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Carved bobbin

The artifact of the week is no. R-7834, made by Sigurþór Ólafsson and gifted as a wedding present to Kristín Skúladóttir in 1936. This object is a carved bobbin, used to hold a couple of different types of thread for sewing. Most bobbins were not nearly so ornate, and were usually made from the legbones of sheep. But this type of Icelandic bobbin is called "krókarefskefli", and it is special because neither the ball-and-cage nor the chains at either end were assembled after the fact. Rather, the bobbin is hand-carved out of a single piece of wood. This style of carving is a kind of folk art that can also be found outside Iceland. For example in North America, where they were sometimes known as „whimsies“. The purpose behind these kinds of bobbins was for craftspeople to test their skill in wood carving, or even to prove that you were skilled enough that you should be put into an apprenticeship. This bobbin is carved from pine and decorated with a diamond pattern. Both ends have been carved into a flower-shape.
The name for this type of bobbin derives from the Saga of Króka-Refur. It is named for the protagonist who was known for being very cunning. He was said to have been the first person to carve a bobbin in this style.

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