Oaxaca 2022

Oaxaca 2022 Fundraiser!

Backstrap weaver Oaxaca Mexico

I am planning to travel to Oaxaca, Mexico at the end of January, beginning of February 2022, and need your help! Once again, I am seeking donations to help fund the trip. The purpose of this trip is to help local artisans hit hard by the pandemic. I will be teaching several 2-day workshops during my time there.
The workshops will be free for the artisans.

Through this project I intend to reach 40 to 50 artisans, in turn, they will be able to reach out to others in their villages and teach them. These will be indigo workshops utilizing local ingredients. Participants will learn to make an indigo vat that is easy to maintain and long-lasting. And, importantly, I will be asking the participants to bring materials they traditionally work with.
It is important that the participants become comfortable using an indigo vat with the materials they work with whether it be wool, cotton, or silk! 

Each $25.00 donation will fund the cost of 1 indigo vat! Each $50.00 donation will fund a day’s lunch for the participants. Some of the money will go to food, lodging, and ground transportation while I am in Oaxaca. A generous donor has already covered my airfare!!

Many of you already know about my work over the past 20 years traveling and teaching free workshops to people in need. I am so grateful that I can continue to do this. But it can only happen with your kind generosity!!

There are lots of lovely rewards available!! Tax-deductible donations can be made through my fiscal sponsor Fractured Atlas by using the following link:


Very Exciting News!

Indigo Exhibition 2020

I am completely over the moon!! My indigo garment has been accepted for an exhibition in Tokushima, Japan!
The piece is titled Blueness/Oneness. The inspiration came from many places.
First, seeing a beautiful piece by my friend Pavrita Shyam (who I met at IndigoSutra in Calcutta, India) began several conversations about Kalamkari techniques.
This led to my spending several months doing many experiments with various natural binders, indigo stock solutions and curing times on cotton cloth.
Culminating in Blueness/Oneness. A cloth with many personal connections.
In this garment I bring together the style of the Mexican Huipile – influenced by my many trips to Oaxaca to teach Indigo dyeing and other workshops at the Museo Textil de Oaxaca.
Often the Huipile is made from one piece of handwoven cloth – so too is the Indian Sari one piece of handwoven cloth!
Next – the natural binder of High Fat Milk and Myrobalan used by the Kalamkari artists of India allows me to paint on the muslin (cotton cloth) woven in India.
Indigo powder from an amazing NGO in Bangladesh – Living Blue – is used to make the stock solution.
Silk threads from China are dyed with Japanese Indigo from my garden. They are used for Sashiko stitching (a Japanese technique) to embellish the garment.
And finally my adaptation of my friend Michele Wipplinger’s Indigo stock solution formula!
Putting all this together with my own design sense and we have Blueness/Oneness! A coming together – a celebration – of many cultures!

The exhibition will take place Jan 18 – 26, 2020 in Tokushima, Japan.
Bunka no Mori Event Hall, 21st Century Building, Bunkanomori Park
Mukoterayama-1, Hachimancho, Tokushima City
Tokushima Prefecture, Tokushima, Japan 770-8070

Also I will be teaching this technique and more at Aranya Natural in Munnar, Kerala, Southern India in Feb 2020 at their 25th Anniversary Celebration.
For more information click HERE

Luna de Greca Flor – Tito Mendoza

Master weaver Erasto (Tito) Mendoza took my Weft Ikat workshop last March at the Museo Textil de Oaxaca.
He just sent me this stunning picture of a tapete (rug) he wove using the ikat yarns he dyed in the workshop.
The blue and white background are the weft ikat yarns Tito dyed and incorporated with traditional Zapotec motifs.

Luna de Greca Flor woven by Tito Mendoza

San Pedro Cajonos – Indigo Workshop in the Silk Village

The following slideshow is of the indigo workshop held in San Pedro Cajonos over two days in March 2012.

Photo credit: Linda LaBelle, Leslie Fiske Larson and Adriana Sabino Vásquez (MTO)

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Indigo Workshops – Oaxaca March 2012

Oaxaca – March 2nd thru March 18th 2012

My recent trip to Oaxaca, Mexico was a huge success!

I arrived late evening March 2nd at a lovely home where the family rents out rooms. I was greeted with much warmth and though they spoke little English and I even less Spanish we hit it off right away.

On the 3rd I went to the Museo Textil de Oaxaca, where I would be giving workshops over the next two weeks, to meet with Eric Chavez. We wanted to run over a few things and make sure we had all the necessary materials.

I had carried 120lbs of tools and materials with me in my luggage! But there were still a few last minute items I needed to pickup.

Sunday was a lovely, lazy day for me. I was able to stroll around Oaxaca drinking in the sights and sounds, visit my favorite street food vendors and just relax.

