Knitting and the overall processing of wool from the animal to the end product have always been a big traditional craft for Bulgarian people. It is a very special reflection on rural life in the country. Every household has the typical tools for knitting. Back in the days, girls learned how to do it ever since they were small. Because the better they knit, the bigger the chance to find a husband. Knitting was and still is also a good reason for elderly women to socialize. Whenever they gather to talk and gossip they’d simultaneously prepare socks for their grandchildren.
There is a brand-new place in the heart of Plovdiv (Kapana neighborhood), which brings us closer to that traditional craft. It opened around Christmas 2018. The highlights inside are the handmade rugs, souvenirs, and mainly socks. They feature motives typical for each different mountain regions of Bulgaria. You can especially see that in the colors. Predominant red and blue color are typical for Rila and Pirin. In the Rhodope mountains, people use green, pink and brown. There are handmade rugs, that virtually are, contemporary art, featuring different elements and pictures. The material is pure wool. It is coming straight from the sheep and that’s exactly why the art shop’s logo is a small wooden sheep.
Wool socks in Bulgaria are very popular. Even though they seem to lack the aesthetics at first sights, there’s something charming in wearing them. It reminds us of the days we spent at the village, where our grandmas used to (and they still do!), knit them all day long, for winter is coming (pun intended)! And they sure keep quite warm.
And what about rugs?
A Bulgarian home should always be warm and cozy. That’s why it is quite traditional in old houses to have rugs on the walls, not just on the ground. That contributes to keeping the room warm – because the walls are made of stone.
A selection of items in the store here is from a so-called “cheiz”. Remember how girls must start knitting since they are very young? There’s that tradition about how everything a girl makes herself until she gets married goes with her to her new home. (Because in Bulgaria traditionally, the girl goes to her husband’s home). That’s why the more things she does, the bigger the cheiz, hence – the better and more hardworking the bride.
There are not many shops like this one in Plovdiv. The owner makes her own production and puts all her heart and love in it. At the end of the day – both the woolen products and the effort put in making them contribute to the feeling of warmth, you can only feel at home.
If you want to experience this traditional craft and visit other such special places dedicated to keeping the traditions alive, join our Arts and Crafts District Tour. You will have the chance to meet the craftsmen, talk and work together with them.