Textiles – Photo Essay

As a half confused, half distracted, hopeful journalist (wow lots of adjectives) I can’t be expected to know all the details. Ok, so maybe I should know at least most of the details, but… that’s not going to happen today.

So, if you see a bunch of “I don’t know why” or “I don’t remember” throughout this post, just remember I’m doing my best lol. Anyway…

Recently, I was looking through my old file drive from my time spent in Peru. I saw tons and tons of photos that I had completely forgotten about, but one set was particularly interesting. When these pictures were first taken, I brushed them off as decent, but not impressive. Now I look at them and see a fantastic story that I was able to take part in.

Lets take a closer look at the first picture in this series. Dying the wool is a very interesting process. For one thing, they still use the same methods and supplies that were used to create textiles years before. To make blue dye they use pee, joking that it is best to use the pee of a little boy.

Please don’t take my word on this, because I’m fairly certain they were messing with me as I was the only foreigner in the room.

The most interesting part of this process, in my opinion anyway, is how they make red dye. Do you see the cactus to the right? On it are this little black spots. Those spots are actually living organisms that feed on the cactus and are filled with blood. They crush them up and use it to dye the wool red! (Follow me for more morbid DIY hacks!)

You can see more of the organisms in the bowl in the center front of the photo with the red yarn sitting in it.

One of the workers crushed an organism in her hand to show us how it worked and ran a piece of ice over the blood. I don’t remember why… but it looks cool!

Before they can get it dyed however, they need to thoroughly clean the wool and spool it about three to five times. This is because the animals don’t regularly use conditioner and sometimes they roll in mud/walk under bushes making their hair filled with burs and sticks, and using it as is does not make for a very comfy blanket. It’s not their fault though! Its tough to keep up a good hair care routine when you have hoofs.

Fun fact! Baby Alpaca wool is not taken from actual baby alpacas. It’s actually just the wool you get from the alpaca’s first sheering. The first cut is the softest! (Baby I know) – Sheryl Crow.

Then, of course, there is the weaving. I didn’t hear a word anyone said about how it is done, so forgive my ignorance. I was just so captivated by what they were doing, how by their hands they were turning stripes of dyed cloth into intricate designs. It truly is a wonderful talent!

As Forrest Gump says, “That’s all I’ve got to say about that.”

Welcome to the Explorer’s Notebook

I hope you all enjoyed this not so informative blog post! I promise to take better notes the next time haha.

What’s been one of your favorite moments from past/present travels? Let me know in the comments below!


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