Meanwhile, back in Guatemala . . .

I can hardly believe it’s been four months since I was there. But I’ve had that trip on my mind a lot, and for good reason. Spin-Off is planning to publish a wall calendar for 2010, photography is happening today, and a beautiful supported spindle with handspun natural brown cotton on it is one of the photo props in the photograph for July.

I bought the spindle from Doña Matea Alonzo, whom you see here, in the small village of San Jorge la Laguna. I also took a little video of her spinning, and one of her granddaughter preparing the cotton by beating it with forked sticks, but I did a silly amateur thing: turned my camera sideways to get a vertical view. So the videos are sideways. And rather than risk your getting cricks in your neck from trying to watch them, I will find a technically apt person with tricky editing software to fix them for your future enjoyment.

Cotton spinning isn’t done so much in Guatemala any more, and natural brown cotton is a rare commodity.  So seeing this lovely grandmother making excellent yarn, which she then weaves up on her backstrap loom, was a real treat. I had taken a supported spindle of my own, in hopes that I would find someone there to spin with. Mine was quite small and lightweight, and the wooden bowl that supports it was doll-sized. – less than three inches across. When I brought it out of my bag, Doña Matea’s granddaughters just giggled and giggled over that bowl. So I gave it to them, and Doña Matea gave me hers, a sturdy, handsome clay bowl, in return. A happy swap.

Back to that calendar. You can’t order it yet because it doesn’t exist, but you could write a haiku for it. Our plan is to fill in some of the blank days with three-line pearls of wisdom related to spinning or fiber or somesuch. Maybe you’ve never written haiku, but I’ll bet your imagination thinks in haiku all the time.

Slender threads of spring
Catch sunlight in the soft breeze
Tiny spiders spin.

Send yours to Amy Clarke-Moore at But hurry.

Haiku syllables
Flow as silken threads in time
But wait – the moment’s past.

Oops. That is more than seventeen syllables.


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