Ihaven’t a clue about the genesis of the term “spoiler alert.” I know people in social media use it when they just can’t seem to keep a secret and instantly Tweet, “Lady Edith (from Downton Abbey) is pregnant!” and 4 million followers let out a collective gasp and instantly re-Tweet the news. If you happen to be one of those people that doesn’t watch Downton Abbey during its regular Sunday evening broadcast and choose to delay viewing via some type of techy tool, you might not know Lady Edith is pregnant, and now the Tweeters have spoiled the surprise.
Elevating the issue of spoiler alerts to a broader audience, take the Olympic Winter Games at Sochi. Anticipation is shattered as people discuss the winners of the ice dancing competition or who President Putin’s curling partner is at the Kremlin.
I am raising this question about spoiler alerts because it occurs to me that I have a few of my own, for example, this editorial. Afterall, this space is where I tell you what is about to happen in the next 80 pages and there is a fine line between a creative tease and spilling the beans.
It’s the same with opening my refrigerator door. There is a narrow margin between an actual spoiler alert of “Oh-my-god-whatthe-hell-stinks?” versus “Whoa... maybe it’s time to throw out the General Tso’s!”
I promise you there are no unplanned pregnancies in this issue, not a single knocked-up goat or Tibetan yak attempting to land a triple lutz. Everything and everyone is strictly according to Hoyle, even if this is about wild fibers.
This issue, however, does contain a strong royal zest that may give you a case of palace envy. Feltmaker Janice Arnold takes us inside her extraordinary Palace Yurt (made of wool) requiring a space almost as big as Downton Abbey to exhibit. (The Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum housed in a New York mansion proved ample enough.)
Meanwhile, veteran traveler and photographer Torie Olson returns from a royal yurt adventure in Kyrgyzstan. In addition to visiting the country’s premiere yurt building workshop (who knew?), Torie encounters Talgar, a Kyrgyz falconer and his beloved Tumara, who boasts a six-foot wingspan. Anxious to show off his bird’s lethal prowess, Talgar lets her take flight on a rabbit hunt. (No spoiling! You will have to read the article to see if the rabbit survives.)
Several years ago I ran a cover story (Spring 2010) on Nilda Callanaupa and the Center for Traditional Textiles in Cusco, Peru. Nilda is an extraordinary force in the world of indigenous weaving and once again took center stage this past November with the wildly successful Tinkuy de Tejedores (A Gathering of Weavers) in Cusco.
Hundreds of weavers paraded through the streets in long black braids, crimson colored hats, and lace-up boots that were the envy of every Goth-minded onlooker – not that there were a lot. The three and a half days of scholarly lectures and workshops, along with ceremonial song and dance, further cemented the importance of preserving native traditions, which leads me not only to the point of this editorial, but the mission of Wild Fibers.
This is now my 11th year discovering and sharing the world of wild fibers with all of you and it’s time for me to really walk the talk. (Spoiler Alert!) After several years of careful preparation and training, I have decided to build a cashmere community center in Pangong, India: the home of my dear friend Konchok Stobgais. This is by no means a small commitment, but the ultimate benefits perfectly embody everything that both I, and Wild Fibers, stand for.
As you will readily understand after reading, “Keeping Pangong’s Future Warm,” the nomadic families who live in India’s high Himalayas lead a life that seems to dance daily with death, but is also completely entwined in their herds of cashmere goats. Constructing a cashmere community center in Pangong will give these women an appropriate shelter not only to spin cashmere into handknitting yarn, but also a warm building (with bathrooms) where their children can safely play close by. To my way of thinking, offering these women a simple structure where they can earn a decent wage from their creative skills seems far more desirable than the current (and only) alternative to swinging an axe by the side of the road.
When I was compiling the previous issue (our 10th anniversary!) I was simultaneously making arrangements for my trip to India to meet with Executive Chief Councilor of Ladakh, the Hon. Mr. Rigzin, and officially launch the cashmere community center in Pangong.* Now, it is my turn to officially launch it to all of you.
As followers of the magazine’s mission it is my dearest hope you will choose to support this wild new undertaking. Perhaps you can do so individually, or perhaps you can encourage your local fiber guild to play a role as well. If I have learned anything in my years of travel it has been the invaluable role of community, the women in Pangong have certainly shown me that repeatedly. And we, the wild herd, are a community too.
The only thing standing between bitter cold and a warm future for these women is $45,000 – it’s a lot of rupees. But the building will pay for itself in both productivity and quality of life beyond what most can readily imagine —certainly not Lady Edith!
Worried that my Western-style clothing might not keep
me warm, a nomadic woman loaned me her coat.