And it was like this

When I travel, I always have my eye out for other knitters. I bet you do too. (Cat Bordhi once confessed to me that the advent of tiny headphones has been hard for her. Watching people pull them from their bags, for one wonderful second she always thinks “Yarn!” and is then a little crushed when it’s just headphones again. It happens to me too. Over and over.)

I was looking for knitting in Mexico, but I didn’t find it. (I did find one knitter – although technically she found me. As Joe and I were walking down the street, a very nice knitter approached us, and introduced herself, and she was a cyclist, and a knitter, and she was also American, not Mexican, there on a visit herself. Being me, I was confident I would remember her name – and being me I’ve forgotten it, but not her.  Hi there! Lovely to meet you!)  As we travelled around, there was lots of evidence of the textile arts, but no evidence of knitting – this makes sense, there’s no traditional knitting of Mexico – it’s not like they had Aran sweaters like Ireland, or mittens like Latvia.  Knitting came to Mexico by way of immigrants coming from other parts of the world, much like the rest of North America. (Surprise, there’s no knitting tradition in Canada or the United States either, not until immigrants brought it from Europe. The indigenous people here didn’t know how.  I know someone just flipped out and is about to leave me a comment about the Cowichan people and their sweaters. I know, I know, but the Coast Salish peoples didn’t knit until about 1850 – when a Scottish settler taught them.)

Mexico then, doesn’t have a knitting tradition – the Spanish knew how to knit by the time they colonized the place, but knitting was an art that wasn’t known by a lot of regular people and it looks like they brought farming techniques, floor looms, sugar cane, horses, sheep and small pox, rather than knitting.  Instead, what knitting exists there now was probably brought by missionaries later on.  That said, the indigenous people of what’s now Mexico were making textiles for a long time before they were colonized. Spinning, weaving and beading were well known to the Mayans, using cotton, backstrap looms and drop spindles were commonplace, and figure largely in their art and artifacts.

Those are primarily the traditions that have carried on. I saw absolutely buckets of weaving in Ajijic, Guadalajara and Mexico City. It was everywhere. There was handwoven textiles in just about every shop, and every restaurant boasted some handwoven napkins, or a tablecloth.

beaded 2016-03-23

Beaded bookmarks, necklaces… you name it. If you can bead it, it was beaded. At this booth, a guy sat in the back, beading a neckpiece so fast that I worried he’d bead me if I stood still too long. (No picture. He didn’t want me to take one.)

museumwheel16th 2016-03-23

At the Museum of Archeology, there was a recreation of a 16th Century room from Tlaxcala – and there were a lot of items in there we’d find pretty familiar.  Hand cards, a wheel not too different from one of my own, a skein winder, and a pretty modern looking floor loom and bobbins.

loom16thcentury 2016-03-23

There was a frame loom,

frameloom 2016-03-23

and a back strap loom – the use of both of which almost certainly pre-date the floor loom.

museumloom 2016-03-23

There was beautiful embroidery everywhere, and tiny hand made needles from (crap. I forgot to write it down – they’re pretty stinking old. Maybe one of you knows?)

prehispanicneedles 2016-03-23

One lady even showed us the first needle and thread –

agaveneedle 2016-03-23

The tip of an agave leaf, with the fibres that run down the plant still attached. Voila. It was really, really sharp, and you could see how well it would have worked.

floorloommodern 2016-03-23

I even saw a weaver, working away at her loom – outside a shop full of the things she’d made. (I tried to tell her I was a weaver too, but I didn’t know the words and it didn’t go very well.)

In Guadalajara I turned a corner and suddenly found myself in front of three yarn shops, all in a row – Well, they were shops that had yarn, but they were really different from what I’d call a yarn shop here. For starters, in not a one of them could you touch the yarn.

yarnshop 2016-03-23

It was in cases that opened to the back, so only the staff could touch them, or it was up on shelves behind a counter – running back into the shop.  Near as I could tell, the customers did a lot of pointing and shouting, and the people who worked there went back and forth with sticks, ladders and other implements, fetching the yarn that the patron fancied, and running it to the front, where it was examined, and then rejected or accepted.

