Romania x wool¶
We still are in process of documenting this page. Meanwhile you can still have look at: http://fabricademy.fabcloud.io/shemakes/handbook/1.-learning-paths/discovery-path/Workshops/5-rewool/ .
MAPPING THE LOCAL ECOSYSTEM¶
Researching together about the heritage and life cycle of wool-making in Romania.¶
Even though this is a very old preoccupation, with documents attesting to wool processing dating back to the 12th century, sheep farming in Romania was carried out in a rudimentary way and without sustained state support until 1944 leading to a significant increase in the number of sheep flocks in the following six decades.
The changes that came with the revolution in 1989 and the fall of the communist regime led to a decrease in demand for all types of wool, and therefore this fiber was not fully capitalized in Romania. In the absence of sustained state support, wool became useless compared to other fibers, and farmers had no choice but to abandon it. We cannot talk about wool, sheep and breeding without implicitly talking about sheepherding and pastoralism, whether local (with or without sheepfold) or transhumant, they are processes that are part of Romanian patrimony and heritage.
We cannot talk about wool, sheep and breeding without implicitly talking about shepherding and pastoralism, whether local (with or without sheepfold) or transhumant, they are processes that are part of the Romanian patrimony and heritage.
There is information/memoirs about wool processing left by foreign travelers in the Romanian lands, who talk about women who always had a spindle in their hands and spun wool and that weaving looms were not missing from almost every household. In the 15th-16th century the craft of weaving and felting developed significantly in Transylvania due to the needs of the population and the abundance of raw materials.
Sheepherding in Romania is part of a peasant economy that is sustainable and environmentally friendly as a whole, as well as being a cultural, social and demographic phenomenon, whereas transhumance has led not only to the exploitation of new territories, but also to the exchange of knowledge and cultural elements between communities, and to the creation of new roads and settlements.
Local wool characteristics and typology¶
The types of Romanian wool can best be classified by considering the fineness of the fiber:
Thick wool breeds
The Tsurcana is the oldest breed of sheep in Romania and represents 40% of the flock, 100% Romanian breed. The hairs are conical in shape, with a slightly pointed tip and an irregular outer appearance. The fineness of the hairs varies between 38 and 47 microns and the length between 10-16 cm. It belongs to the category of inferior wool and is used in the textile industry as well as in construction.
Semi-fine wool breeds
The Tsigai, which accounts for 33% of the Romanian sheep flock, is a lowland sheep breed that originated in the south-east of the Caspian Sea and spread to Europe. In our country, until 1950, the Tsigai breed was raised in large groups in southern Moldavia, Transylvania and Dobrogea. It is easy to breed and maintain. There are four varieties of the Tsgai breed, distinguished by the color of the wool: white (bela), buff, russet and black.
The Black Head of Teleorman, also popularly called "Carabașa", is a breed of sheep with a large body weight and semi-fine, white wool with black fibers in the shell. This breed of sheep was developed by breeders in the southern area, who created a population of ewes adaptable to the lowland conditions of the area.
Fine wool breeds
Merinos de Palas, which is the most perfected breed of sheep in Romania, being competitive nationally and internationally with other merino breeds.
Transylvanian Merinos Spanca variety The formation of this breed began at the end of the 19th century through crosses between the Merinos Negretti and Merinos Rambouillet breeds with Tsigai and Tsurcana sheep.
Key actors and active locations in the field¶
The Romanian wool sector has been insignificant in recent years due to lack of demand and low prices obtained from sales, in most cases the income obtained from the recovery of wool is approximately equal to the amount paid for the shearing.
In 2017 the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development approved a Government Decision (HG no.500/2017 ) on the scheme of "De minimis aid for the application of the programme to support sheep farmers for the marketing of wool". This has influenced the emergence of many collecting centers in several regions of the country, in theory making it easier for breeders to access and therefore to value wool. The problem is that the collection centers also complain that wool has to be exported, as there are hardly any factories left in Romania to process it. So the production chain is currently fragmented
There are still a few craftsmen who process wool in their own households, having a significant cultural impact by perpetuating traditions representative of our national history and identity.
Below is a list of the wool-centred places we have identified so far, which we hope will grow.
