In which are explored the matrices of text, textile, and exile through metaphor, networks, poetics, etymologies, etc., with an occasional subplot relating these elements to Iggy and the Stooges.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Hand-dyed Silk in Basel


My first day in Basel was Thursday. I slept for a few hours, then went with my hostess, Kathrin Schaeppi, to an English-language poetry reading at the University. En route we passed the open market at Barfüsseplatz (named after the barefoot Franciscan friars, and not, as i first thought, after the discalc'd Carmelites...) and I spied a color-draped booth with skeins of all possible hues hanging in rows in sumptuous splendor. We made a beeline for it and I ogled the goods. The woman was French-speaking, from La Chaux-de-Fonds; she gave me her card: Holzart Atelier Hachem ("tournage et découpe de bois /soie et laine"); her son does the wood-turning and she does the dyeing of silk and linen. It was expensive, as is everything in Switzerland, but I couldn't resist, esp as I was vulnerable from many hours of travel and few hours of sleep. I picked out two skeins in somewhat counter-intuitive colors for me: yellow variegated and slate-blue/yellow variegated. Here's a picture; I'd forgotten my camera on the excursion so didn't get a pic of the booth and the beautiful artisan. However, she's there every second Thursday so I'll get a chance to revisit the scene. This picture is taken against the sheets of my cozy single bed on Bachlettenstrasse. The two skeins look so happy nestled together; it's a case of do-i-want-to-impose-violence-on-them-through-use or do I want to hang them on my wall when I return? The loom room at home is painted a compatible color, a dark blue-gray. Perhaps that's why I chose these colors. I'm not sure which of my friends would wear them, or what I can make: 400 metres per skein, she says.
Skein/skin. Almost too obvious, as in Stein's Miss Furr and Miss Skeene, who were so close, like my two lovely loopy skeins of silk, that they were "regularly gay." But a proper etymological romp remains to be romped.

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