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Ultima Thule

First, let’s answer a frequently asked question: How do you pronounce the name of the Finnish glassware that looks like it is melting?

We’ll skip the International Phonetic Alphabet and go straight to the wonders of the Internet: How to pronounce Ultima Thule.

Ultima Thule is Latin for “the furthest point north.” It implies being on the furthest edge of civilization. It’s also used to describe an almost-impossible goal.  Both definitions fit this particular design.  Designer Tapio Wirkkala (pictured above) was inspired by the beauty of the melting ice during a visit to Lapland, the northernmost region of Finland. Once back in his studio, Wirkkala began the exacting work of creating a glass that reflected the image he had in his mind.

To achieve the desired look, Wirkkala combined using a graphite mold and glass blowing. Using a graphite mold is an ancient technique (see video below).

However, the intricacy of the Ultima Thule pattern required thousands of hours of experimenting and testing to develop a glass-blowing technique that showed the detail and texture.

Few companies would support a designer spending time and resources in that way. But ittala’s values are unique and their mission statement is uncompromising: “We believe that objects should be distinctive, combinable, and multi-functional, with lasting design that inspires individual use and expression…We believe in timeless design that will never be thrown away.”

If something is never to be thrown away, it’s worth taking the time to do right. That was the investment iittala was willing to make and the vision Wirkkala was committed to making reality. The perseverance paid off.  Ultima Thule is still one of iittala’s best selling patterns, forty-seven years after it was introduced.

A success like that deserves a toast, and here is a recipe that will make that toast truly delicious:

 

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D is for Duodji

Anessa Andersland is the guest writer for this post. Anessa is the North American marketing agent for  ČálliidLágádus / Authors’ Publisher, a Sámi  publishing company. She helps coordinate our annual Sámi Day at Ingebretsen’s, which is this coming Saturday. In this post, she will explain some of what you’ll see there. 

Duodji (doy – gee): the Sámi name for handcrafted items made by the Sámi with both an aesthetic value and a practical use. This long tradition uses materials derived from nature such as reindeer hide and antler, wood, and wool.   Duodji items include clothing, accessories, household items, and tools.

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Before and after: A tenntrådsbroderi cuff bracelet made by Nils Gransberg.

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As a reflection of a living culture, duodji interprets the Sámi way of life, the traditional patterns, colors, and shapes are presented in both old and new ways. Sámi handicraft utilizes both the old traditional methods while fully using new technologies when applicable. “It represents cultural continuity with our ancestors.” Author Ellen Marie Jensen states, “There are creative and functional adaptations over time, and the individual duojar has room for individual creative expression. Duodji is both functional and beautiful.”

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Tanned fish skin can also be used for duodji.  This skin was shown by Diane Noble of Ingebretsen’s Stockholm, WI.

 

Duodji represents the artistry and style of the duojar, (the duodji artist) and in the case of clothing called gakti, the region that the wearer’s family is from.

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Ellen Marie Jensen wears a gakti called “Loppa kofta” in Norwegian. It’s the coastal Sami gakti representing the Kvænungen, Loppa, and Alta municipalities of Northern Troms and Finnmark provinces. The detailing on the shoulders and cuffs is similar to other coastal designs, but the yellow zig-zag is its distinctiveness.

In the United States, members of the Sámi Siida of North America (SSNA) are taking up a variety of duodji. Many knit and hand sew, some, such as Nils Gransberg of Oklahoma, practice tenntrådsbroderi, an intricate metal embroidery. Minneapolis resident Ed Kopietz works with wood. One of his recent projects features cherry wood from a fellow SSNA member’s yard.

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In progress: Ed Kopietz’s cherry wood spoon

Once again, the SSNA will meet at Ingebretsen’s for our Annual Sámi Day on December 5th, from 11am – 3pm.  We will be gathering to visit and some of us will practice some duodji. Stop by for a cup of coffee and say hello!

