Anne Blinks Textile Study Collection

Exploring the Roggeband

Inspired by a beautiful Roggeband found in the Anne Blinks Collection, the Braids Study Group of Santa Cruz Handweavers Guild took on a project during 2005-06 of weaving and researching these rigid-heddle bands found in Hordaland, Norway. Here is an introduction to the band written for our display at the Conference of Northern California Handweavers in Modesto, CA, May 2006.

In Hordaland, Norway (west coast, just north of Bergen) through the 19th century, women covered their hair whenever they went out of the home, particularly to church, and for festivals. Married women wore a black bonnet with a lace edge; unmarried women wrapped their braids with a narrow red-orange band, arranging the braids around their head like a crown, with red-orange or black tassels at the nape of the neck. The orange band with tassels is called a Roggeband.. To rogge your hair means to wrap your braids with a band in this fashion.

This two-sided band is described as having a satin-like surface. The top looks like a warp-face tabby of a thicker warp (often tapestry wool, or a loosely twisted linen). The bottom of the band shows horizontal bands, every other pick, of the second, thin warp (usually bobbin-lace size bleached linen) in a deflected warp pattern.

This technique uses two rigid heddles and is described in the Roggeband chapter of Väva i Bandgrind by Torbjørg Bitustøl (LTs förlag, Stockholm, 1968).

Roggebands are also used as clothing trim, belts, wristwatch bands, hat bands---anything that calls for a narrow band.

Anne's source of information was the above mentioned book written in Swedish. The original book was written in Norwegian by the same author and published as Vi Vever Band, (Ernst G. Mortensens Forlag, 1966). Anne also published a short article on the Roggeband in Interweave. Spring, 1968, p. 16. Any of these publications give good instructions for weaving a roggeband. However, in the text below, we do include a brief description of setting up the warp in the two rigid heddle frames, and of obtaining the sheds used for weaving.
Folk costumes, Hordaland. Woman on right has 'rogged' her hair. Photo from

Model with Roggeband wrapped round braids. Band is 1/2" wide and 20 feet long, woven of 8/2 orange linen and 40/2 white linen by Nora Rogers.

Under (above) and upper (below) sides of Roggeband sample, 3/8" wide


Barbara Boone's backstrap setup

Our project started out with Barbara Boone showing us how to weave a Roggeband, as Barbara has replicated each band in the Bands & Braids Group of the Textile Collection. We each wove a Roggeband with warp stripes of the thicker yarn and a fine cotton warp that deflects row by row and only shows on the backside. We wove with two rigid heddles on a rigid-heddle or Inkle loom, or with a backstrap setup. We discovered it is also possible to weave the band with one rigid heddle added to an Inkle loom; or with a backstrap setup with two heddle leases.

The band has an unusual structure created with two sets of warps. One side looks like a warp faced tabby, but actually the thicker warp threads float over three weft picks and under one. The under side shows alternating horizontal rows of the thicker warp and of another system of deflected fine warp threads, shown above in the photo (orange linen as upper side warp and white sewing thread as deflected warp). After weaving the structure, one could imagine the band was designed to emulate satin ribbon which would have been brought back home to Norway by Medieval traders who traveled widely. The solid linen surface would be the 'satin' side of the ribbon. The structure of the this side creates the floats on the 'satin' surface (over 3/under 1). The ingenious aspect is that it was invented to be made on the rigid heddle loom, using local fiber.

Threading of the two rigid heddles

The back rigid heddle is warped beginning and ending with a hole. The thicker warp goes into each hole and each slot. In addition, two thin warp threads go into each slot, never in a hole.

The front rigid heddle is warped beginning and ending with a slot. The thicker warp threads reverse the threading from the back. Each hole thread now goes into the slot in front of it; each slot thread now goes into a hole in front of it. The thin threads go into the front rigid heddle starting with one in the outer slot, coming from the first slot in the rear, then two in each slot, but re-pairing those threads from the rear heddle. The front heddle warping ends with one thick and one thin thread in the slot.

When warping, the back heddle has one more thread in holes than the front heddle. Hence, on the back heddle, the first and the last holes are threaded. The thin warp sits inside the two outer thick threads and is always in slots of both heddles. There is one less thin warp thread than there are thick warp threads. An example would be 14 thin threads, 15 thick threads.

Shed 1: lift back rigid heddle, pick
Shed 2: lower both rigid heddles, pick
Shed 3: lift front rigid heddle, pick
Shed 4: lower both rigid heddles, pick
Repeat these 4 sheds

The ribbed side of the band is the up-side while weaving; the second and fourth picks bring the fine warp threads to the surface. When weaving, the weft will not catch the outer thread every pick. The thick warps each span three picks (one thick warp pick and two fine linen picks). The weft is on one side of the band for each pick of that thick warp and the other side for each pick of the thin warp.

The information Anne gives in her article tickled our minds to find out more and we began researching the history and use of the Roggeband.

