Fabulous Fyti Fythkiotika

My trip to Cyprus this year had to include another trip to Fyti to meet with more of those wonderful weavers who are participating in the Voufa initiative instigated by Maura Mckee, Sarah Dixon. These two women, one a weaver in Northern Ireland and  one an artist in the UK have made  great efforts to get more attention and interest from both designers and artists, especially in Cyprus, for one of the more unique traditional crafts of Cyprus, Fythkiotika weaving. Here on their website promoting Fythkiotika, is a report of a seminar Maura presented at the Frederick University in Lefkosia last year  http://phitiotika.wordpress.com which includes a link to a video showing the process from start to finish of preparing the threads for the loom.

One of the women featured on the video, Mrs EIrini Diomidous, was working at her weaving when I arrived and I managed to have a chat with her. This was one of those occasions when I wished my Greek was a little more comprehensive as I wasn’t always able to get the finer details of what she was telling me but we managed. The large room in this restored old building was filled from floor to ceiling with fine examples of fythkiotika made by the women of the group. All the pieces were for sale,  many of the designs  were copies of old pieces, all were beautifully intricate. I of course came away with a few examples. One of them was this rather funky bag which looked like it has a silk lining in a hessian type weave, this I later parted with reluctantly as I’d bought it as a present for my sister.

Funky bagThe loom that Eirini uses has been in her family for a least a hundred years and is still going strong, with the handy use of chicken bones to hold certain things in place, this is common I’m told. Normally there would be a small wooden bobbin type mechanism .

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Although visitors come from far and wide Eirini  told me she would like to be able to sell more of the finished work as there is not enough trade at the moment  to cover all the overheads as well as give the weavers a fair reward for their efforts. I’m sure there are many people who would love to own a piece of this unique work if only they were aware of it. Fyti is a small village found up on the lower slopes of the Troodos mountains halfway between Polis and Paphos. The scenery is spectacular up here and it makes a lovely excursion. The weavers also work in silk which they cultivate themselves. Above you will see a picture of some silk worms gorging themselves on the mulberry leaves and starting to work their cocoons. I found this video of how they grow silk worms and harvest silk in China, fascinating, obviously this is on a commercial scale.

 

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Silk in the 21st century

Yet another fantastic video from TED. Silk has been around for millennia and yet now the scientists are coming up with some mind blowing uses for this ancient material in the present day. It seems the uses are endless, throw away cups that are biodegradable, uses for storing information and drugs that can be placed in the body even for making screws that can be used to screw together fractures and then eventually disintegrate. How exciting that nature can provide scientists with imagination, materials that can be utilised in such a diverse way.

In Androula’s Kitchen I discuss the more well known uses of silk as a thread that is woven to produce a shimmering fabric. I live in hope that the once universal cultivation of silk worms, will once again become common in Cyprus to provide a new breed of silk weavers to join Rolandos. On my research trip to Cyprus last year I went to visit him in his studio in Lefkosia, Rolandos has studied the samples of old silk in the museum archives of Lefkosia and made a determined effort to learn the techniques which produced such fine examples. Cyprus was once renowned throughout Europe for its fine silks and the practice has gradually died out, the last time  silk was produced was in 1960’s. Rolandos alone at present is looking to revive this tradition and I look forward to viewing his new creations on my next visit.