Swedish weaving

When my grandmother died about ten years ago, she left me a box of embroidered towels - several pairs in beautiful colors. I never really knew much about them except that they were embroidered by her in the 1940s. I sometimes used the red and white ones during the holidays, but otherwise kept them packed away.

When I learned of the dishtowel apron challenge last month I considered using one of the towels for my entry. But then found the fruit towel and changed my mind. So, I had to laugh when I saw Sarah's entry in the gallery - it was almost exactly what I was going to do. I commented on it and that led me to do a bit of research about the embroidery technique, which is called Swedish weaving, huck weaving, huckaback darning, huck embroidery, and punto yugoslavo.

While it dates back several centuries, it had a resurgence in the US in the 1930s and 40s (which is when my grandmother did hers) using huck toweling. Traditional huck fabric has pairs of threads, called floaters, that alternately run vertical and then horizontal on top of the fabric to make a row. Swedish weaving is the embroidery done on this fabric by sliding the floss under the pairs of threads to create a geometric design on top of the fabric - no threads on the back!


If you buy vintage towels they'll likely be huck but it's more common these days to use Monk's cloth for this type of embroidery.

There are several traditional patterns, like trees:




and mirror image designs:



Here's a pillow I made from a vintage turquouse huck towel with black embroidery - love this color combination!


If you'd like more information, here are a couple of sites you can check out:

Huck Weaving
Swedish Weaving


Anne said...

Beautiful designs. Very interesting and modern.

Gina E. said...

Janet, this is fascinating stuff! In all my collecting travels, I don't recall seeing anything like it. I am always on the lookout for examples of different kinds of embroidery, so I will be hunting for this now, although it is possible that it wasn't widely known in Australia, so I may not find any. But I loved looking at yours here!

kay susan said...

Wow! That's gorgeous!

punkinpieproductions said...

Have a Happy Thanksgiving ~
I'm thankful that you shared this knowledge with us.

Candida said...

Hi, this embroidery is very commom here in Brazil and it is called "vagonite". I have no idea were this name came from. Lots of people use it for kitchen towels and bed pillows. Thanks for sharing these photos because I have searched for a name in english of this embroidery with no success.

Stephanie said...

Thanks for sharing these beautiful designs. The very first needlework I learned was Swedish embroidery from a babysitter when I was about 5 years old. I've been doing various kinds of embroidery ever since. Now I've gotten a bee in my bonnet to make some Swedish embroidered napkins in modern colors. You've given me some great ideas. Thanks!