While preparing our workshops for the fall, I’ve had knitting and weaving and family tradition swirling around in my head. I’ve noticed that traditional crafts have had a resurgence in the past few years and hand embroidery is one of the most popular crafts on our site. I’ve also been seeing lovely handwoven wall hangings and studio pottery pop up in all of my favorite shops.
This got me thinking about my own family’s crafting history and what role craft played in connecting me to my Croatian heritage. I thought I’d share a few images and traditions straight from the homeland to perhaps inspire a new project or craft of your own!
The first gift I remember receiving from my grandmother was a kudjelja or distaff. This is a basic tool used to spin wool, flax or hemp fibers into yarn for use in knitting and weaving. Below is a photo I found of someone using a similar distaff, and my grandmothers paddle with the wool roving she used when she was a young woman.
After the fibers were spun, the yarn was used in a number of ways. Dyed yarns were woven into fabric for garments, bags, blankets and rugs. Cross stitch and embroidery embellished every traditional costume worn during festivals and celebrations. Hand made socks and slippers were worn and used in wedding celebrations as symbolic gifts from the groom to the brides family. My dad recently told me that each of his neighboring villages had a unique weaving pattern for their horse feed sacks!
I’ve collected a few images of Croatian textiles and costumes to give you a taste of the recurring patterns, colors and themes I was inspired by when I was growing up. I hope they inspire you too!
What craft traditions run in your family? Have you recognized ways in which they’ve influenced your present work?