 

What We Believe In – A book talk and signing with Ellen Marie Jensen

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Ellen Marie Jensen, editor and translator for What We Believe In.

“The belief that the Sámi had supernatural powers probably helped save them,” says Ellen Marie Jensen, editor of What We Believe In and PhD Research Fellow in Sámi and Indigenous Studies at the University of Tromsø, Norway. When witches were being burned in Norway during the 1600s, more Norwegian women were burned at the stake than Sámi. This was despite the fact that the Sámi were considered more suspect because of being a little-understood minority with different cultural practice than the Norwegians. “People were a little afraid of them and wanted to leave them alone so they wouldn’t work their magic against the Norwegians,” says Ellen. This isolation allowed aspects of the culture to stay intact and to continue into the modern day.

Another influence that has kept the Sámi worldview and knowledge of the natural world alive is Laestadian Lutheranism. “There’s a discussion of whether Lars Levi Laestadius [a Swedish- Sámi botanist and theologian who lived in the first half of the 1800s] saved or destroyed the culture. We need to remember what he preserved, such as the language. He believed that the Sámi and their lifestyle made them close to God,” says Ellen. “He was the first to really advocate for the Sámi.” Laestadius’s own respect for Sámi beliefs and culture helped keep many practices alive. What We Believe In examines his influence on Sámi spirituality as it is practiced now. “In writing about spirituality, we have to work with what we have today. There is a spectrum of what we are about,” explains Ellen, “but it all contains cultural continuity.”

What We Believe In is available at Ingebretsen's, both in-store and on-line.

What We Believe In is available at Ingebretsen’s, both in-store and on-line.

Writing What We Believe In came about because ČálliidLágádus / Authors’ Publisher, a Sámi publisher, received requests from academics and from tourists for a comprehensive overview of Sámi spirituality. Ellen was asked to be editor and she compiled a book in which the first half explains the history, the spirituality, and how ancient beliefs manifest themselves in the present culture. The second half tells about Sámi healing, herbal, and plant knowledge. Anessa Andersland, Authors’ Publisher North American Marketing Agent, is looking forward to a summer of promoting What We Believe In. “I think that this book will spark engaging conversations wherever we go,” she says.

Ellen will be at Ingebretsen’s on Saturday, July 18 from 11 to 1 to discuss What We Believe In and to sign books. Please join us, along with Ellen’s daughter Diane, who will be selling the handcrafted leather bags that she has made.

Diane Jensen-Connel studies Sami handcrafts.

Diane Jensen-Connel studies Sami handcrafts.

Diane Jensen-Connel has found her own niche for exploring and expressing her heritage. She was born in Minneapolis and has lived and attended school in Norway. Diane’s grandfather is a coastal Sámi grandfather from west-Finnmark and she learned Sámi handicrafts in Deatnu / Tana at the Culture School from a skilled artisan traditional Sámi handicrafter. In addition, she is also self-taught and creates her own designs. She has sewn Sámi design dresses, weaves, and draws designs. Her favorite craft is working with reindeer leather. Diane says, “Sámi duodji is interesting because I learn about the past and it’s cool that they still use the same materials and techniques today. I started learning Sámi duodji when I lived in a Sámi community in Deatnu / Tana, where I had a lot of friends.”

The New Nordic Cuisine keeps an ancient tradition: nettle soup.http://www.ingebretsens.com/the-nordic-diet.html

Nettles – A Food for Feast and Famine

Nettles are disliked by gardeners and hikers, but appreciated in cuisines throughout the Northern hemisphere as a source of cheap, nutritious fare. Many people associate the green with foods eaten during famines and economic downturns, but its image is on the rise. Anne Gillespie Lewis, food writer and author of The Ingebretsen’s Saga, points out that though people in many countries have used nettles for nourishing food when money for other things was scarce, nettle soup was served to the Nobel winners at their gala dinner in December is Sweden a few years ago. “It’s fit for kings, peasants and scientists!” she says.

