Last week Kuterevo volunteers were learning a little bit about how to work with wool. We were combing wool and spinning (making yarns out of wool) by hand during the whole week. First Azat asked a local woman to teach him how to spin the wool and then he patiently explained us how to make woolen yarns with our own hands. Our yarns weren’t as perfect as the lady´s, but they were good enough for Elina to knit out of them.
We also attended a workshop in Otočac, in the Traditional Craft Centre, to learn how the wool has been worked in the Lika region over the years. Four kind and patient women, Božica, Dragica, Marina and Lidija, were teaching us different ways to work with wool. These women established their association, Udruga Gačanka Otočac, nine years ago when they realized that a lot of wool is thrown away, and they decided to make something with it. Thus they started to recover all the almost disappeared local knowledge about how to work wool.
Preparation of the wool
In the past in the Lika region people used wool from the autochthonous sheep “Lika Pramenka” and washed it in the river. Now that practice is banned because of the pollution of the river with lanolin. According to the Gačanka organisation the wool should be washed with natural soap and then dried on a net. The wool can be dyed with plants: walnut can be used for brown colors, tree bark for yellow colors, elderberries for blue-purple colors. Then the wool is combed with “Gargase”, an instrument made of wood and with nails in the inner part.
After the wool has been combed, it should be made into yarns. First the combed wool is tied around a pole. Then the wool can be spinned in two ways. One way is by using a distaff called “kolovrat” that consists of rotating wheels that twist wool fibers. Another way to spin the wool is by using a pole, “vreteno”, which is rotated by hand. With the right hand the “vreteno” is rotated while with the other hand more wool is taken, in the desired thickness of the yarn.
To make felt you only need combed wool, water and soap. First you need to put four layers of wool one above the other in opposite directions. After this, you just need to select the topic of the composition you want to do. For that you can use wool or pieces of cloth. When you have your composition on top of the felt, you should wrap the felt with a cloth, covering it completely. Then you need to put a bit of water and soap on your hands and rub the mix on the cloth. After doing this several times you can remove the cloth and dry it. Our compositions and felted flowers are now proudly exhibited to make Postaja more beautiful.
Is it possible to make carpets out of t-shirts and wool? Yes, of course it is. First the t-shirts are cut with scissors and made into strips of fabric. After that the strips are put in a device to easily work with the woolen yarns. An ancient loom is used (most of them reach one hundred years) and the woolen yarns are placed in a complicated process (“snovanje”) that only the oldest people know. The strip is passed between two layers of woolen yarns. Each time the strip is passed, a pedal is pushed changing the position of the yarn layers. Then a presser is pushed to make the strip thinner. After repeating this process several times you will have your “Tepka”, that´s how this kind of carpets is called in Croatia, ready to be used.