Colchas (Spanish word for bedcovering) came to the Americas with the early Spanish explorers, along with churro sheep - small, wiry arid land sheep. The sheep provided both the woven material for blankets and the thread with which they were embroidered. When the Spanish sent expeditions north from New Spain churro sheep, blankets, looms and expertise in embroidery and weaving went with them.
|modern churro wool for weaving or knitting (from Weaving Southwest)|
For the workshop I put together some simple kits using doctors' flannel, Appleton's wool and some traditional designs from Wroth, William (ed) Weaving & Colcha from the Hispanic Southwest, Ancient City Press, Santa Fe, 1985
I created some iron-on transfers of the designs to save having to trace them individually. While this made it easier, the transfers bled a bit on the flannel.
A couple of members have already finished their sample piece. One is intending to make a blanket or quilt!
In April next year our group is responsible for a display of work in the Guild's Gallery. We plan to display our colcha pieces. I will post photographs when the time comes. In the meantime, I have some photos of finished pieces. Barbara Mullan finished hers and then did another one on black - this time outlining the chalk tracing with tacking stitch to keep the shape.
|Barbara's finished lizard|
|Barbara's tacking outline|
|my unidentified plant!|
|Lori Howlett's bird|
I am especially grateful to Esther Vigil who sent me her two books on Colcha. Esther is the daughter of Maria Teofila Ortiz Lujan, a pivotal pioneer in the survival and renaissance of Colcha Embroidery. One of the cleverest ideas I have seen in a long time is the back covers of Esther's books which feature the back of the piece of embroidery featured on the front of the books!
Esther has answered my questions, supported this venture and sent me links to a video interview with her. There is also a transcript of that interview. I hope I have done her justice in the workshop and paper.
May we all enjoy such blessings this Christmas!