Embroidery Inspired by Traditional Swedish Folk Art

NH artisan Brita Ek finds inspiration for her embroidery in the bright, nature-filled designs of traditional Swedish folk art.
Pillows are priced at approximately $150.

Brita Ek has brought a touch of Sweden to New Hampshire. The Sweden native lived in New York as a model and New Hampshire as a fashion consultant but headed back to Kristianstad to care for her mother 30 years ago. After 20 years abroad, she returned to New Hampshire three years ago, bringing back her love of Swedish folk art.

While living in Sweden, she wanted to do something with her hands and found a class in embroidery. She quickly fell in love with the process of working with wool yarns on wool fabric. Now, her bright colors and flowery designs are inspired by Swedish traditional folk designs. “Once I start, I can’t stop,” says Ek. “I always want to see how it will look when finished.”

Unlike traditional silk or cotton embroidery, she does not use a hoop. Instead, the fabric is stretched taut in her fingers while she works the threaded needle through the wool fabric using crewel stitches. The finished stitchery is flattened with moisture and pressure before it is sewn into a pillow. Tassels, made from wool fabric, are her signature trademark. She uses Swedish wool embroidery threads and fabric from the Dorr Mill Store in Newport. Other finished products include wall hangings and baby bonnets.

Does she accept commission work? “No, not really,” she says. “When I take an order, I am not creating and I lose the fun.” Currently she is working on a large bolster for the annual Living With Crafts exhibition at the League of New Hampshire Craftmen’s Sunapee Fair next August. It tells the story of the Garden of Eden in a tableau strewn with apples, trees and figures — Swedish-style.

In April (11, 18 and 25), Ek will teach the technique at the League’s Concord headquarters.

Her work can be found at the League retail shops in Hanover and Concord

Brita Ek, Wilmot, (603) 454-5200, atouchofswedenbybrita@gmail.com

Categories: Local Artisans