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hand knit alpaca accessories
What is the story behind hand-knit alpaca clothing?
In order to truly appreciate hand-knit accessories, it takes an understanding of where the beautiful products come from. Because a majority of the items we consume today are produced in factories and sold by mass retailers, it is hard to imagine the hours of work that are put into creating handmade accessories.
Alpacas are native to South America. Alpaca farmers often in high-altitude, rural communities, shear, sort, and classify the raw fiber before flagging down buyers, who make constant "buying trips" throughout the mountainus regions. Through working with Mayu, the artisans have learned basic computer skills to order alpaca and transfer money online. Once ordered, the fiber is placed on an overnight bus destined for their community. Upon arrival, Mayu's knitters contract a bicycle taxi to carry the heavy loads to their small workshop where they sort and double the fiber and assign projects.
Depending on what projects Mayu's artisans are working on, an accessory can take over a week of constant knitting to complete. For example, Mayu's alpaca throws take over 8 days, long hoodies 4 days, and capelets 2 days! Knitting is the easy part! The women also take special care in adding fine details such as croched flowers, pockets, ties and fringe.
At times, knitting can be a full-time job; however, all of the artisans have families to care for and daily tasks to tend to. For this reason, most of the knitting takes place in conjunction with their regular commitments, like cooking, washing clothes, school meetings, soccer games, and socializing with neighbors. Needless to say, the mothers carry their kntting all around town and practically knit with their eyes closed! They encourage their children to observe the process in hopes of passing along knitting skills and traditions to younger generations. Once the accessories are completed, they are washed with shampoo and laid to dry under the strong Andean sun.
When accessories dry and smell yummy, they are loaded into reusable potato sacks which are hoisted up and tied down to the roofs of buses that wind through steep dirt roads. With the artisans on board below, the accessories are carted off to the post office, about 2.5 hours outside of their community. At the post-office, the artisans package the accessories for their journey to Mayu's Chicago headquarters.
With a greater understanding of craftsmanship, alpaca, artisans and Peru, we hope consumers make a personal committment to purchase handmade products and other fair-tradeaccessories.
To shop Mayu's sustainable, hand-knit accessories made with eco-friendly alpaca, click here!
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