Brocade weaving that is white-as-snow and so very sheer, the Q’eqchi’-Maya weaving in this particular region of Alta Verapaz of Guatemala is distinctive and so artful. After having divided the plies of the already fine cotton yarn the single plies are fragile, so the Maya weavers starch their warp with tortillas and hot water made into a paste to coat the threads, then as it is often cold and rainy, the warp is dried over a small fire made in the middle of their living room floor. I am charmed. This style of weaving resonates with me perhaps more than any other weaving, so breathtakingly beautiful in the rural outback of mountains of Guatemala.
Also see accomplished weaver Liz Frey goes to the source, at a weaver’s home in a small mountain village, to learn Pikb’il weaving. If you give these two a watch, you’ll learn a lot, I promise. Researching indigenous types of weaving is just a thing I like to do, as I engage my mind and gain inspiration all the while knitting my latest sweater prototypes, and sheltered inside from the return of immanent scorching California heat. Every summer I drift and drift through months of heat and wildfire haze, but I keep my head down and stay industrious inside as much as possible, occasionally running out to walk Juno or help Jeff with some part of rebuilding his shop, and before I know it the first rain will come in early Autumn.
Sometime ago I posted this excellent Hands Series of a Dublin Wool Mill, but it seemed to have been taken off of youtube so couldn’t be viewed. Now almost three years later, I have found it again, a superbly artful wool spinning mill & weavers from the late 1970’s. Watch and find out what happens when colors layered in to wool sandwiches are fed to the “fear-not machine”, the “scribbler machine”, and old style mill spinning with a “mule”, then various weaving of the cloth and processing into the Irish Tweed that is world renowned. This episode is absolutely loaded with all sorts of tweedy goodness ~~~ enjoy!
In another life I am a weaver. Perhaps I’ll grow up as a child of the earth, tending the plants and bringing water, then later as a young woman I would bear the tension of the backstrap, squaring weft against warp, sweating through long tedious hours of work so honorable, and insulated from the worries and the wars of the world. Or really, just any kind of weaver, anywhere! (( You can see the very same mosi weaving master filmed a little earlier in her life back in this post which is quite a bit more extensive in the technique of making the warp)). But then, it really would take a lifetime to do this, why would I want to be a rank beginner now? Instead, from time to time I’ll just post great weaving films that I find.
A little frothy tasty treat, and so serene, this little Nantucket Looms weaving video popped up when I searched youtube for ‘ weaving on a flying shuttle floor loom ‘. Not that I’m going shopping for a floor loom anytime soon, but while I knit I find so very much pleasure and inspiration in watching short films about mills and weaving in general. The relationship between the fiber and the wood, loom creaking, swishing, clacking, sighing, wheezing into action. Any form of it, industrial or indigenous, slick linen or fuzzy mohair, I could watch for hours and forever the yards of warp inch forward, shifting on the heddles and the weft unwinding in the flying shuttles, interlocking in finality, growing and then winding up again, as purposeful useful thing… it just tickles a spot for me. I’m a dream weaver for sure.
It has been a long while since I posted a weaving film, and about time I did. This is one I have been enjoying as I have been learning a little bit about the Mayan weaving and making of the women’s traditional blouse, the huipil. Just like the weavers in Peru which I have posted about a few times, these Mayan women weave on a backstrap loom, for the clothes which keep their ancestral roots alive, but in the modern age, there are concerns about losing this indigenous tradition of weaving, therefore their culture is threatened (read more about this: The Huipil in Danger) . Guatemalan Maya weaving, although on the same type of loom as the Peruvians, and the same simple loom as in many parts of the world, it is their elaborate brocade style that is so very distinctive and original. It is especially when I find these treasure nuggets of weaving films, that I just wish I had another whole lifetime to devote completely to weaving, in particular backstrap weaving ! I hope you enjoy this little weaving story as much as I do.
I am revisiting a very personal ambition of blending signature colors from local landscape and spinning into yarn, as is always the genius of Harris Tweed, and it all began for me in this post a few years ago. Soon my own color blending experiments were born, and became a literal obsession with me, and I created Tweed Chronicles on this blog. But also it is about my intrigue of the life of a weaver, particularly the tweed weavers of the the Hebrides, their tradition and industry that has held on through the test of time. Whenever I find an old film about textiles, or mills, I am sure to post it here, and I do look often for the most wonderful ones, and it appears that I have dug one up out of the vast archives of the internet. The film opens with the weavers working their fields, cutting peat, doing the work of island life, but soon gets in to some great footage of the Harris Tweed company making warp bundles to deliver out to the resident weavers of the island, then once in the hands of the weavers, warp is set up on their looms, weft shuttles loaded, and then the shuttles fly. I love how when the cloth is finished, its left out on the roadside to be picked up by the Harris Tweed people. I know you’ll love this little gem as much as I do!
