In 2014, Lisa Wiitala began an in-depth exploration of her Finnish American roots. Part of that journey involved rescuing her grandmother’s carpet loom from the abandoned family farm, learning to weave rag rugs with it as her grandmother once had. She’ll share the story of that rewarding experience, including how it led to the discovery of other family treasures and an additional form of traditional Finnish weaving known as ryijy.
Lisa Wiitala is a science teacher, writer and weaver living in her 117-year-old restored childhood home in Michigan’s Keweenaw Peninsula, where she thankfully looks forward to the long winters so she can cross country ski. A collector of family stories, artifacts and heirlooms, Lisa houses her grandmother’s Union-36 rug loom in her former bedroom, weaving rag rugs with materials salvaged from her grandmother’s rugs and supplies. In warmer months, she enjoys gardening, berry picking, and hunting for agates on Lake Superior, the greatest lake of them all.
Co-sponsored by Finn Fest USA and the Nordic Folklife project at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, the folk arts series features artists, community members, culture workers, and scholars—all experts in various forms of Finnish folk arts. Links to the virtual program will be sent to your registered email address one day in advance of the event.
Although this event is free and open to anyone who can and wants to take part, we do hope you will consider donating to the Finn Fest USA organization, whose hard work and dedication makes events like this possible. If you have the ability to donate any amount of money to Finn Fest to support future programming, please visit their donation page here. Thank you for your generosity.