Tag Archives: wool

Wrap Yourself in the Warmth of Mexico!

Dreaming of returning to Mexico or a winter away from cold, ice and snow? It may not happen for many of us this year. The next best thing, I think, is to wrap yourself in the warmth of Mexico. It’s mid-October and not too soon to think about how to stay comfy, cozy and dreaming of traveling again. I’m offering a selection from my personal collection, new and never worn.

Many of these 23 pieces are soft, comfortable wool. Some are heavier cotton pieces. 99% are woven on the back-strap loom. I purchased these directly from weavers, all who needed support at the time. They are from my travels throughout Oaxaca and Chiapas. A piece or two are from more distant places in Mexico. All are unique, one-of-a-kind and priced to sell quickly.

To Buy: Please email me normahawthorne@mac.com with your name, mailing address and item number. I will mark it SOLD, send you a PayPal link to purchase and add $12 for cost of mailing. Please be sure to select Send Money to Family and Friends! We also accept Venmo and I can send you a Square invoice (+3% fee) if you don’t use PayPal.

SOLD. #1. Pom Pom Cape. San Juan Chamula, Chiapas. Wool. 20″ long. 26″ wide. $65
#2 Poncho. Oxchuc, Chiapas. Cotton. 32×30. $95

97% of these items are made on the back-strap loom by women in small, indigenous villages throughout Mexico.

SOLD. #3. Quechquemitl. Chiapas. Cotton/polyester. Glittery. 36×32. $55
SOLD. #4. Quechquemitl. Chiapas. Wool. 36×30. New lower price $25 (not $45)
SOLD. #5. Throw/shawl. Chiapas. Wool. 25×52. $95
#5 Detail
SOLD. #6. Winter White Wool Throw/Shawl. Chiapas. 26×60. $85
SOLD. #7. Fun Chiapas Shawl/Throw. Wool, poly. 21×60. $85

Return Policy: We support artisans. There are no returns or refunds. This is a final sale.

#8 Tenancingo Ikat Rebozo/Shawl. Cotton. 29×72. $145

To Buy: Please email me normahawthorne@mac.com with your name, mailing address and item number. I will mark it SOLD, send you a PayPal link to purchase and add $12 for cost of mailing. Please be sure to select Send Money to Family and Friends! We also accept Venmo and I can send you a Square invoice (+3% fee) if you don’t use PayPal.

SOLD. #9. Jolom Mayatik Cooperative, Chiapas. Cotton. 27×86. $65
SOLD. #10. Indigo Rebozo by Roman Gutierrez, Teotitlan del Valle. Cotton. 22×78. $145
SOLD. #11. Jolom Mayatik Chiapas. Cotton. Throw/Scarf/Table Cover. 28×76. New lower price $60 (not $75)
#11 Detail.

Return Policy: We support artisans. There are no returns or refunds. This is a final sale.

SOLD. #12. Tenejapa, Chiapas, Rare Huipil. Wool + Cotton. 30×30. $395

Let’s talk about #12. Tenejapa is a Chiapas village on a mountain road about an hour-and-a-half from San Cristobal de las Casas. This is a traditional huipil that is rarely seen now — a collector’s piece, for sure. The design, executed in naturally dyed wool from local plant materials, is unique to this village and woven on a back-strap loom. It is from the cooperative of Maria Meza Giron. It is under-valued!

SOLD. #13. San Juan Chamula, Chiapas. Wool. Shawl/throw. 38×56. New lower price, $45 (not $65)
SOLD. #14. Quechquemitl/poncho. Chiapas. Wool. Indigo stitches. 26×28. New lower price. $25 (not $45)
#15. Cotton infinity scarf/cowl. New, lower price, $65. (Not $95)

To Buy: Please email me normahawthorne@mac.com with your name, mailing address and item number. I will mark it SOLD, send you a PayPal link to purchase and add $12 for cost of mailing. Please be sure to select Send Money to Family and Friends! We also accept Venmo and I can send you a Square invoice (+3% fee) if you don’t use PayPal.

SOLD. #16. Chiapas bag. Wild Marigold dyes. Wool, cotton lined. 10-1/2×14. $25
SOLD. #17. Wool Chiapas bag. Indigo. Cotton lined. 10-1/2×14. $25
SOLD. #18. San Andres Larrainzar, Chiapas Gala Huipil. 32×34. $495

About #18 — San Andres Larrainzar Huipil. The gala huipil takes up to a year to weave and is worn only during fiestas and special occasions. This one is extraordinary. The designs are achieved on the back-strap loom. This is not embroidered but densely woven — called bordado. A perfect winter garment to add color and cheer — accessorize over leggings and a silk T-shirt.

