Finnish American Folk School

The Finnish American Folk School (FAFS) at Finlandia University was founded in 2017 to promote knowledge of Finnish folk arts and traditional skills and ensure that they thrive for generations to come. The Folk School is based in the Jutila Center Fiber Studio and the Finnish American Heritage Center in Hancock, Michigan. Classes, workshops, and performances are scheduled throughout the year, with many activities centered around the Copper Country’s Finnish festivals: Heikinpäivä (January), Juhannus/Midsummer (June), and Ruska (September).

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Late Fall 2022 Schedule


We welcome workshop requests or proposals. Scholarships or assistantships are available. Please contact FAFS director Phyllis Fredendall with all questions, suggestions, or scholarship requests: To register please use the online registration link in each class description or call the Finnish American Heritage Center at 906-487-7549. If you have problems with our online registration system, please email

COVID-19 Policies (updated 11/28/22)

All attendees must wear a well-fitted mask at all times during FAFS events in the Jutila Center Fiber Studio.  For FAFS events in other locations, we strongly recommend masks and instructors may require participants to mask at any time.

If you feel sick before a class or other event, please stay at home and contact us to arrange a refund. If the FAFS must cancel an event, registrants will be notified, and refunds will be issued.

Thank you for helping us to continue offering programs as safely as possible.

Rekilaulu – Singing Workshop [ONLINE]

Instructor: Charlotta Hagfors
Saturday + Sunday, December 10-11, 2022
11am-1pm Eastern Time (Please check your own local timezone.)
Class fee: $50
Online – video link provided to students after registration. Students should have a reliable internet connection and a device that can support Zoom.
Click here to register. 

Questions? Email

Rekisongs are a beautiful, hilarious kind of Finnish folk song. They were popular all over Finland, especially in the 19th century Ostrobothnia. They were a creative outlet for the youth in particular. Rekisong is all about singing beautiful melodies and discovering rhymes. Often, the theme is love: from bitter heartbreak to everlasting bliss, they were the songs in the moment. A special subcategory of Rekisong is one where love and strife are about one’s place in the world: songs of emigration to the New World.

Students will sing rekisongs together and learn briefly about their history. On the second day the instructor will demonstrate how to write them – it’s easy! No knowledge of Finnish is required, but even a little familiarity with the language is helpful.  Registration closes December 5 or when sold out.

Lotta Hagfors (Charlotta Hagfors) is a singer and a folk musician from Helsinki, Finland. After studying ethnomusicology at the University of Helsinki she started studying and exploring the world of folk song, composition, and improvisation at the Sibelius Academy. In 2017 she finished her Master’s degree in an international program, “Nordic Master in Folk Music”, which took place in Finland, Sweden, Denmark, and Norway. She has performed all around the world with several bands and projects, with a notable excursion to classical music – with a musical saw. Her musical field of interest covers folk singing in all of its many forms, as well as vocal improvisation. Open mind and freedom are the things she most cherishes in all music. Her love of discovery and blending art forms has led her to perform and compose several theatre and dance productions. With a strong background in vocal ensembles, she has won competitions (International Competition for Acapella Groups, Tampereen Sävel 2017 with Ilo Ensemble) and written music for vocal groups too. Occasionally she works at the Finnish National Broadcasting Company YLE as a radio announcer.

Open Studio for Weavers

Instructor: Phyllis Fredendall
Jutila Center Fiber Studio

Weavers may sign up for Open Studio time, which includes the use of the studio space and equipment and 3 hours per week of project support from Phyllis Fredendall. Instructor permission is required to register for Open Studio. Please contact for more information.


Finnish & Nordic Studies at Finlandia – Online Classes for Auditors

Finlandia University’s Finnish & Nordic Studies program is happy to announce an expansion of its Spring 2023 course offerings to auditing students. The development will increase the available spots for auditors in two classes, FNS 360 Kalevala and FNS 221 History and Culture of Finland. In partnership with the Finnish American Folk School at Finlandia University, Associate Professor and Chair of FinnU’s Finnish & Nordic Studies program, Dr. Hilary-Joy Virtanen, will lead the 15 week classes starting the week of January 16, 2023.

To register, email and share your interest in auditing a particular class. The audit fee is $75 per credit hour or $225 for a 3-credit course, textbooks not included.

FNS 360 Kalevala (3 credits)

Cross-listed with ENG 360. Immortalized as Finland’s national epic, the Kalevala encapsulates ancient Finnish folk traditions. This course will detail the historical development of the Kalevala poetry tradition, its development and structure as a literary work, its use as an anthropological text, and its use as a political and cultural icon of Finnish identity. Spring semester, odd years. Tuesdays/Thursdays, 1:10-2:30pm EDT. 15 weeks. 

FNS 221 History and Culture of Finland (3 credits)

Explores the country of Finland and its many aspects. Students gain an understanding of Finland as a modern nation. Topics include major historical periods of Finland, lifestyle, culture and mentality, education, politics and society, nature, and population. Fall and spring semesters. Asynchronous (pre-recorded lectures). 15 weeks.

Heikinpäivä 2023 Class Schedule


Heikinpäivä returns in January 2023! This year the Finnish American Folk School will help to celebrate Hancock’s annual winter festival with a month of classes that celebrate the season and Finnish American traditions.

