You Tell Us | July/August 2011

Courtesy John Heaton

Recommendation: Spinning Tradition

From Quinta Maconda, my colonial inn in Antigua, Guatemala, we sell and export limited-edition talisman shawls and throws. They are made by a group of about 20 Mayan women, aged 35 to 86, who live in the Cuchumatanes mountains. These lovely ladies hold the knowledge of the ancestral ways and are reviving sacred weaving techniques. Each piece is a true talisman, crafted with rich hand-spun raw cotton, dyed from vegetable ingredients that are gathered by hand and woven on a back-strap loom. In this photograph, the ladies are blowing on achiote seeds to rid them of their protective membrane before the rich orangey-red dye is prepared. In the back, Doña Octaviana is spinning two colors of yarn to create a chiné effect. Each talisman is unique and signed by its authors, and part of the proceeds are returned to them to enhance their quality of life. As I like to say, resist globalization and invest in tradition! From $750;

Antigua, Guatemala

Reigning Redesign

I want to congratulate you on all the changes implemented in the magazine. What was an excellent publication before is now an even finer one! I have subscriptions to many magazines, and I judge the worthiness of each one based on the number of pages I rip out to review and archive; in your May/June issue, more was ripped out than was remaining. I tip my hat to you all.

New York, NY

Vancouver Surprise

I recently visited Vancouver, B.C., for the film festival there and stayed at the goofy, “hip” Moda Vancouver Hotel (rooms, from $100; 900 Seymour St.; 604-683-4251; In the same building is a wine bar, Uva (, and a restaurant, Cibo Trattoria (, both under the same ownership. I hadn’t eaten all day and decided to have a late lunch/early supper at Cibo, and to my surprise, it was the best Italian meal ever. Scary good—it was even better than London’s River Café. Great crowd, unpretentious, easy and absolutely superb. Before that, I was in San Francisco for a week on business and had three amazing meals at three relatively new restaurants: Bar Agricole (, Commonwealth ( and Cotogna ( But none were better than this place in Vancouver.

—Contributing editor Cathryn Collins owns I Pezzi Dipinti, a line of fine cashmere textiles and knitwear;

Correction: In the May/June story “How to Find Perfect Khakis,” Kiton’s website was incorrectly referred to as The correct website address is