Transform rough wool into a fine Armenian carpet

Transform rough wool into a fine Armenian carpet image

The early stages of wool processing. (Photo by Karen Nersisyan, My Armenia Program)

In Shinuhayr, a village on the road to Tatev Monastery, residents herd sheep and practice agriculture. Those sheep provide the raw material for the Wool-to-Carpet Social Enterprise, which transforms wool into natural carpets, home products, and personal accessories. The products utilize not only the range of colors naturally produced in sheep’s wool, but also (and more importantly) the creativity and design skills of local women.

Fifteen women from Shinuhayr work at four primary tasks: wool processing, threading, carpet-making, and souvenir sales. Their workshop is a converted Soviet-era shoe factory. Their woolen thread is 100 percent natural raw material, which is ecologically clean, without chemical additives. The Wool-to-Carpet studio sells its natural yarn in skeins as well, so you can take some home for your own projects.

Inside the workshop, you may participate in the full wool-to-carpet experience, choosing from two tour options: a workshop tour with lunch, including local food and beverages; or a workshop tour alone. First, see how wool is sheared and prepared for spinning into yarn. Next, learn from an expert how to spin wool into yarn—in both a traditional way with a bobbin and in a modern way on a spinning wheel operated by foot.

After processing the wool, you will learn how to weave carpets and other crafts. The women create a wide range of designs, from simple stripes to complex motifs. You can learn not only the techniques of carpet-weaving, but also the repertoire of cultural motifs used in carpet design. Before you leave, sit down to a locally made lunch in the studio’s garden.

This wool-to-carpet project is a social initiative by the Goris Women’s Development Resource Center Foundation to create sustainable income opportunities for economically disadvantaged women in Shinuhayr village. GWDRC’s products include toys, magnets, and key tags made from hand-crocheted animals, fruits, and vegetables. All purchases support local artisans in Goris and surrounding villages.

The women of Goris pass on their knowledge of carpet weaving to the visitors.

Photo by Karen Nersisyan, My Armenia Program

Wool to Carpet products showcase the varying natural colors of sheep's wool.

Photo by Karen Nersisyan, My Armenia Program

Visitors can see the transformation of raw wool into finished yarn all in one day.

Photo by Karen Nersisyan, My Armenia Program

Goris artisans take what was once considered waste and turn it into handmade products.

Photo by Karen Nersisyan, My Armenia Program

Handmade products like wool yarn and carpets are available for visitors to take home.

Photo by Karen Nersisyan, My Armenia Program

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