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All nettle varieties are edible, but stinging nettles (shown) are a favorite for soup and greens.

Four years ago, Jennie Bergstrom of Lino Lakes discovered a crop of nettles in her yard. She decided to learn about the plant she knew was important to her ancestor’s Nordic diet while “getting a little revenge” on the stinging plant. She learned that since the Viking age, ancestral people in northern hemispheres joyously greeted nettles, the first greens to appear after long winters of eating dried, salted, and smoked foods. Nettles were eagerly gathered as a much-needed addition to people’s diet. Nettles abound in calcium, iron, vitamins A, C, and K, and are surprisingly high in protein.

Bergstrom took this tradition and now invites friends to come to her spacious yard where they gather nettle leaves. The leaves are made into soup often over a campfire for full effect. Each individual bowl is garnished with half of a hard-boiled egg, sliced length-wise. The egg is more than just decorative; the egg complements the nettles in a way the total flavor is more than a sum of its parts. It is also a powerful evocation of spring.

Nordic Roots Educator Kari Tauring explains, “The older breeds of chicken don’t lay eggs in winter. It isn’t until the spring equinox that they start again. To put in egg in a soup made with fresh greens was to celebrate that a corner had been turned, that the long darkness was over.” Though fresh food isn’t a novelty for Bergstrom’s guests, the symbolism is important. Sonja Carlson, a regular at the nettle soup gatherings says, “It connects me to the Swedish side of my family. You could call it ‘food for the northern European soul’.”

The Native People of North America long recognized the value of the nettle. Hope Flanagan is an Ojibwe language teacher at Wicoie Nandagikendan Urban Immersion Preschool in Minneapolis. She teaches children to recognize and use plants to create a healthful diet, both in her work at the preschool and as a volunteer at Dream of Wild Health, a Native owned and operated organic farm in Hugo, Minnesota. “Every plant has its gift, whether it is food, medicine, or utility. Nettles are free nutrition. Why do we try to get rid of them? I teach people to look at nettles’ assets.”

The first part of using the nettles’ assets is gathering the leaves safely. Arm yourself with gardening gloves, a sack to hold the leaves, scissors, and a long-sleeved shirt. Snip off the tender top part of the plant, and pluck any larger, but still tender, leaves from the stalk. Most of the stinging hairs are on the stalk, so avoid handling that part of the plant. If your skin does become irritated from handling nettles, Flanagan suggest looking for some jewelweed and rubbing its leaf on the spot that itches. “The remedy grows next to the challenge,” she says, meaning that you can usually find jewelweed growing next to nettles.

Kari Tauring has her gardening gloves on before collecting the nettles that surround her.

Kari Tauring has her gardening gloves on before collecting the nettles that surround her.

Nettles can be substituted for spinach in almost any recipe. They have an earthier flavor, so it is advisable to taste and adjust seasonings. The proportions of leaf to cooked are the same as spinach, too: a pound of nettle leaves, 10-12 cups, makes one cup of cooked nettles.

Once at home, a quick way to prepare nettles for cooking is to fill the sink or a large bowl with warm water and soak the nettles for ten minutes. Remove the nettles with a slotted spoon and put them in a bowl, now ready to be cooked. This rinsing removes the irritating formic acid, so dispose of the water. Cooks who take the extra step of blanching – boiling the nettles in salted water, then shocking them in an ice bath – are rewarded with a vibrant, jewel green that is food-magazine worthy, especially when making nässelsoppa, Swedish nettle soup. (After clicking on the link, please scroll down to find the printable recipe.)

The New Nordic Cuisine keeps an ancient tradition: nettle soup.http://www.ingebretsens.com/the-nordic-diet.html

The New Nordic Cuisine keeps an ancient tradition: nettle soup.

