Otomí Temoaya

We are often asked about the inspiration behind many of our designs. The design process is often slow and can take several months, and many times designs never make it off the table and into production. Otomí Temoaya has been a design that has been in development for over two years and we imagined it, with Bethanne Knudson of The Oriole Mill, as a way to honor the tradition and history of Otomí art and the too often anonymous women who create it.

As a wedding gift, my family gave me an incredible and beautifully embroidered coverlet for my "matrimonial" bed, which had been embroidered by friends and family in Pátzcuaro.  Otomí Temoaya was based off the embroidery for that coverlet. We struggled to find the right name for our jacquard interpretation of the art of Otomí. We wanted to give the respect and recognition to the women who create these magnificent pieces of art and while there is an Otomí community in Pátzcuaro, where I was first introduced to the art form, it seemed a better fit to give recognition to the cultural center of Otomí culture.

As a child and into my adult years, I travelled regularly to Pátzcuaro in Michoacán to visit family and friends and it was here that I was first introduced to Otomí embroidery (see note 1). I was in awe of the freehand embroidery designs drawn by women so fast and so quickly before they embroidered; I was captivated by the bloom of brightly colored embroidery threads as women quickly pierced their needles through the cotton, giving those designs movement and life with every stitch (see note 2). But then, such magic as the gorgeous embroidered coverlets and table coverings were turned over. Anyone who has embroidered will know that one of the marks of exceptional embroidery is that the back side of the work will be just as beautiful, if not more beautiful, than the front or “right” side of the work. Most of Otomí embroidery is sewn using what is called a “fake satin stitch,” where the thread is kept at the front of the fabric instead of being threaded through to the back. The result is an amazing, tight outline of the design in tiny, tiny stitches. The “wrong” side is just as beautiful as the “right” side.  The embroidery is an incredible piece of nuanced and complex art and I still feel that same excitement and awe I felt as a child when looking at Otomi embroidery for the first time. It has been a part of my family, a part of my visual culture for over twenty years now and I never tire of it. I am so deeply grateful to have been introduced to this craft and to be able to admire its beauty in a deep and profound way. 

I come from a family where the women sew and they sew damn well. I do not. No matter how hard I tried, the end of my threads would become tangled and knotted. My simple work routinely ended in a mess of stitches that had been pulled taut or stitches that were loose and waiting to be snagged and ripped. Despite my ineptitude, I did develop one very important skill: the ability to discern exceptional needlework and careful craftsmanship. I can almost catch a vague snapshot of the women in my family from the carefully folded quilts and embroidery I have stored in my cedar chest. Loose quilting stitches tell me of a quilting bee with a lot of laughter, gossip and joking. Tight angry stitches tell me of someone upset over a morning argument with a husband or sister. Careful, perfectly aligned stitches tell of the love and patience that went into the making of embroidered pillowcases for a new bride or a carefully pieced quilt for a new baby. The stitches are anonymous, but they tell the story of women, a story and a history that is often dismissed as insignificant, because the story of women’s work never makes the pages of history texts. These are the stories I look for when feeling older textiles between my fingertips. I want to learn their story. I want to know the women who made them; I want to hear the whispers of their dreams. 

Proceeds from the sale of Otomí Temoaya will be donated to IDEX, who support organizations that are working to develop social and economic parity for indigenous peoples, notably women, in Mexico. 

If you  are considering buying Otomí embroidery, we strongly encourage you to buy fair trade Otomí pieces where the artisans, who are predominantly women, are fairly compensated for their work (see note 3) Casa Otomi is a good place to start.

Note 1: (Otomí is not an "Otomí" endonym. The Otomí people identify themselves by their respective dialects, of which there are many. Hñähñu has been proposed as an alternative to Otomí, but it only represents one dialect, hence its lack of use). See David Charles  Wright Carr. “Lengua, Cultura, e Historis de Los Otomís”. Arqueología Mexicana 13 (73): 26–2 and Jorge A. Suarez. The Mesoamerian Indian Languages for a more in-depth discussion of the intricacies and preservation of the Otomí language. This is a large and complex topic. The resources listed above are just a starting point. 

