Kiruna Saami museum

There are very good cultural museums in Jokkmokk and Gallivare, but I was unaware of a Saami museum in Kiruna until I visited Kiruna for a day with Adrian last week.  The museum is away from the city centre and is called Samegarden and I promised that I would promote the museum here for anyone visiting Kiruna.  You can learn much about the Saami traditions and clothing

the different designs of clothes for each Saami community

Here is an old Saami man in his winter clothing made from Reindeer skins

This man is depicted using a traditional frame drum

I was pulling a modern pulk to the cabin but here is the traditional one pulled by Reindeer

A view inside a traditional Saami dwelling (so many people lived in such a small space)

and of course there are many examples of traditional crafts such as knives and carvings but also hunting items such as these rolled Birch bark floats for fishing nets

and these bark pouches with a stone inside to weight the nets at the bottom

It costs 20 SEK to visit and is well worth the price and there is information available in English about the displays.

Eel Day

The Eel Day held at Ely is an annual event celebrating the cities namesake…..the eel.  The celebrations start with a parade of an eel around the city (which you can see here)


The parade ends at Jubilee Park where there are events and activities taking place


Ely, built on an island in what were historically the low-lying, marshy, fens.  Ely is famous for its cathedral which stands proud and can be seen for many miles in the surrounding flat landscape.


As I walked around Jubilee Park it was no surprise to find Peter Carter the Eel and fishtrap maker.  He was demonstrating making willow traps, while his 12 year old daughter was demonstrating fish net making


Of course I couldn’t attend the Eel day without eating some Eel.  Jellied Eels were available but I decided to try Oak smoked Eel with was really nice.


A fenman and a fish trap

This week I was fortunate enough to be able to spend a day with Peter Carter.  Were it not for the fact that Peter is around the same age as me, I would have described him as “a traditional old fenman” making his living from the land and making all his own traps and nets.


I had originally contacted Peter to ask his advice on making simple willow fish traps that I could make and use while staying at my cabin, and he invited me over to spend a day.

Peter grew up in the fens and as a child spent his time with, and learning from the older  generation who were in the business.  We began by looking at some useful tools when making willow traps.  Any idea what this is used for?


Well it is called a “cleaver” and as you push the centre into the end of a willow wand and push it along and as it moves through the willow it splits it into three equal pieces, as you can see in the picture below.


The cleaver was traditionally made out hard woods such as Hawthorn or Blackthorn.  Then using another of Peters homemade devices which acts rather like a plane,


you pull each wand through the device and the cutting blade removes excess material, giving you nice even thickness strips of willow.


After a coffee and a chat about different types of traps and our net making methods, we were ready to begin making a fish trap……but more about that next time.

For fans of the TV program Time Team, Peter features in next weeks program.

Winter in Lapland 2009 – 2

I was greeted by the sight of a new bird species in the garden on Monday morning.  There were many Mealy Redpolls feeding at the bird house


and two of these were Artic Redpoll (Carduelis hornemanni).

After breakfast we were sitting in the living room chatting about fire and tinders and Anki showed me this wall decoration incorporating a False Tinder Fungus (Fomes fomentarius).


Ingvar has many fishing nets and some in need of repair so I took my netting needle and gauge with me to show him how to make and repair nets.  He picked it up very quickly and I was soon surplus to requirement.


In the afternoon myself and Ingvar went for a walk in the forest (skogen in Swedish) using the snowmobile trails as the snow is compressed and easier to walk on.


Ingvar was teaching me some of the animal tracks and signs in the snow, and then we walked along a road


to see  the Gallivare Ski jump where several well known jumpers have trained, including Anki’s brother.


Rib bone netting needle

I found this old rib bone while out walking and it occurred to me that it might make a very good netting needle for.

As I abraded the edges with a piece of flint I noticed the bone possessed two laminated layers.

I battened my knife between the layers to split the bone in half.

I used a piece of flint to abrade the edges of the bone to produce the basic needle shape.I made a prototype pump drill with a flint tip, to drill a series of holes through the bone.Using a piece of flint to connect the holes, I formed the tongue of the needle.I completed the needle by using a combination of an abrasive stone and a piece of file, to smooth the edges of the needle. The completed needle is 220mm long and 22mm wide.


Here are the tools I used to make the needle.

and here you can see some of the netting I have made with it.

Knotless netting

I have been off work today with a cold and asthma, so needed a simple project I could do the inside. About a year ago I was shown the principles of knot less netting and decided to try and make a carrier for a large bottle.

I have used para cord below to show how the principles of this method work. Loop the cord (I used my fingers as a gauge) around a gauge and then thread the cord three times around it’s self and then make the next loop and repeat the above.

I used gardeners hemp, threaded on a bone needle to make the bottle carrier and used two fingers as a gauge for the netting size.

For the base I reduced the netting size to one finger and tied the last row of mesh together to finish the carrier off. I made the carrying strap using a four strand round plat.

The benefit of this knotless netting carrier is that you can undo the string if you need it or net a different item to meet you needs.