The international Lithuanian-Norwegian project Making and Growing – Traditions between Fibre & Fabric has reached its goal of breathing new life into the old crafts. “We’ve helped the modern human to reconnect with the undeservingly forgotten craft of processing linen and wool which provided food and warmth for our ancestors. Weaving is encoded in the genes of Lithuanians; I was assured of this when I saw how remarkably modern fellow-countrymen were using a spinning wheel at the live exhibition, even though it was the first attempt in their lives,” cheers the project’s implementer and President of the Fine Crafts Association of Vilnius Indrė Rutkauskaitė.
The result of the two-year project is Marija Kajotienė’s educational book Path of Yarn and the live exhibition, which allowed visitors in Norway and Lithuania not only to hear a theory about linen and wool, but also to become participants and experience how the yarn is born. “Before the project, I had associated weaving and spinning with grandmothers, various looms, a spinning wheel and other tools that I had seen in museums or interiors of hotels and restaurants. When writing the book, I realised it was a major part of your lives and identity. One hundred years ago, for a girl to confess that she couldn’t weave was a huge shame. The XX century’s technological leap deleted our knowledge about the birth of the yarn.
Now, being aware of the old handwork-based way of making textile, I understand how much time and effort was needed to make simple trousers or a shirt and how comfortably we live today. The knowledge about the path of the yarn allowed me to restore the connection with the mothers of our mothers. I respect them deeply,” says the author of the book and implementer of the international project Kajotienė.
Live exhibition destroyed myths
The live stand, which took awhile to create, has had astounding success both in Norway, where the opening of the mobile educational exhibition took place, and in Lithuania. “At the beginning of the project, this aspect of internationality was very important to me. I had big hopes for a comparative scientific study of wool and linen. Back then it seemed that there would be numerous interesting peculiarities, cultural differences, and various tools, but it turned out that all processes and tools were very similar. A question arose: what’s the selling point of this project? But as soon as the mobile exhibition embarked on its journey, all questions were put aside. I had mistakenly thought that without hot news about linen and wool the exhibition wouldn’t be interesting. The workshop’s guests showed that it was time to talk about this craft and remind the new generation of the traditions that are pulsing in its veins,” explains Agnė Žilinskaitė, CEO of the Fine Crafts Association of Vilnius and implementer of the project.
Over 1,000 people visited the exhibition. Foreign guests got to know more about Lithuania. The exhibition helped revisiting the issue of preserving traditions in Lithuania, for it doesn’t take many years for people to forget them: the young generation saw the live stand as exotic. Children, usually without any prior knowledge about the showpieces, were very interested in how the various tools and devices worked and were eager to try them. “I want to draw attention to the fact that due to economic and environmental reasons very little flax is cultivated in Lithuania, but not so long ago our homeland was teeming with flax fields. Life is changing, and it becomes obvious that the old traditions are dwindling faster than new ones are created,” says Žilinskaitė.
“I’m glad the project was implemented, because all the visitors of seminars and the live stand thanked unanimously for the opportunity to touch a part of their history. To move forward, we must remember who we are. I would like to give thanks to the entire team for making all goals a reality,” notes Rutkauskaitė.
Those who missed the live exhibition still have a chance to experience the path of the yarn. On 19 April, the exhibition was transferred to the project’s partners, the village of Krikštėnai community, and is available to visitors in Krikštėnai culture centre.
ABOUT PROJECT (No. EEE-LT07-KM-01-K-017)
– Aim: to reconstruct, exchange and spread traditional knowledge of textile making in Lithuania and Norway.
– Activities: research of Norwegian sheep wool and Lithuanian linen production through the scientific and physical processes and the creation of the innovative product – mobile, live, open and educational exhibition. During the project the traditional tools and archaic practical methods of production of weaving in both countries were analysed, as well as museum artefacts and the practical knowledge of craftsmen. The information obtained was joined through historical reconstruction techniques.
– Results: publication of the process of scientific research and reconstruction on the project’s website (blog) makingandgrowing.com in tree languages (Lithuanian, Norwegian and English). This website (blog) initiated discussions online while teaching or exchanging information, ideas and knowledge. In this way the project created additional qualitatively good alternative to transmission of art, culture and knowledge and the development of cultural tourism. It also provided the possibility to touch the life history at a non-traditional environment, ensured the interests in social, cultural, artistic and nature environment of the local region.
– Value: EUR 132,467.73