My roots go all the way back to Ångermanland, located in the northern part of Sweden. In elementry school I embroidered Anundsjö seam, we made table cloths with those typical straggly stitches – oh, sweet memories. These popular seams, that we connect with different landscapes –Blekingesöm, Delsbosöm, Hallandssöm, Jämtlandssöm, was developed by folklore embroiderers during the 18th and 19th century, and originates from typical village decor and traditions. These outstanding stitches still identifies our origin, with everything from the details on the local costumes, what you win in the lottery in the local community center, or the the table cloths at the local crafts market. I can identify the landscape seam and I recognise its straggly charm when I see it.
Overall the tradition might be a little bit too supervising when it comes to local embroidery styles. We know they exist but it's nothing we use in our daily life, it is something that, for us, belongs to the history – for me that's a little bit sad. A few generations back every craft magazine had pictures of wall hangings, table runners, pillows and table cloths from different parts of our country – with a focus on holidays and gifts. What are we embroidering today when it comes to gifts? When we want a graduation gift? When your mother in law turns 60? It probably came more natural for our grandmas to embroider the different seams on a pillow case or a kitchen towel.
Someone who has been working a lot with having us change the way we look at landscape seems is the embroiderista Karin Holmberg. She has done a whole lot of research, and in her latest book Svenska broderier, she talks specifically about heritage and techniques, she also gives tips on things to embroider these local stitches on. What about a te cap with a wine using Järvsö seam, a t-shirt with Hallands seam on it, or a tote bag decorated with Anundsjö seam. Let's do more of this, more special occasion embroidery!
Why don't we use and cherish the pattern treasure we have, and apply them on to new objects and with new takes on them? Do as Karin and let the wool embroidery decorate your hoodie, or why not embroider the traditional svarsticket from Dalarna on a smartphone case? Or maybe a embroider on a necklace using the Hallands seam?
The next time you embroider for a special occasion or a holiday – get swept away by the past and the future. By doing that I think your gift will be highly appreciated!
/ Frida Arnqvist Engström journalist running the blog Kurbits.nu, and an hobby embroiderista with a few too many wool projects going on at the same time.
Most complicated right now: I'm making a wool cardigan and I'm having a hard time to transfer the pattern on to the embroidery.
Best right now: I'm finally got started embroidering on the wool cardigan.
Looking for more inspiration when it comes to the magical world of local landscape embroidery? Visit my Pinterest board here.