First, what does Rogge translate to in English? We did not find it in the Norwegian dictionaries available. It is from a dialect that is not found in the official dictionaries, (which are based on Oslo Norwegian). We looked in Danish, Swedish and German dictionaries and found the word associated with 'rocking' (including treadling a spinning wheel), and 'grain'. We found online an article on rigid heddles with extra sets of holes, translated by Ingrid K. Hanssen, who is Norwegian. She responded to our request to help but was also not able to find a translation of the noun Rogge. She was able to tell us that as a verb 'to rogge' means to wrap the braid round you hair in the fashion shown in the photos. So, at present, the translation of the noun Rogge is still a mystery to us.

What is the context of the hair band? We looked on the Internet and found a website with an article on folk customs in Hordaland, in Norwegian that is no longer up on the internet. Hanssen graciously translated the section on the Roggeband for us. She also pointed us to a website, on the history of head coverings in Norway, for museum photos and more information.

We learned that women's headcoverings were important in the countryside culture through the 19th century, and that the Roggeband was part of the unmarried women's costume in Hordaland. A book published in 1949 by the Nordiska Museet in Stockholm, Swedish Peasant Costumes, shows the countryside dress in their collection. On pages 22-23, the unmarried woman's head-dress is described:

One may also read in the sagas the rule that unmarried women should be bareheaded, but should wear ribbons in their hair … In Western Vingåker, for instance, with festival costume, unmarried girls wore an arrangement of [red] ribbons which were wound around long strands of flax, and the resulting long 'pad' was itself formed into a kind of flat spiral, forming a kind of crown to the head-dress.
This sounds similar to the wrapping of hair or braids with a Roggeband in Hordaland, Norway. Is this way of decorating the hair called rogge [the verb] in Sweden as well? Rogge could refer to the wrapping of any ribbon around hair or braid-like elements to create this type of hair-dressing – not just to the one found in Hordaland,

Under side of Roggeband sample, 3/8" wide

In the process of searching the literature on the rigid heddle weaving, we found some other ingenious ways to use rigid heddles.

Dana Thompson found an article on "Double Weave on a Rigid Heddle Loom", Suzanne Gaston-Voûte, Shuttle, Spindle & Dyepot, Summer 1977, pp.70-77, 97-99. This author describes the use of two rigid heddles for double weave.

Ingrid K. Hanssen has translated an article about band weaving on rigid heddles with extra sets of holes ("Double Hole Rigid Heddle Weaving – part 2", found on the website, 1999). The original article is from the 1985 Yearbook from Nord-Österdalen Husfliden in Norway (Röros-trykk a.s., Norway ISSN 03333140, and describes traditional rigid heddles with extra slots, and extra holes – in one case there are 3 set of holes. These extra holes are used for the pattern threads and make pick-up easier.

In the Anne Blinks papers are photocopies of three articles similar to the above, by Barbro Gardberg, on adding slots or holes to a single rigid heddle to aid in pick-up pattern weaving:

"Pirtanauhoista", Kutiteollisuus 4, 1980 – a introductory article on rigid heddle band weaving in Finnland with extra sets of slots and holes;
"Poimitunnauhan kutomisesta; pirassa jossa on lyhyet kuviolankaraot", Kutiteollisuus 5, 1980 – on pick-up pattern weaving using an extra set of slots in the rigid heddle;
"Poimitunnauhan kutomisesta; pirrassa jossa on kaksi reikäriviä", Kutiteollisuus 6, 1980 – on pick-up pattern weaving using a second set of holes in the rigid heddle.
There may be some overlap between these articles and the one from the 1985 Nord- Österdalen Yearbook listed above. While these three articles are written in Finnish, the illustrations are clear enough that English speakers may be able to follow the directions. The Finnish-English Textile Glossary published by The Unicorn (1976), or online Finnish- English translation services, can provide the needed identifications of pattern, ground and border threads.

The project required a certain amount of hours to search for information, to get the right threads and to experiment with the weave. Some members of the group played with the pattern, introducing stripes or checks into the upper warp of the band, or using space-dyed fine cotton for the second warp creating some interesting effects. It might be interesting to play with the interaction of the two sets of warps, or with the deflected nature of the fine warp.

We had help from Ginna Hartzell who provided the orange and white linen for the two warps for the 'replica' and Jill Sanders who provided the model for displaying the band at CNCH 06.

It has been a pleasant and satisfying journey for us all.     Thank you, Anne.

Roggebands with pattern in upper warp, woven by Dana Thompson
on rigid heddle loom, left, and Carole Beckett, on Inkle loom, right.
If you weave a Roggeband from reading this web page, we would like to hear about your experience and would enjoy seeing photos. If you have any information/stories of Anne's studies of the Roggeband, or about the Roggeband in general, please send them to us.

A project of the Santa Cruz Handweavers Guild

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