Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Weaving in Crete and Rhodes

When in Chania two years ago I found this shop, Roka Carpets, full of woven goodies and right at the back was a LOOM but the shop was never open.  I would stand at the window and peer in, like "the little match girl".  I eventually learnt that the weaver, Mihalis Manousakis, had had to get a job that paid "real" money to support his young family. 

Roll forward two years and the doors were open and Mihalis's daughter was there looking after the shop on behalf of her stepmother, Anja, who was now the weaver.  Mihalis is working as a scaffolder.

Roka Carpets
Can you see the leather straps in the centre bottom of the photo?  These are the "foot pedals" and they must get develish hard on the back pushing forward and down to make a shed rather than just down as our pedals do.

Roka Carpets
Two strips of cloth being woven simultaneously and paper to separate the projects.   

Roka Carpets
                                                      Bamboo poles as leash sticks.

Roka Carpets
I love the tangle of threads on the centre support of the swift and the tree trunk its resting in.

The Roka patterns are from Minoan time.

One of my questions about Greek weaving has been, why have the traditional looms never been developed to make the weaving easier and why still just using two shafts.  On occasion I saw a four shaft loom but shafts 1&2 and 3&4 were tied together to act as a two shaft loom.  Maybe the answer lies in this article in the Crete gazette where they say
"There was a time on Crete when every house had a loom. Weaving was as essential as cooking. "
Weaving wasn't a fun thing to do or an art form but part of the daily chores.

Before we left home I had read that Kritsa was the centre of weaving on Crete and as this was one of our destinations to meet up with Pete's cousin I was quite excited but, alas, it seems the last weaver had recently passed away and, although several ladies had looms in their houses and were interested in learning weaving there was no one to teach them.

Kritsa - having a go.  My feet weren't far enough up the straps and I didn't get a very good shed.
If you enlarge the pictures you will see on my left on the floor a roll of the fabric (rag weaving in this case) being woven.  I really need another look at this in reality as some is rolled around the beam as its woven then, when there is too much, its still attached but becomes this separate roll.  When the warp is finished it is then cut up into whatever product it will become.  You can see the dear wee lady whose loom it was holding up a runner in the background.  I gathered from her demonstrating that she had a very sore back.
Rhodos museum


  1. This really makes me appreciate my lovely Lotas floor loom! Thanks for the info as I have yet to get that far across the ocean from Australia.

  2. I sooo enjoyed this blog about Mihalis and Anja's workshop. A wonderful travel story with fantastic bright pictures, thanks.

    Also, it was great to see someone else uses folded paper through the warp!!