New Session for “Šiaudinukai” Webinar – December 12

Hello! We are happy to announce that our 10:30 am (EST) webinar is at capacity, and we are offering an afternoon session on the same day, Saturday, December 12 at 3 pm to 4:30 pm (EST). This will be perfect for anyone on the West Coast to join us at a reasonable hour!

Please tune in 20 minutes before our start time to ensure that any technical difficulties may be resolved before our official start time. See our previous post for details about the webinar.

Just in time for Christmas!

Welcome back, everyone! What’s new and exciting?

“Šiaudinukai Webinar – December 12

Learn how to make Lithuanian “šiaudinukai” – straw Christmas ornaments – with skilled craftsperson Joana Adamonis. At this workshop she will tell us about the history of these ornaments, show us how-to basics and guide us through the process of making 2 ornaments (a basic form and a star) to hang on a Christmas tree.  This class is beginner-friendly: no prior experience is necessary.

When:  Saturday, December 12,   10:30 am to 12 noon  3:00 pm to 4:30 pm  EST

Where: Online – must be registered to get an invitation

Cost:      Free for LTFAI members, $10 for non-members

What you need:              

  • Plastic straws, crochet thread, tapestry needle, scissors, ruler, pencil  (materials list below)
  • A limited number of kits with all materials and pre-cut straws are available for $5 (plus postage if applicable, curbside pickup in Toronto)
  • It is strongly recommended that you pre-cut the straws as it can take some time and the workshop has not allowed for that

How to register: 

  • Contact us at gro.i1664611340aftl@1664611340tcatn1664611340oc1664611340 Please provide your name and phone number (in case we need to dial you in).  Interesting to us, but optional:  tell us where you are from and maybe a bit about yourself and why you are interested in this webinar. If you are not a member, please pay the $10 fee through the PayPal link here on our website (see “Donate” below).

How to participate:

  • Once you have registered, you will receive an email with a link to join the workshop
  • Make sure to log in 10 minutes before the session in case of any technical difficulties
  • Please ensure you have all your materials ready

We’re looking forward to having you join us!

Materials List:

These are available at craft stores or Walmart

  1. Straws – White plastic drinking straws (3/16th inch/4mm width) approx. 8 inches (20 cm) long, about 20 straws cut into lengths (straight across, not diagonally).
    1. Basic ornament: 12 pieces at 2 inches (5 cm).
    2. Star ornament : 24 pieces at 1 inch (2.5 cm) + 16 pieces at 1.25 inches (3.175 cm) + 32 pieces at 2.5 inches (6.35 cm)
  2. Needle –Tapestry needle (blunt end)
  3. Thread – Crochet thread, size 10  (11 yards or 10 metres)
  4. Scissors – must be sharp to cleanly cut the straws
  5. Ruler or straight edge
  6. Pencil – to mark straws for cutting

An Excellent AGM!

♦  On June 6, 2020, thanks to technical support by Sebastian Grinham, we were able to conduct a Board meeting and our Annual General Meeting online. We had an encouraging number of attendees, about 20 including Board members. It seems that not everyone who had registered was able to participate: either their plans changed or they were unable to connect. It was our first time trying this method, and hopefully next year we will be able to refine the process.

♦  We had a short but extremely productive AGM, in that we found new volunteers for both media marketing (author and knitter extraordinaire Donna Druchunas of Vermont) and several handcrafts (Remigija Smolskis of Toronto, for felting, papercut art, Easter egg decoration and sash-weaving). Donna posted a note online immediately, and we received several new membership queries as a result.

♦  The highlight of the AGM was a presentation on our favourite Lithuanian fabric, LINEN (linas) by Danute Mileikiene (Boston). She described its history and use in Lithuanian culture, and the process from seed plating to fibre extraction to spinning in great detail, with beautiful photos and video clips. We were all about to order seeds, but she warned us that to weave one shirt would require planting a 15 x 15 foot square area of flax, and the fibre extraction takes much more than a passing whack at the bundle of stalks. Her depth of knowledge was fascinating, and she promised to expand her presentation to eventually post on our website. We look forward to that, and thank her for her time and effort.

♦  We are also very pleased to present 15 new costumes in our online National Costume Archive. Work continues on expanding the collection within the year.

♦  We will be pausing for a summer break, and hope to bring news of workshops and other activities in September. We send you all our best wishes for avoiding COVID-19 and spending a creative and happy summer.

♦ We were encouraged to hear from several people who expressed an interest in our activities. However, not all of you have paid the $10 annual membership fee. Please do so through PayPal, here on our website.

♦ We continue to work with the Lithuanian Museum Archives of Canada (LMAC) in Mississauga, Ontario. At our meeting, it was decided that the physical archive we finished organizing this spring will be passed to the LMAC.

♦ Regarding National Costumes, LMAC has issued the following announcement:

Lithuanian national costumes are heirlooms of culture and artisanship. The craftsmanship and techniques used in each extraordinary ensemble result in objects worthy of preservation for future generations. The Lithuanian Museum-Archives of Canada collects Lithuanian national costumes, preserves them with care, and curates exhibitions with educational value that tell their story. If you have a Lithuanian national costume, individual components or other article of clothing that was hand-woven by an artisan, please consider donating these heirlooms to LMAC – you will be passing these treasures on to future generations. LMAC email: ac.su1664611340mirp@1664611340amlk1664611340.

