Quest for Fiber: Sometimes You Just Have to ASK!

Quest for Fiber: Sometimes You Just Have to Ask!

I have been wanting some lana de alpaca (alpaca yarn), but as stated in previous posts, the only thing I have found has been acrylic in yarn shops in Arequipa. Today I found some! But first…

I have been needing a simple shoulder bag that is more practical than my daypack for going about town or to the market. I saw a stall in the Artisan’s Market in Puno that had some bolsas (purses) that I liked, so I let the man take some down for me. They were what I had in mind and only S/20 (about $7), so I finally have a bag to pack my knitting, journal, snacks, and water in. It has come in very handy!

Woven shoulder bag I purchased in Puno market
Journal entry:" I cannot even reach out and touch anything or show interest without the vendors pulling things out and encouraging me.

Now for my search for alpaca yarn. I thought I would find some at the handicrafts market, but none was to be seen on the tables. Finally, I told this vendor, “Estoy buscando lana de alpaca.” (“I am looking for alpaca yarn.”) He indicated that they had none, but to check with other stalls.
Well, there were really no other buyers at the market at the time, so all the vendors in the vicinity had their eyes and ears on me, which, in this case, turned out to be fortunate! As I turned to leave, the woman in the stall across the way held out a ball of yarn and asked “Lana de alpaca?” JACKPOT!!

She showed me her collection of handspun and I picked out a ball large enough for a lace scarf or small shawl for S/30 (about $10.50). I could probably bargain, but that is a difficult process for me, especially when I truly feel that the prices here for everything are so low, and I know how much work goes into hand spinning!

Woman who sold me alpaca yarn

The spinner’s name is Catalina and we laughed that we have the same name. I am called Caty (short “a”) by the Peruvians, since they don’t have a “th” sound in their vocabulary. She is called Katy (long “a”). She is from Puno and part of the San Jose Primero Artisans.

The ball  is wound very tightly and the three plies are a bit loose for knitting—I am afraid the yarn will keep splitting. Luckily, I brought two drop spindles with me, so I am adding some twist to the plies before I knit it into a chalina (scarf), an original pattern I am designing and which I hope to publish soon. 

Beginning of a scarf knitted from alpaca
Finger Puppets made in Chucuito, Peru

In the combi on the way home, I decided to collect the names of all the women I buy handicrafts from and attach their names to the items I purchase. This will make the finished products even more special.


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2 thoughts on “Quest for Fiber: Sometimes You Just Have to ASK!”

  1. That shoulder bag looks great. If you have the opportunity and no one minds, can you photograph a few other locally made woven handbags? I have a project in mind as a fundraiser that involves sewing shoulder bags from woven fabric about 12-14 inches wide, and I hope to have your input.

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