Small Town Museums

When I’m traveling, there is nothing I like better than discovering a small town with a museum. We tend to think the really interesting things will be in the cities, and the wee towns will be left with the scaff and raff of history. But I seen some wonderful things in these tiny towns. People who would never think of donating Grandma and Grandpa’s “old stuff” to the large museums will drop it off in their home towns. And quite often, the history of the item goes right back to when the piece was first made.
Last summer, we were in Western Manitoba, and drove into the town of Sandy Lake (permanent population: 250) I noticed the town had a museum, so we tracked it down. It was wonderful!

There were 2 items that really stood out for me. I’ve seen a lot of Ukrainian textiles in small museums, but never anything like these two. (Perhaps there are thousands of them out there, and I am the only one who doesn’t know it)
Both of them were in the same display.

The sleeves on the blouse were embroidered, but the yarn used looked like a handspun black wool, of a grist between heavy fingering and sportweight. I’ve always seen the embroidery done in fine cotton, or sometimes even silk, but never heavy wool. It was fabulous. (I wish I had more practise with the camera so I could have done a better job with the detail) It was done in cross stitch.

The other item was the kilim on the wall behind the lady. At first glance it appeared to be woven, but on closer inspection I could see it was again cross stitch in heavy yarn.

If you look at the picture of lady, you can see the scale of the design better, and estimated how thick the yarn is.

On looking around the rest of the museum, I only saw very plain weaves, ones that could have been done on a simple rigid heddle loom.

And now I wonder…..is this a common style of kilim I’ve never encountered before?? Or did the maker do it this way to imitate the tradition because there was no loom to be had that could handle the more complex warp and weave required?

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