Friday, August 22, 2008

Yarn Spinning 101

Happy Friday Everyone! I can barely believe that its the end of the week AND that, as we speak, Carol and Donna are in the sky, flying home from Nepal. They sound like they have some pretty amazing stories to tell. This is a little excerpt from an email from the ladies about their visit to the factory that produces the yarn for our carpets. Sounds like Carol and Donna had a little lesson in spinning yarn (and when we get those picture, I'll be sure to post them!) :)

On Tuesday we were able to visit a factory where the hand carding and hand-spinning of the beautiful Tibetan yarn takes place. After watching the skilled women who turn a pile of fluff into weaving yarn we tried our hand at it. Now, having seen it, first hand, we appreciate much more, the skill of the spinners. By hand they feed the yarn onto a simple spinning wheel. It is their shear skill and manipulation of the yarn that determines the fineness of the wool, super fine (like sewing thread) for 200 knot construction, a little thicker for 100 knot, thicker still for 60 knot. Incredible! We had quite a few laughs as Donna and I produced lumpy, broken, completely unusable yarn.

The group went on to explain all the ways the yarn can be spun. Most commercially and quickly is by using the spinning wheel. But we were also shown very simple ways that work too, like using a pencil, then using a spinning top that the shepherds use in the fields while tending their sheep. One of the women then showed us her Tibetan traditional robe that was woven from very fine hand spun yarn. Part of theTibetan costume is an apron of multi coloured stripes woven on narrow looms (6" wide) and sewn together. She showed us her tradtional piece, still well in use.

When the yarn comes in to be spun, it arrives from the hill stations in packages. It gets sorted into piles of white best yarn (from the underbelly of the sheep), to brown yarn (from the back) and to yarn that cannot be used (from behind the head). The best yarn is silky and smooth, and can be dyed to any colour. The brown yarn is good for flecky rugs and is also smooth but cannot be used for clean colours.

The wool from the back of the neck is like the white hairs on our heads - it's dead and has no lanolin or softness at all. The yarn is then washed and dried in the open air. Generally on the roof of the houses, which looks like a blanket of snow, even with icicles of wool dripping off the edge roof.

This is just one aspect of the many skilled portions of what goes into the hand made rugs we order. Every time I come to the Nepal I find I learn more and further appreciate the craftsmanship and detail that goes into our rugs.

See you Monday!
Carol and Donna

Check back soon for more stories and photos from the trip!
Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Postcards from Nepal...

The following is an email from Carol - straight from South Asia. We've all been sitting on the edge of our seats, waiting to see photos of Hariti on the loom. When Carol and Donna arrived in Nepal they had a huge surprise waiting. Read on:

Nepal never ceases to amaze.

Donna and I went to the carpet mills today. Theoretically rainy season but the rain seems to conveniently fall at night and the days are glorious with some sun and then huge clouds rolling over the Himalayas to blanket Kathmandu valley. Driving in Kathmandu is exciting. Quite frequently a cow will interrupt traffic and it is a terrible crime to hit a cow as they are holy. If they decide to stop and lie down in the middle of the highway, so be it. It's hard to describe the loose relaxed driving style in Kathmandu. There are traffic police at particularly busy intersections, which helps a lot, but otherwise one just moves through the traffic flow and magically it seems to work. Donna and I dart across the street, we clearly have not
mastered the relaxed manner.

We saw Hariti today for the first time. It's fantastic - the colours in the silk and wool
just dance off the floor. The weavers at the factory, who made the rug, were intrigued with the concept that a photo from here (Nepal) was turned into a design and then a 6' x 9' rug. The translation from photo to artwork and now to finished rug is really exciting. The gleam from the broach that the child was wearing in the photo really sparkles in the finished piece. It was expected that Hariti would be in mid-production, upon our arrival. We could have been dreaming it but, were the weavers were so intrigued about production of this exciting rug that they finished it in half the time?

That's all for now,

gotta go and meet Dawa,



Stay tuned for more from Nepal. We're all so curious about Hariti...maybe they can squeeze her
into their carry-on?

Until next time,