Posted by: Rebecca P | April 10, 2012

An Unveiling

Drum roll please!  We are super excited to be giving you a sneak peak of our newly finished logo!  We are incredibly grateful to our long term friend Kevin for designing this for us.  We go way back…Kevin was actually a part of our team (technically he was our boss!) when we first began our non-profit work in the Tibetan highlands all those years ago.  Now a graphic designer, his firsthand knowledge of and love for the people of the highlands totally comes through in this logo…the colors were his idea, the turquoise and coral reflecting the gorgeous jewelry Tibetans love to wear.  (I started to write Tibetan women, but actually, both men and women are into the coral and turquoise bling!)

The eternal knot is a symbol of the interconnectedness of all things, and this is what Reywa is all about.  Fiber artists in the US, Tibetan nomads raising yaks, the environment that supports us all…we are all connected, and we can be “in this together” for abundant lives and healthy futures for all.

So thanks Kevin for an awesome logo…we are excited to keep the vision of Reywa at the visual forefront of everything we are doing…and of everything our customers are knitting!

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Posted by: Rebecca P | March 29, 2012

Ideas, ideas, and IDEAS

Shopping the local wholesale market to see what we can find.

Poul’s parents were recently visiting us here in our Asian home. His mother, Lisa Ann, is a fiber artist with many years of gorgeous creations under her belt. They arrived from the airport and within hours our home had turned into a fiber playground…balls of yarn, splays of needles, notions and patterns and at least a half-dozen works in process. It’s amazing what happens with inner obsessions when they come into contact with another person’s inner obsession…chaos, synergy, and some truly great ideas in our case!

In addition to two new patterns soon to be available with Reywa yarns, late one night over needles and cocktails Lisa Ann and I came up with a great new product idea. I don’t want to give it away just yet…we are still fine-tuning it. But let’s just say it is something every knitter could use, and something that our physical location here in Asia would let us source very cheaply…which means we can make this product one that exists primarily to raise funds for our child sponsorship program. We are still crunching numbers, but we think that for every one of these products we sell, we will be able put $5 into tuition for children of impoverished Tibetan families. $5 by itself isn’t a lot, but it will add up fast!

We are very, very excited!

Posted by: Rebecca P | March 12, 2012

A beautiful thing.

With Darma and her teacher.

Rejoicing in more and more kids getting an education.

So the other day I wrote about why we needed to start Reywa to help provide alternative forms of income that don’t contribut to environmental degradation or outright unsafety in Tibetan communities.  But yesterday, I lived a beautiful moment which spurred us on even more than that!

Friday we got a call from a good friend who used to be a teacher at the school in the highlands where we worked.  One of our sponsored students was in town for the weekend, preparing to head back to school where she is finishing the last semester of an equivalent of an Associate of Arts degree.  We met our friend and Darma, the student, for lunch at a local Tibetan restaurant (YUM!) and had a wonderful time reminescing over old memories.

Darma’s village is truly the most remote of the remote.  Far beyond anything reasonably called a road, our first trip in was an adventure beyond compare.  We went because our commitment was to go to the poorest of the poor, the most remote of the remote…to those places and people where, if we didn’t go, no one was going to go to help.  This village fit that description perfectly!  When we arrived, not a single student had ever made it beyond elementary school.  In that region, elementary schools were set up in most every village, but to go to middle school, kids had to travel more than 10 hours on very unsafe, often unpassable roads.  Few people had ever even thought of sending their children to school, and for many who might have wanted to, there was no money to do it.

Darma was one of 5 students we selected from that village to enter into our student sponsorship program.  Today we still sponsor her, even though our NGO has closed up shop.  (Hopefully Reywa itself will be footing that bill!)  At lunch we asked how things were in her village.  Had any other children followed in their footsteps to study?

