On the cusp of December now, the Christmas season is well and truly arriving. We are already in the festive spirit here at Selvedge HQ with a special Christmas Sale and the Selvedge Christmas Fair still to come complete with plenty of textiles that will be sure to keep the heat in. But, keeping cosy in artisanal scarves with a hot chocolate in hand is, without doubt, quite the luxurious way to keep cosy. Needless to say, it hasn't always been so easy.
Subscribers will already know that in our current issue we revisit the Sami people of Sweden through the tapestry work of Britta Marakatt-Labba, and we return to this inspiring culture once again with huge respect for the lavvu: a tipi-like structure used by the Sami population throughout history to keep warm in fierce weather, and a canvas structure that came to symbolise the culture’s remarkable resilience.
Unlike the North American tipi, the lavvu needs no ropes or ties to be built, nor does it use a central pole. Instead, branches from the local forests are initially used to form a tripod that is then supported with extra branches and covered in canvas cloth. Shorter and wider than most typical tents, the lavvu was originally invented as a way for the Sami people to track their reindeer herds across snowy landscapes.
Since then it has become a symbol of fortitude in Scandinavia. At the end of World War II when German troops were retreating across Finnmark, they burned many houses on their path. Because of this, Samis lived in lavvus for many years afterwards due to a lack of housing, and the lavvu was lodged in many young minds as a safe haven – filled with warmth in otherwise frosty climates.
Happy Christmas from Selvedge!