Well, I had to keep things a bit of a secret, so for months I couldn't show anything, but finally the collection of 6 patterns are now up!
It's called Ilha Formosa.
This was a collaboration with Malabrigo's MFPP (Malabrigo Freelance Pattern Project). When I was first approached by Alex who represents the Malabrigo, I was excited and a bit hesitant because at that time I had so much on my plate with extra teaching load. But they were generous to offer me a whole year to put together the collection, of course I'd love the chance to knit anything Malabrigo!!
I'm partial towards Malabrigo because after 10 years of not knitting, Malabrigo was the first yarn I used when I returned to knitting. I remember walking into the yarn store and the clerk pointed out Malbrigo Silky Merino, and I could not believe how beautiful it looked. When I first started knitting, there was no hand-dyed yarn that looked or felt like this. My world changed the day I picked up my first Malabrigo.
Being a total procrastinator that I am, I kept pushing back about getting the designs started. Finally this fall I started with the lace shawl Qilian after many swatches. I grew so fond of the lace motif that I decided to add cables and created other patterns with the motifs. Then an asymmetrical shawl, then a cardi, a cowl, a hat. I thought I was done with the collection with the 5 patterns and got the test knit rolling, but I wanted to use the glorious orange Rios in my stash. I was able to squeeze in another cardigan, Taroko.
Many, many thanks to all my test knitters who were so generous with their time and energy!
I settled on the name Ilha Formosa. It means Beautiful Island in Portuguese. This is what the explorers exclaimed when they first saw Taiwan, the island where I was born. Each name of the pattern, Qilian, Wulai, Vedai, Kavalan, Pali, and Taroko is a place in Taiwan with name rooted in Taiwan aboriginal language.
It has been so long since I moved to US with my family, but I still feel close to the land, to the people. I'm really happy with the fact that Taiwan just elected its very first women president!! Ms. Tsai Ing-wen is a supporter of equal marriage right (I'm so proud at how far Taiwan had come along since I last lived there.) Also, she will make a formal apology on August 1st to the aboriginals of Taiwan..
Taiwan has a long history of being colonized, first by Portuguese, then Dutch, then Japanese, and throughout history by Chinese. Taiwan is now mainly populated by Chinese (like myself), and the aboriginals have long been marginalized by the society. Growing up I remember hearing derogatory terms commonly used towards aboriginal people. It's the same sad story throughout the world with the indigenous people.
Aboriginals of Taiwan are people with rich culture and history that are not included in the history when we studied in class. The few stories of aboriginal people that are included in the history have been very biased and painted them with with horrible stereotypes,and Chinese are always portrayed as the saviors... In the past 10 years, there are more awareness, and the voices within aboriginal communities are getting stronger. And I hope this will continues to grow.