Ancient Heritage

Secrets of Spinning, Weaving, and Knitting in the Peruvian Highlands
A decade ago Nilda Callañaupa Alvarez introduced textile fans to Peruvian weaving. Her new book, Secrets of Spinning, Weaving, and Knitting in the Peruvian Highlands, Alvarez and the weavers of the Center for Traditional Textiles of Cusco bring a colorful and inspirational view into the world of Andean textiles. 
 
Secrets of Spinning, Weaving, and Knitting in the Peruvian Highlands is part instructional handbook and part cultural guidebook. Divided into four sections: spinning, weaving, knitting, and finishing, each of the chapters coupled with Joe Coca’s striking photography transport us to the Andes where we learn the most basic of activities. 
 
In the spinning section, we learn of the organic process of spinning—from when a baby puts the pushka (spindle) in its mouth to using one for its true purpose by the age of five or six years old. We learn how spinning provides emotional support to community elders; how the repetitive motion of the pushka offers both a physical and mental rhythm that becomes a form of meditation. However, the best part of the chapter is the discussion on the variety of fibers and the various techniques shown to spin and ply. 
 
As a knitter, I skipped directly to this section, marveling at all the stunning geometric motifs and the various hat designs (maybe this will be the year I progress to making something other than lap blankets and in one color). The detailed step-by-step section is intimidating, but a fun challenge. 
 
Each section includes a glossary of terms and sidebars with historical and cultural tidbits, as well as sidebars about the proper hand position for weaving or spindle-to-spindle techniques.
 
Secrets of Spinning, Weaving, and Knitting in the Peruvian Highlands is an inspirational book that might persuade novices like me to leave their comfort zone and challenge themselves. 
 
Secrets of Spinning, Weaving, and Knitting in the Peruvian Highlands is available on Amazon.com.
   
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