Beth Camp Historical Fiction

Sunday, October 21, 2012

October 21: Woman Weaver

Huipil pronounced whee-peel
Young girl weaving huipil, Antigua, Guatemala (2001)

Since the beginning,
I have seen my mother 
weave huipil.
She would set me 
to sorting colorful threads 
while I watched  
mountains and birds take shape
under her fingers. 
The women weavers,
chattering softly in Spanish,
worked around us, 
all leaning on the leather belt
of the backstrap loom.

Only when I was thirteen
Did I begin to understand
What it meant to wear huipil:
I became the center of the universe
as I slowly pulled the huipil over my head
and emerged transformed, a woman,
between heaven and the underworld,
guardian of the past and the future,
keeper of my culture, weaver of huipil.

Huipils are traditional garments designed by men but woven and worn by Mayan women all through MesoAmerica. I took the picture of a young huipil weaver in Antigua, Guatemala, in 2001, while staying there in the summer, a break from teaching. Each village has a slightly different design, but the symbols are generally of nature, fantastic birds and flowers, or geometric mountains and birds. I treasure three huipils of my own to remember this time in Guatemala.

Octpowrimo's poetry prompt today was to write a poem about whether your life would go smoother if you would simply go with the flow -- Weave and flow. Once I read the word 'weave', though, I was lost in memories of Antigua. Read what others have written HERE or on Twitter @octpowrimo   More about huipils here.
Bird Huipil, Lago Atitlan, Guatemala, 2001
ROW80 (Round of Words in 80 Days) UPDATE:  The Quilt Show is over today! Maybe 4,500 attendees and over 600 fabulous quilts. I trashed my feet walking and looking and dreaming about quilting. Worked the Boutique during rush with a high tech cash register. Programs were great! Now I collect survey info and plan for next year.

WRITING: By making the chart, I actually wrote on my wip 4 out of 7 days, and am still holding to a poem a day for Octpowrimo (a poem a day for the month of October). I'm learning that if I write poetry, I don't have so much time for my wip. Must do/will do one critique today for NOVELS-L (else I am banished for the group for not doing two critiques this month).

READING: Slower progress in reading James Scott Bell's Plot & Structure, so I'm downsizing my goal to 2 chapters a week. Still making a steady dent (one magazine a day) in that pile of unread material. Posted a review in Goodreads for Kate Grenville's The Lieutenant, an absolutely engrossing read that's set, of course, in colonial Australia. What I appreciated most is that the conflict was mostly inner and mostly moral, leading me to ask what moral dilemmas my own main characters face and with what commitment. Feeling more comfortable with Twitter and holding to daily reads of what others have written.

MARKETING: Goals met for Marketing this week. In some ways, here I face the biggest challenge (is anyone else a shy writer?). But I'm pursuing a book group reading for January (just picked up my courage and asked! They said yes), and will also start attending an author's monthly lunch in December. I distributed mermaid bookmarks at the quilt show. While on Goodreads, I discovered Mike Lopez left a lovely review of The Mermaid Quilt & Other Tales!  Now time to reset that chart and get to work on the critique!

May your week go well.


  1. Nice post! Makes me want to pick up my weaving again. I haven't done so in such a long time.

  2. Beautiful pic, beautiful weaving, and I love the poem.

  3. Great job on putting yourself out there and taking risks for your marketing! Lovely poem!