Lizhnyk is a unique warm blanket invented in Ukraine

Blanket wool
Lizhnyk is a special warm blanket invented in Ukraine by Hutsul people. They make lizhnyks from pure sheep wool until nowadays, passing this tradition from generation to generation. However, modern process of production differs from the traditional one to the great extent. Today, artisans buy ready wool of high quality and different colors. They combine old and new patterns, make different sizes of blankets, produce softer and harder ones. Although production has changed, lizhnyk as a product is still very popular in Ukraine and abroad.

 Hutsul people made first lizhnyks many years ago, no one ever knows when it was exactly. People say that lizhnyks production refers to sheep breeding that has been widely spread in the Carpathian Mountains. Sheep required regular shearing, so local people were searching for ways to use wool.

First lizhnyks were monochromatic – grey, white, or black. Sometimes they also produced striped blankets. As looms were much shorter than modern ones, blankets were smaller. To make a big lizhnyk they sewed several smaller blankets into a big one.
In the beginning of 20th century, one Hutsul couple improved a loom, which allowed production of bigger lizhnyks. New looms also made it possible to create some patters from green, red, and dark-red wool. Until present time, these colors are the most popular in lizhnyk production.
Today, there are about sixty craftswomen is the region that produce lizhnyks. They can make any pattern, from very complicated that resemble artworks to rather laconic that involve geometric pattern and a combination of two or three colors. For many of craftswomen this is a family business, because the process of production includes not only a creative work but hard physical work as well.

Stages of Lizhnyk production
The first stage is a production of wool. It must be washed, dried and rolled to produce a thread. However, the majority of craftswomen buy ready wool that is made in the neighboring region where sheep breeding is more spread today.
The second stage refers to spinning the thread. They can be thinner or thicker, it depends from the needed item.
The third stage refers to the fixing of a warp on a loom. Each thread of the warp has its own slot. A craftswoman ties the threads to the slots in a specific order. It allows regulating a warp with the leg levels of the loom.
Once the warp is fixed, a craftswoman can weave her masterpiece. As a rule, they plan patters, so craftswomen count each thread to get a perfect symmetric pattern. However, for some craftswomen weaving is like drawing and patterns come out of their imagination spontaneously. Such lizhnyks are exhibited on local, national and even international exhibitions.
“Fresh” lizhnyk is called bald. It cannot be used, because the threads can pop out. To make the item strong and long lasting, they use valylo. Valylo is a water tumble, where blankets should spend from three to eight hours. It depends on water temperature. In the valylo, blankets become smaller, thicker, and tougher. After this process, they use special machines to get rid of water and then lizhnyks dry on fresh air.
The last stage is combing. This is a hard-working task, completed with a special large brush. They should comb lizhnyks for several hours to get a fluffy and soft item. Sometimes, craftswomen prefer not to comb lizhnyks either to comb it from one side.
Local people believe that lizhnyks, as 100% natural products, are the best blankets to warm in winter and to stay healthy. Sometimes, the blankets can be a little bit itchy, which is a kind of a massage because natural wool encourages blood circulation.