Intrinsic part of the villages everyday activity, closely tied to the calendar of local happenings — the making of garments is social at all times. The creation of folk clothing would spread over the time span of a whole year as it implied the making from scratch of the hemp and linen fabrics as well as of the wool cloths and natural dyes, culminating with the complex hand embroidery stage.
NATURAL FIBERS: textile fibers
Initially, all dyes were natural and handmade within the household — however, after WWI, synthetic dyes started being introduced, which brought about the embrace of new colours.
The most common natural dyes made out of plants included:
— Red and black, derived from the bark of the Mountain Alder — Alcus Incana. Red was also obtained from the leaves of dogwood (Cornus) or from the leaves of garance (madder tree, Rubia Tinctorum) in Oltenia.
— Shades of brown: from the bark and leaves of the walnut tree (Juglans Regia).
— Soft grey from danewort (Sambucus ebulus)
— Yellow from the leaves of sorrel (măcriş or ştevie) or the leaves of onions.
The tools involved in the process of fabric making are: meliță (swingle), raghilă, hecelă, or darac (the heckling combs), furcă (distaff), fusul de tors (spindle) and războiul de tesut (loom). The process of cloth-making was a woman’s occupation, but the making of the instruments and apparatuses was the work of men: shepherds — fathers, brothers or bachelors alike — would carve beautiful wooden furci — distaffs, and fusuri de tors — spindles, for the ones they loved, usually during the long and lonely transhumance processes of herding sheep from higher pastures during summer to lower ones during winter. The more complex the carvings, the bigger the love confessions.
THE PROCESS OF FABRIC MAKING
Spinning would be so important that a myth existed addressing “lazy” girls: “Joimărița”, an old witch, come spring, would storm by women’s houses and inspect every inch in the search for hidden unspun tow, punishing those lazy ones by kidnapping them or burning their fingers.