Visit Osterøy museum

This was leg two of the wool trip which started in Shetland. The same group was still travelling together, and we were joined by two more from Sølv, and a photographer. Our first stop was Osterøy museum, where we first saw an exhibit which was the result of a workshop with designers from different fields of design, local industry and handicrafts, using wool and other materials, creating furniture and different products. After a presentation of the project VikingGold, we were given an introduction to the work with reconstructing old weaving-techniques with wool from the old breeds. Marta Kløv Juuhl has been working with the Opstad loom on a “Fara fell” – which is an Icelandic technique which is woven so that one side is smooth, the other side is like a sheep skin with the wool intact. How they were made was strictly regulated: six weft-rows and then the loose wool was woven in. Afterwards they are treated with soft soap-water and trampled on. As water runs off the wool, they are water-proof. She explained that the Icelandic tradesmen tried to introduce the capes/covers but no one would buy them in Norway – until they gave one to the King and then “everyone” wanted one, and the King was named Harald Gråfell. A remnant of such a “varafell” is exhibited in a museum in Iceland.  

We were also shown a diamond twill material being woven on another of the looms, where Marta was to a certain degree weaving with the tunic found among the many artifacts uncovered as the Lende glacier is melting. It is not a reconstruction of the tunic from ca year 300; as they have not been able to spin thin enough yarn. The yarn we brought from Shetland, used for the lace-knitting, could perhaps be thin enough…

They had also tested how lighting could function with the houses they had in Viking times, where the only light-source came from the hole in the roof for smoke, and the Opstad loom seems to be perfect for this type of light-source. 

A small piece of interesting information surfaced in a conversation with Norlender; they had sourced wool-yarns from Gjestal spinners, and had sent some to a wool recycler. They had been contacted by the wool recycler who told them that whatever they were sending was not 100% wool, it was mixed with something they could not identify…

The next day the group split up, most of the group visited Oleana to study the business model of building up a modern, state-of-the-art factory with an employee-heavy industry. As they produce high-end clothing, and control the main outlets (they have two flagships stores); they are successful. The rest arrived early at Hillesvåg, where the woollen mill was opening as an Economuseum with prominent guests. The rest of the group arrived in time to get a tour of the facilities. This factory still uses its old machines and they are developing new yarns with breeds that the industry does not favor, for example pigmented wool. As they market this yarn as eg “Black Sheep”, the niche products have been very successful. Hillesvåg has an excellent internet-store and visiting their factory store is like coming in to a “candy store” for grown-ups. Both Oleana and Hillesvåg have opened up their factories to visitors and the combination of tourism and artisan production seems to enhance their business models.