Spindles & Looms

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Historical photos courtesy of the Ethnological Department of the Museum of Macedonia

The skill of weaving and all it’s preparation was women’s work. Girls learnt weaving from their mothers at an early age. On her bridal engagement a girl would weave and ornament her apron and this would be used from her wedding day and throughout her married life. Many women who migrated in the 20th century brought their heavy woven aprons with them.

  • First, in the process of weaving, was the cultivation of textile plants. This included harvesting the hemp and flax, soaking it, drying it and harrowing it. The treatment of goat and sheep hair included shearing, washing, drying, and carding. Women also kept silk worms and this entailed unrolling the cocoons and pulling the floss.

Secondly, the raw materials were transformed into yarns and threads. These were then carded, harrowed, spun, twisted, plyed, dyed and wound onto spools and bobbins.

Third in the process was forming the warp. Yarns were usually warped in a large empty area of the village where women could walk the yardage to stretch the warp under heavy rocks or around logs or posts, the warp rollers were then wound (beamed), the yarn then inserted into the heddles and the reed.

Weaving was done on a low floor loom with either two or four shafts (harnesses) which was usually constructed by the husband or men in the village. Women rarely worked alone, female family members helping each other out. On very wide looms the weaver would beat the cloth while other women threw the shuttle(s) back and forth.

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A traditional loom once found in many village houses. The beater sure would develop the arms!

The materials, techniques of manufacture, ornamentation, colouring and dyeing depended largely on the region and time of production.
Geometric patterns were predominant in the ornamentation. The most frequently woven textiles were woollen klashna and house linens, bags and towels for everyday and ritual use, pillow cases, swaddles and slings for babies, covers and bedspreads.

Kilims, household rugs, were the most outstanding textiles - having the highest aesthetic value.

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Various items: loom, spinning wheel, swifts and spindles.

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