Products that are intended for souvenirs and have no traditional or functional use, do not use Sámi Duodji trademark.
Please help support the Sami Duodji craft industry by purchasing products made by Saami people or purchasing materials for your crafts from Sami suppliers.
As my father was a Saami, born in Kola and lived in Petsamo throughout most of his childhood, I consider myself also to be Saami. My grandmother earned her living by herding reindeer and making handicrafts. She traveled to Norway during the summer months to sell her crafted items. Therefore I have a strong interest in learning more about the Saami duodji crafts of my ancestors. As I pursue this area of study, I will be posting articles on my explorations.
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