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Teotitlán del Valle

August 13, 2017

 

 

 

 

Teotitlán del Valle is the wool mecca of Oaxaca. A relatively small village, about an hour away by bus, Teotilán is internationally known for its Zapotec weaving tradition.

I decided to stay in Teotitlán for a week. I was expecting to encounter a rich fiber tradition. But I was not quite prepared for the vitality and ubiquity of weaving. Everyone weaves, everyone has (several) looms and there are wool skeins drying on the terraces in the middle of the day. Things are not what they used to be, of course. The pictures below, from the local museum, show wool processing in Teotitlán. That no longer happens. Handspun yarn comes from other regions of Oaxaca. Machine spun comes in trucks from Puebla. All 100% wool though, with a characteristic churra single ply texture. There are problems with wholesale prices, tourist tours and toxic dyes. Young people leave the village and there is drought. But there is always a loom working. Weaving is still very much a socially valued skill.

 

 

 

 

Oaxaca: Ethnobotanical Garden and El Tlapanochestli Cochineal Farm

August 4, 2017

When I boarded my tiny plane to Oaxaca in Mexico City I realized I had very little idea of how this trip was gonna go. I had read about Oaxacan textiles, heard much about the city from friends – but I had never even been to Mexico. What did I know, really?  My Spanish was mostly Portuguese with an accent and I had one week in the city with no settled plans. I didn’t really have any clear expectations about what would happen.

Maybe this is what made it such a rich and surprising trip. I learned a lot – and not just about textiles. I enjoyed suprising (to me) food, like chapulines and the meandering conversations with old ladies on the bus. On my first day I decided to join a guided tour of the excellent Ethnobotanical Garden in the city center (see giant cacti above). The tour was a great introduction to where things in the market come from, to what you can make from what and to the current state of many local artisanal traditions.

The next day I decided to venture out to the nearby town of Santa Maria Coyotepec and visit El Tlapanochestli, a Cochineal farm and research center. The place was quite deserted which meant I got a full guided tour and got to ask tons of questions. Oaxaca is the birthplace of carmine colourings. Much of the city was built on the wealth generated by the colonial exploitation of cochineal, which was domesticated and perfected there long before. I learned about the process of growing nopales – the cacti cohineal feed on – and of reproducing cochineal bugs. It’s very labor intensive and caring for these tiny bugs is pretty much like caring for chickens or other domesticate animals. The result is the best palette of reds, pinks and purples ever: a real feast for the eyes.

 

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Hönsestrik III (1975)

July 4, 2017

all pics in Hönsestrik by Kirsten Hofstater, published in Sweden, 1975

Hönsestrik II (1975)

July 4, 2017

 

Mais um livro que eu queria ver há já uns anos. Finalmente encontrei-o na rede internacional de bibliotecas, algures na Dinamarca. Sempre me perguntei sobre o que é que se passou na Suécia dos anos 70 (e noutros países escandinavos) para dar origem a este estilo. Gostava de ler qualquer coisa de sociológico sobre esta fixação com padrões pequenos, detalhados, que muitas vezes ilustram animais, letras e nomes. Tudo em cores berrantes, com (muitas vezes) pouca ou nenhuma atenção ao corte das peças. Uma espécie de ’folk’ barroco.
O livro em si tem muito mais texto do que instruções ou diagramas. Com o meu fraquíssimo sueco, só consegui perceber que são receitas muito gerais de como fazer camisolas, luvas ou calças. Há também recomendações sobre fio, e todas as noções gerais do tricot. No final há grelhas com os desenhos tricotados nas imagens do livro – para quem quiser usar os mesmos padrões. Mas fica quase tudo à consideração do leitor – a única regra do Hönsestrik parece ser que ganha quem conseguir a combinação mais improvável.
Alguns exemplos comtemporâneos do mesmo estilo aqui aqui e aqui.

 

 

This is yet another book I have wanted years. Finally found a copy through my interlibrary system, somewhere in Denmark. I’ve always wondered what exactly happened in Sweden (and elsewhere in Scandinavia) in the 70’s to make this phenomenon happen. I would like to read a sociologist’s take on this fixation with small detailed, pictorial patterns. Everything in bright colors, with little attention paid to shape. A tour de force of multi-colored knitting.

The book itself has mostly text describing (as far as I could make out) very general recipes for sweaters, mittens and pants. There are also recommendations about yarn and  instructions for knitting basics. At the end, there are grids of patterns featured in the photographed pieces – if you’d like to try to use them in your own knitting. But mostly, the book gives free rein to the reader – the only rule of Hönsestrik seems to be that whoever comes up with the most improbable combination wins. Foxes-hearts-feminist symbols?

For some modern-day Hönsestrik see here here and here.

 

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 all pics in Hönsestrik by Kirsten Hofstater, published in Sweden, 1975

Hönsestrik by Kirsten Hofstater, 1975

June 23, 2017

in Hönsestrik by Kirsten Hofstater, published in Sweden, 1975

The Hand-Knitting Association of Iceland

May 14, 2017

 

 

 

My Mecca. I ended up there twice while in Reykjavik. It’s the one shop where I really didn’t mind waiting to be helped – I was too busy studying patterns, colour combinations, finishing techniques. Ended up buying yarn and patterns for two lopapeysas and a whole kilo of Icelandic roving (basically as much as I could fit in my bag). Best souvenirs ever.

Era um sítio que eu sempre quis visitar. Acabei por ir lá duas vezes enquanto estive em Reykjavik. E nem me importei da demora no atendimento – estava demasiado entretida a ‘estudar’ padrões, cores e técnicas. Trouxe fio e modelo para duas lopapeysas e um quilo de lã islandesa para fiar (só, porque já não cabia mais na mala). ‘Souvenirs’ dos bons 🙂


Shop Update: Portuguese Clogs

May 1, 2017

I bought these many years ago, in a small market stall in Vila Nova de Cerveira. The lady who sold them was the wife of the shoemaker. He specialized in traditional clogs – these were a more contemporary version, with bursts of colour instead of the usual black.

They were at my parents’ house in Portugal for years, then they traveled with me to Michigan. Long story short, they are barely used, as new, and now for sale on the Etsy shop. I still think they are oh so cool.

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