Monday, 30 June 2014

My Shetland Vararfeldur - Week 2

One full week working on my own on the feld, and I figured if I did 25cm each week then I could finish in 6 weeks. For the first week - I failed, only 15cm have been woven. I will have to play 'catch up' this next week to get on track. I will have help one day from Mary, as pay back for helping to 'roo' her rams. That could be a whole day of weaving, and with the 2 of us working I might be ahead of schedule after that. 

15cm woven on the 2nd quarter of the feld, with a colour change - very light grey with a little black and dark grey.

A question was asked regarding what a Vararfeldur is exactly. It is a Viking age cloak, the word means a cloak which is a sale item. 'Vara' is where the English word for 'wares' comes from - sale goods. They were made in Iceland, mainly around the 12th and 13th century's, and many being sold to Norway. The Icelandic fleece is perfect for the tufts on these, and as the Icelandic law book, which still exists, documented much of the textiles which were made, we have a good description of the details of the cloak.

The Law Book states:
It measures 1 metre by 2 metres (approx, in today's measurements). 
There are 13 tufts in every row. 

There is a piece surviving in Iceland where we can see the thickness and set of the backing, and as the 'knot' has been analysed and documented, we have all the information needed to reproduce the Vararfeldur. 

The finished item mimics a sheep skin, but is a larger piece, and so works as a cloak which easily wraps round the whole body. It will stay as a soft fabric where a skin may become harder in time, will be easier to dry when it gets wet, but will keep the wearer as dry as a skin does.


This is a Vararfeldur which we made in Norway. You can see the tufts all lying in one direction - from the top edge of cloak to the bottom. To finish it we took it outside, (laid it on a sheet), wet it and walked on it. No other washing or finishing was done, but it worked well.


  1. It looks amazing, but obviously needs a lot of concentration! I'm going to be up staying with my aunt, Janis Smith for a couple of weeks and would love to call by to take a look if that was possible?

    1. Hi Pauline, come along anytime when you are here. It will be good to see you.

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  3. Thanks, Elizabeth, will get Janis to bring me next week maybe, we are up for two weeks so really looking forward to it. Hope the fog stays away as shetland was shrouded in it this time last year, I'm sure you mind it!