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SPINNING IN SCANDINAVIA WITH SILJA DEVINE: Featured artist – Tove Skolseg

by SiljaD on March 1, 2014

Tove Skolseg, aka Bloggspinner, is the main reason I am spinning my own yarns.  When I first thought about learning to spin back in late 2007, I did a quick Google search for spinning in Norway and I found Tove’s blog www.bloggspinner.no . After seeing her wonderful artyarns I knew that I had to learn to spin! Tove is an amazing fiber artist who spins, knits, crochets, sews and weaves. You name it, she can do it!

One of the yarns in Lexi Boeger’s book ”Handspun:  New spins on Traditional Techniques” called ”In-line braids” is actually one of Tove’s ideas. Tove is  also always helping out with questions in the Norwegian spinning forums and she is always very supportive, I am sure that not just I but many see her as one of the Norwegian spinning-gurus. Tove is also an amazing dyer and sells her fibers at www.spinn-spinn.no, and along with her fiber artist husband Eirik Bruvik they run ”Spinnvilt” – Norway’s number one shop for spinning equipment.

SDTove SkolsegSilja: As most Norwegian spinners know, you are an amazing spinner and weaver, but what was it in these crafts that caught your interest and choose this as a career?

Tove: I learned to spin at an early age, growing up on a farm in Oslo where was amongst other animals, we also had some sheep. In 1970 at the age of 17 I took a weaving class and from there on there was no turning back.   I was hooked! I dropped out of college and used all my time to weave.  I knew right away that this was what I wanted to do! In 1972 I bought my first big loom:  a Swedish one called ”Ulla Cyrus”. It had 150 cm weaving width and 16 shafts. Not long after that I bought my first spinning wheel. a traditional Norwegian ”husflidsrokk”. I don`t have a formal education in fiber arts, but I graduated as a ”private student” at the Handicrafts school while I was an intern at ”Husflidens” weavingstudio.  In 1976 my husband, who also is a fiber artist, and I moved to ”Gudbrandsdalen”, where we bought an old school and had our studio there with five big looms. I was early on admitted as a member of  ”Norske Kunsthåndtverkere” (Norwegian craft artist) and I have participated in several large exhibitions. Since we lived in a municipality with a lot of sheep it was very natural to use handspun yarns in what I was weaving.

SDobjektSilja: I have to ask you how you and Eirik came up with the idea to start a spinning shop?  All Norwegian spinners love Spinnvilt and the amazing service and help we get there. There are many Norwegian spinners who will not buy our equipment elsewhere!

Tove: I have to give Eirik the credit for having the idea to open up a shop after seeing me at work by the wheel year after year. He noticed that I needed another wheel for my art yarns. We had also subscribed to an American spinning magazine for several years, and there were often ads for many exciting wheels.  Suddenly we noticed more and more wheels online too,  and getting hold of decent spinning wheels in Norway seemed to be a challenge. And that was how the idea came to life; we decided to start with an online shop having the entire inventory in Eirik’s studio. But having an online shop also demanded space to store the inventory and to pack up orders along with the needed space to hold classes.  One idea led to another and a lot of work has gone into making Spinnvilt what it is today. After all textiles, weaving and spinning has been our life since we were students 40 years ago, and we do make a really good team!!!

SDblomsterSilja: You have held classes for both beginners and advanced spinners at Spinnvilt for a long time, what motivates you to keep inspire and teach others the art by spinning yarn by hand? And how long have you been teaching?

Tove: I held some classes in the ’80s before we moved to Lillehammer and I had a few years that I was doing other things. When we started up Spinnvilt in 2007 it was a natural thing to do. It is a lot of fun to see a handicraft that we thought was on its way to disappear in Norway blossom up again. These days there are also a lot of art students that want to learn to spin. We will be seeing several new and upcoming textile artists using hand spinning as a step in their work. Being a part of this is always very inspirational and exciting, the saying of ”you always learn as long as you have students” is very true. Seeing the joy of that very first skein of yarn being created by the hands of a new spinner is such a big deal for me every single time I experience it in my classes.

SDhyttespinnSilja: If it was not enough running all these classes and doing what you do, you also are the mastermind behind your local spinning group called ”Lillehammer rokkeklubb”. How did this group come together?

Tove: ”Lillehammer rokkeklubb” is sort of an extension from the spinning group I had when where we previously lived. From 1998 we were a few women that met in my studio and spun together. After we moved to Lillehammer, we had less space, but the spinning group continued in a smaller matter. When Spinnvilt came about I saw this as an perfect opportunity to expand the group. The group has no strict rules or fee to pay to be a part of it. We meet on the first Monday every month, and we usually are +/- 7-8 who spins together each time.

SDhandspunhandwovenSilja: Speaking of spinning groups, you have to tell us about the national annual spinfest that have been held and what made you want to create this event for all the Norwegian spinners?

Tove: The base for these annual spinfests came about in 2010 when Lexi Boeger was visiting Lillehammer. That was an experience with a lot of spinners from Norway and Sweden. After that we had a couple of years where we did some spinfests with workshops and competitions. Last year we had 53 participants! This year we have invited Esther Rodgers aka ”Jazzturtle” to hold some workshops.  We have also expanded the spinfest to be four whole days. The first two will be workshops with Esther where we can learn more about specific techniques. The weekend is the spinfest itself where there will be small workshops with Esther, competitions and social activities. Arranging this is so much fun, and it is fantastic to see so many spinners gathered in one place! I would never have believed that we could make this happened in little old Norway.

silke og håndspunnet ullSilja: I know you have been to Russia several times, and you always find exciting people and unique spinning equipment, please share with us some of your spinning experiences while travelling.

