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Adelida stitches beads onto base fabric. Note the finished bag in the foreground and the completed beaded fabric behind it.

Apr 17

The Beauty and the Bead in Mexico

So far on our Mexican journey, our days have been spent with spinners and weavers, mother-earth types, workers of the land–their bodies showing signs of their routine activities of backstrap weaving, picking cotton, tortilla making. But today this changes for we meet “The Beading Beauties”—at least that’s what I call them. So armchair travel along […]

All carving is done free hand.

Apr 10

The Son of a Shellfish Dyer Carves Gourds

There’s a point during traveling, especially in a land where customs, language, and terrain are different than one’s home, when the “home” life slips into the far recesses of the mind and the present envelopes you. This usually happens to me about 4-5 days into a trip. Today was that day. We left the coastal […]

The San Juan Colorado women cleaning brown cotton (coyuche) in preparation for spinning and weaving.

Apr 03

A Day of Brown Cotton Spinning with a San Juan Colorado Cooperative in Oaxaca

Moments before we arrived at this San Juan Colorado weaving cooperative, the wrapped skirts (pozahuancos) were the only clothes the women were wearing. Normally bare-chested when working together, they donned their handwoven tops just for us. The pozahuancos are worn by the Mixtec women along the Oaxacan coast. The traditional ones are hand woven of […]

Feliza spinning brown cotton using the traditional handspindle and gourd bowl.

Mar 27

Handspinning and Weaving Brown Cotton in Coastal Oaxaca

In Puerto Escondido, we had encountered white cotton growing on vines, snaking its way up the fence, ready for picking and spinning. But upon arriving in Huazolotitlan and meeting the sisters Feliza and Paula, our education on growing,  spinning and weaving of brown cotton (coyuche) ramped up many notches. These sisters are the only two […]

Antonio and Maria, Oaxacan hand spindle makers.

Mar 20

Meet the Makers of the Traditional Oaxacan Hand Spindle

Last month, ClothRoads traveled the Oaxacan coast of Mexico on an off-the-beaten-path fiber tour with Eric Mindling of Traditions Mexico. We did indeed escape the arctic blasts at home and welcomed the warm Pacific Ocean waters. But better yet, we met Mixtec hand spindle makers, and weavers who cultivate brown cotton, clean it, beat it, […]

Jacquard woven shibori, naturally dyed with indigo, weld and chlorophyl.

Mar 06

Going Green with Natural Dyes and Shibori

With spring approaching, my thoughts turn to “green” and what that word means to me as a woven shibori expert and natural dyer. The Range of Greens From a technical perspective, the natural dyeing of green requires two different steps: attaining a yellow dye from a plant followed by dyeing in an indigo vat. There is […]

Narcissa Venigas Perez and Paula Venigas Cruz card and spin wool from their sheep in Chichicapan, Oaxaca.

Feb 11

Uninvited Guests in Handspun Yarn

While you’re reading this, my friends and I are traveling through coastal Oaxaca, Mexico. We’ve come to see the purple dyeing obtained from the glands of the shellfish Murex, to meet with a group of women who are cultivating brown cotton and hand spinning it, and to witness the weaving of the finest handspun cotton, […]

Dayabhai finger weaves the arrow-like pattern. Notice the colorful star motifs.

Jan 30

Hand Weaving, A Common Language Between Cultures

Seeing cloth hand woven on a foot-pedal floor loom versus on a traditional backstrap loom was a novelty. Crowds formed around the weaver, an Indian man, layered in traditional garb of light-colored cotton with a checked shawl wrapped around his neck for warmth at 12,000 ft in Cusco, Peru. I could hear excited voices, fingers […]

A fermenting indigo dyepot with its trademark scum.

Jan 16

An Ode to Indigo

This is what happens when two long-term fiber friends, who don’t see each other very often, get together–we talk natural dyes, especially indigo, and weaving. We utter the words of “remember when”, and “what is she doing now”, and talk about the wise ones who are no longer with us. What a pleasure it was […]

Children learn to handspin by watching their Elders.

Jan 08

Spinning Andean Stories of Handspun Yarn

Picture this. It’s my idyllic self—sitting in a comfy chair, fire roaring, basket of fleece with handspindle on the floor next to me. Now it’s snowing and the wind is howling outside. But never mind that. I’m sitting contentedly, knitting away with my handspun Peruvian alpaca yarn on a hat that I could use right […]

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