I am very much enjoying learning about Nilda Callañaupa Alvarez and her life’s work establishing the Center of Traditional Textiles of Cusco , and keeping part of the past alive. She has fought an important battle bringing back the straying generation which nearly put an end to the skilled weavers of the Cusco region, and result has established institution and industry in Cusco, while bringing next generations back into the nest of tradition. Nilda, you go girl!
I am deeply inspired by the imagery of the Andes mountains, and of industry in spinning, weaving, and knitting from the Cusco region. It is obvious that I romanticize their more provincial lifestyle, although I do consider myself very lucky that I can set my feet into a degree of provincialism while at the same time choosing what I like from convenience of the modern world. I know from my own that it is hard work refining a life in craft has nearly in itself become a novelty in the modern world. A work ethic in craft is to me all consuming, as I savor and enjoy growing the goodness of making.
Here are a few short interview films about Nilda and her work…
I have found and purchased out one of Nilda’s books and am looking forward to it arriving by mail, and of sharing it here forthcoming . I am fascinated in weaving, and the colors create from natural dyes (as well as natural un-dyed yarns) , but as I am committed to knitting, I hope the muse touches me and brings more ideas into the knit design that I do. More to come about my views of the richly exotic textile traditions in the nest of the Andes, so watch this space!
What do you get when you bring together a remote and rugged high mountain range, herds of soft downy llamas, alpacas, sheep, and an indigenous people who’s thirst for artfulness is apparent in all they do? You get beautiful textiles steeped in ancient traditional, as in the Cusco region of Peru!
I’ve been watching this video over and over, fascinated in the weavings of the Cusco region, and life’s work of Nilda Callañaup Alvarez , while I knit and think about All Things Peruvian. So much that I’m feeling a deep inward shift in this direction. But that is all for now, more to come later.
Soon I will have to put everything down to make my brother a chullo, which I knit nearly every year around his birthday, and I am giddy because this year I will get to knit one from my own design.
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News: I am happy to say that we got the quote from the building contractors, and we’ll manage to build our house again! We will have to do some of the finish work ourselves, like flooring, and who knows what else, but that is nothing like when we built the whole house before. The timeline of starting date is still unknown, as is an estimated time of finish, and I suppose everything is getting queued up for a fast and furious build sometime this upcoming spring. I find it so difficult to blindly wait without knowing when I will go back home. Anyway, the very best-case scenario, if everything goes well, and which I am visualizing for dear life, is that we could very possibly be moving back into our rebuilt house this … coming … Autumn … ?
Knitting while enjoying some amazing coffee, at the Oakville Grocery , once a very small-town grocery just a blink along Highway 29, and now a roaring tourist stop with coffee bar & deli for those on their way upvalley. For me it is just off the Oakville Grade, when I come down off the mountain, one of my ‘going out’ places, and usually by myself. Lots of being by myself lately, as my days are in limbo and I prefer to sit alone on one of the outside tables like this to knit and ponder with yarn and a coffee connoisseur’s cuppa.
Oh, but about the knitting. I am in the midst of knitting a pile of prototypes, some made with Isager Tweed (previously posted in yarn tasting) , and some with other wonderful tweedy yarns, and I can only hope that I will surface with some evidence soon, nearer to the point when my pattern is ready. I am in no rush and presently can not set a lot of expectations upon myself. I am a snail in the race against nothing.
I just felt like checking in, and mention that it’s been like spring around here, and while I am under the impression that it is suppose to be winter, these oppressive blue skies and warm afternoons since late January are rather frightful. I only want nourishing rain and dark grey skies.
Bring it on rain clouds …
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Most of you know that I have a deep intrigue in films about old mills, and traditions of textile crafts, and especially traditions of weaving. Here is one I found that shows traditional Korean Ramie weaving. It seems so like linen but processed completely different. I am so in awe of the older more simplistic methods. It seems the more simple, the more elegant the cloth …
and layering them ever so finer … and finer …. and even finer…
1st batt, 1st carding
just to see how the colors will work together.
Because perhaps I am just ridiculous!
rolags from 2nd batt, second carding, and wonderfully oceanic!
So I have decided to make a new category ~~ Tweed Chronicles ~~ wherein I can post my tweed yarn making refinements, as I explore both predictable as well as the unpredictable color combinations (maybe especially the unpredictable), my learned improvements of technique, and so on.
20g of white undyed roving I acquired decades ago, the tweedy “nepps” from the slubby roving are excellent for tweed, 20g of mixed Shetland I over-dyed with color peacock, 10g of Corriedale aqua, and 10g of Corriedale dark denim.
I have found another gem in the “Hands” series I’ve been watching countless times over the last month, while I learn the technique of long-draw tweed spinning on my little wheel, and learn the art of color in fiber. And because I have always been so deeply inspired from nostalgia, this one is my new favorite. Enjoy!