Embroidered Version of Norwegian Primstav Calendar: Second Half of Summer Side

Embroidered Primstav

I have had so many inquires about my embroidered Norwegian Primstav calendar and I want to say to everyone who is following the progress made on this project, thank you so much for you patience and your interest. And for keeping this project uppermost in my mind. It is the first project I have touched in months and now I can't keep my hands and mind off of it! So again, thank you!

New readers can catch up here and here!


On my 7th blogging anniversary, Nov,1, I shared a little sneak preview of the work completed last fall - from mid July to mid August.

And, as mentioned in a previous post, because so many of the symbols used on medieval Primstavs depicted the manner in which revered saints had been killed - knives, spears, hatchets,- I found more positive symbols to replace some of tthem.

So, now that the entire second half of the summer side of my Primstav is completed, it is time to reveal the meaning of the symbols!

We begin with Midsummer day - July 14th - represented by a stalk of oats because it was important that oat buds had formed by this time. Otherwise, the crop might not be so good. Personally I love the shimmering white stalks of fully ripened oats and chose it as my symbol as well..

July 20 - marks St. Margaret's Day but in later days was known as the day there was a chance the rains could begin again. So instead of the usual cross with a halo as a symbol, I used a Southwest Native American symbol for rain.

July 22, known as St. Magdalene's Day, is represented by a bale of hay because it was critical that the weather remain dry during the hay harvest.

July 25 - St James Wet Hat Day! At first the symbol was simply a pilgrims hat, but in later times raindrops were added. According to farmers beliefs, if it rained on this day, the rest of the coming autumn would be a wet one!

And of course July 25th is also "Christmas in July". I began celebrating this date in 1972 by taking my two children to the Scandinavian Christmas Shop to select ornaments to be saved until the tree was decorated in December. We continued our little tradition throughout their childhood. A pretty little tree seemed appropriate!

July 29th and August 3 are both days to honor St Olaf, a much beloved Norwegian Viking King and Patron Saint of Norway. The symbols for both days are axes - one large and one small. Since July 29th is celebrated by lighting huge bonfires in King Olav's honor, I chose a fire as the symbol for that day. August 3rd., the day his body was transferred to Norway, is represented by a a version of the traditional small axe.

August 10th - a day set aside to remember St. Lawrence who was tied onto a grill and slowly roasted to death. I wasn't keen on depicting a grill but most all calendars I have seen, the symbol for his day is consistently a grill. So I did a little woven stitch. Farmers believed that this was the last, last last day hay could be stored away for winter feed.

August 15th marks Mary's assent to Heaven and is usually marked with a cross. However as it is also the time that prayers are offered to Mary to protect crops from early frost, the symbol I used was the Southwestern Native American symbol for their all important crop - corn.

Embroidered Primstav

The red chile ristra is a long way from the original purpose for marking this day. But since this IS a personal calendar as well as a representation of the Medieval Primstav, I have taken the liberty of marking this day as the day I normally roast fresh green chiles! The day (August 24th) actually was set aside to remember St Bartholomew. The symbol used was a knife which represents not only the saint's beheading but also farmer's tradition of killing rams and butchering them for winter food.

September 8th is marked as Mary's Birthday as well as the day sheep are to be shorn. Both a cross or a pair of shears were used to mark the day. I chose shears and added a tuft of sheep wool - can still smell and feel the lanolin!

September 11th has become another personal celebration day for me. Follow this link to see why! The symbol I used is what I hope looks like a wreath of flowers shaped to fit over the shoulders and back of a cow. As cows return home from the high alpine pastures of the Swiss Alps, cattle and even goats are bedecked with flowers and wear large hand fashioned bells around their necks. If you follow the link, you will be treated to how beautiful a sound sheep bells make all along the trail. And beautiful sounds of the cow bells in this one. it is my pwesonal favorite.  Love the sounds of the bells.

September 14th - Holy Cross Day - marks not only the day between 325 and 327 that the Holy Cross was found but also the day 300 years later when it was returned to Jerusalem. Summer mountain pastures were left to sleep through the coming winter snows and all grains had been harvested and stored.

September 21 - Fall Equinox (represented by the turning leaf), St. Matthew's Day (represented by an axe - the instrument by which he was beheaded), and the day I celebrate the middle of the fall harvest (represented by gourds and squash). This day was marked on the older Primstav sticks with an axe but in later times an ear of corn to remind farmers that any corn not harvested by this date should be cut down as livestock food as it would no longer be edible.

Here in the warmer PNW, influenced by warm sea currents, our fall crops are just coming into their own - corn is at it's sweetest and winter squash season is in full swing.

Embroidered Primstav

St. Michaelmas Day - September 29th! Celebrated since the first century, the day honors St Michael the Archangel vanquishing the devil. The symbol is usually a set of scales representing his role in heaven - weighing the souls of those who have passed. The scales on my angel serve as both scales and wings.

October 4th - marks the day in 1226 that St Francis of Assisi died. I chose to identify this day using a white dove of peace because my childhood memories of pictures of him always showed him surrounded by animals.

