In the summer of 2021 my partner and I enjoyed a holiday in Lefkas (Greece). On the third day, we drove through the narrow mountain roads of this beautiful green island. A small village loomed in the distance that I didn’t notice on the map; Karia. There's nothing better than wandering around old towns without any plans, so that's exactly what we did that afternoon.
Walking through the village I saw a flyer of a small museum on top of the hill. It was about a craft that has made this village an important place in Lefkas for years; embroidery and weaving. The museum was hidden among the olive trees and a young man was sitting on the porch. He jumped up when he saw us coming and immediately started telling us that he was the proud owner of the museum. Theodorus Katopodis was his name and he was the grandson of Vanthoula (1932). The last woman on the island who could weave as they had done for hundreds of years over here. He had set up the museum to give his grandmother's craft the attention it deserves.
He told us the village is now filled with tourist stalls where things are sold which are similar to the old craft, but unfortunately made in China. He stands for the preservation of knowledge, which is hard because no one can use this technique anymore. The craft has died out because it is not financially viable for the younger generation to offer a certain future, but through his museum the knowledge remains alive.
Theodorus showed us around the museum (what turned out to be his grandma's old mountain house) and told us all about the old fashioned way of life in the mountains. The weaving technique that was typical for Karia is called Karameloti. When I asked if there are still pieces his grandmother had made, his eyes started to sparkle. He was pointing to a corner at the back of his study. In an old linen closet was a small pile with the most beautiful colored fabrics and patterns.He carefully pulled them out one by one and spread them out for us to admire. I would have preferred to take them all, because one was even more beautiful than the other. But Theodorus told me this was his inheritance. The last blankets which are more than 50 years old are in perfect condition. Luckily, I got one to take home because I told him about LOA and that I liked his story and wanted to share it with the world. So here it is: Theodorus and Vanthoula, this page is a tribute to you.
There is one thing I regret: I din't bring my camera with me that holiday. So I hope my I-phone vacay picture will also give you that 'Karia' feeling I had that week.
I hope this special blanket can find a wonderful place in your home and just as the craft itself is going to be passed on from generation to generation. And if you are ever in Lefkas, be sure to visit the weaving museum Karia. The stories alone are worth it.
Anne-Claire (founder of LOA)
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