Monday, February 25, 2008

Direct from Sweden!

This week, I’m coming to you from Huskvarna, Sweden. What’s the red and white hat all about you ask? It's a fun symbol of “where in the world is Sue H”!

Here you see me in front of the factory.

I promised to talk about the spelling of Huskvarna: the modern spelling and Husqvarna: the original spelling. The original Husqvarna spelling began in 1689 at the edge of the huge waterfall with water coming down from the mountains to the north. This waterfall would provide power for the factory and the word Husqvarna which is loosely translated as “by the waterfall” was spelled with a “q”.

The new spelling Huskvarna is a result of the language evolving through the years so today the town name is Huskvarna.

Just as the word has changed, so has the Husqvarna waterfall. Today, the waterfall is tunneled through huge pipes and into generators at the base of the hill. These generators provide all the electric power for Huskvarna, Jonkoping and the surrounding Smaland area.

The company made arms, rifles, guns for the Swedish King’s army for many years.
There was no huge “factory building” in the beginning. Here you see Herb and David Hooke, standing in front of the stone building that still stands at the foot of the Husqvarna waterfall. This was a cold January day and the falls had been let “out of the pipe” because the water level in the area was so high. David Hooke was in Huskvarna to work with the Husqvarna Engineers on the first stitch regulator concept for Husqvarna Viking sewing machines. With their input, David developed the Husqvarna Viking Fab-U-Motion with Quilter’s Cruise Control stitch regulator which makes your free motion quilting and free motion artistry so much easier, more relaxing and more professional. If you have not seen the Husqvarna Viking Fab-U-Motion with Stitch Regulator or the Inspira Fab-U-Motion which fits on virtually all sewing machines, be sure to visit your Husqvarna Viking Dealer and try it!
The early Husqvarna craftsmen worked out of their homes. The iron workers created the barrels of the guns in their homes in Smedbyn just across the road. This area and the same houses still stand today. The traditional red color “stain” made from soil with a great deal of iron in it has preserved the wood well. Today, the Smedbyn houses hold small artists and tourists shops including painters, weavers, and a lady who taught us all how to “water felt” one summer. Fun!

The stocks for the guns were made “across the road” in the Stockmarken. It is my understanding that these two groups of workers created the parts in their homes and then they were assembled in the stone building at the base of the falls.

If you have the opportunity to visit Sweden be sure to visit the Husqvarna museum located at the foot of the falls. It is in the sewing machine factory building built in 1912 and houses a fantastic display of all Husqvarna products. Husbands love the motorcycle and rifle exhibits. Sewers spend all their time with the sewing machines!

One more “tidbit” piece of information—the “H crown” that is part of the Husqvarna Viking logo actually began as a more primitive but similar shape and was to simulate the barrel of a rifle.

It wasn’t until the late 1800’s that Husqvarna began making the quality sewing machines we know them for today. Thankfully, the wars in Europe were subsiding and there was a smaller need for large quantities of guns for the army and the Husqvarna company recognized the need to diversify into other products to stay in business. At the same time, many Swedish people were immigrating to America to take advantage of opportunities due to the industrial revolution.

Before we talk about the first Husqvarna sewing machine, I’d like to share my Swedish heritage and one of the reason I feel so privileged to work with Husqvarna Viking.

My great grandfather Charles Elliot Youngberg was born in Jonkoping (pronounced Jonshirrping), Sweden on August 3, 1850. Jonkoping is at the base of Lake Vattern, the second largest lake in Sweden. The town of Huskvarna is next to Jonkoping on the East side of the lake. The safety match was invented in Jonkoping and the Jonkoping/Huskvarna area became the “heart” of the industrial area of Smaland.

I am so very grateful that my dad’s cousin, the last “Youngberg” gave me the journal that my great grandfather started when he immigrated to America in 1869 at age 19. He was working as an apprentice shoemaker in Jonkoping and one day said to his mother, “I would like to go to America, the land of opportunity”. He writes, my mother replied, “how could I let my only child go to America and never see him again” and then she paid his way. Wow, how hard this must have been to day goodbye to her only son and never see him again.

My great grandfather, Charles Ljungberg, as his name would have been spelled in Swedish, arrived in Chicago on May 30, 1869. As he entered the country, his name was entered as it was pronounced the spelling became Charles Youngberg. My dear father, Charles Arthur Youngberg, born October 10, 1914 was named for him.

One entry in his journal says “today was the best day of my life because I met my wife Hannah Anderson” This would have been spelled Andersson in Sweden. Hannah, my great grandmother immigrated from Granna at age 19. Granna is a small town about 5 miles north of Huskvarna on the East side of Lake Vattern. They grew up so close to one another yet met at a party in Chicago! Granna is the town where you catch the ferry to Visingso Island that we talked about in the last blog.