Note 2: Many Otomí women turned to embroidery to support their families after a series of droughts made sustenance farming untenable. The history of the Otomí people’s conquest and resettlement, as well as that of other indigenous peoples in the Americas, and its long reaching effects are documented in Alfred Crosby. Ecological Imperialism: The Biological Expansion of Europa, 900-1900; James Lockhart, Ed. We People Here: Nahuatl Accounts of the Conquest of Mexico; Miguel Leon-Portilla. The Broken Spears:  The Aztec Account of the Conquest of Mexico; and Robert Ricard, trans Lesley Byrd Simpson. The Spiritual Conquest of Mexico. This is by no means an exhaustive list. 

Note 3: It is of significant importance that indigenous women, regardless of their geographical location, receive fair compensation for their work. Indigenous women in Mexico face many legal and cultural barriers to economic and social empowerment. Think carefully before you buy. If you are interested in learning more about the difficulties faced by indigenous women in Mexico, these works provide a good starting point: Soledad Montes Gonzales "Violence Contra las Mujeres, Derechos y Ciudadanía en Contexts Rurales e Indígenas de México."  Convergencia: Revista de Ciencias Sociales  17(50): 165-168; Paul Liffman. Huichol Territory and the Mexican Nation: Indigenous Ritual, Land Conflict, and Sovereignty (general examination of the political struggles of indigenous peoples in Mexico with discussion of its impact on women); Cami Taylor. "The Struggle for Women's Rights". DePaul Journal for Social Science 5 (2);

The Heart in Kith & Kin

Paper dolls are about family. They invoke not only our immediate family, but also our chosen family of babywearers in this vast passionate community of critical thinking people.  Kith & Kin evolved, as so many of our projects do, out of a craft started with our children. We cut snowflakes, fold origami, and rediscover connecting families in paper.  As we played, I remembered one of my oldest and most valued friends, Cynthia Director, and her textile design degree project honoring our often painful childhoods as little girls. Her work was about being two dimensional, about love, about solitude, and about holding someone's hand.  She strung long lengths of dolls together; she made lonely girls waiting for dresses with their folded paper flaps; she made sense of growing up.

Paper dolls come from an innocent place, I think for a lot of us they conjure up memories of the past. Kith & Kin celebrates our present, where we are now with our families, babywearing, undefined, all holding hands through our journey together.  

The paper doll pattern is one directional to help aid in the learning of new carries, or just to assist with old favorites.

Kith and Kin will debut during national Heart Month in February of 2015. All proceeds from the sale of Kith & Kin will be donated to The Children's Heart Foundation.  

 

paper dolls-1-2.jpg

Lobsters: A Love Story

“So, have you guys ever considered using wool, silk, hemp, more linen, angora, cashmere, mohair, Tencel® (rayon), milk fiber (rayon), bamboo (rayon), soy (rayon)?"

This is perhaps the one question we are asked on an almost daily basis and the answer to it is well, yes, we have considered and tested all of those fibers and then some. 

However, we have been having a long and torrid love affair with cotton. We love cotton. We know cotton.  We consider our innovative weave structures developed by Bethanne at The Oriole Mill sophisticated, surprising, and complex.  We enjoy changing the wrapping properties of a textile based on the manipulation of weave structure and density; we consider this a challenging test when done consistently in cotton.

Although we love cotton, we also have a great interest in other fibers. Our due diligence is fairly involved and lengthy and if a fiber passes that stage, it moves into research and development, which is also a long stage. We tend to take our time and mull things over and although there is a constant push in fashion to push the edge and stay relevant, we prefer to be slow and deliberate when it comes to decisions concerning our children. We want to know where our fibers are sourced, we want to know their history, we want them to offer unique and relevant wearing qualities, we want them to croon to us songs of their youth. We want our fibers to seduce us.  We want to stay as natural as possible. We want our customer to be able to trust that when she selects a Pavo to wrap the most precious thing on Earth, she knows it is safe both in integrity and design. 

