Aunty Veljana's weaving

Native American designs from Arizona

Today I head off to the grand Canyon with my husband for a tour. It was a fantastic trip. Chilly 15 degrees celsius, but clear skies and no rain. I saw these woollen blankets in the story here. Of course the patterns attracted me straight away and that is why I have included this image here because I see such a similarity to the geometric patterns of macedonian weaving. Whether it's because big bold shapes are 'easier' with limited equipment or there's something deeper going on, the patterns are remarkably the same. It's hard to see the weave in these blankets. There very close set but then a mildly felted and surface brushed. This is necessary to keep out the desert chills. They sold a few today on unsuspecting visitors who were caught out by the change in weather. I also wanted to visit the Navaho Weaving Studio but it was just too far away to travel in at the short time we have. These blankets were retaking around $300 US.


Kiama Show

I saw this handbag pattern in a recent Handwoven Magazine. The colours just jumped out at me, of course the colours that I associate with Macedonia. I had to order the cotton from the US as I couldn't locate any 3/2 cottons in Australia. Within a week they'd arrived and off I went. I have put some other photos in the album here on the site. The cloth wove up easily although I did make it a tad too short so had to really fit the pattern pieces tightly. I backed it with adhesive lining and that held the cloth steady. The bag pattern itself was from McCalls. I lined the inside with a lovely italian silk taffeta. I'm happy with the end product and was lucky enough to be awarded a first place in the handwoven accessory category at the recent Kiama Show. I was also awarded a 2nd place at the Berry Show.

2nd visit to the Ethnographic Museum

A second visit to the Ethnographic Museum to have another look at the woven treasures. We were actually in search of a little artistic co-op that I had read about on the Net which housed potters, weavers, artists and such. After searching the backstreets of Old Skopje for a good hour we found the small building all boarded up and covered in graffiti. It was disappointing after being so hopeful. So, being close the museum we decided to have another look. The displays hadn't changed at all, the building still in a bad state and needing urgent refurbishment. Yet, once again, we got to have the place to ourselves and wonder around taking snaps. The displays are set by region and it's clear to see the difference in colours and styles used by the women. This visit gave us an opportunity to get some close-up photos and
zoom in on particular techniques.


Agathi's shop on Corfu Island

Here on the island of Corfu and with a day to fill. What seems to be a growing practice of mine is to quickly write 'weaving' with the place name I'm currently in, into my computer search engine and see what comes up. Not only did I find the Donkey Rescue Centre (which was one thing I was looking for and which turned out to be one of THE best days (surrounded by lovely old ex-working donkeys much in need of love), but I found a link to Agathi's weaving shop. A shop full of Agathi's hand crocheted and woven goodies. Other woven cloth, cushions and rugs bought in from local hand weavers. If you're interested in Agathi's weaving then you'll find her in the very north of the island. She's warm and friendly and more than willing to discuss weaving.


Weaving store Florence, Tuscany

Well, what a find. I didn't think I would discover a small weaving shop in the middle of the bustling tourism of downtown Florence. Two large floor looms filled the shop space, a few shelves full of cones of coloured yarn and a young woman busily weaving and running the shop. Scarves seemed to be the order of the day and that is all that she sold. I bought one scarf but the sett was too open, the scarf too short yet the colour arrangement suited me. I bought it more as a momento of my visit rather than an item to wear. Nice to know that I could find handweaving in Florence though.


The Macedonian Telephone Directory Ball

Last night I attended the Macedonian Telephone Directory Ball here in Sydney and, I must say, it was a great night. Singers from Macedonia, dancing, great food and drink, catching up with lots of friends and meeting new ones. The thing that caught my attention most was the display of several woven items behind the award recipients.

All of them were coverlets of various styles and colours. Some plain weave with inlays and others twill bands of different colours. The inlay technique most resemble dukugang, monk's belt and rolakan. Most were lighter and drapier than true kilims and bed coverlets (probably due to the commercial yarn used) but a couple of items were heavier well beaten weft face tapestries. I have included photos in the album. It was a great night and good to see traditional crafts front and centre on display.


At Aunty Olgitsa's house in Podvis

Just before we left the village for our return trip to Australia, we dropped into Strina Olgitsa's house to say goodbye. I had a terrible flu and her kitchen was lovely and warm, she had just baked fresh bread and was making large flat crepe like pastries. She lays each individual one on top of each other to make a layered pile. She calls them pitoolitsi and you eat them with drinking yogurt. The pile is cut in diamonds, so they're a bit like baklava without the nuts and syrup.

We were discussing weaving (of course) so she brought her special rugs in to show me. She had woven them when she was around 30 years old with her mother-in-law (my husband's baba). The yarn used was a heavy wool, commercially dyed black and red (favourite colours of macedonian weaving). The wool was obtained from the village sheep and carded and spun by the women. These inlaid designs are very common here and is the easiest way to get the preferred geometric shapes. Although the wool is heavy, it's surprising that the rugs have drape. It's akin to tapestry weaving but they're woven on low horizontal floor looms.

Olgitsa and Ali

The Ethnological Museum Skopje, Macedonia

If you visit Skopje then make sure you try and find this little Museum in the old part of town. It's a little out of the way but well worth the visit if you're interested in traditional costume and crafts. The exhibit shows the domestic crafts of early Macedonia and includes a lifestyle diorama of 'home life.' Absolutely beautiful handwoven and decorated aprons, head-dresses, kilims (rugs), and bags. The skills involved in creating these pieces are very impressive. The building is very dated and the lighting does, at times, make it difficult to see the detail of some of the items, but don't let that put you off.

Me snapping