Listening to the Elders

Elder

You can learn a lot from carefully studying a piece of cloth: Its age, the fiber and its origin, the interlacement of the threads, the pigments used to color it, the cultural references in its design. And so much more. Museums and scholarly books are troves of information for understanding how and why textiles have […]

Where in the World is Alepio Melo?

About four years ago, Linda, photographer Joe Coca–with the excellent help of Diana Hendrickson–and I spent a couple of weeks in the Peruvian highlands learning from, documenting, and photographing master artisans of the Center for Traditional Textiles of Cusco. CTTC director Nilda Callanaupa had arranged for various artisans from all of the communities that comprise […]

Keeping Track of the World One Thread at a Time

My fascination with kipus likely began when we were working on our book Secrets of Spinning, Weaving, and Knitting in the Peruvian Highlands in Chinchero, Peru. Kipu, from the Quechua word for knot, are the knotted cord devices that the Inca used for record keeping. They were made of long cords of thread suspended from a […]

Gifts of Gratitude

Textile Traveler's Bundle

We’ve just finished celebrating Thanksgiving, keeping in mind all for whom we are grateful. Our readers are at the top our list. We’re showing our gratitude by offering several book bundles with amazing discounts for you or for the readers, crafters, and travelers in your life, These spectacular deals are only available through the end […]

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 […]

I Want to Give You a Scarf from Peru

Win a Peruvian Scarf

In our very first Thrums Books textile giveaway, you have a chance to win one of my treasured Peruvian scarves. I bought this alpaca scarf while I was working in Peru with Nilda Callañaupa Alvarez on her book Secrets of Spinning, Weaving, and Knitting in the Peruvian Highlands. It’s a beauty of a scarf, isn’t it? It makes […]

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 […]

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