There was little or no supply of knitting patterns that I could see, and the notions section (including needles) was very, very meagre, and also behind the counter. Now, what was really interesting, was that it seemed to me that all of this was for crochet. All the samples were crochet, there was lots of crochet hooks, and the few magazines of patterns I could see at all, they were crochet too.

This all sort of fit, I think – because the only person I saw using that yarn the whole time I was in Mexico?

crochet1 2016-03-23

They were a crocheter.  This is Stephanie, your roving correspondent, signing off.

(PS. We’ve had some last minute cancellations for the April Strung Along Retreat, so we’ve got two spots available. We’ll let you know now that June is looking full, and November is full, so if you wanted to launch off for a spectacular treat, this April might be your chance. We’d love to have you. Email Debbi or I at strungalong@yarnharlot.ca, and we’ll set you right up.)

(PPS. We’re still accepting goodies for our goodie bags – if you’d like to put something in them, that same address works. We tweet, instagram and Facebook all our goodie bag stuff, it’s not a terrible way to show off what you do.)

 

 

 

85 thoughts on “And it was like this

  1. It’s making me want to visit as well…I want one of those beaded moon things, oh, and to open a yarn shop there and popularize knitting. I think they would like it.

  2. I had to touch the sunglasses. So appropriate for your post. Loved all the photos of the beautiful weaving and looms (I am getting a loom!!) you saw while away. A taste of warmth and sunshine, while the snow continues to fall here in southern Ontario. Safe travels. Hope the travel is not messed up by the storm.

  3. I thought I was the only crazy person who kept thinking other people on the bus were getting out their knitting but then it’s always headphones they’re unwinding, not yarn. (Sometimes there *are* other knitters on the bus, but for some reason whenever there are, they’ve always gotten on the bus before I did and are already knitting away. I never do see anyone on the bus actually take their yarn out of their bag.)

  4. I was taught to knit by a German teacher, then by my mom and grandmother, also German; crochet was taught by a Mexican teacher. I was teaching knitting at a yarn store, but had few students. Most of them wanted to learn how to crochet. I think people around here still believe knitting is difficult.
    If you ever go back to Guadalajara or Mexico City, you can check out a store named (surprise!) “Crochet”. They have changed the concept of yarn stores in Mexico, allowing you to touch the yarn before buying, but feature no Mexican yarns, so I guess for the visitor the selection of imported yarns may be boring. Still, it’s one of the nicer yarn shops you can find.

  5. I love Mexican embroidery, just fab. I also love the ‘pooning’ (technical term for shoving a rock or something under the leg of a table to make it stable, usually while camping i.e. ‘Someone poon that table before the wine falls off!’) someone did on the weaver’s loom – a fine example of the art.

  6. Now you know what you can knit the next time you run out of yarn — earbud cords!!! (Can’t stand the things myself, especially when someone wearing them walks out in front of my car without looking.)

    Love your travelogue. Hope you brought back some examples of the colorful needlework done in Mexico (or some of the pottery, or stone-work)! Also hope your travels aren’t affected by that snowstorm heading north of here (we’re supposed to get thunderstorms from that front).

  7. That was so, so interesting. Now I wonder about what sort of yarn was in the shops: mostly cotton? wool? Also, what about Peru? Are yarn stores there similar in terms of the setup? (One does need to know these things before planning a vacation! Not that I am going on vacation anytime soon!)

    • Knitters traveling to Peru: you can find yarn shops, but you have to hunt for them a bit, and they’ll often sell cones which is a lot of yarn at once. I’ve bought alpaca yarn in Cusco, in a store catering to tourists, that was super lovely but that store is not there anymore the last time I went (a few months ago). In both Peru and Bolivia, what you find most easily is brightly colored acrylic because it’s cheap and rural women use it a lot. For good quality wool (alpaca or sheep) you really have to keep your eyes out, and it is mostly for tourists.

