GUSHKA: Traditions Meet Sustainable Craftsmanship

In these turbulent times, it becomes even more important to treasure and protect Ukrainian traditions and history. This is what the GUSHKA does. They create a wide range of amazing products, from handwoven rugs to clothing that reflect the essence of rich Ukrainian heritage.

GUSHKA’s founders, Oleh Lukaniuk and Daryna Furmaniuk, call themselves more than just a brand – a community that respects craftsmanship, cherishes Ukrainian origins, and values sustainability. All of this is reflected in their work processes. 

In this interview, GUSHKA’s founders will tell you more about the rich history behind the brand, the details of the wool manufacturing, and the traditions that they’re working hard to preserve. 

1. Could you please start by telling us about the history of your brand and its connection to the Didova Khatchyna project?

Sure! The GUSHKA project began in 2017 in the village of Yavoriv. This village is located in the middle of the Carpathian mountains and forests, near the "Didova Khatchyna" community. It all started there. 

Long ago, the village was considered the capital of the traditional craft of "lizhnykarstvo" (weaving). Almost every house was engaged in sheep farming and had its own sheep. People wove bedspreads from their wool to cover everything in the house, "gunias" - the outerwear of the highlanders, and used sheep milk to make traditional cheese - brynza. 

Over time, the needs and opportunities of the population changed. The craft began to disappear, and the meadows where no one grazed anymore fell into decay. That's when we decided to find the carriers of the craft who had inherited the knowledge, try to restore it, and show that it would be just as respected in the modern world as it was 100 years ago. And so it happened. 

GUSHKA brand is co-owned by four of us: 

  • Oleh, whose family has lived in Didova Khatchyna for a few generations and who is involved in financial and strategic project planning;
  • Daryna, our chief marketing officer, fairy and designer;
  • Liuba, the third-generation weaver, production manager, and the Didova Khatchyna's closest neighbor;
  • Mykola, who is responsible for communication with our partners and clients. 

We combined our knowledge and skills to introduce GUSHKA to the world.

2. Where did you and your team get your knowledge of weaving and making products from natural wool? Who are your craftsmen? Tell us about the people behind the products.

Liuba had the most knowledge and practical experience in weaving, as she was taught to weave by her mother and grandmother. In small villages and towns, everyone knows each other and everything about each other. That's how we managed to find craftswomen who had also mastered and honed this craft for generations, and people who wash, dye, and card wool. 

Weaving is traditionally considered a woman’s work, so all of our craftspeople are women. Some of them are from Kosiv, some from the district, but all of them love to weave. 

3. What inspired the ornaments of your Lizhnyk carpets?

Lizhnyk is a traditional element of the highlanders' decor. They were used to cover benches and floors. People also hung them on the walls in cold weather, because sheep's wool has good thermal conductivity and hygroscopicity. 

Lizhnyk was a traditional birthday and wedding gift. It was also inherited and used to accompany its owner on his or her last journey. Each symbol of the ornament had its own meaning: some served as protection from the evil eye, some boosted fertility, family well-being, health, prosperity, and other things the locals believed in at the time.

4. How does your brand contribute to the local community or support social causes through your work? 

Every business, wherever it exists, is already contributing to the development of the community by creating workplaces and paying taxes. Naturally, we do all of that, but in addition to that, GUSHKA also has its own mission and educational part. It is important for us to restore and develop the region's lizhnyk industry, to teach artisans to respect and value their skills, and to show the modern customers that by buying handmade products with their own history, they also become a part of that history. 

5. Why did you choose the name "GUSHKA"

It's simple: a spun thread formed into a roll is called "gushka" in a dialect.

6. Could you walk us through the manufacturing process of one of your products?

Of course! It all starts with shearing the sheep: this happens once a year in the spring. Then, we sort the wool by color if the sheep had strands of different shades. After that, we steam the wool in soapy water and wash until the water is clear. The sheared and washed wool is dried – it’s a very unusual view, like an infinite-length sheet made of wool. Then, we dye-dried and ventilated wool in the desired colors in a giant metal tub over the open fire. After that, the wool dries again in the sun. 

The next step is to take everything to the "hrabla" – a giant machine that combs the wool and makes it uniform and soft. Then, this thin woolen blanket is rolled into a kuzhil (roll) and taken to the spinners. It is very difficult to find women who spin because of the technique, speed, and thickness of the twisted thread. We collect the spun yarn, formed into balls, from the villages and bring it to the workshop in large bags. There, our weavers carefully weave the products according to the appropriate color and ornament.

The woven carpets, bedspreads, and carpets are cut from the loom, and the weave threads are knotted. Now we take everything to wash in the mountain river. The product becomes dense and strong in the felting process, and the water takes away any extra wool and smell. We dry it again in the fresh air, manually cleaning every centimeter so that nothing sticks out, and removing all sorts of twigs that get tangled in the river. Only then can we safely pack up the product and send it to its owner.

7. Can you name us your most iconic product? What should everyone buy from Gushka?

Each of our team members has their own favorite, so we can't single out one. Oh, we are very happy when people buy everything at once. We advise you to start your acquaintance with our brand with a lizhnyk, as it is the basic element of the craft, or with smaller decorative elements, such as a pillow or a pouf.

If you’re looking for unique brands with a rich history, GUSHKA’s items can be the best choice for you. Go to their website to discover amazing wool products. 

For more handcrafted brands, visit

You may also like