HNW - Re: Sprang - was Re: Hardanger and Ukrainian Whitework

Dick Eney dickeney at
Tue Oct 7 08:24:18 PDT 1997

On Tue, 7 Oct 1997, Wendy Robertson wrote:

> At 07:47 PM 10/6/97 -0400, Dick Eney said:
> >I'm not sure this is similar but here goes...  I just received a copy of a
> >copy of a page from _Traditional Icelandic Embroidery_ (1985) by Elsa E. 
> >Gudjonsson, who worked in the National Museum of Iceland for something
> >like 35 years.  
> ...
> >The odd thing is that this technique is called "sprang" in Iceland, and
> >Gudjonsson says there is no evidence of "the technique now known as sprang
> >abroad" in older times in Iceland.
> I am interested in the use of the term sprang.  Sprang, as I am familiar
> with it, involves using a frame to make a lot of parallel threads.  These
> threads are then twisted over each other in various ways to make patterns.
> The fabric builds from the middle and is the same on either end.
> does this seem like what they are talking about in that book?  If not,
> do you have any idea why the same term would be used?

It is "the technique now known as sprang abroad" but it is not what is
called sprang in Iceland.  Why, I don't know, I suspect "sprang" simply
meant '(fancy) network' originally.  My guess is, continental
Scandinavians kept the old name for the old technique and adopted European
names for other techniques, and the folks in Iceland didn't bother with
the old technique and reapplied the name, or perhaps it is just that no
examples survived - Gudjonsson was cautious about that, saying only that
there is no _evidence_ that the old twisted 'sprang' was used in Iceland.
But the earliest mitten surviving from Iceland dates from (estimated) 
medieval to early 16th century and they had to have worn some kind of
mittens.  (Knitting was unknown in Iceland until early 16th ct, it is
thought.  Once they learned it, they went overboard - by 1624 they were
exporting knitted _everything_ including tents!).



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