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.
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.
Grene weaving – Wikipedia
Manndalsgrene – Rátnu
Grene Veving – Centre of Northern PeoplesThis website shows some wonderful videos of how the Saami braided edge is woven as the warp is being wound and how the blanket is woven on the branch loom. Well worth the time to view.
I would like to give thanks to Rita Lindvall, Museum Director for her assistance in my research on this subject. Samtidsmuseum- Senter for nordlige folk/
Contemporary museum- Senter of nothern people
How to Weave A Saami Band onto a Sami Grene Woven Blanket Video
0:00 Grene style blankets were woven by Sami on warp weighted looms since 600 AD
0:30 A narrow band was woven first for the warp weighted blanket
1:10 Weaving a Sami band with a Sami heddle
2:00 Secure the band weaving and blanket to a table
2:45 Pick up and weave the warp ends of the blanket into the band
7:00 Camera view of weaving from the other side
Grene Blanket with Saami Braid Woven Edge
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.
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.
(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.
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)
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.
Continue weaving the rest of the band to the blanket repeating the steps above.
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.
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.
Saami Band Weaving Workshops
Beginner Saami Pickup Band Weaving Learn the basics of how to weave pickup using a Beaivi double hole rigid heddle loom.
Warp a Beaivi Loom Workshop Learn how to warp a Beaivi loom and how to weave pickup patterns.
Band Loom Weaving Books
Tape Loom Weaving… Simplified
Handwoven Tape: Understanding and Weaving Early American and Contemporary Tape
Norwegian Pick-Up Bandweaving
The Weaver’s Inkle Pattern Directory: 400 Warp-Faced Weaves