We have been looking at various woolens for the past two years and nothing was quite right; it either wasn’t strong enough to hold together well during the weaving process, wasn’t soft enough, or we were not able to fully follow the supply chain to our liking. The process was slow and frustrating, but we persevered and finally found wool that met our requirements. An order went in and I left Erin to do her magic. And this happened: 

There is so much I could say about Lobsters, but really he needs no introduction. I mean, look! 

But I suppose a little context might be of use. Lobsters came into creation around the same time as Ama, Aquaria and Sea Star. Every design has its place within a larger story and while Aquaria and Sea Star are lovely companions to Ama, the family was not yet complete. Enter Lobster. 

Go big or go home, right? We wanted lobsters on our wrap. A fitting and proud nod to Pavo East. We needed to go big because if we did not, what really was the point? Lobsters needed to be the perfect funky, weird foil to our beloved Ama. Lobster went through a number of iterations (including a sad shrimpish phase) and he was finally ready for the loom at the same time as our red wool. What better combination than Lobsters and red wool? Right? It is the perfect pairing. As Erin mentioned, "Nothing says winter in New England like red wooly lobsters." 

We spend so much time with our wraps, it is second nature for them to take on their own personalities and their own stories. They function within their own space.  Whenever I see Ama and her crew, I see a band of crazy, loud beatniks on the cusp of great change. I see a group of friends driving from Greenwich Village to as far west as they are able to go and finally coming to rest in North Beach, thousands of miles from home, but still right where they want to be. For me, Lobsters is that group's Kerouac. Wild-eyed, full of crazy movement and space, bristly, edgy, and absolutely perfect. Yep, Lobsters is definitely that. 


Of Whales and Mermaids

Pencil and watercolor on paper by Joseph Bogart Hersey, American (fl. ca, 1843-51), Ship Corinthian of New London, from Hersey’s journal aboard the bark Samuel and Thomas of Provincetown, MA, John Swift master, September 12, 1846-April 13, 1848. 

Pencil and watercolor on paper by Joseph Bogart Hersey, American (fl. ca, 1843-51), Ship Corinthian of New London, from Hersey’s journal aboard the bark Samuel and Thomas of Provincetown, MA, John Swift master, September 12, 1846-April 13, 1848. 

One of the greatest pleasures in working with a close friend is that they understand you, perhaps even more than you understand yourself at times. Erin gets me; I only hope I can do the same for her. 

Anyone else like Melville? Probably not. I admit to not caring for him that much either, but Moby Dick gets me every single time. And although I have read the book too many times to count, the ending still always comes as a surprise. 

Late last winter, I had just finished reading Moby Dick for the millionth time and was very caught up in the history of the whaling industry in Nantucket and New Bedford. Not exactly fodder for design inspiration, but I admit to being swept away by nostalgia and well, was overly excited, as I often am when I feel inspired. This led to a rather amusing conversation: 

J$: What if we did something along the lines of Moby Dick? I just reread it and think there might be something useful there. 

(Insert long pause)

Erin: What I'm hearing is that you would like a wrap with a whale on it? 

J$: Well, not just any random whale. 

Erin: An albino sperm whale with a grudge? 

J$: Yeah—maybe a man eating whale isn't such a good idea for a baby wrap.  Maybe something less literal? It doesn't have to be a whale. Maybe a boat?

(Insert second long pause)

Erin: So like a yankee schooner or whaleboats? On a Pavo wrap? 

 A whaleship sailed with three to five whaleboats swinging from davits (cranes used on ships). Spares, usually two, were stowed on top of the after house at midship.

 A whaleship sailed with three to five whaleboats swinging from davits (cranes used on ships). Spares, usually two, were stowed on top of the after house at midship.

J$: Hmm . . . well, when you put it that way. Maybe not? Maybe something else? I don't know. 

Erin: Let me think. 

See, when Erin says," Let me think," that is typically code for, "Oh Good Lord, J$ has lost it." And in hindsight, I do feel rather silly. I mean, Herman Melville in wrap form doesn't exactly call to mind images of snuggles or sleepy dust. So, I dropped it and reminded myself that perhaps not everyone loves a good seafaring tale of whales and revenge. 

But here's where things get really, really amazing. 

