Roving Reporter Reviews: Andean Spinning

Handspinning videos abound. Many spinners I know watch loads of videos about fiber preparation, drafting techniques, plying, and so on from all over the world. However, some videos have a special place in my library. Andean Spinning is one of them—here’s why:

Andean Spinning

Nilda Callañaupa Alvarez founded the Center for Traditional Textiles of Cusco, which has helped preserve and renew traditional spinning and weaving in the Andes.

The video is filmed as a conversation between two amazing women, Linda Ligon and Nilda Callañaupa Alvarez, and you’re invited to pull up a chair and learn. Linda, the founder of Interweave and publisher at Thrums Books, has traveled to Peru many times and has known Nilda for years. In the video, Linda asks some of the questions that those of us in other parts of the world would have, such as, “Did you really just create that beautiful roving without any fiber preparation tools?!” or “Can you show me how you secured your yarn on your spindle again?”

Children learn to spin on a pushka, or spindle, before they reach five or six years old.

Children learn to spin on a pushka, or spindle, before they reach five or six years old.

I met Nilda in 2012 at SOAR (Spin Off Autumn Retreat) in Lake Tahoe, Nevada. She is not only a talented textile artist and author, but she has been integral to the longevity of traditional textile production in her native Peru. Linda said in a 2013 story, “The woman who has been key to reviving the old techniques, to reintroducing the use of natural dyes, to creating viable markets for the splendid textiles of her people, is Nilda Callañaupa, founder and director of CTTC [Centro de Textiles Tradicionales del Cusco].” Every time I watch Nilda spinning on her pushka (spindle) and manipulating the fiber while chatting with Linda, I learn something new.

Andean Spinning

Using natural dyes, Andean spinners create a stunning array of colors.

This special video will whet your appetite for Nilda’s new book, Secrets of Spinning, Weaving, and Knitting in the Peruvian Highlands coming this fall! In the meantime, you can invite Nilda into your living room for a class on Andean spinning and knitting.


Featured Image: Photo by Kate Larson

Learn more about Andean spinning!


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