by Rita Vainius
Where better than Norway, the birthplace of Hardanger, to
find two of the most renowned and prolific contemporary Hardanger
designers? Thuve-Stua is made up of the mother-daughter design
team of Lillill Thuve and Anne-Stine Thuve. Together, they not
only preserve the age-old traditions of this venerable needleart,
but forge new ground in modern Hardanger design and its applications,
by investing them with a refreshing contemporary elegance and
Lillill was raised in a very creative atmosphere where individuality
was stressed and she was not constricted by conventional boundaries.
The needlearts were passed down from both her mother and grandmother.
Though she received a formal education in textile design, Lillill's
true love of embroidery won hands down as her choice of profession.
Lillill's first designs were for knitting which was all the rage
when she began her own business in the mid 80's. Gradually, she
moved into embroidery design and is especially noted for her
Hardanger and counted cross stitch patterns, which have garnered
many awards and accolades.
Lillill has devotedly instilled the same values in her own son,
Jostein and daughter, Anne-Stine. Both were taught needlework
as children. Jostein's tour de force was knitting a four meter
long snake while watching a soccer game! Anne-Stine, who has
for 12 years been Lillill's full-fledged and equally talented
design partner, sold her first design at age 13. Her knitted
patterns for garments and accessories incorporate traditional
Nordic motifs with modern silhouettes. So accomplished is Anne-Stine,
that she was part of a select group chosen to be involved with
the 1994 Olympic games in Lillehammer and was honored there for
her designs. Following in her mother's footsteps, she also applies
her talents to Hardanger design.
and daughter operate their business from a charming log cabin,
which echoes something right out of Grimm's Fairy Tales.
It functions as a combination design studio, needlework shop
and classroom. The rough hewn timber, featured inside and out,
accentuates the pristine quality, intricacy of design and intensity
of color in their work, which is displayed throughout. From its
appearance and setting, it hints at being located in a remote
area. Far from it, this chalet is right in Nordstrand, on the
east side of the Oslo fjord, set in a garden behind Lillill's
stylish and cosmopolitan, Oslo has retained a small town atmosphere.
The city occupies a valley between two mountains at the head
of a fjord and the outlying suburbs extend up the the slopes
of both mountains. Though these mountains are substantial in
size, they are not enough so (according to Norwegian standards)
to merit specific names and are locally referred to only as the
east, west or north "fields!" Because of a very brief
growing season, combined with 20 hours of daylight, Norwegians
share a passion for flowers that would be hard to surpass. Most
residents maintain gardens and life is lived, as much as possible,
out-of-doors, while the season of light and warmth reigns.
most popular uses for Hardanger in Scandinavia are for table
linens. Norwegians use them routinely for afternoon coffee and
evening desserts. It is customary to "set a nice table"
for these rituals by adorning it with an embroidered tablecloth
or runner. The Thuve-Stua line also includes bell pulls, bed
linens, pillows, doilies, curtains, decorative strips for edging
shelves and something you would be hard pressed to find anywhere
else: a decorative band to festoon a "wheel" of cheese!
In Norway, this would be for the ubiquitous favorite, "Geitost"
(goat cheese). For those who cannot conceive of decorating cheese,
this band can be readily adapted to grace the base of a candle
or to use as a napkin ring.
Lillill and Anne-Stine were introduced to the Caron Collection,
which had heretofore not been available in Norway, by Vicki McEntaffer,
who resides in Florida, but summers in her native homeland each
year. Vicki had seen Thuve-Stua design books in the U.S. and
sought the designers out. She showed them a project using Caron
Watercolours. Neither had ever seen anything like them and immediately
requested some to try out. Vicki came through and the Watercolours
have inspired Thuve-Stua in a whole new design direction. According
to Vicki, Anne-Stine's enthusiasm is so great that she "gets
fired on all cylinders" just looking at the thread tones
and color changes. Both like the names given to the different
Watercolours shades, finding them to be extremely descriptive.
Hence, some of their new designs have been christened with the
names of the threads used!
Vicki, a business and marketing teacher, has for the past
nine years owned and operated a picture framing business in Fort
Myers, FL with her own daughter, Bente. As a dedicated stitcher
and confirmed entrepreneur, Vicki immediately recognized a golden
opportunity in the situation: Thuve-Stua designs were not individually
available in the US and the Caron threads were not readily found
in Norway. Seeing a need just waiting to be filled, she was motivated
to introduce the threads to stitchers in Scandinavia and the
designs to those in the US. Vicki's company, Kunsten Needle Art,
has been established as the exclusive distributor of Thuve-Stua
designs in kit form in the U.S. Currently, there are 3 Hardanger
kits which feature the Caron threads: Williamsburg, Bluebell
and Agathe. A series of Holiday kits are in the works and will
be making their anticipated debut very soon. Kunsten and Thuve-Stua
jointly distribute the Caron Collection throughout Scandinavia.
has published 14 full-color design books on Hardanger, counted
cross stitch, wool kloster and knitting. These books are sold
throughout the world and most have text written in Norwegian,
German and English. In addition to the kits mentioned above,
10 others are also marketed. The first Thuve-Stua design to employ
Caron Watercolours was featured in "Allers" in February
of this year. There are 3 other magazines published weekly which
spotlight needlework and Thuve-Stua designs are regularly featured
in all 4. Another new design using Watercolours for a kitchen
set (decorative towels and table cloth) is slated for publication
later this year. As Thuve-Stua designs are regularly featured
in Swedish and Danish magazines, the Watercolours designs will
soon be receiving exposure in other Scandinavian countries.
The needlearts form the life's blood of both partners. Lillill
and Anne-Stine both design full time and always closest to their
hearts are designs which evolve from their native culture and
folk heritage. By combining time tested Hardanger elements with
new motifs, stitches, techniques, fibers and textures, Thuve-Stua
has created a totally compelling and novel needleart that pays
homage to both the old and the new.
As Lillill and Anne-Stine are both involved in all aspects of
design production, presentation and distribution, Thuve-Stua
is veritably what Americans would refer to as a "cottage
industry," but in this case, the appellation might more
appropriately be "cabin industry!" As they are so prolific,
one could describe their designing frenzy as "cabin fever,"
in a new interpretation of this saying!
It may well nigh be impossible for any stitcher who has not tried
Hardanger to resist the allure and challenge this technique offers
once they have been introduced to the designs of Thuve-Stua,
which genuinely reflect the folk traditions of the "Land
of the Midnight Sun."
designs are distributed in the U.S. by:
Kunsten Needle Art
8595 College Parkway
Fort Myers, Florida 33919
Phone: 941 481-1908
Fax: 941 481-1986
e mail: Kunsteninc@aol.com
in Norway by:
1163 Oslo, Norway
Phone: 22 28 32 13
e mail: email@example.com
The Caron Collection is distributed in Scandinavia by Kunsten
Needle Art at the U.S. address above. They are available to stitchers
from Thuve-Stua at their shop or by mail order.
A select group of Thuve-Stua design books are available from
Nordic Needle at (800) 433-4321
Thuve-Stua Designs shown, from top
to bottom, going from left to right are:
Williamsburg, Opal, Agathe
Holiday with white background fabric
Holiday with red background fabric
Sunny Hill Bellpull
Star Bell Pull
Currently Williamsburg, Agathe and Bluebell are available
in kit form,
featuring Caron threads. Both Holiday designs shown will be available
shortly in kit form as well. For more details contact Kunsten