My father was a Finnish Saami. After immigrating to Canada he became a commercial fisherman, gillnet fishing on the west coast of Vancouver. In the early 1960’s my dad purchased a small fishing shack from another long time resident of Finn Slough – Mr. Hämäläinen. In the summer months he would travel in his gillnetter fishing boat up the coast to fish in the small fishing villages of Sointula and Rivers Inlet. During the winter months he would return to Vancouver and repair his nets at his fishing hut at the mouth of the Fraser River.
Sami Shoe Bands
Shell Bands, Skallebånd, Vuoddagat, Paulanauhat
Sami patterned shoe bands were traditionally woven on a rigid heddle loom. The woven bands were worn wrapped around the ankles and their purpose was to fasten the reindeer leather boots to the feet and to protect the legs against the snow, similar to modern day gaitors.
These Sami shoe bands have been woven in the classical tradition using high quality worsted wool yarns imported from Sweden and Finland. All the shoe bands are woven with wool, not cotton yarns, as the wool provides insulation against the snow. The woven wool band will felt with use, making it thicker and more durable against the snow. The shoe bands can be hand washed in cool water and hung to dry. Please do not place them in a washing machine or dryer.
The woven section of the shoe band can be 2-3 meters in length, with an additional 2-3 meters that is braided or twined. The woven section is wrapped around the middle of the calf, down to the ankle. The braided section is used for tying the band to the ankle. The woven end of the shoe band is stitched with a piece of reindeer leather. The braided end is finished with a tassle.
The woven bands are approximately 1.5 inches or 3-4 cm in width.
The Sami shoe bands can be ordered in a choice of lengths. Measure around your foot by wrapping a tape measure around from your ankle to mid calf. The band should be long enough to cover your pant leg to keep the snow out.
The bands can be ordered in a variety of designs. The Sami often wore shoe bands with simple designs for everyday wear, and more intricately patterned shoe bands for special occasions.
Classic Blocks and Stripes
The Classic Blocks and Stripes designs are woven in your choice of traditional Sami colours.
(Red, White, Green, Blue, Yellow, Black)
Width: approx. 3.5 cm
Complex Pickup Patterns
The complex pattern designs take longer to weave as each pattern row is picked up by hand.
The patterns can be ordered in a selection of designs. Wider Patterns that use more threads are more complex to weave and will cost a bit more.
The shoe bands can be woven in your choice of traditional Sami colours for background and pattern warp.
(Red, White, Green, Blue, Yellow, Black)
9 Pattern Thread Shoe Bands 3.5-4 cm width
Other 9 pattern designs are also available. Please enquire.
11 Pattern Thread Shoe Bands
13 Pattern Thread Shoe Bands 3.5-4 cm width
Other 13 pattern designs are also available. Please enquire.
All items are handmade and woven at the time of your order. A 50% non-refundable deposit (payable by Paypal) is required at the time of the order. This covers the yarn and materials costs, should you change your mind. The balance is due when the item is shipped.
Please allow 3-6 weeks for completion of your custom order.
These felted handbags and purses are inspired by the traditional Saami designs of my ancestors.
This handbag has been felted with a blend of snowy white Merino and Blue Leicester wools. The bag has been decorated with a traditional Saami style handwoven braid.
Look for these in my Etsy shop or contact me if you would like to order a bag in a different colour or design.
My father recorded some audio tapes of his life in Lapland. Here are some .mp3 file excerpts from those tapes.
I am also working on a translation of his stories. Many thanks to my brother Asko, for preserving the tapes, and to my nephew Rainer, for converting them to digital format.
Aiti in Norway.mp3
These stories are from my childhood, from what I remember of stories that my Aiti told me. Aiti was born in Vesisaari, Norway, behind Vesisaari, Anni Joki. When Aiti (Maria Dahl) was small girl she was brought to Petsamo. At that time there were 3 Lapp families living there. Matti, Panko, Piera Hans, Maripik Mari Larssen, who was called Poro Kuningatar (reindeer queen).
She was raised with this woman from a small child until she grew up. As a child growing up, she traveled with her adoptive mother, throughout the shores of Petsamo. She took care of the reindeer in winter, chopped wood and herded the reindeer home. She did all the women’s and men’s chores as well, as there were no men in the family. Her adopted mother was elderly and also quite ill.
Around the age of 20 she went to Norway in the spring to work in the fishing camps. She met a Finnish fishermen and married him. In the fall after fishing was over, they moved back to Kola, Russia, where he was from.
Isa was a kirves mies (carpenter) and worked as a boat builder in the winter. One time, when he had 7 sons and 1 daughter he got very sick. He had a cut on his hand, and with the lack of doctors, he got sick and died.
He died at 3 am and 3 hours later at 6 am I was born, 2 weeks prematurely. Oct. 20, 1906.
When I was 1 1/2 years old, Aiti moved us back to Petsamo.
My grandmother was Marja (Maria) Dahl, a Saami, born in Vesisaari,VadsÃ in northern Norway, near the Anni Joki on August 4, 1870. Her parents moved to Petsamo when she was a baby. There were 3 other Sami families living in Petsamo at the time. Matti Pankko, Piera Hans and Marjapik Mari Larsen. Her parents died shortly after and she was adopted by Marjapik Mari. She was known as the poron kuningatar (reindeer queen).
At age 20 she married a Finnish fisherman and boatbuilder and moved to Kola. My father, Salomon Halonen, was born Oct. 20, 1906, in Kola (now part of Russia). His father died the night that he was born, and he moved with his mother and other siblings to live in Petsamo when he was about 18 month’s old.
My grandmother made traditional Saami crafts with reindeer leather and stitched mittens using nalbinding techniques. In the summer months, she would travel back to Norway to work. She had a small sailboat and would go fishing and also sell the things she had made during the winter months in exchange for food items such as coffee, sugar and flour. Due to the long winters, the Saami were not able to do much craft work. During her trips to Norway, she purchased an oil lamp. She was really happy about this because she could then work longer hours on her crafts. The light shone from their small cabin and could be seen by other villagers as she worked during the long, dark winter days of the arctic North. My grandmother died on May 10, 1936 at age 65 of old age in a nursing home in Vuonokylä Petsamo.
His mother became ill and was not able to care for him so my father was moved to an orphanage/ boarding school in Russian Karelia. This photo was taken when he attended a boarding school in Petrosavoski, Petrozavodsk, Karelian Russia, age 13.
My father enjoyed music and was proud of his Saami heritage.