“Foster local design” is the second of our three principles. Instead of ordering socks according to exact drawings and instructions we therefore decided to organize a seminar that would engage the creativity of the artisans themselves. The aim was to sensibilize the artisans for new colours and colour combinations, to motivate them to try out new patterns as well as revive ancient patterns and to find out the best fitting shape of socks according to more modern standards. Please meet our participants:
At the beginning of our workshop we asked the artisans to compare traditional Pamir socks with the socks that are sold in the De Pamiri shop at the moment. Each artisan chose their favourite pair and started to explain why they favoured them – be it the shape, pattern, colour or quality to keep warm. Then we poured out our bag of dyed woollen yarn and asked the participants to sort out the naturally dyed wool from the chemically dyed wool. Both methods proved to be successful in engaging the participants, supporting the communication among the artisans and therefore spreading the existing knowledge.
For our first session we then scratched together all the wool we could get and played a small game about colours. We had prepared cards showing different words, such as love, home, children, nature, Pamirs and each participant chose one card. The task was then to choose four to five colours, which in their mind expressed the feeling they had when thinking about the word they had chosen. Here are some examples:
“I chose these similar greens for friendship, because I believe friends have a lot in common.”
“I chose white for belief, because it is something enlightening. I also chose black, because sometimes believing means simply trusting – even in the dark. These bright colours represent the reward you receive when you believe.”
The second session dealt with patterns. From the De Pamiri booklet Falling Star, a collection of patterns from throughout the Pamirs, and from photographs of traditional Pamir socks, the artisans then chose their favourite patterns and started drawing up instructions on how to crochet these. They combined their chosen colour combinations with these patterns and started making a plan on how their pair of socks would look like. While some chose to copy pattern and colours exactly from a sample picture, others were rather experimental.
Because of lack of woollen yarn, we then had to select five participants who would receive the order to produce a pair of socks according to the colour combinations and patterns they had chosen. With the help of all participants we sorted the wool in order to find enough for the four pairs of long socks and one pair of leggings according to the artisans’ wishes. We then discussed the shape, length and sizes of the socks and finished the contracts stating the appearance of the ordered socks, the payment and terms of delivery. Finally, at the end of the seminar, we had placed five orders. Here is what we were expecting: