In Search of Wild Silk has made its way into local book stores and shops that carry fibre arts supplies like Maiwa in Vancouver, The Silk Weaving Studio in Vancouver, Treenway Silks in Colorado and The Yarn Tree in Virginia, the publisher, Schiffer Publishing, and Amazon. There may be other shops I am not aware of, inquire locally or with your favourite shop.
My calendar has the look of pre-covid. I have been giving zoom presentations, in-person guild presentations, book signings, writing articles and blogs to promote the book. I have been very grateful to the magazines, textile organizations, guilds and shops that have been so supportive and helped get the word out. I have had some wonderful reviews that have also been very helpful.
My first book launch is in Vancouver next weekend. It is in conjunction with a Wild Silk Exhibition hosted by The Silk Weaving Studio. For those of you living in the area, it will be a unique and interesting show. The first of numerous magazine articles is at the printers now. It is the July/August 2023 issue of Selvedge Magazine, published in Great Britain. The theme of this issue is raw, as in the use of natural raw materials to make things. It is filled with amazing textile stories of all types from around the world with beautiful photos. Please check it out. If you are not familiar with the magazine, I think you will love it.
Following is another Journal Entry from the book. Not only do the rearers (farmers) take good care of their crops, they do so artfully.
November 2007 – On the Road in Assam
Mr. Bipia Chutia’s muga farm was not on our planned itinerary in November 2007. Our non-English speaking driver pulls off the highway and drives down a pot-holed, dusty road. My husband, Terry, and I just wait with calm curiosity for what this next detour will bring. We have faith, having traveled in India many times.
We read the sign at the farm entrance, turn to each other in the back seat, smile and pat our driver on the shoulder with a thumbs up. You see, in Assam state, taxi drivers, hoteliers and waiters alike know their silk heritage and are proud of it. They show great enthusiasm and helpfulness when they understand we have come to learn about wild silkworms and meet the people who work with them.
Thoughts of the heat and humidity of the long journey still ahead, melt away as we step into a tidy courtyard scattered with tools used for raising muga silkworms. A variety of white-washed buildings surround the courtyard, each dedicated to a specific function in raising silkworms. We step into a dark building with a concrete floor where the moths have completed mating and females have laid their eggs. Outside, a clothesline strung between two posts catches my eye. Exquisite, tiny, handwoven baskets in a variety of shapes hangs from the line. These are bamboo “cradles” handwoven for the newly emerged, hairy muga silkworm babies. And today is hatching day! Our first, even after so many trips to India.
We intently watch Mr. Chutia use a brown chicken feather to tenderly “brush” the whole and cracking tan-colored eggs into the “cradles”. He invites us to walk with him into the cool forest and help hang the baskets on branches protruding from craggy tree trunks.
Mesmerized, we watch the dark green bodies of the babies, already sporting a purple spot on each segment, slowly push themselves out of the eggs. They waste no time crawling out of the basket, beginning their ascent up the tree in search of the newest, most tender leaves.
It’s the beginning of a new cycle on Mr. Chutia’s farm. Through gestures, writing on the pages of my journal and broken English, we learn how proud he is that fifteen years ago he planted 1,230 som food trees on this 13.5 acres (5.5 hectares) to feed and tend his caterpillars, providing a good living for his family.