by Wynne Mattila

In 1994, when the Weavers Guild of Minnesota hosted Convergence (the Handweavers Guild of America’s biannual conference), I took a post-conference workshop in which I was introduced to several examples of Finnish raanu. Traditionally, raanu are woven of wool and used as bedcovers. Because I am a rug weaver, I adapted one of the designs to be a thick wool raanu rug. The raanu in Finland differed from place to place and often included the name of a specific region. My weft-faced raanu rug was inspired by the Raanu from Kainuu and can be woven on a two-shaft floor loom.

During a trip to Finland, I learned that Lapland raanu, from Finland’s northernmost region, are used to cover goahti (tent-like structures) or for warmth as blankets in the Arctic climate. The braided warp fringes of the Lapland raanu are used to tie the raanu together on the goahti. The colors in the raanu are often arranged to tell a story about nature. These raanu are woven in weft-faced plain weave on an upright loom.

My raanu rugs can be woven on a two-shaft floor loom. I love that two colors of yarn, two shafts, and two treadles can create a design that is visually simple or extremely complex. I love to design as I weave—even with two colors, the possibilities are endless.

As the great granddaughter of a Finnish Sami reindeer herdsman, I feel a strong tie to nature and the changing seasons. I’m naturally drawn to the colorful inspiration I see every day as I walk outdoors. My “Aurora” raanu rug was inspired by the Northern Lights.

Every time I teach my Raanu Rug class, I’m inspired by the fantastic rugs woven by my students.


For more information or to register for Wynne’s Winter 2019 Raanu Rug class, visit the class page here.

Images: Aurora Raanu Rug by Wynne Mattila; Aurora Raanu Rug Detail by Wynne Mattila; Black:White Raanu rug by Wynne Mattila; and Colorful Raanu Rug Detail by Celeste Grant