October 7th - St. Brigitta's Day. She is known for her life long devotion to Christianity. The symbol of a small bible was used on some sticks and on my own Primstav.

And finally! Since ancient times in Scandinavian lands, the first day of Winter was considered October 14th! When my embroidered circular Primstav is completed, this will be the day I turn my Primstav around so the winter side is at the top, just as Norwegian farmers would turn their wooden sticks to show the days and celebration of mass days on the winter side.

The glove symbol began as a remembrance day for one of the earliest Popes in the church during the early days of the third century. The glove on many older sticks is designed to look like a Pope's glove. It evolved into a mitten in time and became a reminder to women to begin mending winter wool garments, gloves, jackets and hats.

Thank you to those of you who have read this far, and for your interest! I will return with the first half of the winter season - which those of you who know me know very well is my favorite because it is filled with Winter Holidays!!

The completed Primstav can be viewed here

Dear Pam, you are so missed

Dear Pam, you are so missed in blogland! I would love to see how your embroidery has turned out! Have you seen Arne and Carlos latest book, full of knitted birds! I saw it in the shops, but it isn't even in the library yet, but it reminded me of you, and I am sending you a big hug and wishes that you might once again wish to share the winter season online.
Gill xxx

For my parent's 50th wedding

For my parent's 50th wedding anniversary (10 years ago now!), I drew a timeline of their life together. Six feet long, it is displayed on a wall of their finished basement. The embroidered primstave is lovely and would be a beautiful gift, mainly with birthdays and historical family events, for my Norwegain mother. I better get to stitching.

Praying all is well for you.

Jani, how lovely to hear from

Jani, how lovely to hear from you.  And thank you for your good wishes.  I lost my entire reader some time ago and to this day know there are people whose blogs i followed that I could not remember.  So glad you connected. And I am thrilled you are thinking of creating an embroidered primstav for your Mother!  Makes my heart so happy.  I have loved this project so much, and hope others will find inspiration in it to make their own.  I will never create a pattern for that reason.  But if you have questions, always feel free to ask here or on e-mail.  

Pam...I just think this is

Pam...I just think this is one of the coolest projects ever!!!

Oh thank you so much,

Oh thank you so much, Donna!!!  It has been one of the most satisfying projects I have ever done.

It's looking beautiful, so

It's looking beautiful, so glad you've kept going with it. And as much as your embroidery is gorgeous, I love the stories behind the pictures just as much, really interesting!

Thank you for that, Sally.  I

Thank you for that, Sally.  I never realized how much history I was about to learn when I launched this project.  Nor how much I would enjoy the creativity and stitching!  Actually, I never abandoned it, but only in the past couple weeks have I felt like returning to any craft or project.  And of course when that part of me reawakened, this was the project calling the loudest!!  Now I can hardly keep my hands off of it!!

Love it, Pam! It's turning

Love it, Pam! It's turning out beautifully! <3

Kathryn, Thank you!  Although

Kathryn, Thank you!  Although you are Swedish, and the Primstav is Norwegian, I think you would really enjoy making one!

Beautiful embroidery - and so

Beautiful embroidery - and so very lovely to have you back! You've been missed! Xxx

Sasha, I so appreciate your

Sasha, I so appreciate your reminders you are thinking of me and support even I have not been doing a very good job at keeping in touch.  This is the first project I felt like doing since January even tho  I have several that I "should" attend to first.  Di suggested I go with my "gut" and that I had her full permission to do so!  So I did!   

Pam - I have missed both you

Pam - I have missed both you AND Diane posting, perhaps we will be able to see more of both of you? (I know Diane has been busy working on her book)

Thank you so much , Kay.

Thank you so much , Kay.  Diane is really scrambling right now because her publisher moved up her launch date from June to May 19th!  I got to see her advance copy and it is just a wonderful book.

So that means you WILL be seeing more of her soon!  It has been a really challenging year for both of us but I am happy to say we are weathering the storm and now healing.

This is such a beautiful

This is such a beautiful project. I was reading about Primstavs several months ago and even had a go at drawing my own one, but your embroidery takes this to a whole new and beautiful level! I'm very much looking forward to seeing the next part.

Jenny, it is so nice of you

Jenny, it is so nice of you to introduce yourself and let me know you are as enchanted by Primstav's as I am..  Since I am not a carver, I decided to do the next best thing and make one using something I do know how to do!!!

Pam, So very glad you are


So very glad you are writing again. I have missed hearing about you and your life. I'm also sorry for your rough times this year. If there is anything I can do please let me know - remember (unfortunately) I live in PA so...
Your embroidery is beautiful. I can't wait until it is finished.


Maureen!  I am glad to be

Maureen!  I am glad to be writing again too - and - happy to know I was missed xox.  

Although I am very much looking forward to having it completed, this is definitely one of those projects where the journey is the part that is producing continued excitement and satisfaction.

Appreciate you saying hello!

Oh, what an interesting

Oh, what an interesting project!

Thank you, Rachel!  I have to

Thank you, Rachel!  I have to say I have learned so much during the research aspects of the project.  Lovely to hear from you.