  8. Blackstrap loom weaving is an ancient art in Guatemala, and I heartily suggest you read Martin Prechtel’s book “The Disobedience of the Daughter of the Sun”. In it the myth of Tall Girl, the original weaver of life, is told, along with the stories of the moon, her mother, and those of the parents of her lover, Shortboy (Hurricane and Ocean!) This book will make you weep with joy every time you see any kind of fresh water (Hello Rain! Snow! Rivers!) and you will have a new appreciation for plumbing, rain, weaving, whales, and hummingbirds. Your life will never be the same! I will happily send you a copy, if only I knew where to send it?

  9. I went to Tlaxcala! They were rather disappointed when I wanted to buy the yarn, and not the weavings…I ended up buying some of both. The yarn is rug yarn, and very tough…not something you really want to wear at all. Except maybe over socks.

    And I think we’re spoiled in the US and Canada. I went into 4 yarn stores in Shanghai, where people were in fact knitting. They had a fit when I opened up the boxes of yarn to touch them. They only seemed to have one weight of yarn, and one size of needle. There were knitters wearing other weights, obviously knit with other sizes, but where they got them…mystery to me.

  10. Wow – a country without what we think of as yarn shops! I fondly remember trips to my ancestral home, England, and the plethora of them there. do love the Mexican embroidery though and the pottery – brought both back from a long ago trip.

  11. I know missionaries are generally helpful and religious sorts, but the very idea of being a Knitting Missionary gave me such a nice shiver… That would be a great LIfe’s Work!

    • Given the complex history of the Cowichan sweater, you’re making all the Canadians reading this very very nervous. I’d definitely use a different term there. (History: teaching the Coast Salish people to knit was done in the Canadian Residential Schools, as part of giving them an “appropriate” livelihood so that they wouldn’t be a burden on the state.)

      • Check out “Working with Wool: A Coast Salish Legacy and the Cowichan Sweater” by Sylvia Olsen. Fabulously informative regarding blankets and sweaters, and the feminine economy.

  12. Yarn shops in Italy (at least in Florence) were similar. All the yarn was behind the counter or in the back, except for one bookshelf type display with one of everything. You’d pick a yarn, they’d bring out the binder of colors for that yarn, and then they’d go find the yarn in the back.

    I shipped off a box of goodie bag goodies this morning! It should be at the Resort on Friday.

  13. I touch the yarn at my local store here in Germany. They do not like it but they’ve grown to tolerate me. They only keep one skein/ball out and you have to request additional ones. But here the yarn is everywhere. Even in the Macy’s type store which also has a grocery store and craft department. They will let you touch it since it’s not the really good stuff.
    The really good stuff is non-molestable. Except sock yarn. The sock yarn is out in the open.

  14. My experience from my travels has been that knitting is prominent in colder climates, and crochet is way more common in warmer climates. Crochet seems to have been spread by the Portuguese (to Africa) and the Spanish (to the Phillippines and maybe also Mexico). In Portugal, but not in Spain, there is also a strong tradition of knit aran sweaters and cardigans, which mystified me somewhat, until I remembered that Portugal boasts a strong Atlantic fishing fleet, who are likely to occasionally put into ports in the British and Irish isles.

  15. Just got back from Grand Cayman: found no yarn shops or knitters, but also found some crochet booths in the open air markets.

  16. My husband has traveled to Bolivia and has brought back yarn for me. He too said that all the yarn is behind the counters and you have the opportunity to buy right off of huge spools what you like. Everything there is more of a lace weight so you must work several strands together. But it is gorgeous stuff! The softest Alpaca I have ever felt. You have to know your stuff when shopping there as to weight, yardage and what it is purposed for as there is no going back for more if you run out!!!