Monday arrived with sunshine and blue skies. This would begin five days of an indigo/ikat weft workshop involving five of the original group of ten weavers from 2010 and two new participants. Abigail, Marina, Arturo, Alfredo and Moisés had participated in the ikat warp workshop. Elda (a silk spinner) and Tito (a rug weaver) were the new participants. Adriana works for the museum, is Eufrosina’s daughter and was able to sit in on the first day of the workshop and pass the info onto to her folks. Each day we worked straight through from 10 to 3. The process of the weft ikat is more complicated than the warp ikat. The weavers had to think about their weft in a new way and when it came time to weave with their ikat yarns that would be different for them as well. They brought their own yarns (silk, wool and cotton) and dyed some of them in solid indigo blue. I also taught them Michel Garcia’s method of the lime/fructose indigo vat. They were very excited to learn this new way of making an indigo vat and the museum was thrilled as it is practically odorless!  The museum supplied the indigo for the workshops and we made two 30-liter pots using the Fructose Crystalline and Calcium Hydrate (lime) and Knox Gelatin (to protect the wool and silk from the vat’s alkalinity) I brought from the States. Then we made one pot we called the Oaxacan pot – all the ingredients came from Oaxaca – the indigo, the Cal (lime), Grenetina (gelatin) and the mangoes. Eric was able to find Fructose Crystalline at the newly opened WalMart and we made another small pot using the new fructose. The workshop finished on Friday with the agreement that we would all meet at 11am on the Saturday the17th to see what they each wove with their ikat wefts. At the end of the workshop the museum presented the participants with a certificate for completing the workshop – I got one too for presenting the workshop!

Saturday the 10th I did a Shibori/indigo workshop – 23 people attended. It was a blast! Everyone had 4 silk squares for four techniques. Once their squares were wrapped, folded and bound they were dyed in indigo. For many of the participants this was their first time working with indigo and they loved it!

Ever since my first meeting with Eric over two years ago we have talked about the possibility of bringing the workshops to the villages. It is a hardship for the weavers & dyers to take the time out to travel the long distance to Oaxaca City for my workshops. Eric approached Moisés, who comes from the silk village of San Pedro Cajonos, to see if he could put something together in his village. In a very short time Moisés arranged lodging, meals and transport to his village high in the Sierra Norte. There I would be working with twenty people from four pueblos. They are part of a newly formed alliance of surrounding silk villages that is less than a year old. It is not usual for villages to work together. But in these difficult times they realized they need each other. They need to share information and when big orders come through there are many more hands now to handle the job.

Three of us would make the trip – Adriana, representing the museum, Leslie my translator and me. On Sunday morning March 11th we drove up to San Pedro Cajonos. Our driver was the husband of Elda, a silk spinner from San Pedro, she had just taken the indigo/weft ikat workshop with me and their home was where we would stay while in San Pedro. I had visited San Pedro Cajonos to interview Moisés for my book “Stories of Hope – Oaxaca; Weavers of Southern Mexico” and I was excited to return. The workshop would take place over two days. The purpose was to teach the group Michel Garcia’s lime/fructose method. Our stay was a wonderful whirlwind of visits, meals, workshops, long walks, beautiful vistas and much laughter and joy. The villagers raise their own silk worms, both wild and cultivated. They spin the silk on support spindles from the softened cocoons. They will then either dye the yarn or weave with the undyed silk and dye the finished piece. In the workshop we dyed softened cocoons, yarn, rebozos (shawls) and even a huipil (blouse) or two.

The first day we made two 30-liter pots using the lime/fructose method and one 8-liter pot using the juice from boiled mango skins and lime. The second morning we made two new 30-liter pots and dyed until we had used up all the indigo. At 2pm we had to leave for Oaxaca. I left the group making two fresh 30-liter pots on their own. I found out later that didn’t finish until after 7pm. At that time of night it is dark in the Sierra Norte and many participants still had an hour’s journey to get home. This told me the workshop was a success.

On the way back down the mountain Elda’s husband took us on a detour. We hiked up a trail to what seemed the top of the world. The silence, the beauty – feeling like you could touch the sky made the three of us giddy. This was a lovely ending to an incredible trip. We arrived back in Oaxaca City by 6:30 that evening.

Wednesday morning Leslie and I were ready for the next workshop. Again this was something new – Eric realized that not all weavers and dyers could take five days out of their schedule for a workshop – so we decided to hold two one-day workshops on how to make a simple indigo vat again using the lime/fructose method. Open to both the general public and native artisans we had eight participants for the Wednesday workshop and 14 for the Friday workshop. The workshop participants were a nice mix of artisans and hobbyists, ages and backgrounds. Several of the participants had taken the Shibori workshop and wanted to learn more about indigo. Two of the participants had been customers at The Yarn Tree when it was still in Brooklyn!

