Saturday, January 21, 2006

Yes, Virginia...

…there is a Kyrgyzstan! I have a nifty felt hat to prove it. Sorry, I couldn’t get a picture of it on my head. It fits to absolute perfection and keeps my head very warm. The seam is the back of the hat and it has embroidery all around the band.

If you haven’t heard of it, this is a country in the mountains northwest of China, one of the orphan “Stans” left when the Soviet Union broke up. The 5-million-plus people are mostly Kyrgyz (a Turkic-Mongoloid ethnic group) and speak both their own language and Russian. They are happy to live in a democracy (with some problems, but who doesn’t have those?) and are predominantly Sunni Muslim (where they actually get along with the Christians instead of blowing them up). However, they are very poor since they aren’t required to make armaments for the Russians any more. The Kyrgyz were a semi-nomadic people who lived in yurts (they call them “bozui”) and some still do in the summer in the mountains with their herds of sheep, horses, and yaks.

The centre of the stylized sun on their flag is the crown at the top of the yurt. So obviously they have had a long tradition of felt-making, since that’s what yurts are made of, as well as rugs and hats to keep them warm in the cold winter. A small felting cooperative was encouraged to find outside markets for their products by Yetta, the woman I bought my hat from, when she visited Kyrgyzstan. Yetta orders stuff from the felters and then sells it here and sends the money back to them. She says there are 12 people in the group now so they are doing quite well. The quality is very nice but they are encouraged to use more “Western-friendly” colours instead of their own bright and clashing palette. Personally I like the originals better. See? This is an original rug made for their own use instead of trade.

The hats in Kyrgyzstan are many and varied in shape but a lot of them are white with coloured embroidery. The women mostly wear patterned scarves instead of the hats. These boys are practicing for a play dramatizing their most famous traditional narrative poem. Cute, aren’t they?

Seeing Yetta’s pictures of Kyrgyzstan, where the streets are crumbling and the functioning water tap is 2 blocks away, I’m reminded that we have it so incredibly good here in Canada. Even with the street people and the crime and the high-priced housing and the cries of government corruption. Makes me want to smack people with their constant whining and bitching. So go live somewhere else if you don’t like the rain! And you can vote a new Canadian government in on Monday to complain about. Enjoy.

So I was busy spending my hard-earned money whilst gadding about on Thursday. Besides the Kyrgyz hat, I bought a bunch of fantasy pocketbooks (which I added to the pile I’ve yet to read) and 6 craft magazines plus 2 new colours of Confetti sock yarn. I really needed the yarn, didn’t I? The books and magazines were purchased downtown on my way to my weavers and spinners guild meeting; the hat was bought at the guild meeting (Yetta and her slides were the program); and the yarn I bought at a shop that I’ve never been in before. It’s called A Touch of Wool and it’s out of my usual area — a very sweet little yarn shop with nice salesladies. I love looking to see what other shops have to offer that I haven’t seen before. These are my yarn purchases:

And yesterday I had a delightful sushi lunch with DD. I actually saw That Big Light In The Sky yesterday. I even cast a shadow! It was awesome. Today we’re back to the normal Soggy Grey.

No comments: