Fall is here…

And the rainy season is just starting. It is time to start thinking about what to plant for the year to come. A couple of years ago, while visiting Guatemala, I noticed that the weavers use a plant to dye cotton called Pericon (Tagetes lucida) that yields a yellow color.  I was able to find the seeds at Seed Savers Exchange. I learned that here,  in the US, the herb is called Sweet Mace, Mexican Tarragon or Texas Tarragon. After doing some research online I found out that it is a medicinal plant too, great for treating stomach aches. The funny thing is that my interest in knowing more about this plant started actually with my need to mitigate a stomach ache I had a couple of weeks ago.  I recalled getting a tea blend (for digestion) from a Tz’utujil women’s cooperative in San Juan La Laguna, located near the Lake Atitlan. I want to mention that this town was one of the cleanest places I’ve seen in Guatemala.

And so, I decided to give the tea a try, with happy results. Fortunately, the tea came with a label with all the ingredients written on it. Peppermint, Sweet Mace, Lemon Verbena and Lemon Grass. I will be able to recreate my own blend from now on, (because it tastes yummy too) since the ingredients are easily accessible. And as soon as I get the plants going, I’ll use it for dyeing wool too.

And talking about plants, earlier this year I planted some indigo, but they did very poorly. I’m guessing that the reason was the lack of warm weather in my area. I have decided to let them seed this year and see what happens next year. I’m enjoying watching the finches eat the seeds, and hoping that they will leave some for my next crop. I can’t wait to start experimenting with my indigo plants. I didn’t suspect that it was going to take a couple of years to do it.

Meanwhile, I’ve been busy spinning, and washing my fleeces that I got at the Dixon Wool Fair a month ago. I got two beautiful Romney fleeces from Wyammy Ranch located near Occidental. I also got an alpaca fleece from Valhalla Farms that I can’t wait to wash.

 

I think I will have plenty to do this winter;  fiber-wise. And now, some pictures of my latest handspun:

This batt is very special, because I got it from Lorah, that visited during the Fiber Fest at Windrush Farm. It was very generous of her to give me a couple of them. It was very pleasant to spin it. I wish I had better pictures of the batt, because it has gorgeous gold sparkles. I enjoyed talking to her about Peru, and the wonderful weaving and spinning tradition that this country has. She is one of the lucky people who has gone to the Gathering of Weavers organized by Nilda Callanaupa Alvarez, author of Weaving in the Peruvian Highlands.

 

I also ha a lot of fun spinning this hand pulled roving…

And for some reason, it reminds me of a bird’s nest…

And today’s project…

Super Yummy Soft Merino that I dyed in blues and pinks… And now, back to my spinning wheel…

Market day in Pisac

The market days on Pisac are on Thursdays and Sundays. Sundays are specially lively because is also the day the locals go tho the church for the morning mass. After the mass is over they usually visit the market to buy whatever they need. I was fascinated by the colorful garments that some of the people wear.

The girls decorate their heads and their toys with flowers.

Chullos are knitted hats with wonderful patterns on it. I was able to buy several of them. The designs are incredible beautiful

This baby alpaca was resting inside the shop where I bough the chullos

And more market pictures:

A woman was selling these pigments for dyeing fibers

This child was very content with his ice cream

More pictures to come…

“If you are irritated by every rub, how will you be polished?”

Rumi

Pictures from Peru

I didn’t want to start writing about my trip to Peru with the boring flight from SF to Lima, but the flight itself was a bit of an adventure. My friend Amelia and I left SF at about 1:00 am. I (we) slept most of the way to El Salvador, luckily our overstay at the Salvador airport didn’t last more than 45 minutes. Once in Lima, we spent the night at a hotel literally across from the Lima airport. We had to get up at 4 am the next morning in order to get our flight that would take us to Cusco, our last destination, well, almost our last, because our final destination was the Town of Pisac, which takes about 45 minutes to get there.  Well, back to Lima, and next day, we got our sorry selves up at 3:45  in the morning to get ready to take our next flight to Cusco. After having breakfast, we dragged our luggage (and ourselves) to the airport just to find out that our flight was going to be delayed until 10 am! Grrrrrrrrr! I was furious and soooo tired! We grabbed our luggage (once again) and  went back to the hotel. They where so nice to give us our room back , and I was so happy to have it back too. Of course, all that I was thinking about was going back to bed. Well, let me tell ya, waking up again was the hardest thing to do. Finally we went back (again ) to the airport. The flight from Lima to Cusco takes about an hour and the views are breathtaking.

I felt more reinvigorated once we got to Cusco, although I could feel the 11,200 feet of altitude right away.

We got an expensive tourist priced taxi to get to the Town of Pisac. I realized right there that in that area every taxi driver will give you a different price, but If you are a tourist, they nail you with high prices. We didn’t have much of an option, because we were dragging a bit of luggage with us, and frankly we were very tired too, so we didn’t bargained at all. Plus I was getting a little bit of a headache from the altitude. Nonetheless, I was very happy and excited to be there. On our way to Pisac we passed herds of sheep and alpacas grazing at the edge of the road. I was so excited to see them in their native land, grazing freely along the highway. From time to time the taxi driver had to stop to let the cows cross the road.

