Welcome to Scandinavian Week here on the &Stitches blog! Everyone's pretty excited about the new issue next week, but while we wait for that, I’d like to tell you a bit about a couple of Scandinavian embroidery techniques.
(Swedish weaving by Victoria Pickering on Flickr, from an antique 1910s pattern.)
Today we'll look at Swedish Weaving, also known as Huck Weaving or Huck Embroidery. Swedish Weaving has been around for several centuries, but was most popular in 1930s and 1940s. Although it is now called ‘Swedish’ weaving, it seems that the Swedish weren't the only culture to stitch in this manner, but many old surviving pieces did come from there.
Swedish weaving typically uses perle cotton or about 4 strands of stranded cotton floss and a blunt neede on huck towelling (or ‘huckaback’). Mary Thomas’s Embroidery Book (1949 edition) describes huckaback as a fabric that is “woven with tiny loose loops at regular intervals all over the surface”, which allows the stitcher to weave threads over the surface of the fabric but under those loops. Swedish weaving creates a similar effect to darning embroidery and even couching, with the fabric itself holding the thread in place rather than extra stitches.
(Huck Towels by SuMatt on Flickr, from an antique 1910s pattern.)
Threads are woven in geometric patterns to create decorative elements on, typically, towels and other kitchen linens. Patterns are often done in radiating lines, often utilizing different shades of the same or similar color to create depth and a wonderful visual texture.
If you’re as smitten with this technique as I am, visit Collette of Serendipity Handmade, who has written a wonderful and very thorough series of tutorials to teach you how to make a huckaback towel of your own!