Cooking truly does remove all of the sting, though sometimes that’s a tough sell to skeptics. When Hope Flanagan teaches children to cook with nettles, “the proof is in the broth.” Once one child accepts the challenge of eating some soup, his or her surprised look and “oh wow” response is enough for the other children to dive in.

Hope also has her contemporary uses of nettles. She uses them dried and crumbled in rubs for poultry and game. “You can dry nettles as you would any herb,” she says, “including in the microwave…if you pay attention.”

Hope Flanagan teaches the next generation to appreciate nettles.

Hope Flanagan teaches the next generation to appreciate nettles.

Increasingly people are recognizing the nettle as the food superstar that it is: it’s cheap, it has a wealth of nutrients, including protein and calcium, and it’s versatile. Gardeners can now purchase nettles at the Friends School Plant Sale. Henry Fieldseth, plant buyer for the Sale, says, “There is a growing interest in permaculture and native food plants.” Nettles fit that description, and as a perennials, they are environmentally better than annual food crops.

Fieldseth wanted to sell nettles and he found a local supplier, Will Heal Farm in Cedar, Minnesota. The Friends sell enough seedlings to justify stocking the plant, though it is not a best-seller. “We sell hundreds of flats of basil and maybe 40 to 50 nettle plants total,” Fieldseth says. However, appreciation for the hardy perennial grows. One day, kale might not be the only celebrity green.

If you don't want to eat nettles, you always have the option of making them into a fetching dirndl-style apron, a la Elsa Beskow's The Flowers' Festival.

If you don’t want to eat nettles, you always have the option of making them into a fetching dirndl-style apron, a la Elsa Beskow’s The Flowers’ Festival.

– Carstens Smith

Trygve Svard from Ekelund Weavery shows new designs and talks about the company's ecological commitment.

Spring Sale Week at Ingebretsen’s

Sale Week is a 2-times-a-year affair at Ingebretsen’s; the Spring Sale is the first to second Saturdays in May and the Fall Sale, the first to second Saturdays in October. We look forward to these weeks. They are a chance to thank customers by offering favorite items on sale and by presenting free events, opportunities to meet authors and artists, food tastings, craft demonstrations, and children’s activities.

We hope that you look forward to these sales, too, and that you’ll join us this week, May 2 to 9, as we have lots to share with you. A full schedule of events is here.

(For those of you already planning to stock up on Swedish meatball mix for Christmas, the Fall Sale Week is October 3 through 10.)

This year we’ve added a daily door prize to our sales events. There’s a drawing every day, so enter each time you visit. There are food samplings and our tried and a true favorite, lefse dogs, will be on sale for $1 each on Monday, May 4 from 1 to 2 and Saturday, May 9 from noon to 1.

Below are a few highlights of the week:

Patrice Johnson and Pippi will serve Swedish pancakes and read Pippi stories in the classroom. May 2.

Patrice Johnson and Pippi will serve Swedish pancakes and read Pippi stories in the classroom. May 2.

Artist Kim Gordon brings her latest designs with her. Ask Kim about the animals that inspire her cards!! May 5.

Artist Kim Gordon brings her latest designs with her. Ask Kim about the animals that inspire her cards!! May 5.

The Soap Sisters will be at the store with their natural soaps with a Nordic bent. (Hurray - cardamom-scented soap!) May 5

The Soap Sisters will be at the store with their natural soaps with a Nordic bent. (Hurray – cardamom-scented soap!) May 5

Get a sample of Sweet Swede's lingonberry fudge and talk to the candymaker, Sonja. May 6.

Get a sample of Sweet Swede’s lingonberry fudge and talk to the candymaker, Sonja. May 6.

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Diane Noble will talk about her annual visits to the JokkMokk Market and the extraordinary handwork of the Sami artists there. She will show her recent purchases for the store. May 6.

Sample coffee and chocolate - does life get much better than that? Peace Roast Coffee and B.T. McElrath producers talk process and product. May 7.

Sample coffee and chocolate – does life get much better than that? Peace Roast Coffee and B.T. McElrath producers talk process and product. May 7.

