Heading To Peru

The last time I was in Peru – last year, in fact – I saw a spinner in one of the villages, and I just can’t get her out of my mind. It was early morning in Chinchero, near Cusco. The streets were still empty and quiet, the roosters still crowing.  Down the cobbled street came a young woman, jaunty in her voluminous skirts and petticoats and tilted hat, walking fast, almost skipping, smiling, and swinging her drop spindle as she made yarn by the furlong on her way to market.

What a role model. Women in Peru have not adopted spinning wheels, even when they’ve had the chance, because it slows down their yarn production. Think of that! While I dither about whether my wheel has a high enough ratio, they are spinning entire wardrobes with just a stick and a whorl. Because they never stop.

I’m heading back to Peru later this week, and looking forward to immersing myself in an extended community where spinning and weaving are a complete way of life, and where the skills have been honed over not just generations, but centuries. There’s so much to learn, so much contagious pleasure in the craft. You can read more about it – much more – in Weaving in the Peruvian Highlands: Dreaming Patterns, Weaving Memories. Consider this quote from the book by one of the elders, Emilia Yana, age 80: “Still, though, I am able to spin, thanks to God. When I spin, I forget about my troubles and sorrows. . . . Only when I die may I be done with spinning, although when we die we take our spindles . . . so perhaps we will continue to spin in the other world . . . . “

Don’t you wish you were going with me?


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