Inspirational Road trip to Dalarna

10 April 2014


When did you last make a road trip?  Last week, I joined a fantastic group of Swedish creatives, in a paper and bookbinding workshop in Djura and on an inspiring creative road trip in Dalarna.

Whether you already knew this or not, Dalarna is the epicenter of images many think to be typically Swedish with its scattering of little red houses, the Dalahasts (wooden horses), folk costumes, farms,  lakes, mountains and handicraft. While these images were a part of our trip, I felt little bit more like Harry Potter stepping onto Platform 9 3/4 and discovered a thriving design world. There’s so much that you just have to  see with your own eyes, just click below to come along with me, too.




Before I hit the road with you, I have to introduce the planners: Karin of Pyssellbolaget andLina från Lina by the Bay. Sofia från Hildas Hem, Helena från Craft and Creativity and I were lucky enough to just come along for the fun. Whether you’re living in Sweden, traveling here, or are an arm chair traveler, I recommend the region and that you also check out their blogs. They’re all creatives, entrepreneurs and all have blogs that reflect each of them uniquely

Dalarna in 2 Days:
Day 1: Linda Gimle | Djurapaper for Paper Workshop

After a 3 hour drive between Stockholm and Leksand with a little stop in Satter at a creative hamlet of a cafe called, Bollie Cafe.

Once we arrived to the outskirts of Leksand, we found the small town of Djura where Linda, of Djura Bok, welcomed us to her store that was bathed in sunlight and had a schedule that required discipline and nimble fingers. (Djura Bok- och Pappersverkstad), After a tour and a perfect “fika” (coffee break), she put us to work making tiny paper garlands, stars, a beautiful dinner and then, closing up with book binding. The creative atmosphere, Linda’s passion and knowledge, along with our group made for an incredibly memorable night.
Linda and her husband Odd are both trained bookbinders who, in addition to raising a young family in this same house, do exquisite bindings, repairs, book renovations, gilding, embossing along with courses. We could hardly leave when it was time and felt with our arms filled with the items we made and purchases from her perfectly curated book binding collection. I had the opportunity to interview Linda. Click here for full interview.


Day 2 
Ylva Skarp | Mia Svalänge at Lyckoform | Jobbs
After a wonderful, farm-fresh breakfast, we began the day with a visit to calligrapher and designer Ylva Skarp in Leksand. Since we realized that we had all studied graphic design and held of love for typography this deepened the visit. After studying Calligraphy, in a 4 year program in London, Ylva returned to Stockholm where she worked both with her art form, as well as interior design, later moving to Dalarna to raise her family where she’s continued to do more and more; expanding constantly and selling around the world. She’s a master and her simple brushstrokes are not only found on the prints and art work she’s commissioned but was noticeable in everything around us: the walls, the chairs, ceramics , textiles, wallpaper and the back splash behind her kitchen sink!


Many have tried to copy her style but without the passion that Ylva conveys fall flat. Ylva authentically captures something undefinable with her pen.


img9Next, Lyckoform or “All roads lead to Mia.”  When Karin and Lina were planning the trip,  they were told repeatedly that if they were in Leksand, they had to find Mia. Once in the region, we heard this again and again, too.  We asked around and were told that Mia Svalänge‘s studio Lyckoform was near Ylva’s studio. They are literally wall to wall.

If anyone can turn lemons into lemonade, it’s Mia Svalänge; and she has! Mia grew up in a house full of creatives but, when this big city girl decided to pack it up, buy a farm and move to Dalarna, she received a folk costumes as a present.  On the very first day that she arrived to town and walked down the street in her new regional folk dress, Mia was stopped by a stranger and was sourly chastised for wearing the wrong dress, the wrong pattern, on the wrong day and probably in the way.  Mia didn’t want to give up and went on to study regional patterns, the meanings behind these and  constructions. I couldn’t keep up with Mia as she explained that some costumes could only be worn  at weddings, others only for Confirmations and even described one that was to be worn exclusively,”only on the first day of Lent, on the way to church,  but not in the afternoon…”  

Mia, who describes herself as a creative, wanted to find a away around these traditions and open these national treasures up for everyone. She’s designed a beautiful line, all made in Sweden, or impeccably modern, exceptionally crafted, interior pieces that began with a line of felt blankets; then rugs which are based on the color ways and patterns from folk costumes. I have my eye on the blankets and see that they come in sizes. 

Perfect, I have an excuse to return.
Now, for the finale: Jobs Handtryck. It was simply breathtaking. Hand printed fabric in a building overlooking a lake. We were lucky enough to get a private tour of the print making and left spell bound from the experience.
I can hardly put words to the visit or describe the impression it gave to walk into the printing room. The dyes are all natural and smelled like plants or the sea; the colors were so vivid and the printing so clean that it was impossible to imagine that the piece we saw in production was on it’s 12th screen and color.
Jobs Handtryck has been around since the 40’s and remains family owned. They had done 500 different patterns with about 80 patterns in production today which they sell in store in Västanvik, in their online store and at various retailers . The shop is open year- round and during the summer you can also take the opportunity to get a look at the manufacturing process.
There’s so much more happening in Dalarna that I’m still filled with it and can’t wait to return. For today, I sent you willowday wishes and am so happy that you could come along!
PS: And, last but not least, our lodging:
Leksands Gasthem was close-by both Inn and organic farm and a perfect respite for this group.  From the winding road in, nice accommodations, sweet decorations, garden with it’s chickens, lambs and bunnies and yummy breakfast were a wonderful place for this group. Thank you, Leksands Gasthem.
If you follow me on Instagram, you can find scenes from our trip there. (here)
Svenskt Tenn
Interview with Linda Gimle


I’m so happy to meet you here and to meet your friends. Thank you for joining me and thank you for spreading the word to make the world a happy place to raise happy, healthy, creative young movers and makers with me!  Willowday Wishes


July Cookbook Optin

CLICK HERE to  GET all willowday posts straight to your inbox and to get a FREE FUN FOODS EBOOK: EXCLUSIVELY FOR SUBSCRIBERS.