Inkle Band Weaving

Instructor: Phyllis Fredendall
2 sessions: Wednesdays, January 11 5:30-8:30pm + January 18, 5:30-7pm
Jutila Center Fiber Studio room 105 (Masks are required in the fiber studio)
Class fee: $60
Optional pick up project fee: $40 (paid directly to instructor)
Advanced registration required: register online or by phone 906-487-7549
Last day to register: 1/6/23 or when sold out

Design and weave a colorful strap using an inkle loom. Class one includes design work, loom dressing and how to weave.  In the second class students will take their bands off the loom and finish them for the end use: belt, hat band, bag strap garment trim – even an instrument strap with prearranged fittings. In the second session, experienced weavers inspired to work in a more complex structure will learn the pick-up technique to weave words and patterns and keep the looms for an additional week.  Looms are available for use at home with a refundable deposit. No experience necessary.

Sew a Laudeliina or Placemats

Instructor: Ginger Alberti
Saturday, January 14, 2023 – 11am-1:30pm
Location: Sew Cranky – 322 Quincy St. Hancock, MI
Class fee: $35
Materials fee: $10 (paid directly to the instructor)
Advanced registration required: register online or by phone 906-487-7549
Last day to register: 1/9/23 or when sold out

Sew a linen laudeliina (sauna bench mat) or two placemats using antique hand crank sewing machines which are easy to control and operate. Sewing experience is not needed. For the advanced sewist, these machines offer a “Hands-on-History” experience. Linen is pre-washed and machine washable. Trim decoration is 100% cotton, and detailed stitching is created on an applique patch – using the excellent control that you have when sewing with a hand operated machine.

Ginger has been a clothing and craft designer for 40 years.  In the early years she was focused on ethnic design wearable/washable clothing and custom garments.  Later this branched into clothing and accessories of the 1800’s, and finally included the fascinating world of sewing with antique hand crank sewing machines.  Ginger Alberti and Mike Sabo now own a storefront in Hancock, Michigan, “Sew Cranky” where they sell antique hand crank machines, and repair all sewing machines and antique appliances.  Ginger creates delightful and original sewn items, (wearable, useful and gift) and offers classes to teach the skills of sewing many of these items at Sew Cranky — always using antique hand crank sewing machines.

Traditional Straw Himmeli Mobile

Image from: Finnish Heritage Agency Helka Mäkelä tarkastelee sisarensa tekemää himmeliä Yli-Vakkuri, Yrjö, kuvaaja 1936


Instructor: Alice Margerum
Thursday, January 19, 2023 – 5-8pm
Finnish American Heritage Center
Class fee: $30
Materials fee: $12 (paid directly to instructor)
Advanced registration required: register online or by phone 906-487-7549
Last day to register: 1/13/23 or when sold out

Larger himmeli mobiles were traditionally hung above dining tables in Finland to help ensure a good harvest for the next year. In Lithuania, they were hung over cradles and used at weddings to help circulate happiness and good fortune. The delicateness of natural straw, means that these large ornaments, move in the lightest of breezes. Each student will make one approximately 12-inch-high himmeli mobile in natural straw. There will be a choice of patterns, including one based on the gigantic “himmeli” sculpture hanging in the Finnish American Heritage Center in Hancock. The class will include instructions on the traditional method of making himmeli and working with natural straw, as well as some tips related to cutting the straw to length quickly and replacing broken straws. This class is suitable for absolute beginners. There are no special skills required, but students will need patience and must be old enough to use scissors safely.

Knit a Neckwarmer

Instructor: Clare Zuraw
2 sessions: Tuesdays, January 24 + 31, 5:30-7:30pm
Jutila Center Fiber Studio room 105 (Masks are required in the fiber studio)
Class fee: $50
Advanced registration required: register online or by phone 906-487-7549
Last day to register: 1/22/23 or when sold out

Knit a neckwarmer based on traditional sweater patterns from Vörå in western Finland. The class will focus on techniques used to knit stranded colorwork in the round on circular needles: yarn tension, catching floats, color dominance, reading and adapting a pattern, finishing, and more. Anyone who is able to knit and purl is welcome to register. No experience with colorwork knitting required. The class fee includes instruction and the neckwarmer pattern designed exclusively for this class. Students must bring their own circular needles and yarn. The pattern sample was knit on US7 9” circumference circular needles with two colors of worsted weight yarn. For more information about materials to bring, contact the instructor directly:

Finnish Cookie Workshop

Instructors: Harri Kurtti and Jim Kurtti
Wednesday, January 25, 2023 – 5:30-7:30pm
Finnish American Heritage Center
Class fee: $20
Advanced registration required: register online or by phone 906-487-7549
Registration closes 1/22/23 or when sold out.

Learn to bake a variety of Finnish cookies. This workshop includes hands-on cookie making as well as the opportunity to taste different types of cookies.


Previous Events 2022











Fall 2021 Classes + Workshops
Inkle Weaving
Beginning Weaving
Weavers’ Open Studio
Dye Studio Foundations
Beginning Spinning
5-String Kantele for Beginners
Jouhikko for Beginners Online
Colorwork Knitting
Patchwork Birchbark Sewing Kit
Wool Feltmaking
Nordic Wood Shaving Ornaments
Beginning Broom Making 

About Us

Phyllis Fredendall is Director of the FAFS and emeritus professor of fiber and fashion design at Finlandia University.  From 1993 to 2020 she taught weaving, spinning, felt-making and off-loom structures, garment design, jacquard design, dyeing, printing, and design fundamentals. She has studied, taught, and exhibited her art work in Finland. In addition to leading the Folk School, Phyllis teaches a variety of fiber arts classes including weaving, felting, and dyeing.

Clare Zuraw is Assistant Director of the FAFS.  Clare comes to this position with a background in music, fiber arts, and education and has spent time in Finland studying the jouhikko, a Finnish bowed lyre. In addition to teaching music and fiber classes for the FAFS, Clare provides administrative support for our programs.