♦ On a sad note, we received news this week about the passing of a long-standing member of the LTFAI, Dr. Angele Kazlauskas (July 10, 1935-June 4, 2020), formerly of Oakville, Ontario. Aside from her activities with the LTFAI and a life-long interest in folk art, she was one of only three graduating women from a class of 150 from the University of Toronto Faculty of Dentistry in 1959, Angele was the founder of the charity dental clinic “Perlas” in Lithuania.

A New Kind of AGM

REMINDER: our Annual General Meeting is coming up on June 6. The session will cover current activities, special projects, our outreach initiatives and an update on our ambitious national costume archive including new content.  We will feature a presentation on flax and linen that will showcase the process from field to finished garment and its importance in Lithuanian culture. This will be presented in English by Danute Mileikiene, a fibre artist from Lithuania. We are looking forward to having you join us!

♦ To join the session, please send your name and email address to gro.i1664611340aftl@1664611340tcatn1664611340oc1664611340 so that we may send you an invitation. Everyone is welcome but only members are allowed to vote. If you haven’t yet, please update your $10 membership fee through our Paypal portal.

A message from the Lithuanian Museum-Archives of Canada (LMAC): Lithuanian national costumes are heirlooms of culture and artisanship. The craftsmanship and techniques used in each extraordinary ensemble result in objects worthy of preservation for future generations. The Lithuanian Museum-Archives of Canada collects Lithuanian national costumes, preserves them with care, and curates exhibitions with educational value that tell their story. If you have a Lithuanian national costume, individual components or other article of clothing that was hand-woven by an artisan, please consider donating these heirlooms to LMAC – you will be passing these treasures on to future generations. LMAC email: ac.su1664611340mirp@1664611340amlk1664611340.

Spring is Here

♦ Spring is here at last, but unfortunately, so is COVID-19. We hope you are all staying well and coping with this disturbing situation as positively as possible. Due to the health and safety regulations governing us at this time, we have cancelled our AGM, and postponed the date to June 6. In case a physical meeting is not possible at that time, we are already making plans for a virtual, i.e., online meeting. We will keep you informed as to which option will be possible.

♦ For the AGM, aside from annual reports about the Board’s activities, we have invited Danutė Mileikienė to make a presentation on growing and processing flax into linen. She will also conduct a workshop, showing us how to felt a “lino žiedas” — a flax blossom. Materials will cost $10.

Winter 2020

  •  Best wishes to all members and friends for a very happy, healthy and creative New Year! We are working on presenting more costumes in the online catalogue and will be announcing the launch as soon as we can
  • If you did not receive our Christmas greeting, please send us your current email address, as some of the emails bounced back due to overfull mailboxes and changed addresses. We are eager to keep in touch with all of you! Our email is gro.i1664611340aftl@1664611340tcatn1664611340oc1664611340.
  • The Annual General Meeting is scheduled for April 18th in Toronto. We hope many of you may come this year – we will have another interesting workshop and look forward to discussing various LTFAI matters with you.


Fall 2019

♦ Welcome back everyone! We hope your summer was wonderful. Now that “winter is coming”, we can look forward to planning and learning new crafts for the indoor season. Knitting was a theme this year, with Donna Druchunas visiting at the AGM and showing us how to make traditional Lithuanian wristlets (riešinės). It is a craft that Donna has delved into deeply, and has several books on the topic. We will post a list soon, and are also adding a new section on knitting, which we invite you to visit. Send us your thoughts and any areas of further interest as well!

♦ Camp Neringa in Brattleboro, Vermont, has its 50th anniversary this year, and many interesting events were organized to celebrate. Some of you may have attended the reunion in September. There was also a mushrooming weekend, which was unfortunately somewhat far for Torontonians, but closer for Montrealers and of course Lithuanians from New York, Boston, communities in Connecticut and other Eastern seaboard areas. However LTFAI president Diana Wiese and secretary Ramune Jonaitis did make it to Neringa for an event at the end of August, called Culture Days. Our goal was to present our organization as an important North American cultural institution. Diana spoke about its goals and future plans, and we were happy to promote LTFAI, and even have some new members as a result. Attendance at the Cultural Days was not huge, as various people came and went at various points during the program (August 21-25), but the group was warm and receptive. There were interesting talks on architecture, on the history of Neringa, a book presentation, a writing workshop, a play reading, a demonstration of wool processing and other sessions we were sorry to miss because of time constraints. We hope we can continue to reach out to our American friends and widen our network of Lithuanian folk artists and aficionados. On our way back we also managed to  visit Donna Druchunas at her home in Vermont, and found her dyeing wool! We were happy to hear that she is learning Lithuanian and is as dynamic as ever. For knitting news and ideas, do visit her website


Summer 2019

♦ We are pleased to announce the launch of the first installment of the National Costume Archive. We will be making further refinements and additions in the coming months. Comments are welcomed! (Email: gro.i1664611340aftl@1664611340tcatn1664611340oc1664611340).