At the Wednesday workshop we had a mother and her young son. It turned out that the mother is a dyer, the father a master weaver, and the son is also an accomplished weaver. The young man had found out about the workshop on the Internet and here they were. Leslie and I visited them at their weaving studio in Teotitlán on Saturday afternoon. The dad picked wild indigo for me from the nearby arroyo, we looked at their beautiful weavings and talked color. Got to love the Internet!

On Thursday, between the two indigo workshops, I was able to have a play day at the Museum – we had 2 big indigo vats and three small ones going and several members of the museum staff came and dyed with me.

Saturday I eagerly awaited the arrival of Marina, Abigail, Alfredo, and Tito. Moisés, Elda and Arturo would not be able to make our Saturday reunion.  Tito wove a small tapete (rug) Abigail a belt, Marina a bag and Alfredo wove two ponchos, a scarf, and a king-sized bedspread! I asked them all if they would continue to use this new technique (weft ikat) and they all said yes and started to tell me what they would make, what they would do differently, what problems they encountered and how they would fix the problems! From this dialogue I knew the workshop was a success.

6:am Sunday morning came too quickly – my lovely hostess came to say goodbye and I was off to the airport.

None of this could have happened without the generous support of the donors to Stories of Hope and I thank you!

Not only did the museum give me a beautiful place to work, arrange the workshops and supply me with an outstanding translator, but they also honored me with my plane ticket and I thank them for all that they have done!

Also, I need to say thank you to Leslie Larson for her enthusiasm, her patience and the great job she did being my translator!

And I thank the artisans who took time from their looms to travel and learn from me!

Part of the materials I brought with me were used in the workshops, more importantly I was able to give materials to the folks who participated in the 5-day workshop – they received Calcium Hydrate, Fructose Crystalline, Knox Gelatin and PH strips so they could make the lime/fructose vat at home. I was also able to add to the workshops tools I store at the museum.

We are already planning my return in the fall with more workshops taking place in the villages surrounding Oaxaca City.

I can only hope that you will continue to support Stories of Hope – it is thanks to you that this program continues to flourish – it is your generosity that is helping to make a difference in people’s lives!

With much Hope & Joy!


If you would like to make a tax-deductible donation, please visit my fiscal sponsor Fractured Atlas (http://www.fracturedatlas.org) and donate to Stories of Hope #2928

Photo credit: Linda LaBelle, Leslie Fiske Larson, David Marcos Garza Silva (MTO)

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The Indigo Project

The Kickstarter campaign is 37% of the way there! $3770.00 has been raised. There is just a month left to reach the goal of $10,000.00. The Indigo Project needs your help!

Do you love textiles, the color blue, a good story, sustainability, helping others?

If the answer is yes – support The Indigo Project!

I have once again been invited to teach at the Museo Textil de Oaxaca in the fall. I will be teaching three workshops: a weft Ikat to the original group of weavers from Sept 2010, a warp Ikat workshop to a new group of ten, and Michel Garcia’s method of making a reduction indigo vat.

In addition I plan on traveling to one of the last villages in Mexico that produces indigo. I expect to spend several weeks in the village interviewing the villagers and documenting the indigo production from the field to the indigo cake.

This means I could be in Mexico for up to two months. For all of this to happen I need to raise the funds.

There are two ways that you can donate – join the fun at Kickstarter and receive great rewards!


Or if you’d like to make a tax-deductible donation or your company has matching grants then Fractured Atlas (the fiscal sponsor for Stories of Hope) is the way to go.


What will this money be used for? Part of it will be used to produce a book on the indigo growers. This book will document the process from the fields to the indigo cake ready for market. Part of it will go to having both Stories of Hope –Oaxaca (http://www.blurb.com/bookstore/detail/2132961)and Stories of Hope –The Indigo Project translated into Spanish. Part of it will go to transportation, room and board for both myself and a translator. Part of it will go to pay the translator. Part of it will go to updating or adding equipment.

Why is this important? This is one of the last villages in Mexico to produce indigo and I feel very strongly that it is important to archive the process and tell the stories of the villagers. Indigo production has sustained them for generations, but this could all become lost as the younger generations leave the village to work in the US or Mexico City. It can become lost because this is a subsistence lifestyle and one bad crop can ruin the village financially. Last year there was too much rain and they were only able to produce a small amount of indigo.

It takes only one generation for knowledge to become forever lost. Twice in the past year I traveled to return to cultures craft techniques that had become lost to them.

Stories of Hope (www.madderlane.com) is making a difference in people’s lives and that is happening because of the generosity and support of people like you!

Stories of Hope – The Indigo Project

Thank you for your support of Stories of Hope – Oaxaca

2010 was a very good year for Stories of Hope!

The workshop in Mexico was successful – the weavers are now utilizing the techniques taught in the workshop to create fresh new products for the marketplace that are selling well. Stories of Hope – Oaxaca, Weavers of Southern Mexico was just published. And I have been invited back to the Museo Textil de Oaxaca to teach in the fall.