Talk with Peggy, the representative for Sagaform and Magissa. Try the new kitchen gadgets and see the new designs. May 8.

Talk with Peggy, the representative for Sagaform and Magissa. Try the new kitchen gadgets and see the new designs. May 8.

Meet A.L. Sanderson, author of

Meet A.L. Sanderson, author of “Timber: Fire in the Pines.” It’s an historical romance set in Minnesota’s north timber country. May 8.

From flower to fiber - making linen is a complex and time-consuming process. Wendy Johnson of Saga Hill Designs demonstrates parts of that process. Get a hands-on appreciation of fiber creation. May 9.

From flower to fiber – making linen is a complex and time-consuming process. Wendy Johnson of Saga Hill Designs demonstrates parts of that process. Get a hands-on appreciation of fiber creation. May 9.

Join us for a booksigning by Dr. Duane Lindberg, author of an historical novel that spans centuries,

Join us for a booksigning by Dr. Duane Lindberg, author of an historical novel that spans centuries, “Kingdom of the Rings.” May 9.

The Vikings weren't afraid of color in their clothing.

Viking clothing – a brief history and an upcoming opportunity

We frequently receive questions about Viking-era clothing. So we took this opportunity to ask guest blogger and Nordic Roots educator Kari Tauring to clarify what the Vikings really wore (hint: The folks at the History Channel have really taken some liberties in their conception of the era’s clothing) and to share an opportunity for a unique workshop on historical clothing.

Cultural identity for a Norwegian-American generally relies on a few easily identifiable things. We eat potato lefse, wear Norwegian sweaters, and say Uff Da in the appropriate places.  These were things I took for granted, until I was preparing to go on my adventure to Gudvangen, Norway to become part of the Viking Market last Summer. As part of the village, I needed food, clothing, and accessories that would have been able to exist between 750 and 950 ACE. Well, immediately that leaves out potato lefse!

I began to go to the Dragtuvlag (Folk Costume Club) at the Danish American Center where I knew there were wise women with books that could help me figure it out. Additionally, Kelsey Patton was part of the group and she had been doing Viking re-enactment for several years. The first meeting I brought my basket of material and asked, “Would this work? Would this work?” I have to say that this experience led to something of an identity crisis. They didn’t have fast black dye at that time so no black wool is allowed. They also didn’t have the bright red dye. So in essence, the Norwegian national costume of black wool skirt and red wool vest was completely out!

“Well at least I can wear my Norwegian sweater,” I said. There was a sort of sad and uncomfortable look on the faces staring back at me. Then Kelsey revealed that they, didn’t have sweaters. There was no knitting, only nålbinding, and there is no evidence of making garments larger than mittens, hats, and neck warmers with this technique.

Honestly I had to sit down. They stayed warm with their wool garments, coats and shawls. I suppose I should have realized that these Norwegian identifiers didn’t exist at that time, after all, it wasn’t even called Norway at that time! What I found out was that my pale green, bright pink, and indigo blue were favorite colors of the Viking Era, for men and women both! There is a huge array of yellows, reds (but not the bright vest red), oranges, blues, and greens to choose from. This was actually a very colorful time!

I made an un-dyed linen særk (shirt – with length its a shirt dress) and a green hangerok (apron dress) with a pink open front apron dress for “fancy” wear. In addition, Kelsey made me a green wool “kaftan coat” from some beautiful material a friend gave me. This and a pair of leather slippers I found at Savers and I was ready to go. The only thing left was for me to figure out how to say Uff Da in Old Norse (there is no direct equivalent!) I wound up wearing the apron dress with other tops and linen pants underneath throughout my whole five weeks in Scandinavia. I wear it as a skirt some times too. It’s such a convenient and attractive garment that I made a second one in a darker green and wear it often (sometimes even with my Norwegian sweater).

The Vikings weren't afraid of color in their clothing.

