The National Museum in Vilnius is in a wonderful building and their displays of textiles are fascinating.
|National Museum in Vilnius|
|Close up of the patterned belt.|
The belt has the typical 'moustache' fringe at each end.
The belt was worn until the end of the 19th century and was a very important part of the dress. A belt was worn everyday but on special occasions, a more elaborate sash was put on. Sashes were given as presents. When a woman married she was expected to weave dozens of sashes to give away on her wedding day as well as for her dowry. These sashes would demonstrate her skill in weaving and also help to smooth the path to her new life with her husbands family.
I loved the patterned bands that I saw in the museum. I have graphed and woven a few of them. Here is a beautiful patterned band with the typical moustache fringe.
|My own reproduction of a Lithuanian patterned band.|
Here is an old photograph showed how young girls learned to weave narrow bands. As their skill in weaving improved wider more complex patterns would be woven.
|using a backstrap to weave narrow bands|
I loved this photograph as this is the way weavers in my workshops attach themselves to tables in order to use a backstrap and a heddle. These girls are using a stick with heddles which is a more time consuming method to weave narrow bands but it is very versatile.
However, you do not need to weave attached to a table. This lovely photograph from the 1960's shows two Lithuanian girls weaving using only their legs to tension the warp. They are using a circular warp.
The museum had many old sashes and bands on display. I loved the range of colours used. Here is an unusual yellow and blue belt.
It is sometimes not easy to find books about weaving in other countries.
I found one lovely book which was published in 20010 by Inga Neniene. It is in Lithuanian but has a short summary of the contents in English. With 431 pages it is quite a tome.
|an example of the many pattern drafts|
|some of the beautiful woven textiles|
|A sample page of band patterns|
Mourning sashes were woven in white, black and unbleached linen. Sashes for souvenirs for special occasions were also woven with texts. Here are two examples.
The author says that during her research she did not find any weaving women apart from one sash weaver. The last weavers had dismantled their looms in 2002 - 2003. This lovely book is helping to preserve their tradition and also present their striking patterns to a wider audience. Even if, like me, you do not understand Lithuanian, the pictures and diagrams tell their own story.
However, if you are intrigued by Lithuanian weaving as I was, then do take a look at this book by Kati Reeder Meek published in 2000.
Reflections from a Flaxen Past: For Love of Lithuanian Weaving.
|ISBN 0 9700648-0-2|
It is a treasure trove of images and patterns. There is a useful introduction about Lithuanian history and then an awe inspiring collection of old black and white photographs of the process of turning flax into cloth from the M.K. Ciurlionis Museum.
- There is a gallery of Lithuanians who love their countries textiles illustrated with many colour photographs. Costumes and their details are intriguing.
- There is a comprehensive description of how to construct a simple sash loom and patterns of sashes to weave using it.
- Embroidery and patterned cloth weaving are also included.
It is a glorious celebration of the delights of Lithuanian weaving and, of course, it is in English.
I asked Kati if I could reproduce a couple of pages of the book. One page, page 71, celebrates the variety of ways of weaving. I have split the page into three sections so that you can see the looms detail.
What an amazing collection of looms!
Types of looms used in Lithuania.
I have never seen a punch card system used on a small loom. The circular variety is wonderful.
Does anyone know if this type of loom is still used or, even better, still available?
This page is typical of the detail that Kati provides about Lithuanian spinning and weaving. There are further looms illustrated and described in the book.
Another page from her book.
She gives detailed instructions about weaving narrow bands on a home made loom. Here is another page from her book, page 133.
There are detailed instructions for using this type of simply equipment on the next few pages. She calls it her 'desk drawer loom.' It is a weaving hobby which can be stored in a shoe box - no bulky equipment required yet lovely patterned bands ca be made.
All in all this book is a treasure and is so obviously as a result of the deep love of Lithuanian spinning and weaving.
She has also published a second book which is for the specialist weaver. I have a large loom and to wind on a warp I require the help of my husband who, over the years, has become very familiar with the specialist terminology of weaving. Kati describes a method of winding on a warp which does not require a helper. I am intrigued by the method but I fear that my own weaving room is not large enough to be able to move my loom into a position where a trapeze like this could be used. Anything that makes the weavers task easier is wonderful and I am sure that there are loom owners who will find this method ideal.
How to buy these books.Both books are available from the USA from VavStuga. http://www.vavstuga.com/
The book Warp with a Trapeze is available from Handweavers Studio in the UK. They have an amazing selection of books about weaving. https://www.handweavers.co.uk/
I hoped you have enjoyed this celebration of Lithuanian weaving. I loved the country when we visited it in 2017. Do check out my previous blog for November 2017.
Here is the link. https://durhamweaver64.blogspot.com/2017/11/
Susan J Foulkes June 2019