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Yarns

Porfirio Gutiérrez and family

Mujo has collaborated with Porfirio Gutiérrez and his family to produce a beautiful range of naturally dyed wool yarns which are used in selected garments.

Porfirio Gutiérrez and his family are masters of traditional Zapotec weaving and the creative skills associated with their fine art. They have descended from centuries of weavers. Their village, Teotitlán del Valle in Oaxaca, has been famous for the art of weaving for centuries.

Porfirio has exhibited, lectured, and given demonstrations on Zapotec culture, natural plant dyes, traditional weaving and other subjects related to his art. He also acts as an advocate, educator and cultural ambassador. Through the art of weaving, he has promoted respect for his culture and the empowerment of his family and their community. In today’s changing social and economic environment, his goal is to help ensure the continued survival of Zapotec culture.

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Porfirio recalls, "As kids we would play around my father's big loom and watch as a new design would emerge. He would tell us about the symbols he was weaving and our Zapotec heritage. Every piece tells us a story through these elements and weaving each piece is like a meditation. These symbols are as old as our civilization. We can see them on Zapotec archeological sites, the stones in our church walls, and the nearby ruins at Monte Albán and Mitla. We have inherited our skills and artistic sensibilities from our ancestors who lived in the ancient Zapotec cities."

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PROCESSING RAW WOOL

Wool for spinning into yarn is from Churro sheep which were originally brought to the Americas by the Spaniards. The sheep are typically sheared once a year. The newly shorn wool must be washed and thoroughly cleaned. This is usually done in the river using the root of amole, the indigenous soap plant. Burrs, plant matter and other debris are picked out by hand.

SPINNING YARNS

When the wool is clean and dry, it is combed with carding paddles to separate, clean, and align the fibers before it is spun into yarn on manually powered spinning wheels. After the wool has been made into yarn, it is boiled in potassium alum, a naturally occurring mineral that helps to fix the dye colors into the yarn. Then the yarn is ready to dye.

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NATURAL DYES

Before dyeing begins, the plants, earth minerals & insects that the dyes are made from must be collected. These ingredients are gathered in the mountains above the village, grown in home gardens, and sometimes grown by neighbours who specialize in one element, like pecan or sapote negro for example. After dyeing, the yarn is hung up to drip dry.

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