In the 1970s my Greek father ran a gallery in a small, busy city in Somerset, where many tourists visit. He and my mother had filled it with locally handmade crafts. Beautiful wooden furniture, prints of local scenery, stoneware pottery, silver jewellery, silk scarves, greetings cards and many other treasures filled the showrooms. He also imported some cotton fabric and pure wool Flokati rugs from Greece. Those shaggy, woolly floor coverings were commonly featured in contemporary interiors of the period and I was given this small cream one as a bedside rug – much better than a sheepskin. That particular rug is quite worn and is no longer a regular rectangular shape from throwing it in the washing machine but nearly 40 years later my youngest daughter still uses it as a bedside rug and my Mum let my son have this dark brown one for his bedroom. I can almost see the hardy, mountain-roaming sheep that donated their coats in this photo!
I have always wanted to find out more about how the rugs are made and although there are hints as to the method – generations of Greeks have been using the turbulance of waterfalls in the Pindus mountains to naturally felt the shaggy fibres – I would ultimately like to visit a factory and see for myself the process that has produced these luxurious rugs. Sadly, I think I am too late to find anyone making these traditional textiles by hand any longer.