La Casa Rosada

You didn’t think I would pass up an opportunity to visit a yarn store, did you? Besides the beauty of gold, emeralds, textiles, art and salt mines, there was yarn.

Case Rosada - Inside

When I entered La Casa Rosada (The Pink House) I thought I was in the yarn candy store of my dreams. The proprietress opened the shop for me and let me ogle and touch to my heart’s content. I had the place all to myself.

Casa Rosada - Lana Motín y Algodón Orgánico

I found out about this jewel from an online search and from Classy Crochet’s blog. The shop is located in what looks like a residential street. It’s easy to spot, just look for the bright pink facade.

Casa Rosada - Lanas en color

La Casa Rosada sells yarns made from natural fibers including cumare (a native palm tree), yute (jute, a vegetable fiber), cabuya ripiw (a natural fiber from the leaves of the fique plant, similar to hemp), pita (fiber from agave plants), bamboo, and strips of leather.

Casa Rosada - Cabuya ripiw en fique

They carry wool and cotton in many weights, both dyed and in natural hues. Those large rolls are woven out of sisal and the barely visible sign below reads “fibra de plátano” on a basket filled with yarn spun out of banana leaf fibers.

Casa Rosada - Lanas sin color y Rollos de sisal

Casa Rosada - Lanas y Bambú

They spin their own yarn at La Casa Rosada, so all you see are natural homespun fibers turned into gigantic skeins of yarn. The diameters range from 2, 3, 4, and 8 millimeters up to 3 centimeters for bulkier yarn.

Casa Rosada - Lana para hilar 1 Casa Rosada - Lana para hilar 2

Casa Rosada - Lana moton

They hand weave tapestries and hammocks. I was tempted to get one, they were so impressive, but somehow didn’t think it would fit in my carry-on.

Casa Rosada - Tapiz 1Casa Rosada - Tapiz en fique y cueros

Prices are based on weight. They have a large scale on the floor where they plopped my selections. The rate was roughly $1.500 Colombian pesos per kilogram. The scale read 1.20 kilograms for a total of $175.000 pesos (about $89 USD). Given the massive quantities of beautiful, natural, hand spun yarn, I thought it was a fair price.

I would go to La Casa Rosada again in a heartbeat. Next time, I’m bringing an empty suitcase.

La Casa Rosada - Business Card

Three Days in Bogotá – Día Dos

The highlight of our second day in Bogotá was a visit to the Museo Botero. Fernando Botero’s paintings and sculptures are characterized by disproportionately large people and objects. I felt as if I was looking at the portrayals through a different lens. They made me smile.

Museo Botero - Monalisa

Museo Botero - Pareja Bailando

Museo Botero - Concierto Campestre

The museum is located inside a roomy house built in the early 1700s for the local archbishops. It has wide verandas and beautiful gardens with views of the nearby mountains.

Museo Botero - Casa 1

Museo Botero - Casa 2

The museum also has a collection of art by international and local artists. This large textile was another favorite. It is the work of Olga de Amaral, a textile artist from Bogotá.

Museo Botero - Muro Tejido No. 98

The tapestry is called Muro tejido No. 98 (Ca. 1972), made from animal and vegetable fibers.

Museo Botero - Muro Tejido No. 98 a

Museo Botero - Muro Tejido No. 98 b

Our last stop was all about shopping! The Galería Artesanal de Colombia had countless tienditas (little stores) full of local arts and crafts

Galería Artesanal de Colombia

I fell in love with these exquisite crochet bags handmade by Wayúu women. The bags are crocheted with cotton thread and come in vibrant colors and interesting designs, each unique to the woman who made it. Multiple threads are woven together to make the straps.

Bolsos Wayuu 1

As young Wayuu women come of age, they learn to weave and crochet Wayuu Mochila bags. According to legend, the tradition comes from “Wale´kerü”, a spider that taught the women how to weave their creative drawings into the Mochila bags. Each design incorporated into every Mochila bag is unique to the weaver, telling a story through the bag’s colors, patterns and shapes. (Source)

Bolsos Wayuu 2

Along the long aisles of hammocks, baskets, bracelets and hats, there were more crocheted bags.

Colombian Crochet Bags

There were also textiles woven in bright colors.

Colombian Textiles

By the end of the day, my head was spinnng, possibly due to the explosion of color, or the altitude! Another amazing day in Bogotá.