Here you see the precious journal, the family Bible, and a piece of wool framed and cross stitched by my grandmother. She told me Hannah Andersson sheared the sheep, spun the wool yarn and then used her loom to weave the plaid wool blanket.

This silk log cabin quilt was made by my great grandmother, Hannah Anderson Youngberg. We have it on display on an early Husqvarna treadle in an alcove next to our living room fireplace where no direct light hits it. Many people ask how I can put these heirlooms out in the air and light and my response is I feel we should enjoy them, not wrap them up in a dark closet where they will disintegrate anyway.

It is such a blessing to have all the information about the heritage of my family. I would encourage you to begin to gather the history of your ancestors and develop the genealogy of your family tree. Keep reading this blog for more information on why this information will be something you will want to have soon!

Now, when did Husqvarna begin making sewing machines and why sewing machines when the only product had been guns?

Late in the 1800s, Husqvarna sent a man to America to look into what type of product they should diversify into and he returned from America with the determination that Husqvarna should begin to manufacture sewing machines. He had worked in a sewing machine factory in America and brought knowledge and had purchased some patent rights to get Husqvarna started.

I used to wonder why would he see sewing machines as such an opportunity for Husqvarna and then when I thought more about it, I realized that before the sewing machine was invented, everything people wore and used in their homes was stitched together by hand by the light of candles or a kerosene lamp!

The sewing machine was a huge invention in the big picture of industrial revolution and what a “boon” to the homemaker as she created clothing and home goods!

So in 1872, Husqvarna produced the first sewing machine, the Northern Star. You can see this sewing machine in the Husqvarna Museum in the beautiful wrought iron stand.

The Swedish people have been known for invention, innovation, quality, and doing it all in a “clever” way. Thus began the history of quality sewing machines from Husqvarna Viking. (We’ll talk about where the Viking name came from in a later blog!) The Freja was introduced in 1883 and was a huge success for Husqvarna. For a sewing machine of the time, I understand it sewed like a dream! Of course, the Freja was a treadle in the beginning, but a motor was put on many of them years later and they were a popular model for over 50 years.
I hope you enjoyed that little step back into history, now what about today?

I have spent the week at the Husqvarna Viking offices in Huskvarna. People always ask me “what do you do when you are in Sweden”? When I come to the Husqvarna Viking factory and home offices in Huskvarna, the days are full of meetings to plan new products, new product materials, new accessories and accessory feet, testing new machines, accessories and accessory feet, proofreading User’s Guides, Brochures, and “sew” much more! I can tell you the focus this week was on the new top of the line Husqvarna Viking sewing and embroidery machine coming this summer. I can’t give you any details yet, only to say you will want this new Husqvarna Viking! Visit your Husqvarna Viking Dealer to learn about the upgrade exchange program already in place now and get your name on the preferred customer list!

This week, we also worked on exciting accessories to come! In this picture Kerstin Widell is demonstrating a new accessory foot you will see later this year. I know you will be excited about this accessory foot because it is one that many of you have been asking for! Notice I have my hand covering the new foot in the picture because I have committed not to reveal any new products until they are tested, approved, and released for sale. We are on the Engineering floor at the factory and this is a locked floor and a special “key card” is required for entry.

Kerstin Widell in the center is a key member of the Research and Development Department and develops new ideas and features with our engineers then tests them from the sewers perspective. What is fabulous about Kerstin’s role with Husqvarna Viking is that she is an avid sewer and does her work with you and me in mind. Kerstin joined the Husqvarna Viking company right out of school as an Educator. I am “sew” glad she works with our engineering department today. Her husband Arne is retired (like Herb) and we enjoy spending time with them in Huskvarna.

The other people in the picture are Sandra Wennblom in the red top. She works with Kerstin in the R & D Department. Ann-Sofi Elonsson standing on the left and Maria Strahl work in engineering with the development of accessories, accessory feet and all the details around them including instructions, packaging, testing and more. All these ladies are eager to get your ideas for the future. Many of the new Husqvarna Viking features and accessory feet ideas have come from Husqvarna Viking owners. As you know, the free Smart Updates to the internal software of our current Designer sewing and embroidery machines always include a number of features requested by Husqvarna Viking owners.

Next week, I’ll be writing from the Washington State University Sewing and Stitchery Expo at the Fair Grounds in Puyallup, Washington. I can’t wait to tell you about the singing and dancing at the Friday Night Live with Martha Pullen, Nancy Cornwell and me!

Until next time, Happy Sewing! Sue H