A Dance Across The World
When I lived in Bogotá, Colombia, I was closely acquainted with a great artist, Marlene Hoffman. She had a gallery where I showed my art and her employee served a fragrant Orange tea, hand-brewed in a crystal clear teapot. You could see the leaves and buds floating unopened in the water and that vision would make me dream of my childhood where flowers erupted everywhere.
More importantly, Marlene was a highly talented fiber artist and one day in her studio, I saw for the first time baskets and baskets of handspun wool and horse hair, multicolored yarn of alpaca, cashmere, and many more wools from all over the world that she used to weave into her fantastic tapestries. I fell in love. I crawled all over her baskets…internally I raved! Wool and fiber were in my life to stay.
I never realized that countless hands made yarn happen. Hands from a Turkish man may have sheared the sheep, while other hands off the Falkland islands or the highlands in Peru knitted it; the fine yarn from India or Pakistan or China all were nurtured carefully for our delight. Twice a year the sheep were sheared. More did so in Europe. Angora rabbits shed their wool for the shade of red that I crave. Yarn is often a hand to hand connection as if it was spun across the world in an unbroken thread, felted at one point then passed from one person to another and honored along the way.
For a long time, machines have taken over some of the job and give us skeins of acrylic or blends that are very easy to fall in love with.
But these blends do not have the presence of the noble yarn still patiently gathered, spun, died, woven and knitted by many hands. Many animals were led under the sun and stars and herded by knowing dogs or cared for by loving owners to give us yarn.
All over, people work with the soft stuff and it is worn and reworked at times by many generations. Young people, old people and people of all ages in between love it and use it. Unless you are in the field you do not plunge your hands into the yarn; yet you admire it made into garments that attract and seduce you and your skin. Like a friend used to tell me “Some days I have to spin!” I remember many Peruvian highlanders who pierced their precious alpaca’s ears and like long earrings, the wool dangled from them. Quite a sight!
If I extend my body from the Colorado mountains, catch the yarn dangling in the wind, unseen to you, it will dance over the peaks and weave softly many times around the world.
Copyright Micheline Brierre 2010