By Fiona Ellis
In Greek mythology Helios, the sun god, rode across the heavens on a golden chariot pulled by four fiery horses. Our modern day associations with the color yellow, and its close cousin, orange, are equally positive—if slightly less dramatic or romantic. Both makes us think of bright sunshine, fresh citrus, and the abundance of fields at harvest time. But there’s a harsher side to the shades: in the animal world, yellow (often combined with black) signals the danger of an animal or insect likely to sting or bite. Yellow can also bring to mind dry deserts or withered leaves, which in turn have come to symbolize declining power. In Buddhist and Hindu teachings orange, the midpoint between yellow and red, signifies the point of balance between libido and spirit. But Christianity once took a differing view of the color, associating it with greed or gluttony.
Textile Travels West Africa: Bogolon (Mudcloth)
If you've ever experienced the unmatched look and feel of a piece of bogolanfini cloth (also called bogolan or mudcloth) up close, you're sure to understand its worldwide appeal. Made by the Bamana women of Mali in West Africa, using a technique traditionally passed on from mother to daughter, bogolan was primarily worn to mark important stages in the lives of women. Wrapped garments made from bogolan were worn in the rite of passage from young girl to young woman, prior to the consummation of marriage, and after childbirth. The cloth was equally important to hunters and considered a protection from malevolent forces. Like other authentic African textiles, bogolan’s bold designs are inspired by everyday objects as well as proverbs and historical events.
The name bogolan derives from bogolanfini, a Bamana word combining bogo, which means earth (mud) and fini, which means cloth. It’s also possible that the term mudcloth arose from a misunderstanding of the labor-intensive process that creates the fabric. Some believe that when traders from other regions saw the cloth being made, they mistook the iron-rich clay used in the process for mud. But whatever its name origin, bogolan is a beautiful textile with many modern uses.
Swatch it! Fall 2016
by Clara Parkes
Can we talk about lace for a moment?
In the realm of "traditional" lace projects, we tend to think of diaphanous sheets of tiny stitches that have been blocked open to reveal a hidden world of soaring buttresses and swooping arcs, twined vines, rosettes, and petals. It's stunning stuff.
But then you have projects like Dorothy Winn's Eyebright shawl, which combines elements of that so-called "traditional" lace with non-lacy things. Her design employs some of the most intriguing and challenging components of lace—the acrobatic K3tog, for example—with clustered "dots" and, up top, a smooth band of stockinette. And, whereas a traditional lace project does one thing to yarn, here each stitch family does different things. Which means you'll have to choose your yarn based on which "thing," or effect, you want to be the loudest.
Let me show you what I mean.
Shape Up: A Class in Cables
By Fiona Ellis
Let's Talk Tatting
By Amy King
There’s no denying that lace is lovely for warmer weather. And while many of us are familiar with the airy openwork created with knit and crochet stitches, there’s another way to make lace that’s worth a look: tatting. Detailed and delicate, tatting is a beautiful, durable form of lacemaking that dates back to the early 1800s. It has the benefit of being perfectly portable, though it does require a bit of time to come up with a largish piece—a decent-sized doily, for example, can take several hours to complete. For that reason, tatting largely found favor among aristocratic ladies with time to spare.
Like its knit and crochet counterparts, tatting is made with a series of knots, but it makes a very different sort of lace. Tatting is formed—by way of needle or shuttle—into various configurations of a basic knot to create complicated-looking designs. Series of these knots are used to make picots, chains, split chains, node stitches, split rings, and so on. Since thin threads are usually used to create the designs, they often look much more intricate than they actually are. But while threads are the traditional choice for tatting you can use thicker yarn if you prefer. Scraps of sock yarns, for instance, are fabulous for making larger designs.