Virtual Souk Main Page

The Products   | The Process | The People

This site was created in 1997 as a proof of concept: to show that a rural grassroots NGO in the global South could learn to publish their products online. Read the story of this project here.

All the rugs of the local weavers are made of wool.  Sometimes they use the wool of local sheep, and sometimes they buy it in cities like Marrakech.  They often use the natural colors of white brown and black.

Sheep are sheared once a year, in May. This is done by male specialists who use large iron scissors.  After being removed from the sheep, the wool is still held together loosely.  Women then clean straw and burrs from the wool and wash it, only in water at this point.

After washing the wool, the women do what they call "opening" it; they pull it apart to make it easier to card.

The woman on the left is carding the wool, which makes it soft and fluffy and removes small pieces of weed and dirt.  The woman on the right is spinning the carded wool into yarn.

After spinning, the women wind the wool into skeins.  To do it this way you need a friend; to do it alone, you can put the spindle in a basket to keep it from rolling across the floor.

The spun wool is braided into large skeins, and when a large amount of wool is ready it is washed with detergent.

This shows two different qualities of wool.  The wool on the left was bought from the Marrakech market and was spun by machine.  You can see the burrs and particles of dirt still in it, and rugs with this wool sell for less than those of homespun wool. The wool on the right was spun by a woman from the local group; you can see how fine and clean it is.  The local association is exploring having several women spin wool for other weavers, so they can use this high-quality product - and also generate income for the weavers.