Sonja Lidsheim and Kari Tauring at the Summer Market in Gudvangen, Norway.

Kari in regalia at the Hjemkomst Viking Center in Moorehead, Minnesota.

Kari in regalia at the Hjemkomst Viking Center in Moorehead, Minnesota.

I am complimented on these garments so often that I wanted to support a workshop with Kelsey (who since moved back to her home town in Nebraska) so that others can learn how to make them, what kind of seam treatments they had back then, and really get into the mindset of our deep ancestors of the Northlands. The særk is such a basic garment that it dates from the Bronze Age and has remained basically un-changed into the Immigrant Era. Similarly, the apron dress has a timeless look and can be worn effectively for any era.

Let me assure you that I went into this process only having the basic sewing skills taught to me thirty some years ago by my mother and my Junior High Home-Ec teacher. But working with the linen weave, working with the wool, thinking about what it took to create a full garment nearly 2,000 years ago, really put me into deep respect and communion with my ancestors that no amount of lefse could ever achieve. I want to invite you all into this magical world the weekend of April 24 and 25. Details below!

– Kari Tauring

Please click here for a poster and details of the Viking Costume Weekend:

Viking Costume Poster (1)

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Ingebretsen’s – A Perfect Backdrop for Norwegian Television

Sapmi-1NRK Sápmi Reporter Berit Solveig Gaup fits SSNA Chair John Edward Xavier with a handmade Sami tie while NRK Sápmi photographer Vanja Ulfsnes tapes the goings on.

With thanks to our guest blogger, Anessa Andersland…

In February, Ingebretsen’s was host to the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation (NRK) and the Sámi Siida of North America. NRK Sápmi was in Minnesota to report on how Sámi Americans celebrate Sámi National Day, as well as to tape other stories about Sámi Americans.

The visit was in the works since last autumn, when NRK Sápmi approached the Siida about covering Ingebretsen’s own Sámi Day on the first Saturday of December. Julie Ingebretsen and Carstens Smith graciously agreed to the filming on a busy holiday weekend, but NRK needed to reschedule the date.

Plans were then made to cover the Twin Cities Duodji Group celebratory gathering for Sámi National Day.  Duodji is the Sámi term for crafts that are useful as well as have an artistic aesthetic.   The Duodji Group was started by Marie Kvernmo, who visited Minnesota for several months in 2014. Marie Kvernmo is a performance artist and a duojar (craftswoman) who holds a master’s in indigenous studies.  Siida Chair John Xavier states, “Marie Kvernmo has had a major impact on our communities in Sámi North America, and has helped us all in our efforts to be social with each other and to do such as wood-carving, knitting, weaving, and so much more.”

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Berit Solveig Gaup takes a brief break from reporting to participate in the Duodji Group with Evelyn Ashford

Ultimately, the segment for Sámi Day was taped the day before the officially celebrated day due to the time difference and the need to have a produced segment on television the next day.  The NRK Sápmi team, Monica Falao Pettersen, Berit Solveig Gaup, and Vanja Ulfsnes, worked into the night to produce their news stories so that their coverage on television, radio, and online news would appear the next day.

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Twin Cities members of the Sámi Siida of North America took a turn with their camera and captured (from left) Berit Solveig Gaup, Monica Falao Pettersen, and Vanja Ulfsnes.

Carstens Smith was on hand to provide Ingebretsen’s hospitality, and the journalists from Norway couldn’t have been nicer. It was a winning combination! “Once more” John Xavier states, “Ingebretsen’s has reached out to the larger Nordic communities. Here we had a major effort by NRK to relate the various s stories of Sámi in North America. Giitu (thanks) to both Ingebretsen’s and NRK Sápmi.”  You can view the final product of NRK’s visit to Ingebretsen’s here after the eight minute mark:

http://www.nrk.no/sapmi/amerikansk-6.-februar-feiring-i-minneapolis-1.12192506

-Anessa Andersland