Ama in work

Ama in work

Later that week, inspired by the powerful women sea urchin collectors in Japan known as Ama, Erin texted me a painting she had done. It was a gorgeous mermaid, painted with dark, bold strokes on rich, creamy paper. I gasped and dropped my phone. Erin will never call herself a painter, but I will. That painting painted on a cold winter's day in the filtered, lingering sunlight of a late afternoon would become our Ama.

 

Of course, no mermaid is complete without her coterie of friends. Aquaria followed the next week and Sea Star, which had been on the back burner for months, finally found her home with Ama and Aquaria. 

It's not Moby Dick for sure, but I will always have a deep and abiding fondness for Ama and her many friends. 

With special thanks to Cleo Li Lebron and her photogenic family.  

The Chair

We drove by this fabulous chair every day on our way to the mill. We wanted to pick it up, but we were always late, our car was too small, what would we do with it so many miles from home? 

So Joel and I drove to get the chair anyway and before we went Bethanne said, oh I wanted that chair, and on the way Joel said, I meant to pick up this chair. We hoisted the chair into the back of his Southern issued pick-up truck and brought the chair back to the mill. The cushion was violently scratched out by a frustrated cat and the rain the night before gave it a rancid sour smell, but we love it all the same.

The Chair

BWI Atlanta

I don't have a babywearing group.

I was too shy, or overwhelmed, or introverted to seek out a local group as I should have when we started wrapping, and by the time I felt more functional, I barely had a wrappee. Instead I watched Michelle's FWCC tutorial on You Tube on a continuous loop and perused TBW to improve my technique and learn the vast history of babywearing. But I know I missed something truly great; BWI groups are filled with mamas enthusiastic about wrapping and carrying, and that translates into a community spirit filled with love and support fueled by a shared passion.

In Tempe the strength of these bonds was magnified by the intensity of the conference and the intimacy of shared space.  And on Sunday in Atlanta I saw again how a group of women with similar interests, yet vastly different lives, can experience great joy together.  

BWI Atlanta could be my babywearing group.  

Bright sun, big city

Bright sun, big city

Anna and Sara

Anna and Sara

What?!

What?!

Together

Together

Muse

Muse

Memories

Do you remember when you joined TBW? I do. I had been wearing my babies for a couple of years and had no idea that anyone else did something so incredibly "crazy." I had recently joined BBC (may I admit that?) and was delighted to find a whole board dedicated to various types of babywearing. It was there that I learned about thebabywearer.com. 

I headed on over and was intimidated at first. There were so many women there with vast amounts of knowledge. It was inspiring and amazing and I felt like I had finally found my tribe. I learned so much by cruising the forums and along the way, I made some amazing and wonderful friends. 

Until—gradually, then suddenly—babywearing moved to Facebook. And while that was great because it meant that babywearing could reach a wider audience, it also meant that all that knowledge that was there, hiding in the divided groups like a delicious secret treasure, was left unfound and lost to a new generation of baby wearers. 

Now TBW is back and better than ever. We are both so excited to see the new and improved TBW and are humbled and grateful to have had a small part in its relaunch. 

Cheers, TBW. 

Unicornio Pavo Real

Unicornio Pavo Real

Please consider playing a part in keeping thebabywearer.com alive by bidding generously on the wonderful Unicornio Pavo Real on TBW's fundraiser page.  All proceeds from the auctions go directly to TBW.   Good luck and happy wrapping!  

New—again!

Still in its infancy as businesses go, Pavo has followed a serpentine path toward our initial goals. We plan our color stories for each season at least six months in advance, we are working on Winter '15 as Spring '14 comes off the looms.  As much as we plot and plan for design and disaster both, we always come across  the unexpected.  We planted our bulbs for spring last autumn and are now seeing how they bloom from the garden, we are pleased with how our new wraps look together. We keep Guild and Form separate, but we do enjoy how they talk to each other each season, a nod to the sun, aquamarine, and the green growth of spring.  

