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Cornelia Tuttle Hamilton: Life in the Knit Lane

Cornelia Tuttle Hamilton: Life in the Knit Lane

We're pleased to welcome Cornelia Tuttle Hamilton back to the blog. This week she's here to tell you all about her knitting adventure in Chile - an educational and exciting trip; read on to find out more about this once in a lifetime experience... 

Hello fellow fiber fans! Cornelia here...

In June 2016 I taught knitting workshops at the Materia Prima Magazine's annual Yarn & Textile Expo in Santiago, Chile. I was thrilled at the opportunity to visit South America and especially Chile, a place that held fascination for me as my German grandmother had spent time there as a young teen. There is only one black and white photo of her from that time and I remember she looked like a romantic gaucho in her Chilean clothing standing next to her horse...

But back to my story...

While the view of the mountains outside the show was spectacular, the booths and atmosphere inside were too! Full of natural fibers, so much creativity and joy, there was every kind of fiber craft represented there and so many beautiful yarns. The bright colors often associated with indigenous cultures of South America were there, but even subtle, earth tones could be seen along with lots of hand-dyes and roving. I even found a yarn made of leather! 

My time at the show was chock full of workshops and while I had been apprehensive about the language barrier (I don't speak Spanish) my worries were quickly laid to rest. Not only did Michelle Boisier Bierschwale translate for me and assist me in my teaching, she had arranged for me to be at the show and organised everything!

The knitters that were in my workshops were delightful. Adventurous and positive, with a hearty sense of humor and self-confidence, they were thirsty for new techniques and happily swatched their way through my classes. They were used to working without patterns and so my original stitch patterns were well received, which made my teaching experience very satisfying!  

The predominant style of knitting is continental and after the first few days I noticed that most of my participants were holding their knitting with their left forefinger pointing straight up and out. The same way I do! I have had more than one Swede poke fun at me about my pointing finger and I already knew that my normal way of knitting was not the normal way in Sweden. It made me wonder if my grandmother had learned to knit in Chile, taught my mother who then taught me! It made me feel kinship with the Chileans I would not otherwise have felt.

It was clear how important yarn and wool fibers are in Chilean culture since several TV teams made their way through the show filming the crowd and talking to exhibitors. I was interviewed twice and even wound up on Chilean CNN! I also meet the American ambassador to Chile who was being shown around. It was very satisfying to see the yarn and fiber industry being taken so seriously and I was proud to have been able to participate in the event.

I am proud and grateful to have been part of this event. The respect and enthusiasm they showed me and the respect they have for their vibrant fiber culture was heart-warming, and, filled me with optimism for the future of crafting there and I would jump at the chance to be part of it again! 

We love finding out all about different crafting cultures and Cornelia, has certainly given us a wonderful insight into the world of wool in Chile. We're now eagerly looking at our diaries wishing we could fit in a Chilean adventure and raiding our stashes for vibrant and textured hues! We look forward to welcoming Cornelia back to the blog soon and we're sure you do too.