Friday, March 30, 2007

In May: the face of things to come

The Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival takes place (as if everyone didn't know already!) on the first full weekend of May.

Fiber addicts attempting to load 500 lbs of fiber into a van. Photo from the fiber shop in Japan called Spinhouse. Its magazine is called Spinnuts.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Charkhas for Ethiopia

I returned from a Youth and AIDS meeting in Johannesburg last week and found this email from one of the Ethiopian participants I met there. His name is Nibretie, a program officer from a UN agency in Addis Ababa. He wrote:

Dear Therese,

Thank you for all your logistical support for the Regional Consultation in South Africa.

Please advise how we should start the project you told me last time to support women in spinning and weaving. Maybe you could send me the type of materials that could be made available so that I can discuss the issue with my colleagues and partners?

As you know, there are a number of destitute women who need to be supported to improve their livelihood. There are also sex workers and women living with HIV/AIDS who badly need such support.

Thank you and kind regards,


Today, as I was sipping coffee at the office cafeteria after lunch, who should I see but Nibretie, in Washington for a training course. He was surpised to see me as well as he didn't think I was based in Washington.

Now I have to quickly put together something for Nibretie to take back to Addis. Fortunately, I still have one book charkha at home. I've just ordered a DVD copy of "Basic Techniques and Charkha Proficiency" by Eileen Hallman to serve as a manual and I hope it arrives before he leaves end of next week.

Today I also placed an order for a Babe charkha and Pinkie from Nels Wiberg of Babe's Fiber Garden. The Babe will go to Ethiopia, while the Pinkie will go to Mali. I have a standing request from Korotimi of the Sinigessigui guild in Ségou, Mali, for a Pinkie.

Previously, I gave Sinigessigui four sets of handcarders and four book charkhas. At that time, I didn't know the Malians knew how to use spinning wheels so I brought only one Pinkie which went to the Nieleni guild in the same city. Korotimi has since, checked out the Pinkie at their sister guild and I got an email saying, yes, they are interested in receiving one.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Midian's Troll Umbrella

The gigantic parasol that I saw at the Filature Houard showroom reminded me of the work of my Swiss friend, Midian.

Midian is a fellow spinner. She is also a fabulous lace knitter who specializes in shawls, but her parasol creation is nothing less than breath-taking.

Midian calls it the troll umbrella, after the Scandinavian folklore of supernatural beings thought of as giants (or sometimes, dwarfs). It is an umbrella with 10 panels fitted over the frame of an antique one that she restored.

See Midian's home -- which is wired with cameras -- here. The interior evokes the same romantic character as knitted lace.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Filature Houard

This is the famous French yarn manufacturer I discovered through Laine Zinzin. It's located about an hour or so from Montpellier and Toulouse, or somewhere between Provence (South) and the Pyrénées (Southwest). If you are in the area and driving around, don't fail to visit the factory showroom because I've heard the company is in financial trouble, which is distressing. In fact, I can no longer access either of its two websites.

The store window from inside.

Scenes from the store.

An umbrella made of yarn.

Mill ends on the mezzanine floor.

The cashier asked if I was a weaver and I answered "no" and that puzzled her. So I explained that I'm a spinner. She still looked puzzled. I further explained that I use their yarn to ply with mine and mentioned to her that spinning in the US is "tres tendance" -- very trendy. She did mention that there was a lady who would come to the shop from time to time and buy lots of cones to send to friends in the US. As some of us know, that lady is none other than Laine Zinzin herself.

My modest loot from the store and the upstairs outlet. There was so much stuff in the outlet section that it took me no less than two hours to find just a few cones that I liked. You really have to dive into the corral of mill ends.