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Thuve-Stua ­ The mother-daughter design team of
Lillill Thuve and Anne-Stine Thuve

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 flair.

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.

Mother 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 childhood home.

Though 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.

The 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.

Thuve-Stua 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."

Thuve-Stua 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:
Tysleveien 61
1163 Oslo, Norway
Phone: 22 28 32 13
e mail: rthuve@online.no

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
Classic Runner
Green Beauty
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 Needle Art.


© 1997 The Caron Collection Ltd. / Voice: (203) 381-9999, Fax: 203 381-9003

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