Natural dyeing in Arachova, Greece

Dyeing material
Dyeing material

Arachova, a small town on the southern slopes of Parnassos mountain, is known today as a skiing resort. But in 1987 when a small group of weavers from Scotland, Finland, Zimbabwe and Greece headed north (from Athens) it was to learn how to naturally dye yarn the way Frosso Haritou had been doing all her life.

Weighing the yarn
Weighing the yarn
Undyed yarn in dye bath
Undyed yarn in dye bath

In Arachova, there were still a few traditional rug weavers and Frosso was one of them. She was dyeing all the wool she was weaving with, using plants from the area, except for the blues and reds which were dyed with chemical dyes.



When we arrived, all the plant material was already collected by Frosso, so after preparing the skeins of wool we started the dyeing procedure. We used walnut, broom, pomegranate, inula, onion skins, flowering ash and eucalyptus.

Washing the dyed yarn
Washing the dyed yarn

During the five days we stayed in Arachova we managed to dye a lot of yarn, to take with us and for Frosso to use in her weaving rugs for her shop. It was quite an experience because I had never participated in dyeing such big quantities of wool. My needs for coloured yarn were always more modest.

Rugs woven by Frosso
Rugs woven by Frosso

While we were dyeing the yarn, Frosso’s mother was sitting with us. She was not weaving anymore but she was still spinning. See the next blog post in a few days.

Frosso's mother cleaning vegetables
Frosso’s mother preparing vegetables (courgette flowers) for a meal


Vienoula of Mykonos – Part 2

In the 1960s and 1970s, in many parts of the world, we were discovering, some rediscovering, our roots. There was an explosion of everything related to tradition, music, crafts, interpreted in a more contemporary and personal way. In Greece, at that time, traditional crafts were still practiced, as we saw in the previous blog posts about weaver Vienoula Kousathana, Mykonos, and basket maker ‘Selinos’, Tinos . The thread was not broken.

A woven item that was carried by local people but mostly by tourists visiting Greece was the “tagari”, a hand woven (some times machine woven) bag. Many weaving books of that time were referring to this type of bag as the “Greek bag”.

'Tagari' bag, Vienoula Kousathana, early 1970s
‘Tagari’ bag, Vienoula Kousathana, early 1970s

In Vienoula’s shop the variety of colours was so wide that it was impossible to choose just one tagari. The only solution was to buy several. And that is exactly what I had done, I just discovered two of those. The rest is lost, as expected after all these years.



Basket weaving on Tinos island, Greece

In the summer of 1979 my parents were on vacation on the island of Tinos. I visited them and we all drove around exploring the island. My parents were known for always trying to see every corner of the places they were visiting.



One day, just outside the village Agapi (‘agapi’ means ‘love’ in Greek) we looked down at a ravine and saw a man sitting near the water. We approached him and found out that he was weaving baskets. It was shady and cool down there and we spent some time with him, following his way of working.




After stripping thin branches of their outer layer, he was soaking them in water to keep them supple and easier to use in his “over-one-under-one” work.

We bought some of his baskets, including the one he was working on, and then he invited us to his house to drink some of his wine. The wine was excellent!



As it often happens in small places, where people are better known by their nicknames than by their real ones, we were told that his name was ‘Selinos’. Was it from the word ‘selino’ (celery) or ‘selini’ (moon)? We never found out. But we did find out that he was known not only for the baskets he was making but also for enjoying drinking a lot of wine…