Wind and Yarn

Wayra’s Peruvian textile making traditions do a lot of good in Andean highland mining towns

Quechua, the contemporary version of the ancient language of the Incas, calls the wind Wayra. A unique Peruvian social enterprise working in the Andean highlands to create gorgeous handmade textiles also calls itself Wayra, out of admiration for the bright breezes of the mountain communities where it works.

Wayra was founded over 10 years ago by Mercedes Benavides to create sustainable, culture- and community-based jobs in and around mining communities. Thanks to the concern of her son, anthropologist Jose Alberto Vizquerra, for a community near a mine that was about to close, Benavides saw how deeply families needed to earn incomes in order to send their children to school, have access to needed medical care and transportation, and to satisfy other cash needs. 

Her response was smart and creative. Sources of quality wool and alpaca are plentiful in the highlands. Textile-making traditions are still richly alive in many mountain communities, with many skilled spinners, dyers, weavers, knitters and embroiderers. Benavides was able to sew these assets, often with start-up support from local mining companies,​ together into viable businesses making desirable product for national and international markets.

Over the last decade, Wayra has engaged over 2000 artisans in the making of woven, knitted, crocheted and embroidered textiles – whose visual appeal is a combination of the vision of market-savvy designers as well as the cultural assets of the artisans doing the making. 

In their booth at Artisan Resource @ NY Now, which runs from February 1-4, 2015, at NYC’s Jacob Javits Center, Wayra will show their latest throws, blankets, sweaters, scarves, and more. Always color savvy, their collection includes both essential neutral yarns and combinations, as well as stunning, trend-responsive colors and textures.

For more information, see www.wayraperu.com, or visit Artisan Resource @ NY Now: http://nynow.com/TheShow/NYNOWCollections/ArtisanResourceatNYNOW.aspx.

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