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Countless hours and often a lifetime of experience go into the creation of our collection of art knits, which are remarkably intricate representations of the Andean textile tradition. Only a handful of knitters in the world have the skill to transform our original designs into the wearable works of art that you see on our website and in our catalogues.
The Andean knitters who create our designs are lifelong artisans who, like their mothers and grandmothers before them, are immersed in ancient Andean textile traditions. Unlike factory or even cottage industry employment, hand knitting blends seamlessly with daily life in the Andes. Skilled hand knitters can earn an income as they travel by train or bus, as they sell in the marketplace, between crop harvests or while watching over their children at home. As such, hand knitting helps women remain in their native villages, giving them access to funds needed for children’s school books, batteries and medicine. This craft is not only an art form in the Andes, it contributes to the preservation of native culture.
We’ve spent years refining the collaborative process between our in-house design team and the skilled Peruvian knitters with whom we work. The first prototypes are developed in colours culled from our seasonal collection. Once the initial design concepts are refined, it takes a knitter several weeks to finish just one of the more elaborate designs. Sometimes managing four different stitches at a time, keeping track of a multitude of yarn hues and tweeds streaming down in tiny bobbins, the process requires virtuosic levels of skill, talent and focus.
The knitters use fine-gauge needles, changing colours and stitches several times per row. Some of our sweaters use dozens of colours (one best seller had over 70), which is virtually unheard of in this age of mass-produced garments. Once the knitting is complete, there are literally hundreds of loose strands of yarn inside of the garment that must be worked back into the fabric or carefully tied off— a laborious effort for even expert finishers.
Taken together, this painstaking process ensures the durability and lifelong enjoyment of these heirloom garments. The creativity, imagination and skill of our designers and knitters are woven into each sweater. From the first dab of colour on paper to the final tying off of each strand of alpaca or Peruvian pima cotton, these talented designers and artisans elevate the craft of knitting into a true art form.
For over forty years, we’ve been privileged to help support this small but important art knitting industry in the Andes. And when you make a selection from one of our collections, not only are you choosing a beautiful piece of clothing, you are helping to preserve a remarkable way of life and a cultural treasure.