A simpler way.

jenjoycedesign© unplying Soft Donegal.JPGI’m halfway through unplying my three balls of Merino Tweed, in natural white, beige and brown (my newest technique posted previously.)   I will over-dye the beige and brown with pink, and also with green, resulting in a light and dark variation of the colors. You can dye once and if you vary your yarn ‘base colors’ and the result is like having dyed many colors ! I plan on a project which will have a dark and light pink, and a dark and light green, and natural white. Watch this space for continued progress posts!

Meanwhile, as I unply on the drop spindle, I have been educating myself endlessly watching Nilda’s film…

Nilda so deftly prepares fleece without carders — the Andean way — then spins into fine single plies, then single plies into yarn, expertly without ever using anything other than the most basic tools and her own hands.

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She is one person I would love to walk  and spin with, for in her culture moving is intrinsic to spinning … out to the herds, up the mountains and down again, strolling and spinning, a constant activity for the women & girls.

Continually spinning or plying means it is necessary to simplify the process and limit the tools to what a person can carry, using unique & interesting techniques of how to not let things get tangled,  and spin while tending the flock, keeping drafted fleece or hanks of single plies ready for plying neat and attached to the body.

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I highly recommend Nilda’s film “Andean Spinning with Nilda Callañaupa Alvarez”  , a film which has reaffirmed my notion that working with hands really does belong with walking ~~ as if  double tasking was invented in the Andes!   I relate very much to Nilda’s teaching that in her culture one spins constantly, for it is necessary, and one does it while moving from one place to another, or visiting with friends, or just meditating quiet moments. I translate it of course to knitting and walking, but I think once I really give the drop spindle a good practice, I will be walking along side Nilda in spirit.

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I will leave you to check out the links and discover for yourself just how elegant Andean spinning really can be!

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Last spring I made a series of posts about the weaving in Cusco & Nilda’s work with the Center of Traditional Textiles of Cusco ,  and I’m really looking forward to one day having my upstairs loft studio again wherein I can organize it to work while letting the Andean’s utmost simplistic methods show me the way ~~  to a truly refined Less Is More way of making things.

The Textiles of Cusco 2

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I am very much enjoying learning about Nilda Callañaupa Alvarez and her life’s work establishing the Center of Traditional Textiles of Cusco , and keeping part of the past alive.  She has fought an important battle bringing  back the straying generation which nearly put an end to the skilled weavers of the Cusco region, and result has established institution and industry in Cusco,  while  bringing next generations back into the nest of tradition.    Nilda, you go girl!

I am deeply inspired by the imagery of the Andes mountains,  and of industry in spinning, weaving, and knitting  from the Cusco region.  It is obvious that I romanticize their more provincial lifestyle, although I do consider myself very lucky that I can set my feet into a degree of provincialism while at the same time choosing what I like from convenience of the modern world.  I know from my own that it is hard work refining a life in craft has nearly in itself become a novelty in the modern world.   A work ethic in craft is to me all consuming, as I savor and enjoy growing the goodness of making.

Here are a few short interview films about Nilda and her work…


I have found and purchased out one of Nilda’s  books and am looking forward to it arriving by mail, and of sharing it here forthcoming .  I am fascinated in  weaving, and the colors create from natural dyes (as well as natural un-dyed yarns) , but as I am committed to knitting, I hope the muse touches me and brings more ideas into the knit  design that I do.  More to come about my views of the richly exotic textile traditions in the nest of the Andes, so watch this space!

Read more about Nilda Callañaupa Alvarez…

 Nilda’s Wikipedia
Nilda’s books on Amazon
Interview with Cloth & Clay
Interview with World Strides
Smithsonian Folk Life Festival

The Textiles of Cusco

What do you get when you bring together a remote and rugged high mountain range, herds of soft downy llamas, alpacas, sheep, and an indigenous people who’s thirst for artfulness is apparent in all they do?   You get beautiful textiles steeped in ancient traditional, as in the Cusco region of Peru!

I’ve been watching this video over and over, fascinated in the weavings of the Cusco region, and life’s work of Nilda Callañaup Alvarez ,  while I knit and think about All Things Peruvian.  So much that I’m feeling a deep inward shift in this direction. But that is all for now, more to come later, on Nilda and Traditional Textiles of Cusco!

Soon I will have to put everything down to make my brother a chullo, which I knit nearly every year around his birthday, and I am giddy because this year I will get to knit one from my own design.

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News: I am happy to say that we got the quote from the building contractors, and we’ll manage to build our house again!  We will have to do some of the finish work ourselves, like flooring, and who knows what else, but that is nothing like when we built the whole house before. The timeline of starting date is still unknown, as is an estimated time of finish,  and I suppose everything is getting queued up for a fast and furious build sometime this upcoming spring.  I find it so difficult to blindly wait without knowing when I will go back home.   Anyway, the  very best-case scenario, if everything goes well, and which I am visualizing for dear life,  is that we could very possibly be moving back into our rebuilt house this …  coming …  Autumn … ?

Colors of Cusco

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These handwovens are among some of the beautiful things brought back from Jeff’s trip to Machu Picchu, cloth woven at the Center For Traditional Textiles of Cusco (click and read more about the mission of the Center!)

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I find it intriguing and so endearing that these woven items have tags which include pictures, names & birth dates of the weavers!

jenjoycedesign© weaver Gregoria

jenjoycedesign© weaver Luciana

But I find it even more intriguing that these two weavers share the same birth year, and that this year is the very same as my own, and believe me, I seem to be the only one who finds this to be an uncommon coincidence. Oh, but just look at the weave, detail….

003 By the way, Jeff has come back fit as a fiddle,  and the three of them had a wonderful time.  I can’t believe it is now already two weeks since he was in the middle of the epic trek along the Camino Inca, and I was in a frenzy knitting, pattern writing, and submitting the designs ~~ so perfectly timed was the Camino Inca Chullo submitted when he arrived in Cusco, and the Camino Inca Ponchito when he was actually at Machu Picchu~~ like the ancient Incas, maybe, and the suns rays, I put so much significance in these events to be coinciding simultaneously.

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I have a photo shoot on the calendar for beginning of June with my nieces, where these latest Camino Inca ponchitos  will be modeled and I can’t wait to come back and show them off!