One of the things which has happened – which we didn’t expect – is that the shop has been flooded with requests from people to sell their handmade carpets.

Traditionally, almost every house had at least a small loom, and as soon as a girl was engaged she set to, making herself a carpet to bring to her new home. Sometimes these were “Qylym” – or flat woven carpets, and sometimes they were “Sexhade” (pronounced se-Jad, in English), which is a sort of hand hooked plush carpet. Anyhow, these carpets, often never actually used (!), seem to equate to people’s sole disposable household article, and I personally have been amazed – and if I’m honest, a bit overwhelmed – by how many households are hoping to sell their treasured carpets to new homes – to pay for needed medical care, to pay for some desperate home improvement, to send their kids to school, whatever.

Quite often they’ve never been used. I mean, if you spend months weaving your own gorgeous carpet – quite possibly having first carded the wool, dyed and spun it – would you really want to toss it on the floor to be trampled by a generation of farm mud? Additionally, thanks to urban flight, just a few years ago Albania passed the point at which more than half the population lives in cities: ie, in small apartments, so even if you don’t live with a ton of mud, you just might not have space for 6 square meters of gorgeous handmade carpet.

We are collecting (at least a bit of) the story of each available carpet, so not only do you have the opportunity to purchase some very nice floor covering, but you can also appreciate better where it came from. and enjoy the added value of knowing a little about the people whose lives will be improved thanks to your purchase.

Of course we hope that when these carpets become ‘valued’ not only will women’s work gain additional respect, but perhaps this traditional artform can gain a resurgence of interest.