  17. There’s a really good documentary from the National Film Board about the Coast Salish knitters and the Cowichan sweater called “The Story of the Coast Salish Knitters”. It was on Youtube, but I just searched for it and it looks like it may of been taken down.

    • There’s also a really good book “Working with wool : a Coast Salish legacy and the Cowichan sweater ” by Sylvia Olsen. I found it at my local library, so it’s worth a look for any Canadians.

  18. The words you were looking for were, Soy una tejedora, (I am a weaver). But you have probably already looked that up 🙂 That post was so interesting and educational, thanks!

  19. Oh my, the headphone issue!!!
    A few years back I had a long commut by train back and forth to work. One of those very early mornings, I entered the train carriage, saw all that lovely white string being pulled out by the side of all the seats and thought “YESSSS! So many knitters!! It has finally caught on BIG TIME!”
    Next thought: “How strange, though, that they should all be knittinng white stuff…?”
    – And then the disappointment…
    Oh well. Cheers, anyway 🙂

  20. I was at a Poor Artist sale here last summer and met a very nice Mexican woman who was crocheting a lace table cloth… I asked if she knit and she looked kind of puzzled. I pulled out my purse sock and showed her and eventually I sat down and showed her how to knit– she did 3 rows on my sock. I brought her back some needles * and yarn the next day and showed her how to cast on… I hope she’s still going 🙂 (I also bought 2 lace table clothes and 1/2 dozen other small pieces).

    *2 of my friend’s mothers died in the past few years. They sent me all the stuff from the mom’s stashes that wasn’t wanted elsewhere. I’ve put them in the “teaching bag” and pass them out to people I show how to knit or people who can’t afford yarn or needles. I have a bin of needles of all kinds, straight and circular, aluminum and wood, and a couple of bags of yarn that’s good but not to my taste. It travels with me to farmers markets all summer. I think I’ve taught maybe 100 people to knit in the past 2 years… and still have lots of supplies.

    Spread the love 🙂

  21. Just got back from Cuba, lots of crocheting no knitting. I bought a beautiful crocheted bag and was telling the owner I knit, she thought 2 needles was difficult. Also saw embroidery and even a few summer quilts.

  22. When I think of Mexico and textile arts…I don’t think of knitting. Crochet, definitely. I learned to crochet in San Simon, Michoacan from my aunts before I could write in cursive. They crocheted everything: Barbie dresses, real girl dresses, doilies…you name it. Weaving for sure. My first reboso was from my uncle’s “factory” (five stand up looms in the living room, no waiting (and no couches…). And the he embroidery (mostly cross stitch) specifically from Michoacan though. It is some fun stuff. (The dream of 80s neon is alive in Michoacan)…BRIGHT flowers on ALL THE THINGS. Knitting was “this thing” my cousins picked up in the 80s from a recently relocated American teacher. And we could play swords with our brothers once we were done…(we couldn’t have been more than 7 or 8…) So I’ve always associated knitting with Americans…

  23. Ah crochet. I am Mexican, and all of my aunts and my grandmothers and my great grandmothers (before they passed) all knew how to crochet. I learned how to do it when I was around 8. My grandmother makes these spectacular lace tablecloths.

    It took moving to New York where they have these seasons called Fall and Winter before I decided to learn how to knit.

  24. There are a great many Mexicans in the USA and all the ones that see me knitting, pull out their crochet hooks! It is amazing!

