I’ll admit, I’m an absolute novice when it comes to all things knitting/crocheting/weaving related. I’ve signed up to ravelry with good intentions, but I just can’t get kick started on learning beyond the knit and purl stitch in a rectangle (I generally tend to knit a scarf each year for myself).
I was hoping that being in Peru and surrounded by the indomitable knitting/weaving skills of the Quechuan women might awaken some kind of dormant knitting talent – nup.
Looks like I’ll just have to do it the hard way and practice until I get it right.
Check out this incredible hand woven (and hand dyed) tapestry we picked up:
Everywhere we go the skills of these women – and men!! are on display. Weaving, knitting, embroidery – you name it, they can do it with incredible skill. Check out this website for more info - Threads of Peru - a social and non-profit enterprise that is making moves to preserve the traditional weaving of the Quechua women, and improving their economic lot.
In the mean time, I’m moderately obsessed with buying beautiful and incredibly soft wool. I always thought Alpaca hair (not actually a wool!) was the ultimate fibre – not so according to the Peruvians. They’re more likely to use the stuff for making our equivalent of a hessian sack.
|From L-R – Vicuna, Guanaco, Alpaca and Llama
There are 4 grades of fibre, each more exquisite than the last:
Llama – likely to spit on you if you get too close (unless, as one guide with comically stilted english explained, they are ‘Llamas with education’), these fellas were and still are today used as meat and for carrying products.
Alpaca – known for having the longest fibre of all the camelids and with the broadest natural colour range, alpaca’s can be long or short haired. Their fibres are known for extraordinary warmth and are the main supplier for the Andean textile industry.
Guanaco – large, gorgeously cinnamon coloured and known for it’s enormous strength, this species is protected by International Law. It was domesticated and genetically engineered to produce the Llama.
Vicuna – the smallest and most beautiful of the camelid family producing the finest quality of fibre, used exclusively for making clothes for the Inca (the King) and Quechuan noble families. The poor dears were nearly hunted to extinction – today they’re also a protected species.
Most commonly available in Peru are gorgeous garments made from Alpaca and Vicuna, the former being really very affordable and the latter a tad exxy.
Just as we crossed the border into Peru, I saw Zoe from ZoSews knitted cable beret and fell in lust. A few days later I walked into an alpaca product shop and the instance purchase reflex was activated – I walked back out with this gorgeous pop corn beanie:
I also bought some baby alpaca wool in a cool blue and oatmeal colour – for this years obligatory knitted scarf. But this time I’m going to try a something that may require a bit of skill – this gorgeous raspberry stitch perhaps?
If anyone has any tips or handy websites for ambitious beginner knitters I’d be most grateful!!
And thanks a million for your love from my Sweet Shorts :)