We leave for Thailand and Laos on Nov. 29. It's our busiest season here with holiday shopping coming up soon and we're proud to announce our new website with an expanded online shop.
Life would be a bit easier if we had an 18-month cycle, because 8 months at home is too short. Too short for selling the textiles acquired on the previous trip (2.500 pieces last year!); too short for all the things that make up the richness of our lives -- from our organic vegetable garden to reading, friends and keeping connected here in Canada.
But the cycle for weaving is an annual one. Most of the weavers are farmers (they farm the staple food, rice, and many other crops), so they are busy preparing the fields, planting, growing and harvesting during much of the year. Only when the annual one crop has been harvested -- as most of them can't afford irrigation for a second crop -- do they have time to weave.
Weaving season coincides with our Canadian winter (cool season there, in the 3-season climate that includes cool, hot and rainy season). It begins in December, continuing into hot season. It's difficult to weave silk in sticky, rainy season, so we need to coordinate our visits, orders and buying with the times that work best for the weavers.
Dye materials -- natural ones like leaves, barks, berries, flowers, insect resin and so on -- also vary with the season. Some are only available a short time each year; other materials can be collected, dried or made into dyes for use later.
It's all a cycle that we respect and work with -- and one we learn more and more about during each trip. The artisans are our teachers.
We leave on Nov. 29 and will be travelling throughout Northeast Thailand (known as Isaan), Northern Thailand and Laos for 4 months. We look forward to the trip and to continuing our fair trade relationships with the women artisans with whom we work and from whom we have learned so much. We talk alot about eco-fashion, ethical shopping and conscious consumerism when we're here in Canada. We talk about food, daily life, natural colours, weaving inspirations and lots more when we're there.
It's all part of the larger cycle of life.