Wool Dryer Balls
THE STORY BEHIND THE PRODUCT
Artisan Organization: Altyn Kol Woman's Cooperative
In Kyrgyzstan, wool is a way of life. Each summer, high school teacher Mairam Omurzakova and her family tap their nomadic roots, migrating to the mountains where traditional felt carpets called shyrdaks keep them warm. Most women of the region know how to make shyrdaks and, according to Mairam, a master of the craft, the act of making is therapeutic. In 1995, in response to dire economic straits spurred by the collapse of the Soviet Union, she helped found the Altyn Kol Women’s Cooperative.
The cooperative is based on a life-changing idea brought to Mairam by visiting development workers--that the wool-craft of her community had monetary value. Today, the cooperative employs over 1,000 craftswomen and serves as one of a few sources of cash income available to the region’s remote farming and shepherding villages. As if soft laundry didn’t already feel good!