To Buy: Please email me normahawthorne@mac.com with your name, mailing address and item number. I will mark it SOLD, send you a PayPal link to purchase and add $12 for cost of mailing. Please be sure to select Send Money to Family and Friends! We also accept Venmo and I can send you a Square invoice (+3% fee) if you don’t use PayPal.

#19. San Felipe Usila Huipil. Cotton. 27×41. $395

#19. I bought this piece in the pueblo from one of the finest weavers there. It is a traditional Chinantla region pattern that features the double-headed eagle, symbol of life-giving force. It is a six-panel piece with beautiful joinery using a needle-stitch that sews the wefts of cloth together. The finish work is amazing. Very graphic. This town is 12 hours from Oaxaca city and accessible by winding dirt road.

SOLD. #20. Oxchuc, Chiapas. Cotton. 36×27. $75

Return Policy: We support artisans. There are no returns or refunds. This is a final sale.

SOLD. #21. Amantenango, Chiapas. Embroidered blouse. Polyester/cotton. 29×27. $45
#22. Pinotepa de Don Luis, Oaxaca. Natural dyes. 28×48. $295
#23. San Pedro Amusgo, Oaxaca. Indigo, coyuchi. 26×28, $295

About #23. I bought this during one of our trips to the Oaxaca coast to support Arte de Amusgo cooperative founded by Odilon Merino Morales who is a featured artist at the Santa Fe International Folk Art Market. It is new and never worn.

Thank you for all your support and consideration!

Mexico Designer Carla Fernandez Wool Cape — Big Discount + Raincoat

SOLD. This cape is from the Mexico City Colonia Roma boutique of designer Carla Fernandez. New! What was I thinking? I’m in Oaxaca in the winter and it’s not cold enough there! This is a beautiful, soft wool herringbone tweed with a flared design that drapes beautifully. It has deep pockets and open sides. It is 42″ long. The collar is sewn to the body of the cape at the neck, but the rest of the panel is loose and hangs freely the length of the cape so you can wrap it around your neck like a scarf to protect from winter chill. A lovely and innovative design.

The original retail price was $600 USD. I offer it to you for $195 USD plus $13 mailing via USPS Priority Mail to anywhere in USA.

How to Buy: Send me an email with your mailing address/ZIP Code. I will send you an invoice. Tell me if you want the cape or the raincoat (see below), or both. Thank you. I must receive payment by October 12.

Cape is SOLD. Thank you!

SOLD. Below, is a beautiful reversible raincoat with shirred hood. It is a $295 USD designer raincoat — like new. I’m pricing it to sell at $66 USD plus $8.00 USPS mailing. Size L-XL. 45″ long.

A Story About Five Wool Rugs for Sale with 100% Natural Dyes, Oaxaca, Mexico

Omar Chavez Santiago went back to Mexico on Saturday but he left these five beautiful hand-woven tapestry rugs (tapetes) behind for me to sell for him and his family.

Omar’s family from Galeria Fe y Lola, use 100% churro sheep wool that is hand-spun on the drop spindle (malacate) in the Mixtec region of Oaxaca, high in the Sierra Madre del Sur about six hours from the city. Here, many women each raise a few sheep and twice  year when the fleece is thick enough, they shear them and spin the wool by hand.  They then collect the balls from among the group for the Chavez Santiago family to buy enough to work. Hand-spun wool, a rarity now, is more costly but is the strongest fiber for rug weaving.

Listen to this GistYarn podcast with Omar Chavez Santiago

#1, 4×6 ft, Mountains and Rain tapestry rug, $1,325

#1. Detail. Cochineal, indigo, natural sheep wool

That’s one reason why these wool rugs are collector and heirloom pieces. 

The other reason is because the family uses ONLY 100% natural dyes. That means they prepare wool that they dye themselves using local plant materials and cochineal. This is a completely vertical process all done in the family home studio. They do not work in synthetic or chemical dyes at all — so everything from them is designed to be environmentally sustainable and healthy.

#2. A Thousand Stars, 4×6′, $1,325. All natural dyes.

#2 Detail. Cochineal, indigo, wild marigold, zapote, pomegranate

Many in Teotitlan del Valle know how to give the cochineal dye demonstration, squeezing lime juice or baking soda on a bit of ground bugs to show visitors how the color explodes and changes.  This does not always mean that the makers use natural dyes in their tapestries. Only about a dozen families actually work with natural dyes because it it more expensive and time consuming.

