Tuesday, November 19, 2013


Antigua and Chichicastenango Guatemala - knitting all the way

Can you guesss what all this stuff is?

Last week I took off out of the hot and humid jungle lowlands of Guatemala here where our boat is docked and rode the bus up to the colonial town of Antigua. It was a long trip of many hours on a ratty bus this time and then an over-packed van but it was worth it to reach our goal. Ah...the cool temps of the highlands brought life back into this old gal.

This was a shopping trip and these goodies pictured here were at the top of my list of things I wanted to find and buy. Obviously, I was successful - but it took a lot of work, walking, talking in my lousy Spanish to women whose first language is K'iche' (Quiche), hand-waving, and pantomines. I wanted to find and buy, and these Mayan women wanted to sell something to me.
Pictured above are two handmade Guatemalan Backstrap Weaving Looms and a couple of cotton spinning spindles!

These simple, rough tools are used to make the beautiful woven textiles that make the weavers famous throughout the world. Saundra, my crafty travel buddy, and I watched several women as they used these looms in their stalls while waiting for customers and were facinated with how fast they worked. I certainly don't expect that Saundra and I will be making anything quite so beautiful, but we are excited to get some warp threads on these babies and get weaving! Yes. We bought oooodles of colorful thin cotton threads and even some very chunky handspun wool on a day trip to the fabulous local market in Chichicastenango.

Did I say thread? Check out this shop in Chichicastenango.That is all cotton weaving thread on the top shelves and back and DMC brand cotton embroidery thread on the racks. This is only a small portion of what they had for sale. You name it, they had every type of fiber content (nylon, rayon, cotton) and type (Omega #2 cording, sewing, pearle, etc.) We didn't buy our stuff here as it was more expensive than out in the scruffy temporary market day stalls. The market was a jungle of activity and was very difficult to make our way through the narrow makeshift alleyways as they were throngs of people. You can see that this expensive store was quite devoid of customers.

In the photo above of some of my booty that I bought, you may spot a couple of DMC brand embroidery charts. This is something that I was looking for as I had read that the Mayan women have historically used European charts for their embroidery work after being introduced to them by the early colonial folks. The brown paper wrapped circular object is chocolate for hot chocolate. 100% pure cacao including all the natural cocoa butter, and sugar plus a touch of cinnamon. The Mayans have been drinking cacao for thousands of years - not made with milk but with water which makes a much stronger tasting and delicious drink. I've been hooked ever since trying it years ago.
Market day in Chichicastenango Guatemala

Our hotel in Antigua was called "Sin Ventanas" which we thought was an odd name but it was cheap and right off of the central plaza in Antigua. Score! But little did we realize that during the day it was quiet - but at night the bar and disco downstairs was pounding! Saundra found the "music" obnoxious. I slept peacefully through it. The difference between us? I've been cruising in Latin American countries for many years and have anchored off of many party towns. After a while, I guess I just got used to it. The funny name of the hotel also finally made sense to us - "Without Windows". Nope! The 4 storied building was squished between two other buildings and there were no windows anywhere except at the front of lobby to the street. Each cell room had jalousy type glass windows which opened up to the single wide hallway kindof like a prison block. Whatever. We didn't spend much time holed up in a hotel room anyway - there was shopping and exploring to do!

Another quiz for you...where do you think we found this beaufiful courtyard complete with a fountain? Yes, it's in Antiqua and yes, we spent a lot of time here simply drinking splendid coffee and knitting. What? Your McDonald's doesn't look like this?

Yep. It's a McDonald's fast food restaurant with a separate McCafe lounge. As is commonly found in Latin American countries, the street front of the establishment very plain, but once you go inside and turn the corner you're in for a lovely surprise.
Terry and Saundra Knit at McDonald's Antigua Guatemala

Proof that this knitting spot is McDonald's is the familiar form of Ronald in the background of this next photo. Naturally, we were both knitting socks as they are such a nice portable project when traveling. The two balls of yarn on the table are mine - brown and green - which are for the new sock design of mine to be released in December. The pattern is already written and tested so I'm just working on the second sock here so that I can send the finished pair off to the kids in Kazakhstan.

Speaking of knitting for the kids, here's the latest pair of socks off the needles for them. The lacy cuff is a little experiment of mine for a new pattern. I didn't have enough pink yarn for a full pair so once I played around with the cuff, I switched and knit the foot in a black wool yarn with a silver metallic thread running through it (both are donated yarns from knitting camp). The black yarn is Sandnes Garn Sisu Glitter and surprisingly the metalic thread is not scratchy or itchy.

We're in countdown mode for sprinting away from the docks here at Mario's Marina. Our plan is to cast off on/about Dec. 1st. There are a lot of activities that need to take place between now and then but we've done all this before - it just takes a lot of organization and luck. All repairs on the boat are done, so now we're just waiting for one last dentist appt for Jonesy, the required professional survey of the boat for the insurance company, the high tide around the 1st. and good weather! Life is good.

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