People of Mexico


Karla and Her Knitting

The life of the weaver makes the fabric

by Karla Belinda

Knitting is romantic. It comes hand in hand with creating, giving life, being yourself, expressing what you feel, connecting with your interior and showing it to the world ... thousands of established beliefs that make me think of all the romanticism that exists in " being an artist. ``Don't get me wrong, I feel lucky and deeply grateful for being what I am, but I do not always feel that way. There are days when I wonder how I got here, and I cannot  find answers about why I am what I am or why I do what I do. I often see myself as a tangled skein of thread - sometimes I can reach the end and sometimes I get lost.

I will unravel the skein a little to explain myself better… My name is Karla Belinda, and I am a textile artist. My mother tells me that she liked the name Penelope for me and that after a negotiation with my father, they chose the name Karla. They combined  it with Belinda to honor my mother's name; for some strange reason in Mexico, we like to honor our  ancestors by repeating their names in new generations.

As a child, I liked to paint, like all boys and girls.  There was nothing special,  but I always thought it was fascinating to be able to express yourself  and be carried away by the artistic experience -, I loved that. For years, it was my favorite hobby until I reached that dramatic age of  adolescence, of ups and downs, searching, building, self-demanding and little tolerance for frustration when things did not go perfectly on the first try.  When the moment came where all adolescents have to choose what they "will be in life," whether they are ready or not, I was still tangled and lost, but I remembered what I liked to do (be) as a child. At the time, I was not brave enough to choose the path of art, but something was already written for me. I chose textile design without knowing what fabric really was and little by little I fell in love with the threads and fibers. I began  understanding myself through them and reinterpreting myself over and over again, weaving and unweaving. Once again, knitting is romantic.

And if weaving is so romantic and so full of joy, sometimes I ask myself, “Why don't all weavers have the same opportunities?” “ Why do we haggle with an indigenous woman over the value of her weavings? “ “Why don't Mexicans value our crafts?” It saddens me to see that there is a hierarchy between art / design / crafts, what is made in Mexico and what is imported. It saddens me to see how we consume handmade products on social networks, department stores and transnational companies, but when we come across them in other settings, such as a dealer in the market or a weaver in a design bazaar, I hear comments such as: “ It is beautiful but very expensive. ”“ That is cheaper in X store. ”“ The huipiles (traditional blouses) are beautiful but not last. ”“ They should add a little more design to the crafts. ” etc., etc. ...

And little by little, the textile traditions are being lost because everything is a circle: he who works the materials, he who weaves them, sometimes he who sells them and he who buys and uses them. If any of them disappear, the chain is lost and generally the last one is the one that sets the rhythm of the son. Maintaining the economy in a country where opportunities are not for everyone becomes a challenge. Many families of textile heritage have changed their trade or profession because they have taught us that it is better to study a career to be a graduate and not an artisan, that a basket that we buy at Zara Home is not worth the same as the one that we buy in a market. The romanticism of creating and being an artist is not for everyone.

Upon hearing all this, many Mexicans will say: “We lack education.” “We lack much to be like other countries.” and one of the worst I have  heard, “It is  the government's fault” I do not doubt the veracity of each of these statements, but I would also add that we need much  to connect with the other, that textiles tell us about our history - whether we know it or not. We are all one, we are not far from the person who weaves the baskets in the street. I would also add that our consumer decisions have an impact, that the other artisan’s work is worth the same as mine, and that there is much more to a fabric than just threads and hours of work.

Let us recognize that in our country there are people who are born with privileges and that many others do not have them. For me, this is one of the most serious problems in textiles, and I do not  have a solution - I have more questions than answers. 

Let us  stop for a bit before buying and ask ourselves: “Who wove it?”  “How and where did they do it?”  “How did it get to me?” ... there may be some answers that will lead us to a more just and equitable world.  Long for a society that values all, and we do not know how to build it -  but day by day we are learning to create it. Knitting, in addition to being happy and romantic, also carries the responsibility of being a voice that talks about the problems - that it is good that we disagree and that we make it visible. Each textile reveals the eyes of its creator in a unique and unrepeatable portrait.  All human beings have something of an artist within them.

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