To our delight, she lit up.  Oh yes, 30 or 40 other students have left their tiny village to get educations.  Our teacher friend turned to us and said “that’s because of you.  You had the idea.  You helped these 5 students study.  They were the first.  Others saw them go and realized their children could do it, too.”

How awesome.  We pray Reywa will enable us to keep sponsoring Darma, her classmates, and many many more!

Posted by: Rebecca P | March 5, 2012

We did it!

We did it! Reywa Fibers LLC is an official business in the state of California! Yahoo! Our paperwork is through, our numbers assigned, and we are ready…(to pay taxes?)

And, we have finalized our first line of yarn and paid the mega deposit. Boy was that scary.  We don’t say goodbye to that kind of money very often!  If you are the praying sort, pray the mill will fulfill as they’ve said they would and we’ll have lovely new 100% yak down yarns on the shelves of your LYS by end of summer!

The next step: approving the dye lots for our colors…that sounds like fun!  Can’t wait to get the samples!

Posted by: Rebecca P | February 16, 2012

This is EXACTLY why we are starting Reywa…

We recently returned from our annual pilgrimage to the sun…the gorgeous beaches of Thailand are ALWAYS a welcome break from winter blues in our home in China.  On our flight we got a recent copy of Newsweek (the acquisition itself was a fun reminder of early days in Asia when Thai Air was our primary source for finding international magazines.)

Catepillar fungus for sale at a shop in our neighborhood.

The magazine had an article which referenced our heartland on the high Tibetan Plateau and quoted one of the modern trends that is EXACTLY why we are starting Reywa Fibers.  In this region of the Plateau, a full 90% of local income is generated through digging for a fungus locally known as “yar-tsa-geng-mbe” – “summer-grass-winter-bug.”  This interesting little thing is indeed a caterpillar that dies and grows a fungus out of its behind in summer.  Or maybe the fungus comes first and then the poor critter dies.  Whatever the order of events, the primary way most of our friends pay for food, education, health expenses, and life in general is through finding and selling as many of these mummified caterpillars as they can.

The yar-tsa, as we know it, is indeed valuable.  As Newsweek says, it can be worth its weight in gold.  Literally.  A single caterpillar can sell for hundreds of dollars in a ritzy Chinese medicine shop.  And evidently it has great health enhancing properties.  But, there are huge problems in how the bug is collected.

First of all, the fungus is found on the high grasslands, which are already in a state of gross deterioration.  Along with bimo, another important medicinal herb, the fungus is dug out of the ground to the detriment of grass just barely surviving already.  As whole villages of Tibetans head out during harvest months to seek these guys, the grasslands are left pocked by tiny craters where thousands upon thousands of catepillars have been shaken free of their graves.  The grasslands take another hit, and along with them, the long term prospects for nomad families and their herds to survive.  The caterpillars help them make it through this year…but destroy their long term future.

Additionally, the harvest itself is dangerous.  Each year we cringe to hear of our young students heading off into the boondocks to search for this fungal gold.  It is simply not safe.  Some have guardians accompany them, others don’t.  Land feuds, conflicts between nomads and farmers, territorial rights, regulations (and violations of regulations) on crossing provincial borders, and outright assault threaten the safety of youth who venture out to search for income to help their families survive.  Right now it is necessary.  But it shouldn’t be.

Tibetan communities need new ways to generate income.  And they have another precious resource that is laying primarily dormant…down.  Lovely, soft, warm yak down.  So let’s spin that down up into some awesome yarns, pick some patterns, and start enabling families to survive…without destroying their environment or putting themselves in physical danger.

Posted by: Rebecca P | January 17, 2012

A random nugget of knowledge…

There are some days I really love my life. Today I was talking with Namdrol. I was telling him I want to start learning to spin, and that it would be cool to get a hold of a traditional Tibetan spindle. He thought that was a great idea and promised to help me find a couple when he went back to his village for Losar (Tibetan New Year.) He added that there were many versions of the spindle commonly used…his favorite was the potato stuck on a stick for the weight. Can’t wait to master that one!

