News From Tileagd

News from Tileagd

July 2013

All has changed here.  Our beautiful hand spun, hand loomed hemp has all but been used up and so we are having to find different work for the Roma women in Tileagd – Aurica Stenescu, Leonora, Claudia, Creitsa, Pitica, Marioara, Florica, Florentina, Livia, Crina, Madalina, Argentina, Marcela, Viorica, Olimpia, Argentina, Soneta, 2 Anas, 2 Ancas  and 2 more Auricas.
We are hand spinning wool, weaving, up - cycling clothes, using felt for brooches, other brooches and hair pieces,, using patchwork puffs in tree and flower design bags and cushion covers and doing different kinds of crochet work.

Hand spinning and dyeing

It is easy to write the words but not at all easy to achieve.

-    We brought Jacobs wool over from England to Romania but once this was used up we had to find our own fleeces.  Romanian fleeces are much harsher and harder to spin.
-    We had to wash the wool in the river.  This is Marioara’s job.
-    Then it must be dried.  I see it when I finish my morning in the village, white tufts like seagulls scattered all over the grass.
-    Marioara then has to remove the ticks and burrs and tease it ready for spinning or carding.
-    Marcela, Florica and Florentina are the spinners using small hand spinners or a distaff and spindle Romanian Style.
-    Then it has to be weighed and wound into a skein.
-    Then it has to be washed with soap, to get rid of the lanolin, by Argentina, in my bath, and hung on the line to dry.
-    Then it has to be mordanted if it is to be dyed with plant dyes.  If it is brown wool it can be used as it is.  Most plant dyes will not take up the colour without a mordant.
It then passes to Aurica Dani who crochets a small purse with a shoulder strap or it is stored in cloth bags in my bathroom waiting for another idea.


-    We have failed to find any wool like the Jacobs wool.  It is much coarser and the fibres are shorter or longer or less curly or too curly ... there are so many ramifications.  We have now realised that it may never be possible to find a wool producing sheep like a British wool breed.   No-one seems to know the breed of the sheep here.   They are all mixed up breeds and the wool is extremely dirty and tangled.  
-    We have seen the spinning skills improve but it is unfair of me to expect that our little purses can be made flat and even with uncarded and harsh wool.  Even the softest of our wool is lumpy and bumpy.
-    Marioara’s teasing is sufficient for the Jacobs wool but it is not good enough for our Romanian fleeces.  We drove 2 hours into the mountains one day because we had heard of a man with a drum carder for arranging the wool fibres in parallel – no such places exist any longer in our area.  It turned out to be a huge machine with 20 or so huge rollers and a huge noise to match.  We came out with 7 candy floss like rolls which were much easier to spin.  But this is not a practicable journey for us and it would mean less work for Marioara.  
-    I ran out of mordanting chemicals in Romania.  I just could not find any replacements and so the wool piled up.  
-    I have had a lot of disasters with my dying.  We can make mustards and olive greens and shades of brown with onion skins and walnut and sorrel but I had dreams of blues and pinks and even oranges and red.  Violeta was so discouraged with my offerings of shades of beige and khaki I stopped showing her!  I read that we could get a pink / red dye from a certain wild flower root.  We spent ages in the baking sun digging up roots from an old factory site.  I had to then simmer them below boiling for an hour.  This proved impossible for me without a thermometer.  All I achieved was a pale yellow, slightly tinged with a dingy apricot!

 I now have a thermometer and the mordanting chemicals brought from England.  In July all the fruits will be coming and other wild flowers.  Lumpy, bumpy yarns will give more texture.  The fleeces stacked up in Violeta’s yard are an improvement on our earliest sorties into the fields of Tileagd.  We will stop dreaming of a perfect soft yarn, accept what we have and choose our craft accordingly.  Perhaps we can make a felted bag and small rugs – perhaps!    I have planted woad seeds for a blue dye.  I hope they are flourishing.  And perhaps my remaining roots in soak by the well will not have produced mosquitoes but will yield my elusive red dye.(They didn’t)!  I have bought hand carders for Marioara’s work so our 3 spinners will be able to spin faster and better with better prepared fleece. I will stop being ashamed of Aurica Dani’s little purses.  We will try and sell them as traditional, authentic, artisan “something or others”, cut the strap and suggest it could be worn tucked into the top of jeans.  This was your idea Marion!  We will set up another hand loom, an upright one.  It has been stored in my barn for such an opportunity. We will start making rugs using our Romanian wool.  We will see if Viorica can crochet or knit simple bucket bags which we can felt.


I have deliberately gone on and on but I wanted to convince you how hard it has been!  I have not left room for our other new ventures… Next time… But I want you to think about Aurica embroidering motifs on end of line clothing; 2 young teenagers weaving wonderful cloth on the loom in my garden: another machining up a new design bag and all the other work going on.   NEXT TIME…

Thank you Lord that we have been able to make a start on this transition.
Love to you all in Jesus’ Name - M


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