There was so much going on when I visited Guatamala in South America. Sights, sounds, smells, taste of food, potential danger of attack, unstable political system, that I didn't fully appreciate some of the processes that were involved in the stitching and weaving that I observed. I tried to read as much research that I could find before I left on the trip but it hasn't been until some time after I returned home and processed a lot of this information that I am appreciating my whole experience.
My problems with stitching with the 'silk' thread are an example of this. An embroiderer sits in the market stitching and customers bring their fabric to her to be stitched. The frame she uses is similar to ours but twists into place and is not joined. The needle she uses is really long, a bit like a long darner. (Maybe these things make the silk easier to handle.)
The fabric is woven on a back-strap loom and the decorative stitching patterns, that denote each clan group, join this fabric together. When I look at this photo I took of an embroiderer I realise that she is using the 'silk' thread I have been using but this time it is on a spool and she is having non of the problems that I experienced. Why? when I zoom in I can see that it is a flat silk without a twist, so it must come down to experience or something has been done to that thread or maybe the needle or frame? (This was taken at the Solola markets.)
The patterns that join the fabrics are evolving into more elaborate designs created by each embroiderer and this is a skill that is sort after by other Mayans. It has nothing to do with the tourist market. I was taken by the grace and charm of this woman. She had taken so much care with her personal appearance, the dressing of her hair was a work of art. As a fellow embroiderer I could appreciate the skill she had in her use of her needle. Change her hair and clothing and she could have been another stitcher at the Guild.