Harmony Parakeet

Harmony Parakeet

Spring Form

Spring Form

Unicornio Pavo Real

Unicornio Pavo Real

Unicornio Vireo

Unicornio Vireo

Unicornio Heron

Unicornio Heron

Hanakotoba with Unicornio

Hanakotoba with Unicornio

Friends

Friends

The new Form wraps are a departure from Gotham and P2 in hand feel, they are soft and slinky, floofy and cozy, when compared with the tough strong Gotham. They wrap in the same mighty fashion, with our signature bias stretch and fine quality.  We cannot wait to see you snuggling your babies this spring and summer!  

Springtinis

Springtinis

Between the Sheets: Didion and Gotham

Perhaps one of the greatest joys in life is when you discover that a friend is as a voracious lover of books as you are. I was delighted when, early in our friendship, I discovered that Erin and I had many of the same books on our respective bedside tables. While our discussions of our most recent reads has taken a backseat in the past few months, our reading choices still occasionally influence the choices we make for Pavo, whether it be color choice, design ideas or when we decide to release a specific wrap or color way.  And so it was with Gotham Brick today.

We are headed into a week of unseasonably hot weather at Pavo West and along with the heat comes the brutal and powerful Santa Ana winds. Our house is at the base of the mountains and we are relatively sheltered from the winds, so when a wind advisory popped up on my notifications, I dismissed it. As i was perusing the stack of books on my bedside table before bed, I decided to dig through the bookshelves for Joan Didion. My copies of her works are dusty, old, and dingy with coffee rings on the covers and notes scribbled in the back. They are old friends and I was glad to curl up with them. As I read, I was once again enchanted with how Didion crafts language and imagery. Her short essay on the Santa Ana winds, an apropos read given the high wind warnings in effect, captures the restlessness and beauty that defines the Southern California landscape: 

"The Santa Ana"

Joan Didion

Excerpt from Slouching towards Bethlehem

There is something uneasy in the Los Angeles air this afternoon, some unnatural stillness, some tension.  What it means is that tonight a Santa Ana will begin to blow, a hot wind from the northeast whining down through the Cajon and San Gorgonio Passes, blowing up sand storms out along Route 66, drying the hills and the nerves to flash point.  For a few days now we will see smoke back in the canyons, and hear sirens in the night.  I have neither heard nor read that a Santa Ana is due, but I know it, and almost everyone I have seen today knows it too.  We know it because we feel it.  The baby frets.  The maid sulks.  I rekindle a waning argument with the telephone company, then cut my losses and lie down, given over to whatever it is in the air.  To live with the Santa Ana is to accept, consciously or unconsciously, a deeply mechanistic view of human behavior.

I recall being told, when I first moved to Los Angeles and was living on an isolated beach, that the Indians would throw themselves into the sea when the bad wind blew.  I could see why.  The Pacific turned ominously glossy during a Santa Ana period, and one woke in the night troubled not only by the peacocks screaming in the olive trees but by the eerie absence of surf.  The heat was surreal.  The sky had a yellow cast, the kind of light sometimes called “earthquake weather.”  My only neighbor would not come out of her house for days, and there were no lights at night, and her husband roamed the place with a machete.  One day he would tell me that he had heard a trespasser, the next a rattlesnake.

"On nights like that," Raymond Chandler once wrote about the Santa Ana, "every booze party ends in a fight.  Meek little wives feel the edge of the carving knife and study their husbands’ necks.  Anything can happen."  That was the kind of wind it was.  I did not know then that there was any basis for the effect it had on all of us, but it turns out to be another of those cases in which science bears out folk wisdom.  The Santa Ana, which is named for one of the canyons it rushers through, is foehn wind, like the foehn of Austria and Switzerland and the hamsin of Israel.  There are a number of persistent malevolent winds, perhaps the best know of which are the mistral of France and the Mediterranean sirocco, but a foehn wind has distinct characteristics:  it occurs on the leeward slope of a mountain range and, although the air begins as a cold mass, it is warmed as it comes down the mountain and appears finally as a hot dry wind.  Whenever and wherever foehn blows, doctors hear about headaches and nausea and allergies, about "nervousness," about "depression."  In Los Angeles some teachers do not attempt to conduct formal classes during a Santa Ana, because the children become unmanageable.  In Switzerland the suicide rate goes up during the foehn, and in the courts of some Swiss cantons the wind is considered a mitigating circumstance for crime.  Surgeons are said to watch the wind, because blood does not clot normally during a foehn.  A few years ago an Israeli physicist discovered that not only during such winds, but for the ten or twelve hours which precede them, the air carries an unusually high ratio of positive to negative ions.  No one seems to know exactly why that should be; some talk about friction and others suggest solar disturbances.  In any case the positive ions are there, and what an excess of positive ions does, in the simplest terms, is make people unhappy.  One cannot get much more mechanistic than that.