- Atlierul de dărăcit și tors lână - Zlatna
- Stofe Buhuși
- Filatura de lână Mihai Catrinescu
- Fabrica de prelucrat lână - Curtea de Argeș
Processing - collecting, washing, exporting
- Tolga Wool - Sibiu
- Stofe Buhuși
Wool collecting centres
The wool collection centers are located throughout the country, so that wool is collected from all sheep farmers, and the County Agricultural Directorates provide sheep farmers' associations with their contact details. Follow this link on www.gazetadeagricultura.info/ to see or contact these centers.
The "La vâltori" complex of traditional wool processing facilities is the oldest in Romania, dating back to the 1850s. The craft of wool processing with the help of the machines, which can still be visited today, has been handed down from generation to generation.
Siltexim- from Chibed-Mureș is a family business, which was established as a limited company in 1991, having a history since the 1920s and throughout the communist regime, when the main activity was carding and wool yarn production. After the establishment of the company, they expanded the activity with the weaving of wool fabric (postav) and the weaving of wool blankets.The production of wool articles is traditionally made of 100% wool. Only natural wool colors are used for blankets.
CoseeaWool-Cluj A family business with a tumultuous but beautiful history, revived by the grandchildren in 2015.The wool that comes to them is washed, processed by the spinning mill and sold ready-made to the customer, in the hope that it will be more sought after. It all started with 50 kg of raw wool, washed in a spinning machine, as it used to be done in the old days, and over time has grown to several tons.
In the Romanian tradition, a "șezătoare" is a small gathering in rural areas, which takes place in winter evenings, after the end of agricultural work.
A small gathering in winter evenings, where participants work and at the same time party, tell stories, jokes and riddles. Those who participate in the gathering occupy themselves tomorrow with activities such as embroidering, weaving, spinning wool, exchanging skilful crafts, telling stories and playing certain social games.
In many parts of the country these gatherings are being revived by the younger generation, re-exploring old traditions. As this is a phenomenon that is beginning to take off, we will offer some examples of gatherings in the hope that through the contribution of those reading this page, we will put them all together at some point.
- Șezători în Țara Făgărașului
- Miroslovești, Dumești, Sticlăria Scobinți, Heleșteni -Iași
- Șezătoarea din Borlești - Neamț
- Șezătoarea din Vatra Dornei - Suceava
- Șezătoarea de Piatra - Neamț
- What did you learn?
Through Shemakes we explored the context of wool in Romania from tradition and history, processing and industry to the present. We were motivated to see what is the current situation of this textile material with various properties to which we Romanians are still quite attached since childhood. Referring to our personal experiences with this material ,( we refer here to the millennial generation), from garments to carpets and decorative objects, it was interesting to discover that our connection is related to the traditional processing that took place in our families.
In our research, we discovered that despite the fact that Romania has a large number of sheep (in 2021 it will rank second in the EU after Spain, with a flock of 10 million sheep) their wool is largely unexploited - burned or buried in the land. Types of activities that have an introduction and awareness part followed by a hands on workshop where participants have direct contact with the fiber are, for now, a very good way to start this process of bringing wool back into the spotlight.
- What are the "hot topics" to explore?
How we could bring to the public's attention the modernized wool processing tools.
How to connect wool farmers with local designers and makers and how to conduct awareness campaigns to facilitate this process.
How to avoid the disappearance of traditional knowledge.
- What are the cultural specificity/gaps of the place?
Still a strong disconnexion between consumers and producers.
Just as other sectors of the textile industry, especially the manufacturing sector, are environments where abuses occur and more work is done on loan because of cheap labor, there is a fear that the same will not happen to the few processing factories or potential small factories that will emerge. How do you bring a sector back to life without subjecting it to abusive exploitation?
The makers and designers of Barcelona are in demand for cooperation with local resources and people. Many techniques are already present whether in practice or in the knowledge centres.
- With whom to collaborate for our little factory project?
Knowing that we are at the beginning of this research and facing barriers in terms of the available information and statistics, especially on the processing aspect, we started to contact industry stakeholders working with wool, as well as professors from the Technical University" gh. Asachi" Iasi and the University of Arts "George Enescu"-Iasi in order to identify the initiatives present and willing to debate for the improvement / revival of this sector.
During Wool mandays Day One - we had Alexandra Florea (ISAI brand manager and shemakes ambassador and Oana Tudose (initiator of IELE project - art research project focused on discarded sheep wool in Romania).
Check out what happened during shemakes with the Redu team: