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Visiting Karin Carlander

I saw my first flax field in 2006, north of Stockholm – blue and intoxicatingly beautiful. Ever since, I have been longing to see one again.

I now know that what I saw was oilseed flax, not fibre flax. Oilseed flax is still produced in Sweden and, to a limited extent, in Denmark.

July 2024

From bookazine 6

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In my search for a blue flax field, in the summer of 2021 I came across a project called ‘1 m2 of flax’ by Hemslöjden, the National Association of Swedish Handicraft Societies.

Briefly put, the project aims to inspire as many people as possible, all over Sweden, to dedicate one square metre to flax growing.

The stated purpose is to cultivate both plants and people! More specifically, the goal is to provide insight into the nature and uses of plant fibres to promote appreciation of and respect for textiles and to inspire modern people to learn – or to remember – to enjoy crafts and handmade objects.

The project began in 2020. In the first year alone, 700 persons signed up to grow 1 m2 of flax, and in 2021 the project had led to 5,400 m2 of flax plants all over Sweden.

I love EVERYTHING about this project and contacted one of the participants, a young weaver, to ask if I could see her blue square metre. She said I was welcome and added that she could also point me in the direction of a larger field, tipping me off about Skånelin (Scania Linen), where I found an invitation to an open-house event in August 2021, when the flax plants were expected to be in bloom.

The association Skånelin has the goal of spreading knowledge about flax, both as an oilseed and as a fibre crop, and to facilitate connections between people with a general interest in flax.

The association is based in a barn in Scania in southern Sweden and has a store of implements and machines that the members can borrow to process their crop. Skånelin publishes a membership magazine and holds training courses and, not least, stores the Polish-Swedish agronomist and flax expert Henryk Zienkiewicz’s research material from his time in the seed company Svalöf Weibull AB.

This extensive material includes flax and hemp fibres, research reports, books and journals in several languages as well as photographs and laboratory instruments.

In 1979, Henryk Zienkiewicz co-authored Linboken – hemodling och hemberedning (The Flax Book: Home-Growing and Home-Processing) with Professor Emeritus Kåre Fröier. The book is regarded as the ‘bible’ by both Danish and Swedish flax enthusiasts.

The flax was in bloom in Scania, and the door to the flax-based community was wide open. I was welcomed by the chair of the association, Eva Olsson, who gave me a tour of the collection of old implements and machines and explained their respective functions.

The members who were present showed off their skills and products with great pride and joy and spoke about their common cause.

Skånelin is a guardian of knowledge amassed over generations.


The women I met all have flax as a hobby; they grow what they need for their own use, like their mothers and grandmothers before them. Mothers and grandmothers, because that was the way to secure materials for tea towels, hand towels, tablecloths and bed sheets.

Most of the women I met belong to the current grandparent generation, and they are growing and processing flax and weaving linen for the pleasure of it.
The next generation needs to get a move on to get as many hours of ‘apprenticing’ in as they can before this traditional, handed-down knowledge is gone with the wind. There is plenty to learn, the women of Skånelin have both knowledge and skill in rich measure.

Jeg så min første hørmark i 2006 nord for Stockholm, den var blå og berusende smuk. Jeg har siden længtes efter et gensyn.

Jeg ved nu, at det, jeg så, var oliehør og ikke spindehør. Oliehør produceres stadig i Sverige og i begrænset omfang også i Danmark.

I min søgen efter en blå hørmark stødte jeg i sommeren 2021 på Svenska Hemslöjdsföreningarnas Riksförbunds projekt 1 m2 hør.

Projektet går kort fortalt ud på at få så mange som muligt, i hele Sverige, til at dyrke 1 m2 hør.

Det erklærede formål er at få både planter og mennesker til at vokse! Mere specifikt at give indsigt i plantefibrenes natur og anvendelsesmuligheder for derigennem at lære at værdsætte og respektere de færdige brugstekstiler og at lære eller genlære moderne mennesker at nyde håndens arbejde.

Projektet tog sin begyndelse i 2020, og allerede første år lykkedes det at få 700 personer til at dyrke 1 m2, i 2021 var der 5400 m2 med hør, fordelt i hele Sverige.

Jeg elsker ALT ved det projekt og kontaktede en af de medvirkende, en ung væver, for at høre, om jeg måtte se hendes blå m2. Det måtte jeg gerne, men hun kunne også tipse mig om et sted, hvor der var et større areal, sagde hun og sendte mig i retning af Skåne Lin, hvor jeg blev mødt af en invitation til at komme til åbent hus på en augustdag i 2021, hvor hørren forventedes at stå i blomst.

øverst fra Skåne Lin, nederst fra Karin Carlanders værksted

Foreningen Skåne Lin har til formål at sprede viden om både spindehør og oliehør, og at skabe relationer mellem mennesker, som interesserer sig for hør i bredeste forstand.

Foreningen holder til i en lade i Skåne og råder over redskaber og maskiner, som foreningens medlemmer kan låne til forarbejdning af deres hørhøst. Skåne Lin udgiver medlemsblad og afholder kurser, og sidst, men ikke mindst opbevarer de den polsk/svenske agronom og hørekspert Henryk Zienkiewicz’ forskningsmateriale fra hans tid i frøvirksomheden Svalöv Weibull AB.

Materialet er omfattende og består af både hør-og hampefibre, forskningsrapporter, bøger og tidsskrifter på mange sprog foruden fotografier og laboratorieinstrumenter!

Samme Henryk Zienkiewicz skrev i 1979 sammen med professor emeritus Kåre Fröier bogen Linboken – hemodling och hemberedning, som både danske og svenske hørentusiaster henviser til som deres bibel.

Hørren stod i blomst i Skåne, og døren til fælleskabet stod på vid gab. Jeg blev taget imod af foreningens formand, Eva Olsson, som viste mig rundt blandt de gamle redskaber og maskiner og forklarede deres funktioner.

Også de andre deltagere fremviste med glæde og stolthed deres færdigheder og produkter, og talte om deres fælles sag.

 

Skåne Lin råder over generationers sammensparet viden.

De kvinder, jeg mødte, har alle hørren som interesse og fritidsbeskæftigelse, de dyrker til eget brug, ligesom deres mødre og mormødre har gjort det. Mødrene og mormødrene, fordi det var sådan man skaffede viskestykker, håndklæder, duge og sengetøj til husholdningen.

De fleste af de kvinder, jeg mødte, tilhører den nuværende bedsteforældregeneration, i den generation bliver der dyrket, forarbejdet og vævet af lyst og overskud, fordi de kan og vil.
Næste generation skal på tæerne for at få så mange timers sidemandsoplæring som overhovedet muligt, inden den overleverede viden forsvinder bort med vinden. Der er rigeligt at tage fat på, kvinderne på Skåne Lin ikke bare ved noget, de kan noget.

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