Threads of Peru's 2018 Designing a Brighter Future campaign.
We want to tell you about just one of the reasons why working with Jennie Lyutskanov has been so impactful for the Andean weavers that form part of the Threads of Peru artisan network.
Read more about the fundraiser we’re doing to Bring Jennie Back!
One part of Threads of Peru’s mission is to revitalize ancient weaving traditions, including little-known or challenging techniques. One of the issues we see in contemporary weaving in Cusco is that, in order to sell to the tourist market, many weavers focus on weaving only the easiest designs, ones that can be woven quickly. But this means that the weaver never gets a chance to hone and develop their skills. They don’t progress to learning more complicated designs or techniques, or get a chance to showcase their creativity. And even worse – if a design or technique is not practiced by a weaver, they will not pass it down to the next generation, and it is in danger of being lost forever.
We’ve talked about our efforts to rescue techniques in the past, like the woven pocket technique featured on the Awaq bag, but Jennie’s 2018 Collection sought to bring still more techniques into the spotlight.
Just under half of the products in this year’s collection are made using handspun alpaca, and a quarter of them feature a style of thick-spun yarn which is characteristic of one region in Cusco but otherwise not commonly seen. Through the Upis pillow, the Pallay pillow and the Picchu pillow, we’re bringing this thick-spun yarn – famously used in Peruvian frazadas – into new contexts.
Using more handspun yarn may bring up our costs, but it means a better return on investment for the weavers who raise their own alpacas and sheep. Whereas an entire alpaca fleece can be sold for about S/.12 (approximately $4 US) to a yarn manufacturer, that same fleece can instead be spun and woven into products like our Miski scarf and earn over 10 x that amount.
Another great example of skill-revitalization is the Tawa pillow. This is one of our favorite pieces in the 2018 Collection because it features discontinuous warp and weft weaving – an ancient technique that goes back to pre-Columbian times, and is very technically challenging. In fact, in order to produce it, the weavers in Pitukiska where it is made had to reconnect with their elders in order to learn! This is exactly what Threads of Peru is all about: reconnecting generations, preserving ancient techniques, and giving these women the opportunity to develop their skills as artisans.
And the icing on the cake is that the Tawa pillow has this incredible modern design that we think perfectly harmonizes the past with the present. The Tawa pillow, which features four quadrants of solid color, and is named after the Quechua word for “four”. The name also echoes Tawantinsuyo, the Quechua name for the Incan Empire.
Working with a professional designer has made a significant impact on how we’re able to fulfill our mission to promote traditional weaving and rescue ancient Andean weaving techniques. Support our campaign today to help bring her back to do it again!