A Sweet Surprise

an unexpected package arrived in the mail
from across the ocean

Jaffa Cakes 1

it contained all sorts of sweet surprises
light little cookies with a coating of chocolate on one side
and a burst of orange inside
called jaffa cakes

Jaffa Cakes 2

and chocolate bars
lots of them

Chocolate Bars

then the best surprise of all
a hand made knitted book marker
that also has a pocket for a pen
(i happen to be one of those people that reads books
with a pen in hand)

Knit Pen Holder / Book Marker
the gift was from idiosyncratic eye
who received one of the “made in China” care packages
she had already written a wonderful thank you post
so the last thing I expected was a care package in return
it certainly is nice to give and receive

Weaving in Ancient China

After a three-month stint in Beijing, I went home for a month. It’s funny how being away makes you appreciate every little thing. Of course there is family – my husband, sons, my mom, brothers and sisters, friends and colleagues. Then there are blue skies, clean air, the sound of quiet, driving my car, air conditioning, clean bathrooms, ice …

A month later, I am back in Beijing. It’s different this time. While it is still a fabulous adventure, it was much tougher leaving home. The first time, there was the mystery of Asia and the challenge of the new business venture. We still have challenging work to do but I miss the rhythms of home.

While here, I continue to explore the city. My first free day, I went to the Summer Palace. It is 20 subway stops from where I stay and took almost an hour to get there.

Summer Palace 1

The property is huge like most everything else here. It covers an area of 2.9 square kilometers (720 acres), most of which are bodies of water. It is kept immaculately groomed and landscaped. I walked for five hours straight that day, up and down steep stairs and around the lake.

Summer Palace 2

I enjoyed …
The walk.
Being out in the fresh air on a cool day.
The rich vegetation of the gardens.
The earthy smell of the pine trees.
Seeing families camping on the grounds, having picnics and taking naps.
Watching ladies dancing under gazebos.
Listening to an old man playing his flute by the lake.

Summer Palace 4

Summer Palace 5

Summer Palace 8

Summer Palace 6

Summer Palace 7

Along the corridor of the Studio of the Jade River (Yuhe Zhai), there was a series of stone carvings. According to the placard, the original scenes were painted on woven silk by the painter Cheng Qi during the Yuan Dynasty (mid-1700s). The scenes portray men farming and women weaving in ancient China. I selected the ones showing women’s work.

The stone carvings were framed and the bright day cast reflections on the glass.

Farming and Weaving 1
Farming and Weaving 2

Farming and Weaving 3

Farming and Weaving 4

Farming and Weaving 5

Farming and Weaving 6

Farming and Weaving 7

Farming and Weaving 8

Farming and Weaving 9

Farming and Weaving 10

It was a beautiful day but there is still no place like home.

Hanazono Shrine and Antiques Market

The Hanazono Shrine was founded in the mid-17th century. It was the only shrine we saw in a vivid color.

Hanazono Shrine, founded mid-17th century

Hanazono Shrine - roof detail

A male and female lion flank one of the entrances. Here is the male.

Hanazono Shrine - lion

I saw several people walk up this path to pray. They would drop coins in a box as an offering, pull on one of the ropes to ring a bell, clap twice and then hold their hands together silently.

Hanazono Shrine - path to altar

Hanazono Shrine - close-up

On Sundays, there is an Antiques Market on the grounds near the shrine. This particular market had old kimonos and sashes for sale.

Hanazono Shrine Market - old kimono sashes

Hanazono Shrine Market - colorful kimono sashes

There was scrolled artwork …

Hanazono Shrine Market - scrolled art

… a box of wooden dolls …

Hanazono Shrine Market - wooden dolls

… old prints …

Hanazono Shrine Market - old prints

… and all sorts of interesting items.

Hanazono Shrine Market - random objects

After a day of sightseeing, we had a wonderful dinner at Kurosawa Restaurant in Roppongi Hills. They walked us into a cozy room with sliding doors covered in thin white paper. One by one, they brought us beautifully presented dishes like this shrimp and vegetable tempura and chicken teriyaki.

Tokyo - Kurosawa Restaurant - Tempura

Tokyo - Kurosawa Restaurant - Chicken Teriyaki

It was a nice way to end the day.