mexico, natural dyeing, rug making, travel, Zapotec

Mordant and Design : day 2

Well, my plan for posting while away didn’t pan out. I was consumed with weaving, dyeing, & exploring so much- which is how it should be. But I’m back home now settled in with my loves. Unpacked & stories told.

My idea of sharing about my trip here isn’t a tutorial or even a blow by blow. Just a meandering of sharing travel experiences & thoughts of what I experienced.

Everyday was filled with completely new experiences. Even when we stayed close to home and were emerged in learning.

This first learning experience blew me away. I’ve been exploring natural dyes for 11 years. Reading everything I could get my hands on and experimenting. But this day, I learned about methods I’d never read in books, tried, or even thought of. I was delighted and my head exploded. And what made it all the more mind blowing was these were techniques that are a bit contradictory to everything I’ve read. I trusted it 100% though because I was being taught by a person who’d been dyeing professionally, in mass quantities, for his business for over 20 years, so being skeptical just wasn’t a thing I needed to be and it felt good to leave that behind. It also felt real good to be a true student in something I’ve been teaching myself & others for what felt like to me a long time. Something I’ve come to just love and appreciate especially about natural dyes, is everyone does something different.

We began with skeining samples from the largest of skeins is ever seen, all from Mexican Churro wool. (I will never again feel guilty about having my dye students do this with me in class). Prepared a mordant and got the yarns to cooking away.

We then shifted into designing our 2×3′ rugs. Demetrio has taken us to Mitla the day before to see Zapotec ruins & for inspiration for our rugs. Though we could do whatever we wanted. I was moved by the designs the tour we had & was pretty stuck on a particular pattern I saw at the ruins. With the help of others plus Demetrio helping me unscramble a design into a readable and manageable pattern that didn’t involve 2,000 bobbins of yarn, by the very end of the day and after several drafts, a design was laid out. I managed to squeeze a few rows in before I collapsed in my quiet, solo room, happy to listen to the gecko, crickets, dogs, make their night music.

I’m not really a weaver. I’m a dyer, spinner, knitter, and sewer. But not a weaver. I know how to weave & I am plan and dress a loom, fix warp strings, and so on. And I do own two looms, but I’m not a weaver. But for the next 10 days, I lived & breathed weaving.

Demetrio’s demo area
All natural dyed yarns by Demetrio and his son Victor
The mordant pot
Winding off wee orange skeins for myself
Bobbin wheel. It was an… adventure to use.
Close up of a Zapotec design which inspired my rug
The beginnings of my rug.