♦ On May 4, 2019, members of the Lithuanian Folk Art Institute (LTFAI) gathered at the Lithuanian Museum-Archives of Canada in Mississauga ON for the LTFAI Annual Meeting.  President Diana Wiese reviewed the organization’s activities, finances and future plans.       Over the past year, a number of workshops and presentations were held and the National Costume Archive Project reached a major milestone – stage 1 is now available here on the LTFAI website.  This ambitious project has been underway for a number of years and has involved many dedicated volunteers, most importantly, photographer Aldona Rygelis and webmaster Sebastian Grinham.  The objective of the project was to produce a visual archive of Lithuanian national costumes that were woven by weavers in the diaspora.  Most of the weavers were trained by Anastazija and Antanas Tamošaitis, the founders of LTFAI.  The scope of the project was expanded to include national costumes that were woven in Lithuania prior to WWII.  This treasure trove of photographs will be added to the website in regular updates and will appeal to weavers and all members of the public with an interest in Lithuanian heritage. Future plans for LTFAI focus on specific areas.  Sub-committees have been formed to work on strategy, outreach, events and digital/website development.  The final item for the formal part of the meeting was the election of the Board of Directors for 2019:  Diana Wiese (President), Ramūnė Jonaitis  (Secretary), Sebastian Grinham (Webmaster), Aldona Rygelis (National Costume Project), Kristina Pavilanis, Birutė Batraks, Danguolė Breen (Members). The informal part of the meeting began with a presentation by artisan and author Donna Druchunas from Vermont, who introduced the participants to a specific trend in the knitting community – heritage knitting. Focusing on Lithuanian knitting, Donna shared her extensive knowledge of sources of wool from different regions in Lithuania and ancient knitting patterns and techniques.  More information is available in the many books Donna has written and also on her website  The presentation was followed by a hands-on workshop which even drew interest from non-Lithuanian knitters anxious to develop their skills in this unique style of knitting.  DB

♦ An Easter egg painting (margučiai) workshop was held and Resurrection Parish on April 14th, led by Birute Batraks and Diana Wiese.

Fall 2018

Summer slipped by very quickly, but we are now enjoying reports about various activities. The 100th Independence Anniversary festivities in Lithuania took place in July and were covered by the Lithuanian press during the summer months.

♦  In mid-September a Lithuanian Folk Art weekend was organized at Neringa Camp in Vermont by Jana Motivans and Reggie Jagminas, together with Neringa administrator Dana Grajauskas.

Jana reports the weekend was a great success! Nearly 40 people participated in workshops onn weaving, embroidery, Easter eggs (margučiai), straw ornaments, amber bracelets and necklaces, woodworking, and “verbos”. Most participants attended several sessions and made many beautiful projects. There was also wonderful food (kugelis, home-made cheese, etc.)  Two very interesting evening presentations were also well-attended. On Friday Aldona Rygelis spoke about the LTFAI National Costume online Archive project, and on Saturday Danute Mileka presented the flax/linen process complete with all equipment.

Although they say it was a one-time event,  we hope the organizers will be motivated by their success and plan another Folk Art weekend.

♦ New LTFAI member Vilija Boguta of Michigan sent photos of her children making sashes (juostos) and gave us permission to post them. She writes:

My children (Sigita – 9, Darius – 7, Neringa – 6 and Vasara – 3) and I took an interest in weaving last winter and began learning to make sashes. We have a friend living in Ann Arbor who knows about weaving so we learn with her as well. I have been to the Art Gallery in Lemont and the World Lithuanian Center many times, but because we now live in Michigan, I couldn’t learn to weave there. We’re eager to learn more about Lithuanian folk art, especially straw decorations. We have strung together quite a few “sodai” and made small decorations as well. In mid-October we went to the Lithuanian Days in Los Angeles, where my children had a were selling the sashes they made!

Aš su savo vaikais  susidomėjome audimu pereita žiemą ir pradėjome mokintis kaip austi vytines (card-weaving) juostas. Ir tada užsidegėm! Audžiame vytines ir paprastas rinktines ir labai norime išsmokti kaip sudėtingestnes juostas austi. Turime drauge (Audrą Venclovaitę), kuri gyvena Ann Arbor ir kuri labai daug žino apie audimą, tai mokinamės iš jos irgi. Esu daug kartu buvus dailės muziejuje Lemonte, Pasaulio lietuvių centre, bet deja, kadangi dabar gyvenu Michigan, neteko progos ten mokintis audimo.  Mes bendrai labai domimės lietuvių tautodaile,  ypač šiaudinukais. Esame surišę nemažai sodų is šiaudų ir pagaminę daug šiaudinukų. Vaikai labai mėgsta išmokti ir gaminti, tai visi mokinamės kartu. Ką tik grįžom iš Lietuvių dienų Los Angeles – mūsų vaikai mugėje pardavinėjo savo juostas!

Card-weaving a Sash
Another Technique used by Boguta Family Weavers
Boguta Family selling their Sashes in LA

Thank you Vilija! We encourage all members to send us photos and descriptions of your folk art projects and endeavours!