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Learn to weave baskets from spruce roots

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Erna-Lill Lindén from Sörmland has been weaving baskets from spruce roots for almost 40 years. In this video, she shares this traditional knowledge with present and future generations.

Do you know something I can marvel at?

I like to go to flea markets and browse through old things, often buying something to take home. I like the idea that the things we surround ourselves with in our homes have a history, an authenticity, a soul. On my countless visits to flea markets, I always find more than one beautiful craft made of bark, shavings or roots. A large flea market nearby has a whole table devoted to these crafts. It is also the cheapest table in the whole flea market. 20 SEK. 10 SEK. 5 crowns. Any larger chip basket can cost a hundred or two.

What amazes me is when I think about what work that went into making these crafts, all the hours of concentrated work. A root necklace can take 12 hours, a larger barrel 35 hoursand one of those baskets you can find at a garage sale? Yes, 20 hours is not unreasonable at all.

Root crafting takes longer than working with birch and bark because of the size of the material, but it is clear that all these old crafts that we find in flea markets are seriously undervalued in relation to the work involved. I would also say that it is an undervalued part of our Swedish cultural heritage, precisely in terms of the preservation of knowledge.

Weaving baskets and other containers from spruce roots and branches is an old craft, a skill that goes back many, many generations here in the Nordic countries. Just like the construction of garden walls with spruce branches and stumps. The use of spruce roots was more common in the north, while in the south they were more often woven with willow. Birch roots and bark and wood shavings have also been used since ancient times to make various containers for domestic use, and in the case of birch bark, this material has been lining the roofs of our ancestors' homes for at least 1000 years.

Today, this traditional knowledge of root craft is something that few have mastered in modern Sweden. Erna-Lill Lindén from Bränn-Ekeby in eastern Sörmland is one of them, and I was very happy when I found this video from the Sörmland Museum where she shares her craftsmanship. Watch and learn!

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