    bjr

  25. The staff at the Spanish Insitute of Puebla (Mexico) was intrigued by my knitting of socks on my first visit, in 2010. Heidi, a guide, knitted, and Rosalia, the secretary/receptionist, was a crocheter intrigued by knitting. So when I went for a second month in 2012, I took extra needles and sock yarn, and my attempt at translating a basic sock pattern. I fondly remember sitting in the school hallway with Heidi, Rosalia and a male guide (who also was a crafter) who translated what we lacked in terminology, trying to teach the basics of knitting on DPs. I’ve often wondered if any of the yarn “grew up” to be socks.
    The male guide also took me to a couple of yarn shops similar to what you describe. Other than fine cotton crochet yarn, all they had was acrylic yarn.
    Yarn is far from the only thing sold from closed cabinets. I enjoyed going to “papelerias” (paper stores) to buy paper decor items for Dia de los Muertos, Navidad and Dia de Independencia, and colorful pictures of groups of plants, animals, etc., used as educational items for children. Everything was behind the counter.
    So was underwear at the lingerie store. I needed some low-cut panties to go with the low-cut jeans I’d bought when I lost too much weight to look OK in my U.S. Jeans. Luckily, I had a female guide that day! She described to the clerk what I wanted and what size jeans I wore, and I wound up with the perfect undies.
    (There are big self-service stores, of course, but I tried to have as “local” and immersive experience as possible, especially when I had something specific in mind.)

  26. Okay, but the Coast Salish people were still WOOLWORKERS long before Europeans arrived. They bred and harvested fiber from wool-bearing dogs, they wove blankets for practical use as well as for decorative and trade purposes – I’m sure you know this! I dunno, leaving a “Yeah yeah Cowichans but not until Europeans” feels disappointingly dismissive of a wool and fiber culture that we KNOW existed (because of Sylvia Olsen’s excellent historical work.)

    • Yes! Working with Wool by Sylvia Olsen is a must read! Heartbreaking. Amazing resilience. Extinct wool bearing dogs!!!!. No one really knows where the dogs came from. Plus mountain goat wool. The yarn treated with diatomaceous earth to keep them pest free. Woven blankets were signs of wealth, status and had a spiritual significance. I can understand that.

      An incredible history of working with wool.

      Jake

  27. Stephanie,
    I’m writing to you from North Carolina. So many of us are utterly despondent and furious over the legislation that was railroaded through just yesterday. We are not ALL hate-mongering idiots, and boycotts to this beautiful state will hurt us all…I just had to let you know. There are many, many of us out here fighting for the rights of all our brothers and sisters, but especially the LGBTQ people, and we KNIT & VOTE.
    Thanks, Beth

    • Thanks for this, Beth! I do hate when the reaction to legislative or other things we disagree with is to boycott the State it came out of because rarely if ever do ALL the people agree with those things.
      (I’m asked to touch the magnifying glass – good reminder to look at the bigger picture, right?!)
      Love it that you shared your thoughts.
      Peace!

  28. Thankyou for your last couple of posts, induced a major bout of nostalgia. Way back in 1983 I was backpacking and spent a couple of months in Mexico. Like you had the experience of delayed travel – the ferry between Cabo and Puerto Vallarta just didn’t arrive for a few days – and I also realised it was way beyond my control and so learnt a valuable lesson in letting go and relaxing into an unexpected situation.
    On reflection can’t recall any knitting, but I loved the colourful beading,weaving, pottery and other crafts and posted home small mementos that are dotted around my house. I remember being in a small shop devoted to scarfs and shawls and taking ages choosing two, and I still wear them. And just a couple of months ago I repurposed two embroided tunics into cushion covers and have one behind me on the couch where I sit and knit each night – after I claim it back from my partner as it is ‘my cushion’!
    Then a few months later in Sept I was in Whitehorse and needed some warmer clothing, so I purchased pattern, yarn, straights (and even remembered a darning needle) and knitted a Cowichan style sweater as I travelled by bus across the prairies. Finished by the time I reached Ottawa and lived in that sweater for the next few chilly months. Been thinking for the last couple of winters that should steek and repurpose into a cardigan as now a ‘little’ tight. Luckily I still also have a skinny scarf I made with the leftover yarn so will be able to use that to tidy the steek and widen the arms.

