Homage to a Viking woman’s dresses

In Edmonton, Alberta, in deep bitter cold mid-winter, there is a festival that is appropriately called, ‘Deep Freeze’.

It’s a celebration of the arts, food, music and the many cultures that have met and melded to become the very arts oriented city of Edmonton.

Part of the Deep Freeze festival is an artisan’s market, and I am going to be one of the vendors (January 11 and 12, 2014).

The theme of this year’s festival is: The Vikings are Coming – and they are!

A fabulous team of ice and snow carvers from Scandinavia is here already,  carving huge icy statues of Odin and Thor.

The festival organizers really like it if the artisans get into the spirit of the theme, so I got inspired and researched Viking women’s clothing.

Knowing that the Vikings were magnificent weavers made me want to see what I could come up with for my days at the artisan’s market.

I found lots of images on Google and Pinterest, so I set to work:

copyright Noreen Crone-Findlay http://www.crone-findlay.com

Archeologists have learned that Viking women wore under dresses woven in wool or linen.

Then, on top, there’s an apron over dress that was embellished with woven bands that were also the shoulder straps.

Sometimes, they wore underskirts or trousers.

Don’t forget that they rode sturdy horses, so pants are  a very good idea.

They also wore over coats, called kaftans, that were also embellished with woven bands.

The wove their bands using tablet looms, which I really don’t like.

Instead, I warped up my Swedish double slot rigid heddle, (which I love) and wove 9 yards of narrow bands, using sock yarn.

(Note: I bought my Swedish double slot rigid heddle from Vavstuga: LINK)

copyright Noreen Crone-Findlay http://www.crone-findlay.com

The short supplementary slots hold the pattern threads.

To weave the pattern, you pick up the threads from the pattern group of threads that match the pattern on a gridded graph.

It’s rather slow, but deliciously contemplative and incredibly satisfying to weave these bands.

copyright Noreen Crone-Findlay http://www.crone-findlay.com

I was going to make the tunic, but then I remembered that I had found the perfect soft green linen tunic in my fave thrift shop last fall. Yay!

And, then, miracle of miracles, I found a linen skirt in the thrift shop – and wowsa… it was perfect to convert into the apron over dress! (Oops… it’s too big, and I should have taken it in, so will have to do that at some point).

And…. there was also a green cotton flounced skirt that works perfectly for the underskirt. YAY!!!!

I planned on sewing the coat, but then discovered that the pattern that I was going to use to make it was missing the sleeve pattern. erg…..  I ordered another pattern from Club BMV, but it’s not going to get here in time.

Ah well, c’est la vie!

I stitched the bands onto the overdress by hand, but stitched the straps on by machine to really secure them to the dress.

The bands were usually pinned in place on the front of the overdress with Celtic interlace brooches.

But, in one of the photos on Pinterest, the over dress is embellished with 2 golden hands.

I LOVED this, so I used a pair of hand charms that I had used in a doll making book that I wrote many years ago.

copyright Noreen Crone-Findlay http://www.crone-findlay.com

It  was a lot of work to make, but I love it, and will wear it over a t shirt and leggings,  (after taking it in a little to make it more comfortable and less tent like).

Viking women also wore belts with tools hanging from them, and pouches for their cellphones and lip gloss.

All right, they  weren’t tweeting, but I am willing to bet that they made and used lip gloss in some form or another.

copyright Noreen Crone-Findlay http://www.crone-findlay.com

Their pouches were usually leather, but I prefer to weave mine :o) using yarn that my clever daughter in love spins for me.

copyright Noreen Crone-Findlay http://www.crone-findlay.com

Viking women wore a fair schwack of jewelry, so I decided to that I would join in the spirit of things and put on a few more pieces than I would normally wear.

Yesterday, there was a press conference for the Deep Freeze festival, and I was invited to come to represent the artisan’s market.

I took along my Norwegian Cradle loom (these are hand made for the Vesterheim museum, and are available online at: LINK

and wove some bands while mummers mummed and singers sang and film crews filmed.

