Our woolen rugs have been made according to hundreds of years old Ethiopian traditions. The rugs are completely hand made to create as many jobs as possible. The aim of SERA HELSINKI is to raise the living standards of the thread makers and weavers. We want to empower the most vulnerable groups in Ethiopia – people with disabilities and single mothers.
The threads of the rugs are hand made from woolen fleece shorn off the sheep. It is not chemically dyed and this is why our products are natural and ecological. Sheep fleece comes in thee colors: black white and brown. The thread keeps its natural lanolin – also called wool wax or grease – which helps to remove any dirt on it.
The making of the rugs is also done by hand. Our collection has both knotted and woven rugs which are made using different techniques. Every carpet with its pattern is hand made and unique because the outcome always varies slightly from rug to rug. Every sheep is by nature different in color and every weaver works in a different way, there are no two identical rugs.
The Sheep and Their Shepherds
The wool of the carpets is from the highlands of the northern parts of Ethiopia. The climate is cool in these regions and therefore the villages have traditions using wool in their everyday life. The sheep roam freely in the nature and are looked after by the shepherds. The wool is shorn off the sheep twice a year with a traditional way that doesn’t cause pain for the sheep. All the wool is mulesing-free.
We are leading projects in the villages of Mahal Media, Tsehay Sena and Molale to create job opportunities for shepherds with disabilities. With the help of Finnish and Ethiopian NGOs (Non Governmental Organization) we are establishing micro businesses for people with disabilities in sheep herding and wool production.
The thread in our woolen rugs makes them unique. The thread is entirely handmade. It has not been chemically treated, colored or bleached, all the colors are natural lambswool colors. Sheep fleece comes in three colors: black white and brown. All the sheep are different in color and this makes all the carpets unique as the color vary slightly from thread to thread and carpet to carpet.
The thread is produced in the highland villages of Ethiopia. These villages are rural and very poor. The thread creates extra income to small farmers. Farmers own sheep and the mothers of the families produce thread from their own sheep.
We are also leading thread making projects together with Finnish and Ethiopian NGOs. Having a disability is strongly stigmatized in Ethiopia. Often people with disabilities hide in their homes and are excluded from their communities. We went door to door in the villages of Mahal Meda, Tsehay Sera and Molole to find persons with disabilities. We found 300 person and now we are teaching them how to make thread.
A thread is made in several different phases. Carding and spinning of wool is done by hand. Spinning one kilogram of woolen thread takes one to two days.
Making of a knotted rug begins by stretching cotton warps on the loom running up and down. The woolen thread is taken through the warps one by one by hand. The looms don’t have pedals. The technique is a traditional Ethiopian way of making carpets. Knotted rugs are thick and luxurious. To produce one six square meter knotted rug takes about one month from a team of five persons. One square meter of knotted rug weights about 5 kilograms.
Woven rugs are produced by horizontal looms. The woolen thread crosses the cotton warps. One square meter weight about 2 kilograms and the woven rugs are thinner than knotted rugs. To produce one six square meter woven rug takes about two weeks from a team of two persons.