Lovisa Ekenmark was a member of the Ekenmark weaver family who were very significant in the development of the art of weaving in Sweden. Together with her siblings she trained students and wrote several widely disseminated books on the subject.
Lovisa Ekenmark was born in Viby parish in Sigtuna municipality in 1795. Her father, Anders Ekenmark, was a kronolänsman, a local government official with responsibilities similar to that of a sheriff. He and his wife, Maria Palmroth, had six children together. In addition to Lovisa Ekenmark they were brothers Johan Erik and Gustaf, and sisters Johanna Sofia, Hedvig (Hedda) Christina, and Gustafva. Although they published books on weaving both as individuals and as a family only one of their works — Afhandling om drällers och dubbla golfmattors tillverkning med begagnande af Harnesk-utrustning, from 1828 — names the Ekenmark sisters as the authors. Lovisa Ekenmark’s sister-in-law Maria Christina Ekenmark, who was married to Gustaf Ekenmark, had previously published Mönsterbok för unga fruntimmer i konsten att tillverka vackra faconerade och dubbla väfnader. Maria Christina was also actively involved in the Ekenmark sisters’ enterprise.
These books were considered textbooks. They provided instruction on weaving damask on a repurposed foot-pedal loom supplied with a harness and associated implements. Using these items required proper familiarity with weaving. The books included patterns, which set the weaving style for the ensuing hundred years, particularly within handicrafts and weaving for domestic needs. The books contained weaving patterns and drawings of looms and the appendices were richly endowed with plates.
The Ekenmark family travelled across Sweden and Norway during the 1820-1860 period, running weaving courses in places such as Kalmar, Växjö, and Karlstad. Johan Ekenmark and his sisters were called on to train two teachers in their “improved and fairly comprehensive weaving style” at Chalmersska slöjdskolan (now Chalmers University of Technology). Chalmers later opened a weaving school which, however,closed just two years later.
In the late autumn of 1827 Lovisa Ekenmark and her sister Gustafva travelled with their mother from Strängnäs to Stockholm on board the steamboat Josephine. A fire broke out on the ship destroying all their material. They appealed to the king for replacement materials and received support from the royal family. In 1828, in recognition of the Ekenmark family’s efforts on behalf of the art of weaving, a payment for 4,500 riksdaler was authorised by the estates of the Swedish parliament. The Norwegian parliament also awarded them a payment of 600 riksdaler.
By the 1860s Lovisa Ekenmark and her sister Hedvig were the last two surviving Ekenmark siblings. Their sister-in-law had also passed on by then. At this time they became employed at Slöjdskolan i Stockholm (now Konstfack), where they also set up their own weaving school, Mamsell Ekenmarks välrenommerade vävskola (well-reputed weaving school) and which became well-known for its woven linens. Despite this, none of the family members enjoyed any particular financial benefit through it.
In 1864 Lovisa Ekenmark and her sister Hedvig were still earning their living from teaching weaving, but lived meagerly. Their appeals to the parliamentary estates for pensions were rejected. In the 1864 work by I P G Berg and Wilhelmina Stålberg, Anteckningar om svenska qvinnor, it is stated that “their only request is now that those who can afford it might fund some of their students so that they don’t have to spend their final years suffering from poverty”. Lovisa Ekenmark was at this time 69 years old.
Lovisa Ekenmark was registered as resident in Lindesberg during the period of 1851—1860. From 1866—1870 she was registered in Sigtuna and in Stockholm. She was the last surviving member of the weaving family and she died in Sigtuna in 1875, aged 79.