  29. About how knitting works in different countries: I live in South Korea (and have for almost five years). Knitting and crocheting are both not super common, but visible. The assumption when most people see me knitting is that I am a mother or soon-to-be mother, as the only people who knit are mothers or grandmothers. It is really interesting sometimes to see how a craft is seen so differently in different places, and becomes a reflection of the culture at large.

  30. Fascinating. I hadn’t given it much thought as to how knitting came to different parts of the world.
    As for a yarn store that you can’t touch the yarn? So wrong in so many ways.

  31. Cowichan people? Sweaters? It sounds like I have some reading to do. I didn’t know there was anything even close to indigenous knitting on this continent.

  32. Thanks for the wonderful lesson in history and culture, reporter Stephanie. If history had been like this in school I would have liked it much better. I think that about a lot of subjects, now that I’m middle-aged. Wish I had paid more attention or that we had had the internet. Learning is so fun when you can pick what you want to learn about. Glad you made the most of your extended (ahem, enforced) vacation. That will be one you’ll always remember – the time there were absolutely no flights…

  33. Many years ago, I visited Mexico. Once, I was kidnapped, but obviously got away okay. The second time, I went with Mexican friends, and we visited several villages, one of which was known for it’s knitted sweaters. Sweaters were hanging all over the place. I was told to keep my mouth shut – the “natives” would charge more if they knew I was a tourist! Anyhow, I took home a lovely handknit sweater coat that I wore for many happy years. Don’t remember the name of the place, tho.

    • Yes! I don’t know where you were to find knitting, but I can tell you this: an old (now deceased) male relative told us about his sister knitting sweaters to sell; she’d take knitting with her when they went to the movies – maybe in the 1930s or 40s. And also, an American I knew had arranged to buy handknit sweaters to sell in the US, in the 70s or maybe 60s. So, there is knitting! And it isn’t always hot in Mexico — nights in DF can be chilly, as of course in other mountainous/high altitude places. In reading these comments, I was starting to wonder if I’d imagined all this!

  34. While Coast Salish didn’t knit before the 1800s, their weaving tradition was amazing!. Check it out if you ever get the chance, Ravenstail weaving is one of the more impressive things I’ve seen. Our local museum, the Burke, did an exhibit on global textiles a couple years ago and they have some really lovely pieces in their collection, and had copies of Cheryl Strauss’ books on the tradition to peruse.

  35. My daughter lives in Peru and has also said one has to ask the store staff to bring out whatever one is looking to purchase. Nip self serve except at. outdoor markets.
    Additionally, acrylic is the yarn most readily available despite the abundance of llama and alpaca in Peru. She was able to bring me 10 gorgeous skeins of undyed baby alpaca yarn in various shades a couple years ago, but it was very expensive.

  36. Wow! I was already excited about those metal needles; then I scrolled down to the next picture of the agave needle and thread and lost my mind! I think handmade tools might be my true love. I remember visiting the Otzi Museum in Bolzano & being blown away by the metal safety pins. Otzi himself I almost missed, but those pins–genius.

  37. Several years ago on a visit to Italy, I spotted a yarn shop just around the corner from my hotel in Florence. I was anxious to go back and spend some time in it, checking out all the lovely yarns, and perhaps discovering some that weren’t available at home.
    I went back when the shop was open to see what I could find. The yarns weren’t behind a counter but were displayed on shelves and in bins much like we have at home in Canada. Alas, when I picked up a skein or two to feel how soft the yarn was, the saleslady immediately rushed over and in Italian admonished me for touching the yarn! She didn’t understand much English and I couldn’t convince her that I was a serious customer but I needed to take a closer look and feel the yarn before buying any. I left without buying anything, and I think she was happy to see me go.
    Different countries, different customs, and I guess that includes yarn-buying!

