Wednesday, January 04, 2012


Mexico & Crafty stuff

MEXICO Travel 088
Posada San Cristobal
After 2 days in Tapachula, Mexico we were ready to explore another area - San Cristobal de Las Casas. We were very joyfully surprised to discover that the bus would be taking the winding road (Mexio 211) up through the high mountains! Friends had told us how beautiful this route was, but that the buses took a round-about way to avoid the bad road at the 6,400 ft. summit. Well, that road has been upgraded and that's how we got to go - up and over the Sierra Madre de Chiapas.

The scenery was wild, rugged and sparsely populated. Up, up we went driving by small villages where there was always at least one sign advertising that they bought coffee and cacao beans. We passed small family houses where their coffee and cacao harvest was spread out in the sun to dry and saw coffee shrubs everywhere. Coffee and cacao are cash crops for these rather poor people. We didn't see much if any corn being grown like we had seen up in northern Mexico. I'm guessing it's because with the cash the farmers can get from the coffee and chocolate crops they can buy the federally price subsidized corn for food and come out ahead.

MEXICO Posada San Cristobal
Posada San Cristobal
MEXICO Travel 084
View from our room
Sorry, no photos. I never knew what was around the next bend and by the time I saw it - it was gone. Once over the summit, we came into the high altitude town of Motozintla, home of the Mam indigenous people. The road then criss-crossed over over a wildly rushing river. Finally after about 9 hours in the bus, we arrived in the mountain city (elevation 7000 ft) of San Cristobal de Las Casas, Mexico and instantly fell in love! No, no not with each other - that has been going on for 37 years already - I mean with the beautiful 16th century city.

MEXICO San Cristobal DogsWe found a lovely and very inexpensive hotel (Posada San Cristobal) right near the center of town. Next morning it was time to head out and explore! The city was so clean and it reminded us of Cartegena, Colombia because of the Spanish Colonial influences. When we saw these two well-fed dogs sunning themselves we suddenly realized that we hadn't see any street dogs at all.

But what there WAS was plenty of fresh roasted and brewed local coffee and chocolate! Along the street were coffee shops with chairs and tables outside where we could sit with our drinks and simply enjoy the sunshine and cool temperatures of this high altitude city.

MEXICO Travel 191
TV repair shop

But of course, there were many stores too - like this TV repair shop. It was really only as wide as the doorway. That's it. But I'll bet they do a great job of keeping old sets running.
MEXICO Travel 188

The little leather goods shop was filled to the ceiling with beautiful skins in whatever color strikes your fancy. But something else was calling to me...we had passed a fabric store near our hotel and I needed to get back to it. A real Parisina which is a Mexican chain of fabrics, crafts, and notions.
MEXICO Travel 094

I have spent many hours in these stores during the two years that we cruised the Pacific Coast of Mexico. They are my Mecca. But one can not simply dash in and pick up what you want and be gone. Oh no, you have to look at everything. And then it takes 3 people to sell you even just one button. One gal gets the button out of the glass case for you at the button counter where you have waited in line for your turn. Then you take your carbon copy of the hand-written order paper over to the cashier's secure cubicle and wait again to pay for your nickle purchase. She gives you a receipt and staples it to your order form. Then you wait in line again to pick up your bagged purchase with the original order form stapled to it from another secure cubicle station. But it is well worth it! Everything so so inexpensive! Ribbons and lace are about 10 cents a meter, zippers run about a nickle to a dime, and fabric is generally about $1 to $2 per meter.
MEXICO Travel 092
MEXICO Travel 093I consider a visit to this store as "educational" because I have to ask for everything that I want so I have to learn the Spanish words for this stuff. Or just wave my arms around and point. That works too.

MEXICO Travel 091This store even had quite a bit of yarn for knitting - acrylic of course, but then it does get cold up in these mountains. The rest of these in the photo are spools of crochet cotton, Omega brand crochet nylon, and a few spools of thread. There are so many different brands of sewing thread available. It's just overwhelming.


And YES, I do actually make things from my craft supply purchases and don't just hoard the materials. For instance, I made these wine glass charms recently for a friend to give as gifts. At first I used some pre-made wire earring hoops, but then I realized that I could simply use wire and bend it in the same shape. Add a few beads and Voila! wine glass identification charms with each one different.

So, one of the charms has a knitting row counter on it. That one is for a friend who doesn't do well at remembering how many glasses of wine she has consumed! Perhaps she (or some kind soul in her company) will remember to turn the counter one click each time her glass is filled.
craft 004 Cheryl
Wine Servings Counter
The green knot work on the far left side is a shackle lanyard for sailing gear.

In the knitting arena...we have the January Mystery project for the Holiday Mystery Gifts Yahoo group. These are Wine Glass Slip-on Coasters. Yes, I had to purchase a glass of wine in order to take a photo of the little coaster on a glass. Dang. My grandmother used to have little paper and plastic diapers for wine glasses, so when I realized that somebody was leaving red wine stains I took out the needles and made these. The yarn used is Elann Esprit which is a sport weight cotton with a touch of elastic. I figure that the elastic will give great stretch and hold, plus will prevent saggy-diaper syndrome if it should get too wet (sloppy drinkers you know).

OK - that's enough for one day. I know I promised sheep...but that will be the next blog....really.

I want to spend time in that crazy fabric/ notions store. Love transactions in Mexico. Oh, and the wine charm with row counter needs to be available on my bar. Little pattern for wine "diapers"?/??
The local Hobby Lobby sells Omega nylon crochet thread, and I've often wondered what people make with it. Any ideas?

By the way, the check-out process for the button sounds like only one step more than the local Hancock Fabrics' procedures. Once I lost my carbon copy - what a flap!

Loved seeing your pictures of the village!
what a great adventure. I love the picture of the town, so peaceful and yes it does look very clean too. Amazing craft store,so much in such a small place, and so colorful.... love it!! And your gifts are great..... a little creativity with the wine glass counter... cute!! Love the wine glass diaper... I have my yarn out to do them (& now I know what I am going to be knitting) are very sweet and would make great gifts. Thanks! Keep safe but have fun my dear friend.
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