The Viking culture holds a fascination for many people; the historical and archaeological record shows them to have been not only adventurous explorers and traders, but also ingenious and talented craftspeople. And wool not only provided their clothing, but was essential to their lifestyle! (No Wool, No Vikings)
The richest find of textiles on record was the Oseberg ship burial, discovered in 1904. Contents of the intact and beautifully carved ship included a wagon, 4 sleighs, several animals (horses, dogs, cattle), and many items of daily use, including a large number and variety of textiles. The honored people in this extravagant burial were two women; the mystery of their identities remains unsolved. Sadly for us, the burial was broken into by thieves in the century following the 834 AD interment. They made away with whatever precious metals and jewelry were buried there and disturbed the bodies, but the wooden spade they left behind helped researchers date the intrusion.
Our 2019 Make Like a Viking series of classes includes a number of skills and projects inspired by the textiles as revealed by the Oseberg ship burial and other finds.
Viking Knitting – which is actually a technique for making wire into a type of chain – leads off the series on September 14; the project is a necklace inspired by the brooches and ornaments on a Viking woman’s apron dress.
Next up is Nålbinding, the centuries-older-than-knitting method of making socks, mittens and other small items. The September 28, class will show beginners how to make a hat using the Oslo stitch. (Viking knitting class participants will see the similarities between the two!)
Tablet Weaving was a well-developed art during the Viking era, and a 52-card weaving in progress was one of the amazing finds in the Oseberg burial. On October 19th, learn to weave a reversible vine-patterned band based on Oseberg textiles to use as handles for a bag.
A felted wall hanging class is still in development, but will feature a tree representing Yggdrasil, the legendary Norse tree that spanned the sky, earth, and underworld, and which was depicted on an Oseberg tapestry.
Plan now to take any of these classes that intrigue you, and become a part of the thread that connects us to artisans who lived a thousand years ago, and with whom we share a love of creating beauty!