Zagreb Yarn Craft Fest: A Celebration of Textile Handicrafts in Croatia

An insider’s guide to the festival honoring the textile techniques in this flourishing European country.

Adriana Meglaj Dec 8, 2021 - 5 min read

Zagreb Yarn Craft Fest: A Celebration of Textile Handicrafts in Croatia Primary Image

A sampling of the exhibitors at the Croatian yarn fest, Zagreb Yarn Craft Fest. All images courtesy of Adriana Meglaj.

The first-ever Zagreb Yarn Craft Fest, a festival of yarn and textile techniques, was held in Zagreb on October 23rd, 2021 in the midst of the global COVID-19 pandemic and epidemiological constraints.

The former Yugoslav region is extremely rich in a variety of textile techniques, materials, and patterns. They are mainly preserved as a national heritage through folklore societies and costumes, but also by the transfer of knowledge and skills from generation to generation. With this festival, we wanted to re-emphasize the importance of preserving our cultural heritage, but also to create a time and place for gatherings of creative people from the region and beyond.

Due to the epidemiological situation, strict conditions of participation were set: a COVID passport (proof of vaccination or recovery from a COVID infection) or a negative PCR test were required, and attendees were required to wear masks within the festival area. The event sparked quite an interest on social-media networks and many colleagues, not only from the former Yugoslavia countries but also from around Europe, announced their arrival. Due to greater interest than we expected, the festival was moved to a larger space, the “Studentski center” (the Student Center at the University of Zagreb) only 10 days before the festival in order to ensure sufficient distance. Zagreb Yarn Craft Fest 2021

More than 15 knitters worked on the Wooly Postcard of Zagreb. Shown here (left side of banner, back to front): Ivana Radulovic, Amra Civrag, Grdana Hecimovic-Valpotic, and Adriana Meglaj. Right side (from left to right): Ana Bilic-Spremic, Vlasta Knez, and Cvijeta Frid.

The festival presented many different associations, crafters, shops, and instructors. The participating associations were those related to the preservation of local traditional skills, and they presented their work through embroidery workshops, lace making, and a fashion show of modern clothing with ethnic motifs. There were workshops on knitting, crocheting, macrame, dry felting, two types of bobbin lace (Croatian Lepoglava lace and Slovenian Idria lace), embroidery, and Slavonian (east Croatian) “sunny” lace—all led by professional instructors with many years of teaching experience. Teaching bobbin lace

Students learning the art of bobbin-lace making from Igor Beros.

Among the exhibitors in attendance were local yarn shops, manufacturers of clothing and decorative items, and the renowned Zagreb yarn factory Unitas, founded in 1920, which was also a sponsor of some of the workshops.

There was a stand to offer antique literature with some almost-forgotten editions with which we grew up and took our first steps with a needle and thread in hand. Our colleagues from all over the region, united in Yu Stitch Kolektiv (a media, educational, and promotional platform for fans of sustainable style), were our media support that followed the event through photos and video releases.

A place for refreshment with hot and cold drinks was provided, as well as a “Chill and Knit Zone,” where visitors could peacefully talk, meet, and exchange patterns and experiences. Chill zone

Students learn embroidery (far left), while others relax in the Chill and Knit Zone.

Despite the strict epidemiological rules, 350 visitors took part in this event. We are proud that the festival took place, and we would like to make it a wonderful tradition every year in October. Our mission is to raise public interest in the benefits of handicraft in terms of mental rest and a break from modern technologies and the hectic pace of life. Handicraft work can also help the household budget through the giving of unique gifts or the sale of crafted items.

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Zagreb Yarn Craft Fest

See you next year in Zagreb for an even bigger, more beautiful, and hopefully COVID-free Zagreb Yarn Craft Fest.

Adriana Meglaj is an architect and knitting and crochet instructor born and living in Zagreb, Croatia. She is the owner of O’pleti (O’knit! in English) which was founded in 2010, where she teaches knitting and crochet workshops for beginners and advanced students. Adriana has received certification through the Craft Yarn Council's Certified Instructors’ Program and has studied under the Craft Yarn Council’s master teacher Edie Eckman.