Easterners commonly complain that there is no “weather” at all in Southern California, that the days and the seasons slip by relentlessly, numbingly bland.  That is quite misleading.  In fact the climate is characterized by infrequent but violent extremes:  two periods of torrential subtropical rains which continue for weeks and wash out the hills and send subdivisions sliding toward the sea; about twenty scattered days a year of the Santa Ana, which, with its incendiary dryness, invariably means fire.  At the first prediction of a Santa Ana, the Forest Service flies men and equipment from northern California into the southern forests, and the Los Angeles Fire Department cancels its ordinary non-firefighting routines.  The Santa Ana caused Malibu to burn as it did in 1956, and Bel Air in 1961, and Santa Barbara in 1964.  In the winter of 1966-67 eleven men were killed fighting a Santa Ana fire that spread through the San Gabriel Mountains.

Just to watch the front-page news out of Los Angeles during a Santa Ana is to get very close to what it is about the place.  The longest single Santa Ana period in recent years was in 1957, and it lasted not the usual three or four days but fourteen days, from November 21 until December 4.  On the first day 25,000 acres of the San Gabriel Mountains were burning, with gusts reaching 100 miles an hour.  In town, the wind reached Force 12, or hurricane force, on the Beaufort Scale; oil derricks were toppled and people ordered off the downtown streets to avoid injury from flying objects.  On November 22 the fire in the San Gabriels was out of control.  On November 24 six people were killed in automobile accidents, and by the end of the week the Los Angeles Times was keeping a box score of traffic deaths.  On November 26 a prominent Pasadena attorney, depressed about money, shot and killed his wife, their two sons and himself.  On November 27 a South Gate divorcée, twenty-two, was murdered and thrown from a moving car.  On November 30 the San Gabriel fire was still out of control, and the wind in town was blowing eighty miles an hour.  On the first day of December four people died violently, and on the third the wind began to break.

It is hard for people who have not lived in Los Angeles to realize how radically the Santa Ana figures in the local imagination.  The city burning is Los Angeles’s deepest image of itself.  Nathaniel West perceived that, in The Day of the Locust, and at the time of the 1965 Watts riots what struck the imagination most indelibly were the fires.  For days one could drive the Harbor Freeway and see the city on fire, just as we had always known it would be in the end.  Los Angeles weather is the weather of catastrophe, of apocalypse, and, just as the reliably long and bitter winters of New England determine the way life is lived there, so the violence and the unpredictability of the Santa Ana affect the entire quality of life in Los Angeles, accentuate its impermanence, its unreliability.  The winds shows us how close to the edge we are.

I fell asleep with those images dancing in my head. Imagine my surprise when I was woken up at 3 am with trees frantically beating against our windows, desperate to be let inside and protected from the wind mercilessly tossing them around in violent fits and rages. Our two outdoor cats were yowling at our door uneasy and frightened, our wind chimes had given up hope and clashed hideously against each other and the electric line that runs across the backyard bobbed around  as if controlled by some cruel puppet master. I sat up in bed and peeked out the window. The Easter pinwheels the boys and I had so carefully crafted were spinning wildly, like miniature dayglo whirling dervishes worshipping across the dais that is our raised garden beds. The winds had arrived, much to my surprise. And with their arrival came that old feeling of restlessness. The boys felt it too. Instead of hunkering down in the covers like they normally they do, they raced outside to try and capture the wind as it howled through our backyard. They chattered excitedly in the back seat on the way to school, awed by the sheer force and unpredictably of Nature. 

