Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Threads of Peru

There are three things I truly love: indigenous fabrics, colour and llamas.

When travelling around Asia with my sister I fell in love with all the different fabrics, weaving and dying techniques and colours found in the different regions we travelled.  From the bright red and gold sari of Kathmandu to the traditional clothes of the Himalayan women we passed in the mountains through to the batik of Sri Lanka.

Not to mention how cool the hats are:

The thing that struck me the most however was the fact that all of these fabrics, clothes and accessories are made mostly by the people wearing them.  While trekking in the mountains of Nepal every home seemed to have a loom in the garden with a half finished rainbow of fabric on it while in Sri Lanka there was a sewing machine and a small table.  When we were taken to see the women making batik fabric I was amazed to see a few ladies at a big table drawing their patterns with wax before dipping the fabric in a bathtub full of dye and hanging the finished pieces on the washing line at the back of the house.

It was this matter of fact simplicity that encouraged me on my return to try and start my own business crafting form my own home using all the fabrics and techniques I had seen on my travels and of course which led me back to the fabric making cottage industry of my own home Scotland and Harris Tweed.

And so I set about making hats using the warm toned wool of the Islands of Scotland and the beautiful hand painted and hand stitched Kimono fabric of my adopted home of Japan.

But I still dream of going back to Nepal and stocking up on the jewel tone fabrics and turquoise beads to start a new range of hats and I am always happy when I come across another group of people trying to promote the work of small artisans to the world to ensure that the cottage industries of the world aren't lost.  Last night this search led me to Threads of Peru:

I repeat: There are three things I truly love: indigenous fabrics, colour and llamas.  This has them all with awesome hats thrown in like a cherry on top.

In their own words, Threads of Peru is a non-profit organization that connects the world to handmade textiles of Peru; helping to preserve ancient craft techniques and empower indigenous artisans.

They do this by travelling to the remote areas of Peru to help the weavers to perfect their craft before buying the finished fabrics directly from each weaver and selling it online to the world. 

The Weavers

The finished products

They also occasionally ask for volunteers to help with their work and are currently looking for someone to photograph and blog about their work and the communities they work with.  

Itchy feet, itchy feet, itchy feet!!!!

Peruvian hats coming soon to Aka Tombo...?

Monday, June 10, 2013


So everyone went a little Gatsby mad for a while there.  Not me, why? because Japan is the last country in the world to release The Great Gatsby.  That's right; Peru, Bolivian, Kuwait, Vietnam are just a few of the countries to have release dates before Japan which will finally lift the curtain on June 14th.

After reading several blogs and seeing pictures of 1920s parties happening all over the place I decided to stop feeling left out and headed to the local library where I got me a copy of Gatsby and settled in to the couch...AND...I didn't like it.  I actually feel like I should apologise for saying it out loud but here is my reasoning.

When I read The Odyssey I read the page mentioning the Sirens 3 times thinking I had missed something.

To my mind the sirens as described by Homer had inspired artists ever after like Waterhouse and the painting above.  In reality the description by Homer is short, vague and pretty dull.

Same goes with Gatsby.  The name Gatsby and the images I have of the 1920s go hand in hand.  I was waiting for details about the dresses, the parties the luxury. No, no and no.  On top of this the characters where really horrid people, after a few chapters I was bored of them and was ready to poke Gatsby, old boy, in the eye.  According to my literary friend this was the point as Fitzgerald hated the type of people he was writing about and the book was meant as a scathing criticism of the time. Maybe true but still not so much fun to read.

I at least hope that the film will be pretty to look at and that Hollywood will fill in all the sequinned, cloched, cocktail gaps.  However I recently read an article with the stylist for the film who stated that she wanted a fresh look for the film so finger waves and cloches were largely out and straight bobs with Tiffany jewelled headbands were in.


Yes the headbands are pretty but really you cant have a 1920s film with more head scarves than hats.  I was really hoping that the film would bring back my favourite style of hat of all time...The turban!

Lots of people say that they don't have the confidence to carry a hat and while I generally pooh pooh this idea I must admit that wearing a turban is a bold hat choice and needs to be carried with such an easy confident air that it terrifies most people.  But when you get it right man does it look good, unfortunately when you get it wrong...

      good             undecided             really bad

So Gatsby inspired, maybe not, but this summer I am planning on starting a one girl turban revolution.


Only the Queen can rock a yellow polka dot turban!

Oh think of all the camel themed accessories you could pull off with this one!

I will look like this in 50+

Are you brave enough?