Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Swedish Embroidery

  Delsbosöm Embroidery

My wife always bears the scent of roses. I don’t know how she accomplishes this, because she doesn’t use perfume. Maybe it’s her soap or sachets in her wardrobe. It’s just her…her fragrance. Blindfolded I could pick her out from a hundred other women by scent alone.”
                                                                                              -The Duke and His Duchess/ The Courtship by Grace Burrowes.



           As I dream of the romance in that sentiment, I see myself standing in a pool of warm sunlight streaming through the windows, intoxicating heady scents of flowers engulfing me, surrounded by monogrammed soft linen in a variety of textures, and running my hands over the softness of fabrics, inhaling in the fresh supplies of scented sachets between crisp white snowy piles of sheets and wishing that moment never fades. So it was natural that this project of mine would indulge me that feeling. 

           After Mexican Bordado and my Matyo Hungarian Embroidery project I want to take you a hop, skip, and jump away to Sweden. Well, not quite a hop, skip, and jump away but nevertheless I think you will enjoy this journey.

           Embroidery techniques with names like Anundsjösöm, Blekingesöm, Delsbosöm, Hallandssöm, Jämtlandssöm, Järvsösöm, Korssöm, Marbosöm, Underläggssöm, Vävsöm, and etc. bring to imagination stories and visuals with roots in the textile cultural heritage of Sweden.

           In this project I worked on some scented sachets done on crisp white linen with Delsbosöm Embroidery.

           Delsbosöm, also called long stitch, is sewn as a single-sided flat stitch where the stitches are not meant to give total coverage on the pattern. Delsbosöm's figures have relatively smooth contours with motifs usually being flowers and leaves with stems in stalks. Old embroidery work is known to also have birds, baskets, and crowns.


                    Delsbosöm was traditionally used to decorate basic linens and bed textiles. The linen used was rough so embroidery of simple straight flat stitches was added for a bit of interest. Older embroidery seemed pale as the dye used to dye the yarn did not attach well to the fibers. Since yarn and linen was expensive, Delsbosöm was embroidered especially on the lower hanging edge of bed linen and pillow coverings as a show of status and also on bedding beds. Layers of sheets with a weave of rosemary bush or winter sheep skin depending on the season were not uncommon. To show richness Delsbosöm was also embroidered on hangers that could be hung on furniture such as cabinet, stands, and bed frames.

             Age old Delsbosöm embroidery from the Delsbo region located in Hälsingland came from a time when textiles were highly valued and a beautifully decorated bed was an important status symbol. The textiles were a measure of the skill of the farm women. Since linen was an important commodity that contributed to the household economy, young women were valued, for example at courtships, based on their embroidering and textile handling abilities.

Interesting fact: In a fire insurance from 1853 bed and linen clothes were valued at 550 riksdaler (riksdaler was the name of a Swedish coin first minted in 1604. Between 1777 and 1873, it was the currency of Sweden) while everything else, except silver, copper and tin, was taken up to 120 riksdaler. 

                 So here’s to discovering and being inspired by the beauty of textiles. Notice more, explore more, experience more.