Preparing wool for rugs

Fadma and Hada are spreading a plaid on the ground and are looking for a comfortable place in the shadow. A big pile of wool full of small twigs and thistles are being laid down on the plastic. Hada puts on her gloves and we watch her pull the wool loose bit by bit. Fadma does this with her bare hands. I want to help fluffing and kneel down beside them. However, I soon regret this as in a wink of time I understand why Hada is wearing gloves. The wool is full of sticky pieces and has a strong smell of menure. I decide not to think too much about it and bravely continue until we have transformed the pile in a less sticky and twigless heap.

We load the wool in various buckets and descend to the riverside to wash them. The adventage of washing in river water is, that it’s softer than tap water. Of course it’s also a total waste to use tap water. Hada collects twigs with leaves whilst Fadma is building a small basin of stone.They start washing the wool with pure handmade soap made out of olive oil. In the meantime, Ummaail has joined  them and starts batting the washed wool for further cleaning. We are surprised that this little woman has such strength. Fadma’s son Ahmed and his boyfriend Younes are splashing around us. The water is freezing cold, but nice and refreshing at a temperature of 30 degrees. After 1,5 hour we’ve finished washing and take the wool to dry. Out of the sun, in the warm wind.

As soon as it has dried, it is time to start wool carding. For this Fadma uses a comb. I have never seen such a beautiful piece of art before. During the carding the last bit of durt drips out of the wool and all the fibers start lying in the same direction. This makes the wool stronger.

Now the wool is ready for spinning. Halima shows me how this is done with a spinning top. I am overwelmed with surprise. The spinning weel of my mother goes way back, but this top seems even more difficult. Later on I read that this is true! However, this traditional way is still used in the countries Morocco, Greece and the Balkans. I am not very good in helping and Halima can’t stop laughing about my clumsiness. Quickly she turns them in skeins of wool whereafter they are being washed again. After several washings the wool has a beautiful cream colour. This resembles the wool I see in our rugs.