I had the good fortune to recently visit the Southern hemisphere and explore a good portion of the country of Chile. And in whichever city or town I was in, handmade goods and local artisans and craftsmen were in abundance.
While on the island of Chiloé, the second largest island of Chile, the majority of the artisans sold hand knitted items and hand spun wool. I couldn’t have been more delighted!
Chiloé was a magical place for me, the views of the ocean and rolling farmland with happy and healthy looking cows and sheep and chickens, were such a pleasure to behold. The island holds much lore and is seeped in tradition, with hand spun wool being one of these traditions.
In exploring the markets filled with handmade goods, many of the women would sit and knit, creating their wares as people browsed. Or they would spin. Several had spinning wheels and would spin their wool into yarn, right then and there.
Since my spanish language skills aren’t that wonderful, I learned later that the wool is dyed using natural dyes. Plants and vegetables such as onions, cinnamon or eucalyptus leaves are used to color the wool to create a plethora of shades.
I chose a soft green for the wool I brought home. It is a fairly uniform spin, though not as soft as some wool. It has some rough characteristics. When winding the skein into a ball the dye stained my fingers. But all in all, I am in love with this yarn.
Not only is it a wonderful memento of my time in Chile and in Chiloé, it is something handmade with the tradition of that beautiful island.