In Jan. 2011, Stories of Hope was able to give out a scholarship for Creativity & Experimentation and an interest free micro-loan, I look forward to repeating this in 2012.

I have just started a new Kickstarter campaign, Stories of Hope – The Indigo Project and hope that I can count on your support again this year.

Here is the link to the project:


The Indigo Project

Or if you’d like to make a tax-deductible donation or your company has matching grants then Fractured Atlas (the fiscal sponsor for Stories of Hope) is the way to go.


More info on José’s tapestry!

I have more info on Jose’s newest tapestry.
The dimensions are : 42cm x 42cm (approx. 17″ X 17″)
It’s been dyed with huizache (black), zacatlaxcalli (yellow), cochineal (red) and indigo (blue) combined.
The title is “4 tiempos en el aire” (4 Tempos in the Air), it was woven on a treadle loom with a sett of 16 threads per inch.
The price is 20,000 pesos (approx $1,730.00 USD + shipping)
90% of the sale price will go to Jose and 10% goes to my charity project Stories of Hope as seed money towards another scholarship.
It will be on display at the Museo Textil de Oaxaca for the month of June!
If you are interested in purchasing this beautiful piece please contact me linda@theyarntree.com

José’s woven piece is finished!

José Mendoza is the recipient of the 2011 Scholarship for Creativity & Experimentation from Stories of Hope. Between January and May José was to work on one piece that would be for display and for sale. He has completed the tapestry and has decided to have it framed in a shadow box as it is not very large (approx. 24″X24″).  José told me he has incorporated all the techniques he has learned from his learning to weave as a child up to his experiences today. The very fine yarns he worked with are all dyed with natural dyes. This tapestry will be on display at the Museo Textil de Oaxaca for the month of June. The tapestry is for sale and he will let me know what the price will be.  When the tapestry sells  José will keep 90% of the sale price with 10% going back to Stories of Hope as seed money towards the 2012 scholarship. If you are interested in purchasing José’s tapestry please e-mail me at linda@theyarntree.com

Tapestry by José Mendoza

I am so proud of José and his beautiful work!

Oaxaca update!

Today is certainly the right day to tell you all about my time in Mexico! As I sit here and watch the snowfall I think back to warm, sunny days in Oaxaca. They say that the weather each of the first days of the new year will determine the weather for coming months – if it is raining and cold on Jan 2nd, then February will be rainy and cold. If it is sunny and hot on January 3rd then March will be sunny and warm. Every day was sunny and very warm so Oaxaca is looking at a very warm, sunny spring!

The trip was a great success. I was able to meet with the 10 weavers and go over the next workshop with them. The upcoming workshop will focus on weft ikat and will work as a lab. The participants will bring their own yarns pre-dyed with natural dyes in reds and yellows. We will again work with indigo, over-dyeing to give purples and greens.

Several of the weavers have continued to work with the ikat techniques they learned in September. Arturo told us he sold 5 shawls in one week that were done with ikat. Because they all sold we didn’t get to see them!

Moises brought a beautiful silk scarf to show us.

Moises’ Ikat

And Alfredo brought 2 dresses that incorporated ikat.

Dress with Ikat

Detail of Ikat

The museum has invited me to give three workshops in 2011 – I am so honored and excited!

My main purpose in traveling to Oaxaca was to hand out the scholarship and micro-loan. We did not let anyone know that this was why I was there and made arrangements to meet with the recipients in private.

Eric and David, representing the Museo Textil de Oaxaca, and I made arrangements to travel to Jose’s home in Teotitlan so that I could photograph his latest weaving. When I was done we asked if we could sit and talk – then we surprised Jose with the scholarship. He was stunned.  The scholarship is for Creativity & Experimentation. The piece Jose weaves will be exhibited at the Museo Textil de Oaxaca in June and then it will come here to Brooklyn to be on exhibit in July. The piece will be for sale –  10% of the proceeds will go towards another scholarship. I cannot wait to see what Jose does!

Jose receiving Scholarship for Creativity & Experimentation

Next we made arrangements to meet with Eufrosina & Esteban at the museum telling them I needed to do another interview with them. I cannot tell you how surprised they were to learn they weren’t there to be interviewed instead they would be receiving a micro-loan to help them purchase a loom – they were both speechless.

Esteban receiving the micro-loan!

At the end of my stay the weavers invited me to lunch – including folks from the museum there were close to 20 of us. It was at this lunch that we told the other weavers about the scholarship and micro-loan. They were so pleased for Jose, Eufrosina & Esteban and thrilled to learn that this program will continue to be available in the future to help others. I explained to everyone that this money was not coming from me – but from a wonderful group of people who care very much about them. They are so thankful that strangers from so far away would do this for them.

They asked me to say Gracias to you all!

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