The Town of Pisac is located at a lower altitude than Cusco, so I could feel that my headache was going away. Pisac is famous for its market on Sundays, but it is easy to find the locals selling their crafts on the streets every single day. The cobblestone and narrow streets are fun and wonderful to explore and  a great place to find all sorts of crafts. Of course I was more attracted towards the knitted and woven items for sale, but everything seemed very interesting. People, crafts,  life and even the smells played a great roll  like a kaleidoscope of colors and forms moving and changing constantly before my eyes.

The next day we got into a local taxi that charged us about 3 soles which is the equivalent of $1.50, and went back to Cusco. We had a wonderful day exploring every single store in the San Blas area. The place has a uniqueness of its own. Narrow streets, interesting shops, and has a boho, easy-going feeling. I spotted a woman working on embroidering a hand knitted chullo. After buying something from her I asked her if I could take a picture and she agreed.

This hat was probably knitted with nothing else but wires. Later on during a trip I visited a museum with a great exhibition of garments from different villages of the area and I saw a hat in progress like this one being knitted with thin wires.

We walked towards the Plaza de Armas which means the Army Square (Huacaypata in Quechua) and enjoyed the view of the magnificent Cathedral.

While walking the San Blas area I stumbled upon this girl and her alpaca pet and probably was waiting for tourists to take pictures of her for a few soles. I asked her if I could take a picture of her and she did this gracious pose for me .

After I took the picture, I gave her a dollar and I noticed that she was disappointed.  I asked her why and she said that she wanted two soles, not a dollar. I tried to explain to her that a dollar was  more money than the two soles, but she didn’t want the dollar. She  was only happy after I gave her the two soles that she was requesting. One dollar is the equivalent of 2.80 soles approximately. They were other tourists there containing their laugh about the funny situation I was getting into. I suspected they probably got into the same situation a few minutes earlier than me and were waiting for another unaware tourist (like me) to come and  observe the situation. After talking to them, my suspicion proved right.

Cusco is a magnet for artists from all over the world.  These people have made of Cusco their home and their source of inspiration. One store that drew my attention for the uniqueness of the designs was Hilo owned by a designer for Ireland whose name I don’t recall. The style of their designs has a steampunk flavor. The  hand made clothing combines different textures and colors made with lace, hardware and leather, arranged in a way that doesn’t seem out of line at all.

I wish I had met the designer but it was nice to talk to the girl in charge of running the store.

Back to Pisac I took pictures from my bedroom of the surrounding mountains. Above the house from my window I could see the Pisac Ruinst that I was going to visit the next day.

We got up early in the morning and we headed towards downtown. The locals where selling food and I couldn’t resist the temptation of trying their famous Choclo which is nothing but an oversized corn on the cob on steroids. I think I have never seen corn this big before.

I had my corn with the chicha morada which is a traditional drink made of corn. They also have a version of a fermented chicha, but I didn’t dare to try before climbing the ruins.

The size of the kernels are half the size of my thumb. Eating one of these makes a whole meal. After eating my Choclo we started our way up to the ruins. We claimbed very slow because of the altitude. I would take my time going up the stairs, but it was well worth the effort. The view of the town and mountains was beautiful. The temperature also dropped a bit once we reached the top.

This last picture shows the terraces used (yes still in use) by the locals to grow food. They were created by the Inca by hauling top soil from the lower lands (Wikipedia) probably on top of their backs.

This tale will continue probably tomorrow…

“It may be that the satisfaction I need depends on my going away, so that when I’ve gone and come back, I’ll find it at home.”

Rumi

Peru

It is a reality now. Next week I will be on the land of the Inca Empire, Vicuñas and wonderful textiles. I will be visiting Peru with my friend Amelia. Two weeks of pure discovery. I can’t believe the bunch of things that I have to do before I leave. Suddenly I have sale taxes to pay, bookkeeping to do, and the list goes on and on, and for some reason, it is becoming a bit overwhelming.  I’ve been feeling a bit unfocused and distracted. On the other hand I’ve been finding refuge in my knitting and spinning. I finished my “Margaritas” scarf and I’m very happy with the results. I might start another one in a different color…Mmmmhhh, maybe something like Charcoal will look good with the same design.

I started another project that I had in mind for quite a while, but other projects always step in front and I keep forgetting about it. And to be honest with, I was a bit intimidated too.

The stitch pattern might be an old Shetland lace pattern, and I took it from the book “Knitting Lace” by Susanna E. Lewis. I love when authors go an extra mile to include diagrams which makes it so easy to follow. After repeating the stitch pattern a few times, the lace design starts to unfold and show its real beauty. But before… after casting on and working with the yarn overs, I was on cloud nine until I got my first “P2tog, then sl 1 st kwise. Return both sts to L ndl, psso, return Rt ndl”. Whhhhhaaaat? Is this one stitch? Oh, gosh, I felt that this was going to slow me down a lot, I even started looking for an easier stitch to make, but being the stubborn gal that I am, I stuck with it. Actually…It is very easy and after a while I stopped thinking about it.

I was hoping to take it with me to Peru and knit on the airplane, but the policies of the Airline Company won’t allow me to to do it. Bummer!

My project will have to wait for me at home…

Finally I finished spinning all the Yak that I had in my basket. It has been a year since I bough it and start spinning it. I have mention in the past that this fiber spins sooooooo slow. Two weeks ago, before the Tour de Fleece started I made up my mind to be done with it. I have two spools that I will ply when I come back.

I can’t wait to ply them. I already have two skeins and they turned out beautiful. At the end I realized… you know what? It is worth the effort…

Ideas shape the course of history.

John Maynard Keynes