The Territory Ahead

In recent days I have been making rustic soft-as-alpaca merino yarn, un-spun from worsted into fingering weight, in the colors that I love, and now I’m ready to make some mini accessories for a couple of very young children. This small lot was formerly Knit Picks Swish (superwash), but I’ve mostly overdyed it to tone the colors down, some just simmered up in a bath of onion skins. I love the bright Peruvian colors that are so iconic, yet, I really do prefer the earthier palettes. Over the cozy sleepy winter months I have been designing & knitting prototypes and samples for two collections that have been a long time coming. One of the projects in the territory ahead, is augmenting Patamanta into a collection of more colorful variations of the original chullo, as well as adding more accessories, for both adults and kids!

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I’ve got an authentic chullo I bought from Center of Traditional Textiles of Cusco , made by hand and part of a quite a varied selection of extremely beautiful hand-made items from Peruvian Highlanders. I had bought this chullo sometime last year, meaning to design my own inspired by it, then give to my brother as a present.

I’m very glad I bought it directly from CTTC, because on the site you can buy hand-made things of all sorts, and each one comes with information about fibers, dyes, and the knitter or weaver who made it — as were the things brought back home when Jeff went to Machu Picchu 5 years ago. I needed an actual authentic chullo in my hands to study, and after doing so I found that not only must I learn new techniques, namely intarsia, and to knit with tiny stitches at a gauge of 10-12 sts to the inch, but also I need to design my own scalloped edging, which seems to me intrinsic to the Peruvian chullo, “the puntas” as the edging is often called.

Juan from Sellac, a community in the Cusco area, knit this beautiful alpaca chullo, and I can imagine it took him quite some time! I also have found inspiring as well as very helpful one of Nilda Callañaupa Alvarez’s many books, a trove of information and photos of traditional textiles, and although I may borrow features of the many chullo shapes of the Peruvian Highlands, I will be using more conventional modern knitting techniques, and of course, my own colorwork motifs.

7 thoughts on “The Territory Ahead

  1. I can’t even wrap my brain around that kind of intricate work. It must be like very complex puzzle work but the result is SO beautiful. Reminds me of stained glass windows. Can’t wait to see YOUR design!

    • Thank you for your encouragement, it is rather involved, and I don’t expect anybody is really going to want to knit my crazy complicated chullo in tiny stitches, but I am doing this collection for ME. And, I thought I would add, the strong winds have just arrived up here on our mountain!!! xx

  2. This will be very exciting and satisfying to see and work on. I look forward to the challenge. What size needles will be used to make these small stitches? The stranded project I’m into at the moment uses fingering weight and sizes 4 and 6 needles which seem too loose a stitch in my opinion. I think a nice warm chullo is probably warm in part because of the small tight stitches. Can’t wait to see what you come up with. V❤️

    • Virginia, I so much admire and appreciate your enthusiasm and support with my new stuff! Ok, well, this post represents two designs really, and I’ll tell you in this little comment box what is happening over here in the loft ; I’ve been asked to make a pair of mitts for a friend’s grand-daughter , and I desided to go for it; augment Patamanta with thumbhole mitts (and maybe gloves) legwarmers, and a more colorful and busy colorwork samples of the basic chullo I came up with in January. So that is what the yarn is for. Secondly, yes, this is the chullo that I bought from Peru, which is knit in Peruvian style, on bicycle spoke sized hand-fashioned needles as they do there, making 12 sts = 1″, and has the first border in intarsia and fair isle combination. I am doing the same; colorwork layout the same, but with my motifs (similar, but different) and of course I’ll have variations on the theme as I always do (a 2-color version as well) and as the colorwork reps are so big (40 sts) I think I can get only three sizes with the chullo. That design is Pastoral. Pastoral may or may not have any other accessories as Patamanta is going to have. I thought at first I might have a collection of 3 or 4 chullos (Patamanta, Pastoral, and others yet to come) but now I am considering each being their own collection. 🙂 Always fluid in my creativity, and when I make a post here I’m usually well on my way into the project. Now, to answer your question about what yarn and needles; the choice is always up to the knitter , and I make the gauge substitution charts so that there is a much broader spectrum of which yarn to use and needles to get varied gauges from about 5 to 12 sts to the inch! Patamanta prototypes have both 3.5 and 5.5 sts = 1″ , Pastoral will probably be much more complicated all around, and prototyped in natural alpaca fleece colors; the prototypes I think are about 9-10 sts to the inch, with fingering weight and US 1[2.25mm] or size to get gauge you want (within the size range) . So, if you are thinking ahead about what you want to use, you probably have everything at hand already, and can spin to your heart’s content! 🙂 Thank you again, for ALL you do… xx

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