Threads of Peru Blog

The next generation of weavers

Volunteer Claire Heath shares an exciting story about how some young weavers contacted Dana Blair as they wanted to work with Threads of Peru!

young weavers, youth, andean youth, peruvian youth

Word had got around the Sacred Valley, through the radio messages that we often put on the air to communicate with the more remote communities, that the Threads of Peru crew was visiting soon. Two young women from Huilloc, recently having formed their own weaving association, took advantage of the opportunity to seek out Dana in the nearby town of Ollantaytambo and invite the team for a meet and greet when they came passing through.

Huilloc is in fact a well known community, both for its proximity to Ollantaytambo but also for its status as one of the first to receive substantial foreign aid assistance. And for Threads of Peru, we pass through Huilloc everytime we travel to work in the high Patacancha valley! It now boasts an impressive array of infrastructure, a veritable success story according to some. Others lament that Huilloc has in fact received so much help, citing a loss of the traditional way of life and particularly ayni (Andean reciprocity).

young weavers, youth, andean youth, peruvian youth
Dana meeting with the young weavers for the first time!

When we pulled into the village, we were greeted warmly in the traditional Quechua way, with words of welcome from one of the elders as she sprinkled our heads with flower petals. Girls of the association presented each of us with a bunch of flowers. They ushered us into a nearby home. It was spotless - no doubt result of their years of capacitation for sustainable tourism - and we were sat at a table at the opposite end of the room to the cooking hearth. Three girls enthusiastically doled up generous portions of a local specialty, grilled trout from the community lake, choclo (a variety of maize with huge, pale kernels), faba beans and green beans. And, of course, potatoes.

Lunch finished, we were ushered outside where the weaving association took over. Formally and shyly, they welcomed us, presenting each of us with a fine, hand-loomed scarf in sheep’s wool. One by one, they introduced themselves.

young weavers, youth, andean youth, peruvian youth
Dana meeting with the young weavers for the first time!

The children ran around, throwing us cheeky grins, brave because of the proximity of their mothers. The women showed off some of their fine weaving; despite being timid, but they know their work is good quality.

The youngest member of the collective is 18, many others with young children already, but older, guiding members with decades of knowledge and experience also participate in the group. How inspiring these women are, the upcoming generation of Andean weavers and their mentors, and what a privilege to meet them! Their weaving skills, matched by sassiness, initiative and ambition, are the signals that the ancient weaving traditions of the Andes will thrive in a global economy after all.

young weavers, youth, andean youth, peruvian youth
Dana meeting with the young weavers for the first time!