SOLD. #3. Relampajo, 2-1/2×5′, $550. Indigo and wild marigold

After buying the handspun balls of wool, Omar, his mom Lola (nickname for Dolores) and his dad Fe (nickname for Federico), make the skeins of wool, wash and mordent the wool, then prepare the dye baths.  They will grind dried cochineal bugs, grind and ferment the Oaxaca-grown indigo, prepare other plant materials like wild marigold (pericone), pomegranate, pecan shells and leaves, zapote negro, tree moss, huizache (acacia vine seed pods), palo de aguila (alderwood) and other dye sources. They have developed formulas to get over 40 shades of red, purple, orange and pink from the cochineal insect itself.

They are weavers, chemists, herbalists and artists.

SOLD. #4. Mariposas, 2-1/2 x 5′, Cochineal and wild marigold. $550.

This is #slowfiber and #smallbatches. It can take a week to dye enough yarn for one medium-sized rug. Another week to dress the loom and attach the warp threads. The weaver creates his or her design and executes it, standing at the two-pedal loom for several months working a six-hour day, six days a week. That’s about all the back can take!

When you visit a weaver, ask to see the dye pots. Weavers who work in small volume production have small inventories and are more likely to use natural dyes.

#5. Campo Rojo. 2-1/2×5′. $550. Cochineal, marigold, natural sheep wool.

In the fiber world we ask #whomademyclothes. The #fashionrevolution brings our attention to asking if what we buy is #fastfashion and disposable or made to last with excellent quality.  This is not just about clothes. It is about supporting makers who are using ethical practices, paying fair wages and selling at fair value for time and materials.

It can take 90 days to weave a rug made in this way. If it costs $500 USD, please do the math. That’s a little more that $5 USD per hour.

One of the most gratifying things for me living in Mexico is the opportunity to buy direct from the maker. I know my purchase is meaningful and valued. This is also an important reason that I organize textile study tours — to bring visitors directly to the women and men who make the clothes and home goods and jewelry, and all the beautiful artisan work that Mexico is famous for.  Afterall, in the end, it’s all about the relationship, not the thing!

I hope you will consider purchasing one of these beautiful rugs from Galeria Fe y Lola. Funds go directly to the family. Then, you will know the answer to #whomademyrug

How to Buy: Send me an email with your name, the item you want to buy, and your mailing address. I will respond with availability, send you a PayPal invoice (or you can mail me a check) that includes the cost of the rug and mailing.  Fixed price shipping is $35 per small piece and $60 per large piece anywhere in lower 48 states. Inquire about mailing prices to Canada.

 

 

Omar’s Discovery Tour: A First Visit to the USA

Omar Chavez Santiago is twenty-four years old. He is a weaver and natural dyer from Teotitlan del Valle, Oaxaca, Mexico. Last year, he graduated with a degree in industrial engineering after studying for four years at Anahuac University in Oaxaca. He is at a cross-roads.

Fayetteville, Lillington, Coats, NC friends give Omar a warm welcome in Durham. Thanks Becky, Robin and Debbie for your support.

Does he pursue a professional engineering career and move to Monterrey or continue in the generations-old family tradition of his Zapotec culture?

On March 1, 2017, Omar went to Mexico City for an interview appointment at the US Embassy to follow-up on his visitor visa application to enter the USA. He is male. He is young. We didn’t know what his chances would be. Slim, I thought. Very slim. So few are allowed to enter.

I wrote my Congressman G.K. Butterfield ((D-NC) to ask if they would send a message and alert the Embassy staff that Omar would be there on March 1 to present a letter of invitation from me and Wendy Sease, owner of INDIO Durham. We invited him to give a presentation and sale of the family’s 100% naturally dyed wool rugs in early April.

List to this GistYarn Podcast with Omar Chavez Santiago

Omar, age 24, has been weaving since he was eight years old.

An alert is different from a request to approve. No one interferes with US Embassy immigration decisions. An alert just says, Look out for this applicant. I guess they did. At the end of the short interview, Omar was awarded a 10-year visa. Ojala.

Discovering La Superior Carneceria y Super Tienda, Durham

Three weeks later, the paperwork arrived in Teotitlan del Valle, and Omar arrived in Durham, North Carolina on March 28.

