Well, it’s about time. As you know, my brother Clif the art prof and his family are spending a few months in the former Soviet republic of Georgia. It’s, like, where there are really great oriental rugs and enough alcohol to stun a yak. Our Senior Fiber Arts Correspondent in Tbilisi, Mary Neal (aka Mrs. Clif), has finally surfaced with a report on her field research. She has already blown her allowance on acquisitions for the Mason-Dixon Knitting Fiber Arts Museum, but I’ll let her tell you the gory details.
PS Keep up with the Meadors’ adventures at Living with Caucasians.
Mary Neal writes:
Attached are pictures of the knitted goods I have acquired in Georgia. The socks are modeled by Wilson (L) and me (R). These were snapped up on the Georgia Military Highway for a cool $7 a pair. They are not really, you know, wearable, but they are fine fine folk art. I just recently started seeing a variation in which a thick sole is actually knitted on. This is a great idea except that they are frighteningly slippery, and you would break your neck.
The shawls (and I must apologize for the bad photos) were $3.50 for the two. (!) The wool is hand spun, and they are really scratchy. When we were in Scotland, we had a lot of opportunity to learn about sheep. This was perhaps as interesting as it sounds. But anyway, the sheep in Scotland are bad-weather sheep, and the wool has a certain percentage of fibers that are hollow to provide more insulation in the cold and wet. These fibers also have an impervious outside structure, so they don’t take dye. If you take a look at some of the less-processed wools (Candide comes to mind, if I remember right) you can see these fibers easily. Merino sheep have none of this.
Evidently the terrorist sheep in the Pankisi Valley live a tough life, because these shawls are full of these rough fibers. But they are, again, great folk art. And I made an old lady’s day! I hope she will raise her prices based on my enthusiasm.
I need to learn how to say, “I love to knit” in Kartuli. I’ll keep you posted on new fiber art developments.