Weaving at the Deep Freeze press conference

Weaving at the Deep Freeze press conference

Since most of North America is freezing cold right now, we really need to find something to light up the deep mid winter, right?

Yes, indeed!

So, I shall weave to warm my heart and hands….. and I will  join with other artisans in making beauty!


Filed under Loom & looms & small loom weaving, weaving & handwoven

26 responses to “Homage to a Viking woman’s dresses

  1. franweaver

    Wonderful! Now there’s another small loom that I want to buy. So interesting. Thanks for sharing!


  2. Your words always inspire and educate me ! My family is Norwegian and this was very interesting for me to learn ! I love your festive garment ! Thanks Noreen ! I am sure the Festival will be a wonderful time !


  3. Yay for celebrating the deep freeze and the Vikings! Beautiful work – as always….and such inspiration. I don’t know how you find the hours in the day. Is the film clip being broadcast somewhere? Happy Festival!


    • Hello Terri
      Thank you! 🙂
      I have been so inspired by researching Viking textiles for the Deep Freeze Festival – which is a lovely and unexpected gift 🙂
      I don’t think that they have put the clip up on the web.


  4. You look great! I made an outfit like this too, for a Medieval -themed party, I was the only bog-woman there! I wove the bands on an inkle loom. Not as fancy as yours, but satisfying too.


  5. Caroline

    Beautiful! Hurrah for the Vikings! and only last night I was pouring over my lovely illustrated books all about the vikings! Wish I could be there, you look amazing!


    • Thank you, Caroline, and Happy New Year! Which books do you recommend about Vikings? And, have you read ‘The Far Traveler: Voyages of a Viking Woman’ by Nancy Marie Brown? It’s fascinating, but has no diagrams or photos of artifacts or locations, which is very disappointing!


      • Caroline

        Hi Noreen,

        Happy and Healthy New Year to you and your family!

        I haven’t heard of the book you mention so I will browse the library catalogue. Mine are picture books:

        How to be a Viking: A Northlander’s Guide, published by templar – This has pop ups, little envelopes with a viking game and runes for fortune telling, flaps to lift and a name chooser

        Vikings by Philip Wilkinson – This has a giant poster, pop ups, mini books and a rune de-coder

        They are beautiful and They were for sale at a discount shop and should definitely be enjoyed by grown ups too – they are packed with information.

        I also found a lovely old school copy of Beowulf ( Okay, I know that’s Saxon! ). Did you see the BBC series on Vikings with Neil Oliver? We have the DVD at home so we can watch it when we like Smile

        Again we are thinking of the same things at the same time

        Love from your Viking sister,

        Caroline x


        • They sound wonderful, Caroline 🙂 I found some interesting looking books listed on Amazon that have patterns for making Viking clothing- they look neat!
          Have you read John Gardiner’s book: Grendel? It’s told from Grendel’s point of view, and although it’s been more than 30 years since I last read it, I remember it as being a very engaging book.
          And, synchronicity strikes again! Distance is nought and time is an illusion. 😀 xoxoxox


      • Caroline

        Thank you, I’ve ordered the John Gardner xx


  6. Wow, fascinating! I hope your Deep Freeze goes well.


  7. WOW As usual I just can’t imagine how you can create so many interesting and beautiful works of art! I’m so impressed with the special touch of the doll hand on the weaving.


    • Thank you so much, Donna! I LOVE using hand motifs as embellishment, and was smitten with the ones that I saw on the tunic on Pinterest. So, I was inspired to use these as a happy homage to hers! BUT… would I ever love to find a pair that are as magnificent as hers! Happy New Year to you! 🙂


  8. Who knew you could look so Swedish? These are beautiful pieces! and should warm up the festival!


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  11. Mountainweaver

    Oh, Noreen, this is such a wonderful Viking dress! I love the bands you wove and also that you used thrift store fabric and skirts. It reminds me of modern day “pillaging and plundering”. And you look so absolutely cute! It looked like a fun event too.


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