Tove: I have been to Russia several times and it is a fantastic country to travel in, I always meet lots of really nice people there. And when you travel like that, the experiences find you.  You find unique spinning wheels and equipment everywhere.  I have several memorable experiences from these travels, one year I was at a marketplace and I found a stand with a Russian spindle. The woman only had the one spindle and I really wanted more.  The problem was that I was traveling back home the next day. I asked if I could order ten spindles and told her I would come back the next year to get them. I told her I would come on a Saturday at 12.15 pm because that was when the bus arrived at the town that is located three hours drive from Moscow, and that I would return to Moscow the next day. When I was stepping off the bus exactly one year later I was very excited, I went straight to the market and found the lady in the same market stall and her face turned into a big smile when she saw me. She bent down and picked up a bag she had in a box underneath the table, and in that were ten beautiful newly made spindles. I think she was just as happy as I was! Two years ago I was invited to a market in Kargopol, Russia along with some Russian friends. We traveled 14 hours by train from Moscow, and that it self was an experience I will never forget! When I travel like this I always bring a drop spindle or two.  You never know when they will come in handy, and this time they really did. In the market a lady was spinning on a drop spindle so it was easy to establish contact with her even if we had some language challenges. The whole meeting ended with us swapping spindles, and we taught each other to spin on the different spindles. In the same market,  I met an elderly lady who was spinning on an old handmade spinningwheel that her husband made during the war. The drive wheel was from a bicycle and the drive band was a steel wire. I was lucky enough to get to try it and I was astonished by how well it spun!

I also meet spinners while traveling to other countries, A few years ago I went to a spinning meet in a pub in Paris. And for a Norwegian, that is pretty exclusive! I have also met spinners in Barcelona. I love to meet spinners wherever I go, and I believe that all spinners are fantastic people! Besides I also love to get spinning visitors at home where I live in Lillehammer.

SDauraforeverSilja: I know you have a decent ”wheelpark”.  What kind of wheels do you have and what do you use them for? And what is your all time favorite wheel?

Tove: Yes that is true, I could never have imagined that when I bought my first wheel 40 years ago. My first wheel was a traditional Norwegian wheel with double drive, and I spun on that for about 16 years. Then I saw a Louet and I ordered one right away, and I spun on that for about 10 years. At that time most Norwegian spinners spun raw fleece from Spelsau and Dalasau. The yarn I spun was used on weaving for coats and scarves. I also spun something I called ”Manker”, a yarn with feathers and beads, unfortunately those yarns did not do well at exhibitions here in Norway in the ’80s. After a while I discovered a Louet with two treadles.  Since I had gotten some health issues, I saw the advantage of having two treadles. From that, there was no turning back with the spinning. I also bought an Ashford e-spinner at that same time.  That one now is enjoying its retirement as a fond memory on the shelf after its having gotten a lot of use during the years.

After I got active on the internet, I noticed that several spinners spun yarns with feathers and lots of colors, and I saw several wheels that were new to me. I bought a Babes Bulky that I spun chunky artyarns on. A Babes Pinkie (that my grandkids use) sits on the shelf and in the bookshelf,  I have a charka I bought in Paris. But my favorite three wheels are wheels I will never ever swap out.  One is the Majacraft Aura that has proved it self to be indispensable when it comes to artyarns. I always have fun sitting down by the Aura with some fibers and just see what happens.  It always draws out my creativity and shapes the wool just as I want. I almost always can do what I imagine with this wheel. I also have a Louet s45 that I use for fine spinning. I relax when I spin on this.  It has another rhythm than my other wheels. Besides it is small and can easily fit underneath the table when it is not in use. I would never part with my new Roberta either.  It is only one year old and I use it for all kinds of yarns. I can sit and spin on it hour after hour! Between these three favorites and the others (10 in total) I don’t think I need any more wheels. I am certainly not looking for one; it has to be a very special wheel if I decide to get another one.

SDfargerommetSilja: You have a wonderful sense of color, and that is easily seen in your works and dyed fiber. What inspires you both in spinning and dying fiber?

Tove: I find inspiration everywhere! Colors in nature, flowers, mountains, sand, fields, waves, moss and trees, nature is important too me. Travels to other countries are also very inspirational, on these travels I see different lines in nature, other colors and smells.

SDnyvasket ullSilja: Thank you for taking the time to talk to me Tove. Since you are my spinning mentor I love getting to know more about you and what floats your boat creatively! Now, my last question is where your favorite place to spin?

Tove: My very favorite place is to sit by the big window at our cabin in the mountains. It is a funny thing thinking about favorite places to spin, for me it is the wheel and what I spin that defines where I am. At home I am always sitting in my studio when I spin on the Aura. There I have everything I need; drum carders, combs, hackle and fiber. I can just reach out my hand and grab what I need at the right moment. And that is a place where I never is disturbed or distracted, The Roberta sits by my dining table, and the S45 lives a nomadic life and gets moved around the house. Often I find myself sitting by the window looking in to the garden or in front of the fireplace.

SDfavorite_place_to_spin

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