I first met Skye about six months ago in Antigua. She and her boyfriend Joel are actually the talent behind both of the Kakaw Designs videos. Check them out on our Vimeo page if you haven’t yet!
When Skye told me that she was signing up for a class to weave a scarf herself, I applauded her dedication and asked her to write about her experience. Thank you so much for sharing it with us, Skye!
Travelling through Guatemala, it is impossible to miss the gorgeous Mayan textiles; from the countless craft stores in tourist hotspots to the clothing of the woman selling you your strawberries in the market. I’ve always marveled at the textiles and while I understand the basics of weaving I could never get my head around the patterns and the designs and the particulars of how it all comes together. So while in Lake Atitlán last month I decided to take a small weaving course.
The deal was that I had ten hours of class and would finish with a scarf. It seemed like a big task but I was ready and willing to take on the challenge. I met with my teacher Gudelia in a park in San Pedro and she took me to her house where we picked colors for the scarf and she showed me the linear design we would be weaving. Then, it was time to organize the thread which we did by winding it around a wooden structure and counting the number of lines we were making in each color to ensure the pattern would be as planned. This took a lot of focus, and was slow to start with but with practice got faster. After this, we washed the thread in a solution of water and maize flour to make the thread strong so it would not break during the weaving process.
Getting the thread onto the backstrap loom was a complicated process that Gudelia carefully guided me through, and before I knew it, it was time to weave. When you see the women weaving they seem to throw a thread covered stick back and forth between a sheet of thread laid out before them almost without thought. For me, it was a very slow process involving huge amounts of concentration.
Once I got my head around the steps, and was catching my own mistakes before the were pointed out to me, I found the repetition quite calming. I was able to retreat into my own thoughts and let my hands do the work. However, I also noticed that when I’d snap out of my trance-like state I was usually sweating and a little out of breath. All the extended arm movement was giving me a workout!
I left the course not only with a lovely new scarf but also with a new appreciation for the time and effort it takes to make even the simplest textiles.