And so I find myself in the offices of Pavo West with the trees battering the sides of the house with a regular tattoo and bone dry leaves skittering down the hills. I feel restless, excited, and in awe all at once.  My playground is now a desk surrounded by wraps and paperwork. What better way to work out the restlessness than to do a release? And so, despite Erin's carefully crafted release schedule, we decided to release Gotham Brick. The dark, broody red threads succinctly capture the edginess the Santa Anas bring to Southern California. 

It is calm now, as it always in the afternoon, but when the sun starts to sink below the horizon, the winds will pick up.  We will be here, packaging wraps as the the orange and persimmon trees sway and bend caught up in a never-ending dance with a cruel master. We will create our own little sanctuary of order and peace despite the wildness and restlessness outside. 

 

 

A Love Story: Klee

Where do we start with Klee? 

Klee has been with us from the very beginning. It was one of the first swatches we looked at and pondered when we visited The Oriole Mill for the first time after explaining to Bethanne what we were interesting in developing with Oriole for Pavo. I can remember rubbing the fabric between my fingers and interrupting Erin's conversation with Bethanne to remark on how unique the fiber felt. Erin, who is always patient when it comes to explaining the intracies of  fiber to me, stopped her conversation and took the sample from my hands and pondered it for a fair amount of time. Too heavy. Not the right type of rainbow. Too much time to develop. Too expensive.  And I knew she was right. Of course, we went on to release Parterre, but that's a whole different story.  I look back on that conversation and laugh now. She should have just said no. I had wasted the previous hour drooling over a wall of sparkly, glittery lurex threads and fibers and Erin explained to me why Lurex was not an option over and over again, we had vowed to stay with natural fibers no matter how sexy synthetic temptation can be.  In hindsight, I can laugh over this memory. At the time, I was devastated that glitter would not be a staple fiber in the Pavo library. Actually, I wasn't all that sad. We had already committed to natural fibers, but there's something about glittery sparkles that makes the 7 year old in me giddy with delight.  Maybe I will convince her yet.  

Bethanne Knudson, designer of Klee and owner of The Oriole Mill, shows off her creation for the Pavo gals.

Bethanne Knudson, designer of Klee and owner of The Oriole Mill, shows off her creation for the Pavo gals.

But back to the story: Klee fell to the cutting room floor, metaphorically speaking.  And it stayed there for quite some time. Over a year after we first saw the Klee sample, it resurfaced. Erin suggested that perhaps we should revisit it because, well, it had grown on her. This is classic Pavo: One of us falls in love with a sample and the other person is typically not excited about it. Then the dance begins. We go back and forth and back and forth and back and forth until we finally hit upon a consensus. And so it was with Klee. But then the samples arrived and we were both on the fence, but neither one of us wanted to give Klee the proverbial axe, so we sent the samples out to various testers with no expectations or desires. 

When the positive reviews came in, we were a bit taken aback. Klee was too thick, too dense, and yet people seemed to be so smitten with the girl.  Despite the positive response, it went back to the cutting room floor because ultimately it was too cost prohibitive to produce. And there it sat for a couple of months while Erin and I did the dance. Back and forth. Back and forth. Should we take the risk? Will it be too expensive? Will it be to thick? What if it's better than we think? Will we regret taking the risk?  It's such a familiar and comforting routine—I often think we do this because it just feels so fulfilling and perfect. It never gets old. 

Of course, you all well know the end of this story. We decided to run Klee. We both cringed at the cost of running it, we both have stayed up nights second guessing our decision to run Klee, we have texted furiously at 3 am reassuring each other this was the right thing to do. It is fitting that Klee will be our anniversary wrap. Everything about Klee represents Pavo; it's not just the aesthetics or the attention to fiber and weave structure, but the interplay between color and fiber captures the harmony and dialogue that are the foundation of Pavo. Klee is the Pavo Dance embodied. 


lather, rinse, repeat

We have a few samples of Unicornio here in different constructions, we have decided on what best works for its weight bearing capacity and aesthetic, but let's rewind to the beginning. . .

Unicornio was born from our mutual love of Mexican culture and iconographic significance.  We took the Otomi concept as a jumping off point and infused the pattern with our own special animals and quirky florals. With the introduction of the unicorn and the peacock we have created a design that is the essence of Form: playful, ironic, and reverent.  