I started calling this Omar’s Discovery Tour because everything was new to him. Exciting. Inspiring. Being here gave him the chance to see that what Galeria Fe y Lola creates in Oaxaca is linked to the home goods fashion cycle in the USA, where most of their clients come from. It connected the dots.

A walk through Duke University with Jacob and Hettie.

He discovered that design and color preferences change according to season. Texture and palette compliment. He saw traditional and contemporary side-by-side. He saw cities and farmland. Innovation and comfort. The edges where his countrymen and women live beyond the chi-chi neighborhoods, shopping in grocery stores named La Superior Carneceria or Compare or Tienda Mexicana Guadalupana, where life is familiar and safe. He heard an earful about politics, leadership void and political discontent.

A walk through Duke Gardens with Jacob

Omar thinks we are organized, tidy, friendly, and open to opportunity. (Of course, we know this is NOT a universal truth in the USA.)

Lime bikes propagate in downtown Durham. Take a ride.

He likes that people here greet him with a smile, that cars stop for pedestrians, and he can ride a Lime Bike on the American Tobacco Trail all afternoon for a few dollars, followed by beer and bonding at Ponysaurus with Jacob and Kathryn. He likes that we recycle (some of us). And, he can put on his jogging shoes and run for miles on groomed paths and streets.

Wow, there are REALLY good goat tacos here, just like in Mexico

It got to the point after the first week that he could rank order the best hamburgers in Durham after tastings at many restaurants. In retail shops, he was invited to sit down in a comfy chair or sofa, offered refreshment, and an invitation to kibbitz informally. He saw that deep friendships can be formed well beyond the inner circle of family.

A talk and cochineal dye demo at Echoview Fiber Mill, Weaverville, NC

Then, we went to Asheville and Weaverville, where the fiber arts community welcomed Omar for a cochineal dye demonstration and exhibition. We ate at Buxton Hall Barbecue and White Duck Tacos, and walked the downtown going in and out of fine art and craft galleries. He was mesmerized by the creativity. We slept in a cozy Arts & Crafts Cottage on the Blue Ridge Parkway hosted by Laura and Bryan.

100% naturally dyed churro wool rugs from Galeria Fe y Lola

Omar began to imagine that his dreams could become a reality. He began building new dreams. By the time he went home on Saturday morning after almost three weeks here, he was excited and inspired to create new designs, incorporate new business ideas, capture on cloth that which captured his imagination, and incorporate elements of traditional Zapotec motifs with new energy.

I wish we could give this opportunity to other talented young Mexicans who have dreams, who want to create and add value to their country.

Making the presentation at Echoview Fiber Mill, in collaboration with Local Cloth

Cochineal dye demonstration at Echoview Fiber Mill

I feel much this way when I go to Mexico. I see that families are tightly knit, where ancient ritual gives meaning to life, how reverence for the elderly shapes  continuity, how people take time to be with families and celebrate together.

Art at the Durham Museum Hotel

Travel broadens and opens us up to more than new experiences. It gives us something intangible, a new neural pathway to exploration, learning, becoming. It gives us an opportunity to befriend, to connect and to live expansively with meaning.

Taking a break at Ponysaurus Brewing Company, Durham

It was twelve-and-a-half years ago when I met Omar’s brother Eric and sister Janet in the Teotitlan del Valle rug market. They were both students, not knowing where their paths would lead. Omar was not quite twelve. Through mutual support and effort, our lives were changed.

Thanks to all who supported Omar with a purchase!

Laura and her family with Omar in Asheville

There are many people to thank for making Omar’s Discovery Tour possible: parents Federico Chavez Sosa and Dolores Santiago Arrellenas in Teotitlan del Valle; Wendy Sease, Hettie Johnson, Jacob Singleton, Kathryn Salisbury, Karen Soskin, Steve Haskin, Nick and Rochelle Johnson in Durham; Laura and Bryan Tompkins, Judi Jetson with Local Cloth, Grace Casey-Gouin at Echoview Fiber Mill in Asheville and Weaverville, and our friends everywhere.  Thank you.

We are talking now about when he may return.

 

Visiting the Oaxaca Wool Mill: Lanera de Ocotlan

In 1996 Englishman Graham Johnson came to Ocotlan de Morelos from Mexico City to open a woolen mill.  The mill was designed to streamline the production process for making yarn and weaving cloth from local churro sheep wool* without sacrificing quality.