  38. Mexicans crochet the most amazing, ruffly, lace, girly baby dresses. Tier after tier of lace ruffles, all lace crocheted out of a yarn called Cristal, 100% nylon and, as the name suggests, sparkely.. If my daughter ever stops having boys, and has a girl, I’m going to Tijuana to buy one for her. There is a yarn shop here in San Diego with Mexican connections who will sell me Cristal if I buy a whole cone wound off into skeins, $42 for a whole big bunch of white lace weight. I knit my daughter’s bridal veil out of it and a number of shawls for other family members with colored accents. Still a whole lot left. I offered to trade it with the girls in my guild, but they were like afraid of it or something. You don’t wake up speaking Spanish and making homemade tortillas if you knit with this stuff, unless, of course, that is something you do already.
    I moved to a new house, so I no longer see Mexico out the kitchen window, but I’m still close enough. My hubby speaks Spanish and he likes to cross over to Baja for the food. One of my favorite yarn shops is called Border Leather in Chula Vista (husband sells leather goods and wife sells yarn, shop is cut in half) and down the block is Aqui es Texcoco, a small restaurant that specializes in lamb and goat, roasted over charcoal on a spit out back, Mexico City style. Yum. Yarn and lamb burritos, great combo. I feel a day trip to CV coming on.
    Julie in San Diego

  39. Years ago, in the mid-80s, we visited the Yucatan and were taken into the countryside by a Mayan guide. He took us to the home of a friend, a compound, really, of round, thatched-roof buildings, each a single room. Chickens scratched in the yard, and the lady of the house offered us refreshments by cutting oranges from a tree in the yard. She and her teenage daughter wove hammocks for income. I remember that one of those round rooms held only two objects: her loom and her daughter’s boombox.

  40. The strong tradition of crochet in some countries (like Mexico) comes from the use of Nålebinding of these indigenous cultures for making things like fishing nets, etc. Nålebinding is similar to crochet b/c it uses one hook/needle to tie knots. There are still books on Nålebinding out there! Although they can be hard to find.

  41. Hi Stephanie! I’m the knitter/cyclist who accosted you in Chapultepec. It was an extra funny coincidence for me, as I’d just been riding through the botanical garden (weird that they let bikes in pedestrian spaces, but the guard waved me in and I couldn’t pass up the chance) and, while gazing at beds of cacti the same color as the knitting project I’d brought with me on my trip, was berating myself for not using my free evenings more wisely and finishing my mother’s Christmas (2015) sweater as I’d planned. Knitting guilt aside, it was lovely to meet you both and I’m glad to hear you finally made it home. Also–I especially loved this post, as I’m a historian and have wondered about (but not looked into) the crochet-sí/knitting-no phenomenon in Mexico. As I understand it, there’s not even a distinct word for knitting in Spanish–sometimes it’s just called tejido, other times “punto,” as in “hacer punto a mano,” make hand stitches, which also applies to crochet, although crochet is more often “ganchillo,” which is the hook itself. Rove on!

  42. Lovely update!! Glad you and Joe were able to find the fun in your travel dilemma!
    Last weekend was the first time I ever brought knitting on a plane- and was thoroughly pleased with myself- what a way to occupy your time!! Lo and behold on the way home, one of the flight attendants pulled out her knitting on one of her breaks… 😉
    Diane

  43. Hi Stephanie,
    I work as a stage manager and as a venue technician for the largest theatre complex in New Zealand. Most of my days are 18-20 hours. I am there when visiting companies pack into the venue, set up, sound check, perform and then packout. So it is a job of intense work with long periods of nothing as I have to be there, side of stage at any time anyone is in the venue. (health and safety etc) I get SOOOO much knitting done!! I have knitted while some of the worlds foremost artists have been performing 5 metres away. So while Marilyn Manson was screaming away to 5000 sweating, moshing people, I finished a baby shawl for my sisters new baby. I have been told, repeatedly, that this is a first for every travel hardened roadie. Funny.

  44. The needles may be brass. They seem a bit thick for that though, but they have the slight brassy sheen. Brass was often used for medieval sewing needles.