Unicornio weave-down sample

Unicornio weave-down sample

Within the repeat of Unicornio we have included symmetry and a hint of a diamond shape through the connection of the animals.  Working on repeats is one of my favorite parts of development, I get completely absorbed and look up to see hours have passed as I struggle with spacing and scale or trying to force a motif into an impossible space when the right thing to do is just start over.  In the words of Dennis Congdon, my most influential painting professor, "Don't save it scrap it", so I do, and do again, even with a deadline, even when it is good enough, because good enough is not perfect.

Unicorn repeat stepped out to look for alleys and tracking

Unicorn repeat stepped out to look for alleys and tracking

Working for Pavo with J$ has pushed me beyond the task of creating work for other brands, it has taught me to believe in myself, and to not depend on others' criticism or praise for direction.  Pavo is the most difficult thing I have ever done aside from raising children, and as with children, it has shown me that the best is always yet to come.

Strawberry Fields in work

Strawberry Fields in work

Heart of Gold

Every 15 minutes a child is born with a congenital heart defect. Despite the fact that CHDs are the most common birth defect, affecting nearly 1 out of every 100 newborns, research remains underfunded. In honor of American Heart Month and to raise awareness and funding for CHD research, Pavo will be donating all profit from the sale of Hearts in February to the Children's Heart Foundation.

Unicornio Otomi

Winter has just begun, but we are busy with spring and summer here in the studio.

Bright colors, playful motifs, and a dash of sunshine!

We are excited to present our new website which will be exclusively Pavo Form and will debut with the launch of Unicornio, our personalized Otomi inspired pattern, in March

Gotham

We first saw the as yet unnamed Gotham on our mill visit in October, it was peeking out from the archive, tempting us with its bold geometry and retro feel.  

We were at the mill to examine a series of development projects we had in work for several months.  Before we came knocking, this mill had not heard of baby wraps as an end use for body cloth; we worked many long and intense hours with our earnest and attentive representative (we love him) to construct samples that met our high standards for support, safety, comfort, and quality. We had begun with patterns created by the talented team of in-house designers in order to have a solid starting point of a mill-ready pattern while changing construction and investigating the limitless variables which are so very important to wrapping. This was also an essential part of developing a strong relationship with our new team; we share a mutual respect. We took what we learned from the process to further our own vision and we are so grateful to have the support of the designers as we create stories for Pavo Form together. Through trial and error we discovered several constructions suitable for wrapping and we continue to push boundaries with research and development. 

Oh, but Gotham!  Yes, it caught our eye and drew the meeting to a halt. We are so happy after three months of painstaking redesign to have Gotham as part of our Wanderlust collection in Form.  It is the city at night. It is architecture and art. It is industry and growth. It is Pavo.

In work: analyzing motif placement on wrap.

In work: analyzing motif placement on wrap.

Sparkleberry Seven draw

Seven Sparkleberries in seven days—the draw begins today on Facebook!

Sparkleberry Celebration

The release of Sparkleberry marks the anniversary of one of the first wraps we considered a possibility among our many trials and errors, Garden Nuptial. It was thick, luxurious, and cozy, but ultimately prohibitively expensive and too much of a departure from the norm for a debut release (of course, we choose to launch with something even weirder—Parterre, but anyway) . . .  

Jennifer has been using our Garden Nuptial sample almost everyday for a year, she even brought it with her on our retreat last month to snuggle with in front of the fire and it has softened to the most irresistible  piece of cloth imaginable.  It is still thick of course, but it is no longer so heavy and unwieldily. It is cushy, supportive, unique, and has maintained its sheen through a year of washing, wearing, and unnecessary roughness.

Based on several other reviews of Garden Nuptial we decided we should offer a very small selection of similarly constructed wraps under Pavo Guild.  Sparkleberry will only appeal to a limited number of babywearers and the price is still high, requiring us to limit the run accordingly. 

We will follow the release with a draw for a full set of Sparkleberries on our Facebook page in order to continue the fun!

As always with Guild, these wraps would not be possible without the genius of Bethanne Knudson and the entire crew at The Oriole Mill and Sew Co.  Our unending thanks!