Namdrol's niece with a "weile" - a baby yak/cow crossbreed.

Posted by: Rebecca P | January 11, 2012

A New Year at Reywa

It’s a cold cold winter day in China and Rebecca and Alina are enjoying the cuddly warmth of our Reywa 100% Yak Down accessories. Poor Poul. We didn’t get any men’s samples knit up, so he doesn’t have anything. (Okay, now I feel bad…guess I’ll need to start knitting him something ASAP!)

After a Fall season with some unexpected bumps in the road, and some major changes to our plans for the immediate future, Reywa Fibers is about to become the real deal…yep, a registered company, legal in every way. Gorgeous fiber will soon be heading to the spinner and, in just a short while, adoring fans will be able to have as much Reywa as they desire (okay, not too many adoring fans yet, but they will come!)

Our team has been whittled down…John and Jo and the boys have had to return to New Zealand indefinitely, and for a few weeks we didn’t know if we would be able to pull this endeavor off without them. But what started as a dream for hope for the Tibetan people (remember, “Reywa” means “hope” or “dream” in Tibetan) has become our dream as well. And we just couldn’t let it go. It will look a little different than we’d planned…at least in the first years…and we will definitely miss our friends! But a dream is a dream…and it’s time to make it real!

Posted by: Rebecca P | September 27, 2011

Summer flies!

Team Reywa-USA (that means Rebecca, Poul and Alina) are wrapping up their summer in the US and heading back to Asia.  What a season it has been!  From visiting dozens of gorgeous yarn shops, to attending our first trade show and just having good old fashioned fun at Vogue Knitting Live this past weekend…three months of new relationships, new understanding, and lots and lots of laughs.

Here are some highlights:

–  Visiting our first yarn shop (Knit and Pearl Boutique in Santa Barbara, CA) in June and having the owner spend a solid hour with me, offering great insights and true enthusiasm.  Way to start the summer!

–  Meeting the people at Frog Tree at the Northwest Needle Market.  What a joy to hear from people who traveled this road before and both believe it should be done and know it can be done!  Thanks for the great advice Frog Tree!

–  Taking a dyeing class from Beth Casey, owner of Lorna’s Laces.  The most common thought in my head as she taught:  “Oops!  So THAT’S what I was doing wrong!!”  Just kidding.  Trouble shooting was great, but I also picked up lots of great nuggets for the future! Her love of color and belief in its power was contagious.

–   Over and over hearing people say, “you are going to soar!”  How great to hear that not just from our personal cheerleaders but independent witnesses as well.

And the biggest highlight of all:  Heading back to Asia Thursday to get this ball rolling for real!

Posted by: Rebecca P | August 17, 2011

The results are in!

Ruth's butterfly shawl...pattern available on Ravelry!

The results are in and knitters love this yarn!  We sent samples out to nearly 2 dozen experienced knitters and the feedback has been tremendous and unanimous.  Everyone is raving about the exquisite, buttery handle and the natural beauty of the fiber.  Here are photos of some of the projects our volunteers have completed…posted with great thanks to all of you who have taken the time to be a part of our launch!

Alina in her new sweater by Grandma!


Nancy's fingerless gloves

Posted by: Jo | July 13, 2011

Field Testing

zero degrees? no problem!

While some of team Reywa are sweating it out over pots of dye in LA, others of us are spending the winter with family in Alexandra, New Zealand  – a place renowned for having the coldest winters in New Zealand. What better place to try out our wonderful new yarns! With knitters all over the country churning out samples, we have been field testing hats, gloves, sweaters and scarves in this very harsh climate. The results are amazing. Despite early morning temperatures well below freezing, we remain warm and comfortable with our layers of yak yarn clothing. We have previously been merino wool advocates, but Yak yarn is truly a lot warmer than merino, and incredibly soft and comfortable to wear.  Bring on the cold!

Aidan in his favorite yak down hat.

 

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