The variety of wall hangings, rugs,
pillows and handbags make a definite impression on anyone fortunate enough
to visit the project.
The rugs range from traditional Negev
Palestinian Bedouin colors and patterns to newly designed rugs by interior
designers. Lakiya’s color palette includes the traditional Bedouin colors
of rust, black, olive green, dark blue and natural and special designer
color ranges. The handspun wool comes from local wassi sheep, which is
sheared and made into fleece by a wide spread network of
Bedouin women from Lakiya and remote clans.
With an eye for the export market,
the wool is skein dyed in colorfast synthetic dyes and moth-treated. The warpfaced
weave employed by the group is particularly tight and strong.
“Lakiya purchases a large amount of
its yarn from shepherdesses, who spin the fleece of local Awassi sheep into
yarn on drop spindles. The women hang a bag of carded fleece on their backs
and pull the fleece over their shoulders to spin as they tend the flocks
in remote areas of the Negev desert,” explains Willey A-Sanah. “The spun
wool is wrapped into balls, and then two strands of spun yarn are skeined
together, dyed and mothproofed, hung in the sun to dry, reballed, and plied
together on a larger spindle. The yarn is then ready for weaving.”
Once a loom is set up, it is used
continuously — at least during daylight hours. Looms are set-up outside
the home and not only the weaving, but the loom construction, are a source
of pride to the women. Three women work on a loom together and do not stop
until it is completed. In the past, since few women knew how to set looms,
the loom setter was highly esteemed and often held a position of power in
the village. “Today all of Lakiya’s weavers enjoy the special status of independent
loom setters and independent earners.” Traditionally, Bedouin women wove
tents, rugs, camel bags, belts, grain sacks and other household items.
The program is managed and controlled
by Bedouin women and does not use child labor. The women learn the traditional
skills of spinning and weaving, as well as the business of fleece dyeing,
production, and management.