*Disclaimer: This blog article was written by a guest writer for Happily Made
While the focus for Happily Made has always been to provide meaningful employment to women in rural or disadvantaged communities, creating demand for their handcrafted goods has also given them the great privilege to help numerous communities keep their craft traditions alive. Recently, Happily Made was asked to work with 10 knitters in the mountains of Azerbaijan who had lost their income due to no tourists flying in during lockdowns. They wanted to keep knitting their beautiful slippers and asked if Veronica was able to find them customers in Australia.
Bordered by Russia, Georgia, Armenia, Iran, as well as the Caspian Sea, Azerbaijan is known for being an epicenter for ancient carpet weaving techniques influenced by a multicultural community. Carpet weaving is a family tradition which a maker’s skills and knowledge is usually passed down within each maker’s family from mothers to daughters. Other than carpets, they are also known for their colourful patterned knitted slippers.
Traditionally known as Corabs, Happily Made’s Caspian Sea slippers features intricately handknitted patterns on the shoe front as well as suede soles. For locals living in the Caucasus mountain regions, they remove their shoes before entering their home and put on these slippers to keep their feet warm from the cold climate and to keep their carpets clean. Perhaps the most quirky fact about these slippers is that there’s a folk belief that the wave-like hook pattern knitted around the edges of the slippers was to protect a child falling from the roof from getting hurt by catching or ‘hooking’ onto them. Despite being sold at local markets to tourists, these slippers are still commonly made or bought as a treasured gift to family members or passed down as dowry and heirlooms.
It’s wonderful that Happily Made is able to support the knitters by generating more orders for them so that they can keep this tradition alive – especially during these times when their tourism industry and incomes have been affected by COVID. To find out more about how you can order and customise a pair of these slippers for yourself or your loved ones, visit their website here.
If owning traditional craft is something you find meaningful, you might want to check out Happily Made’s range of limited-edition blankets made by women in Cambodia. They are ethically made using 100% pure cotton and are handwoven on a giant wooden loom using traditional techniques.