Ocotlan Wool 53-8 Ocotlan Wool 53-22

Graham was a tinkerer. He loved machinery, especially the old carding and spinning machines that were being replaced by computerization. He bought these up, shipped them to Oaxaca from the United States and the United Kingdom, and refurbished them. Often, he would find or make the parts to keep them going. Many were 30 and 40 years old already.

Lanera de Ocotlan Wool-5

Over time the mill diversified and made luxuriously soft merino bed blankets and throws, fancy yak hair mecate horse reins, cinch chord for saddle belts, colorful wool tassels to decorate saddles, horse blankets and rugs for home decor.

Lanera de Ocotlan Wool-21 Lanera de Ocotlan Wool-11

They kept a supply of all types of wool to work with and blend, continuing to experiment to produce soft and durable products. In addition to merino, the mill cleaned and spun cashmere, mohair, Lincoln and other breeds. They still do.

Lanera de Ocotlan Wool-25 Lanera de Ocotlan Wool-28

Then, Graham died suddenly from a heart attack in 2009, and there was a question about who would keep the business going.

Lanera de Ocotlan Wool-38 Lanera de Ocotlan Wool-29

I remember when I first met Graham on one of my early visits to Oaxaca. It was probably 2005 or 2006. The mill was running at full capacity and you could hear the hum of machinery as you walked down the open corridor separating the rooms where the work was done.  It was impressive then what these old machines and talented local employees could do.

Lanera de Ocotlan Wool-7 Lanera de Ocotlan Wool-30

Now, when I revisited with my friend Scott Roth, who has been working with weavers, wool, dyes, and the hand-loomed rug weaving process for over 40 years, I could see the changes. Scott brought with him replacement parts for some of the machines. Machines that were working ten years ago now need repair. Old belts, bearings, wires, cogs and wheels break, wear out.

Lanera de Ocotlan Wool-15

For the past two years, Graham’s 37-year old daughter Rebecca has stepped in and is learning the operation. The mill is 25 years old and Rebecca is determined to keep her father’s dream alive.

lanera de ocotlan wool-4

At her side are Rosalba (Rosie) Martinez Garcia, who has been there for 18 years and knows just about everything about the mill.  Helping are Angel Laer Ambocio Perez (above) and Alejandro Maldonado Santiago. They know a thing or two, too, although their tenure is much shorter.

Ocotlan Wool 53-6 Lanera de Ocotlan Wool-9

Rebecca loves textiles. She loves yarn. She wants to supply all types of yarns for knitting and weaving and other fiber arts. There are beautiful rugs and blankets stacked on shelves that were made before her father passed that are for sale.

Ocotlan Wool 53-5 Ocotlan Wool 53-38

Spare parts for anything is essential here in Mexico. Equipment can be old. It can still be good, functional, valued. If one has the necessary parts to keep it going. Graham wasn’t the only tinkerer here. People save, cobble together, recycle, repurpose. Things get jimmied together and continue to work. People here learn how to be resourceful with what they have. It’s something I’ve learned being here.

Ocotlan Wool 53-53 Ocotlan Wool 53-51

As Scott and Rebecca worked out numbers to complete their transaction, I wandered the mill, remembering Graham. A cat ran across the corridor to hide. A young tree struggled to grow up from the crack in the concrete. A rusted yarn holder cast shadows on the adobe wall. I loved being there, another part of the textile heaven that is Oaxaca.

Ocotlan Wool 53-35 Ocotlan Wool 53-36

Where to Find It: Lanera de Ocotlan, 119 Benito Juarez, Ocotlan de Morelos, Oaxaca, Tel:  951-294-7062. Email: Rebecca Johnson at  becky_madonna@hotmail.com for an appointment to visit. Directions: Continue straight past the Zocalo and the Mercado Morelos two blocks. The wool mill door will be on your left. It is unmarked.

Lanera de Ocotlan Wool-13 Lanera de Ocotlan Wool Lanera de Ocotlan Wool-23

Footnote: *Local wool is shorn from churro sheep which were brought to Mexico by the Spaniards with the conquest in 1521. The sheep are raised in the high mountains above Ocotlan in San Baltazar Chichicapam. The mountain range separates the Tlacolula and Ocotlan valleys. The altitude there produces a soft, dense fleece. There are still some, like Yolande Perez Vasquez, who use hand carders and the drop spindle to produce the best yarn, but this is a costly, labor-intensive process that yields a premium yarn that is very dye absorbent. Few weavers are able to pay the price.

Lanera de Ocotlan Wool-33  Ocotlan Wool 53-44