Ali Wilkinson

Still Alive!

I am still here! I know it’s been so long since I last posted and although I have a few excuses I am also feeling a bit guilty.

I’ve been travelling a little – first off to Sri Lanka and the Maldives with the Golden Child for two and a half weeks of mum-daughter bonding with lots of fun, culture, great food and amazing experiences thrown in. If you have never been, I cannot say enough wonderful things about Sri Lanka. The country just blew me away. I was expecting it to be a bit confrontational, like India, but it is not at all like that. We never felt unsafe and were always met with warm welcomes and kindness. The food was amazing – fish curry for breakfast is now my new favourite way to eat! – and the countryside is so varied and very beautiful. I definitely plan to return.

While there I was able to see and buy many of the beautiful textiles that are made in Sri Lanka. The bad quality photo above is the reception desk at the Galle Lighthouse Hotel and is a stunning woven display to symbolise the ocean and the stunning sunsets. We sipped at Barefoot, where I could easily have purchased two suitcase loads of saris, sarongs and other woven cottons and silks. The displays in the shop were quite enticing, especially for colour and textile fans, but the shops were patrolled by assistants who prevented any photos from being taken, so here are two from the internet with photo credits below each:

It was so hard to make decisions and I now look at my purchases and wish I had bought more! I bought a few saris and sarongs that I will use as quilt backs, and some dresses and placemats, and a gazillion scarves for my mum and mother-in-law. Seriously, I could have bought twice what I did and still not been satisfied to have absorbed all that colour!

In Kandy we visited a centre where handicrafts are preserved and carried out in the traditional ways. We met a lovely lady who was weaving a rata mat using  threads made from long leaves of a hana plant which is fibrous. The threads are dyed using natural products and the pattern is woven from memory by the weaver who has learned this skill usually since they were a small child. The pattern is formed by threading a stick through the warp threads separating them and then passing the hana thread through with a shuttle. I absolutely admire the way the weavers have the pattern committed to memory and know exactly where they are up to even when being pestered by people like me! I would need the pattern written down and a pencil to scratch off each row as I completed it.

Here are others on display in the shop – I bought the navy and natural one with diamonds and it is hanging on the wall of my sewing room now.

In Kandy we also visited a batik workshop. Batik in Sri Lanka seemed to me to be more sophisticated than my experience of batik in Indonesia. Many, many layers of colour, fine detail and precision made me realise that batik is more than just one step up from tie dye, which is how I have always thought of batik until now. Here are some photos of the process and end result:

I was a little more restrained here and bought only a pillowcase and two sarongs!

So, that’s a bit about my trip to Sri Lanka. Golden Child and I then went on to the Maldives for a week on the beach but as there was nothing of interest in a textile way I will pass on sharing the photos of that trip! Further updates on my “absent months” in the coming days. Thanks for your patience!

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