A Tricky Stitch from the Peruvian Highlands

trickystitch

One of my favorite Andean textiles is the humble potato sack, or costal. It’s deeply traditional, handsome, and almost indestructible. I first saw costales in use when I visited the very high village of Accha Alta in 2005. The area is known for the best and most varied potatoes, but the terrain is so steep […]

A Mother’s Gift

Teaching textile traditions is a gift mothers pass to their children generation after generation. Whether in Mexico or Morocco, Afghanistan or Laos, mothers have been teaching their daughters (ands sons) to weave, to spin, to dye, to embroider for centuries. Sharing these skills with the next generation is practical, of course, because it creates a […]

The Heights of Machu Picchu and other Poems

Poetry

I’m feeling a tad guilty that April is National Poetry Month and here we are in the final stretch, having done nothing to celebrate. Over the years, we’ve often found ways to join text with textile in poetic ways. For International Women’s Day a few years ago, Marge Piercy’s “For Strong Women” set a meaningful […]

In the Twinkling of an Eye

More than thirty years ago, National Geographic magazine published an issue with a young Afghan woman on the cover. Her intense green eyes were so unexpected, and her expression so loaded with hard-to-read emotion, that the photograph has become iconic. Just google “afghan girl” and there she is, after all this time. Kind of like […]

Yours to Mine, Giving is Hand to Hand

Rug Money

“Giving is, first and every time, hand to hand, Mine to yours, yours to mine.” Alberto Ríos  Catarina spins with a touch that turns clouds into thread. Photo by Joe Coca from the book Traditional Weavers of Guatemala. It’s the gift-giving, and gift-finding, season. Enjoy the bounty of gifts so vivid in each of these […]

Silkworms, Mezcal, a Few Potatoes, Exquisite Cloth

silkworms

I was digging around in the pocket of a fleece jacket the other day, and found a small handful of roasted squash seeds. The memory was instant: I was back in a little hut in the Oaxacan highland village of Santo Domingo Roayaga. Our hostess was graciously extending hospitality. All she had to offer was […]

The Next Generation

One of the biggest concerns, for those of us who love and work with indigenous textiles from around the world, is “Who will carry on the traditions?” It’s complicated. Young people once learned from their elders, stayed in their home villages, got a sixth-grade education at most, married young, and spun and wove for the […]

Portal to Peru Old and New

I just drove down to Santa Fe to attend the Fifteenth annual International Folk Art Market. It’s always a great time to connect with fiber friends and especially our authors as many are also artisan participants, volunteers, or translators. (Look for a full recap in next week’s blog.) Nilda Callanaupa Alvarez of the Center for Traditional […]

Refrains of Nature on Earth Day

“There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature–the assurance that dawn comes after night and spring after winter. ” Rachel Carson In celebration of Earth Day, we have a reprise of last year’s post–updated with some of our favorite places on earth—and some of our favorite people in those places. People who […]

Feisty Women

feisty women

“Fadma Wadal is a feisty old woman—my favorite kind—and a great storyteller,” writes Susan Schaefer Davis, introducing the first of many artisans in her new book Women Artisans of Morocco: Their Stories, Their Lives. She goes on to tell the story of Fadma who remembers spinning with wool stolen from the underbellies of sheep that […]