  45. When I first came to Belize all the food in the grocer store was on shelves behind the counter and you had to ask for each item you wanted. All the meat was frozen and today most all the meat is still frozen.

  46. I know I am late but how amazingly wonderful that you got “stuck” with Joe ! A few days together and [mostly] off to visit tourist spots is a rare gift. You spend many days separated – together is better.

  47. My undergraduate degree was in Anthropology (with an emphasis on New World archaeology and medical anthropology) — something you didn’t know about me, Stephanie! A little research confirms my impression that the needles you show are most likely bronze. That’s what they look like, anyway, with that dull gold appearance, though I expect brass is also possible. (Bronze is an alloy which is mostly copper, but also has tin and/or other metals added. Brass is a copper and zinc alloy.)

    A reference book tells me that several needles of this sort (or likely rather older) from the Puebla/Morelos areas of central Mexico were analyzed and found to be bronze made from a copper/arsenic/tin alloy.

    Thank you for a very interesting post!

  48. My mom was Puerto Rican and taught me to crochet at a young age, she made beautiful doilies, and baby dresses for my sister and I but it does seem that knitting was not popular. I also have Mexican friends who always bringing back a lot of embroidered pieces. On another note I work in an office and will sometimes bring in WIPs…one day I saw a coworker untangling what looked like yarn I instantly smiled until I realized ta-dah…headphone cables. bummer.

  49. Thanks for another world view of fiber arts!
    I knit i-cord all around my earbud cords, so I definitely would not disappoint a knitter if I pulled them out of my bag. Plus, they’d be likely followed by knitting. 🙂

  50. I love finding another knitter on travel! I just did that on our trip to Alaska (really she found me), and we totally got the inside scoop on the ferry we were riding and a bunch of other things we never would have known. Yay for the instant connection of knitting. 🙂

  51. I’m a 68 years old Mexican. When I was in grade school, we had knitting and embroidery lessons. My first FO was a pair of ribbed slippers (easier and less dreadful than the garter stitch scarf). Then we had to knit a sampler, with about ten different stitches, which could be worn as a scarf. By secondary school we had progressed to baby sacques, booties and hats. I assume that we were being prepared for motherhood. Later on it became unfashionable, and these classes were dispensed with.
    There were many yarn shops, and we had mills that produced woolen yarns (Alta Lana, Hilos Renau, Bergere de France and some smaller ones) and acrylic (Tamm, El Gato). I used to buy kilogrammes of cheap but nice yarns.
    I was a telephone operator, and many of us used to knit during our breaks. We would use our lunch break to go buy yarn, or exchange patterns.
    But the stores started closing, probably because there were no more young customers, until recently, when they opened “Crochet” in several big cities (Mexico, Monterrey, Guadalajara, Puebla, etc.) and they also have mail orders. We don’t have the variety that you have, and yarn is much more expensive than in the USA or Canada.
    Also, even after NAFTA, that supposedly was going to create a free trade zone, many things cannot be imported into Mexico.
    Perhaps we are a dying breed, but we do definitely love to knit (and crochet).
    Lastly, in Toluca they used to sell wool sweaters similar to the Canadian Cowichans,. They did not have animal figures, but abstract geometric designs. They were made of wool. The men knit them, as well as hats and gloves.
    I loved your post, because I had never seen ourselves with other eyes.

  52. Some years ago I was in Mexico City and went to the huge public market. Near the entrance to the subway I found a an sitting knitting gloves using black and white yarn. He had a stack for sale. I stupidly did not talk to him and I’m sorry I didn’t. And by the way, I think the verb “to knit” in Spanish is the same as the verb “to weave” – tejer.

  53. One of my sisters-in-law is Mexican, born and raised in a town in central Mexico. She only crochets and doesn’t knit, while her sisters do beautiful fine beadwork. Granted, that’s a very, very small sample size, but you may add it to your data pool. 😉

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *