as retold by Daryl Brower
Long ago, during the time of Inca, there lived two young people whose lives became intertwined. The first was a maiden, long of limb, fair of face, and a delight to behold. Now in those days and in that part of the world, girls of great beauty and noble breeding were given the sacred honor of serving in the temple of the Virigins of the Sun. Consecrated to the greatest of the Inca gods, they spent their days learning to spin and weave more beautifully than any in the land, creating rich and sumptuous robes and hangings for the priests and nobles. The girls in the Sun’s service took an oath to be loyal only to him. Should they share any word, touch, or other connection with a mortal man, they were put to death, buried alive along with their unfortunate paramours.
by Lela Nargi
Ruth Marshall is browsing the alluring assortment of tchotchkes at Pearl River Mart, the Chinese “everything store” on New York’s lower Broadway. Red satin bunny ornaments: “So cute!” Painted sheets of rice paper: “Beautiful!” Plastic nose-shaped pencil sharpener and paper balls stamped with tiger stripes: “I have to get these!”
The lighthearted cheer of the shopping expedition is extinguished by a collection of traditional musical instruments displayed behind the cash register. “I bet that’s covered in real snakeskin,” says Marshall with a sigh, nodding toward a stringed piece known as a gaohu, the sound box of which is stretched with a gray, mottled material, unmistakably peeled off a python. It’s the kind of thing Marshall had earlier announced she was “terrified” she’d find here.
by Clara Parkes
Angora is one of the unsung heroes of the fiber world. Blended and spun properly, this tender, fluffy fiber can produce extraordinary results. Unfortunately, most yarn companies spin angora far too loosely, hoping to create a heavenly bird's nest of fluff that will look tempting on the shelf. Once on your needles, however, those fibers can quickly slip from their stitches and attach to everything around them—including your nose. As a result, angora has gotten a bit of a bum rap over the years.