Carrying on the Tradition with Thread Caravan

Thread Caravan is a new ecotourism company specializing in global workshops that empower local artisans and preserve traditional crafts by teaching travelers straight from the source. This June, I joined their pilot retreat to explore Guatemala's Lake Atitlan region and learn all about the Mayan art of backstrap weaving. 

We were thrilled when Caitlin Ahern of Thread Caravan first told us about her new venture, which seemed to represent the direct interests of indigenous artists - and dovetail perfectly with our passion for handmade designs. And the trip didn't disappoint. In Guatemala, the first of Thread Caravan's retreat destinations, Ahern partnered with Maya Traditions, a Panajachel-based, fair-trade co-op that facilitates visits to far-flung rural villages in the highlands above Lake Atitlan where local female artisans are employed to demonstrate and teach their unique Mayan weaving techniques. 

The immersive four-day retreat provided an intimate glimpse into a generations-old custom and it was truly humbling to witness how much work goes into making one single textile, from treating raw materials with natural, botanical dyes to spinning silken thread out of cotton seeds. At the end of the week, Caravan travelers were able to create their own woven garment under the guidance of the local artisans. 

I also sourced Loti's new Found collection of Guatemalan textiles on the trip, discovering dozens of rare handmade textiles at a pop-up market in Panajachel. But the trip was much more than weaving bufandas and textile shopping. 

Caravan participants bunk together in a rustic lakeside villa, with shared rooms scattered between three tiers of cliffside accommodations, from upper-level canopy views to direct lakefront access. Some of the best memories of the trip were sharing stories on the dock, cooking group dinners, and splitting tiny bottles of local tamarindo liquor in the patio hammocks. 

There are still spots available on Thread Caravan's next Mayan weaving retreats - and they just announced a new "Mezcal + Mole" trip to Oaxaca in November. Follow along with their adventures on Instagram and use code LOTIMARKET to get $150 off when you book any trip.

More updates from the experience coming soon... Loti journal entries, weaving demos, and vintage Guatemalan textiles hit the market this month! 


On the road: Sifnos, Greece

Sifnos is a quiet, mountainous island located in the Cyclades, with beautiful beaches and ancient whitewashed villages. 

We stayed in at Aglaia Studios in Kamares, opposite the island's main port, which offered easy access to the water and an incredible terrace overlooking the Aegean Sea. Every morning we'd wake up and eat fresh fruit with Greek yogurt and local honey while we watched the ferries come in.

One of our favorite meals was at Kafenes, a restaurant attached to the nearby Hotel Boulis (unsightly from the outside, but incredibly charming once you're in). The menu is full of traditional Greek fare, with many of the ingredients grown locally. 

While there's a bus network that connects the island's major towns (Apollonia, Kastro, Vathy), renting a scooter offered a lot more flexibility and freedom- riding around the island at sunset remains one of my favorite travel memories to date. 

Kastro is one of the most beautiful towns on the island, scattered with ancient relics, stunning views, and kittens! From there we followed a small trail to see the Panagia Poulati church and its relatively secluded 'beach'. I forgot my water shoes but decided to go swimming anyway, which I quickly regretted after cutting my toe open on a rock (so don't forget your shoes!).

All is well that ends well, however, as I discovered Giannis Podotas' ceramic shop next to the pharmacy where I bought my bandaids!

Have you been to Greece? It's really hard to choose which islands to visit so I'd love to hear some suggestions!


Satyajit Ray's Apu Trilogy Restored


Happy to see that Indian director Satyajit Ray’s acclaimed Apu Trilogy has been restored by Janus Films and will be released later this year via Criterion Collection. The original negatives were destroyed in a fire 20 years ago and most of the remaining prints were of poor quality, making Janus' 4K restoration a real feat (read a bit more about how they did it in this A.V. Club interview)   

Filmed over five years, The Apu Trilogy follows a Bengali boy’s journey into adulthood. The first film of the series, Pather Panchali, marked the start of Ray's accomplished filmmaking career, a true turning point in Indian cinema. Can't wait to watch!



O'Keeffe's Ghost Ranch

We're on a Georgia O'Keeffe kick right now thanks to featured Loti artist Miranda Bennett's custom line of shibori dyed silk wraps inspired by Ghost Ranch. The more we find out about O'Keeffe's isolated high desert home in New Mexico, the more we connect to Miranda's visual inspiration. Here are a few excerpts from a great 2002 Architectural Digest article (w/ photos by Robert Reck): 

"The studio at Ghost Ranch remained an austere space with few furnishings. (Like this amazing Le Corbusier–style lounge chair) O’Keeffe also painted outdoors, and her Model A Ford functioned as a kind of mobile studio. “I thought the ranch would be good for me because nothing can grow here and I wouldn’t be able to use up my time gardening,” she said."

Here in this unpretentious, U-shaped structure, situated in a remote area of the ranch, O’Keeffe spent each summer and fall of most of the last 40 years of her long and prolific life. Its adobe walls seemingly an extension of the earth itself, the Ghost Ranch house (first shown in Architectural Digest in June 1981) nurtured her love of nature. Its picture windows frame views of majestic cliffs and mesas.

“Out here, half your work is done for you,” O’Keeffe said. She particularly delighted in climbing the handhewn wooden ladder to the roof, where she often entertained visitors and slept under the stars.

As elsewhere in the house, rocks, shells and bones collected by the artist on her walks line shelves in the dining room. Chinese chairs surround the plain plywood table. The simple, U-shaped adobe structure was built in the 1930s; it now sits on approximately 12 acres.

O’Keeffe expressed her enthusiasm for her surroundings in a 1942 letter to the painter Arthur Dove: “I wish you could see what I see out the window—the earth pink and yellow cliffs to the north—the full pale moon about to go down in an early morning lavender sky . . . pink and purple hills in front and the scrubby fine dull green cedars—and a feeling of much space—It is a very beautiful world.”

“However, when I took my pots and pans and moved them to Abiquiu, I knew that was now my home, even though I continue to return to Ghost Ranch each summer to paint, or whenever I can find an excuse to get there. When you start making a home, it is difficult to stop changing it, imagining it different. If I thought of building a house from scratch today, I would make it so simple that it would make most houses look like some kind of Chinese puzzle.”

How to close a tourvas bag

During a stay in Sifnos, Greece last summer, I discovered the tourvas. An everyday staple for most working class Greeks, tourvas bags are used to carry the essentials and the extras. In keeping with the bag's minimalist design, there are no unnecessary zippers or buttons: instead, it's closed using drawstring straps which are tied around the top to keep all contents exactly where they should be. Here's how it's done: 

Tourvas bags are available at Loti Market