03 October 2007

Bad Blogger

I'm back. No promises, but for this minute, I've decided to return and grace my few but dear readers with another entry. I have no excuses -- I really don't know why I haven't been around. It could be that I was suffering so badly from ennui that I just couldn't write. Or I'm lazy. Whatever.

Right now, I'm working on two things. A pair of Thuja socks for Joe and a Christmas present sweater that is really driving me nutso, but shouldn't be. Pictures later. Other knitting news, I'm trying to gather some knitters together regularly to start a knitting night at the Magic Bean at 5:30 on Wednesdays. All are welcome, even non-knitters who want to have a little happy hour fun and aren't afraid of the crazy people with sticks and string. I was finally invited to Ravelry, which is great and I'm not taking advantage of it, but I will I swear.

In honor of Halloween, here are two pics of last year's costume, including hat knit by me at Lovely Yarns and my Jedi costume that I also made myself:

09 August 2007

Yay for these awesome ladies!

This is the kind of grandma I want to be. They are knitting little tiny items for preemies. How freakin' awesome is that!? I'm not keen on the whole knitting in pastels, thing, but I still think that this is what I want to be when I grow up.

22 July 2007


Ok, my camera phone's bluetooth is not cooperating with me right now, so I'll have to post the pics later. I'm done the first sleeve of the Cambridge jacket for my husband, and have come to terms with the fact that I am going to run out of yarn before I finish the second sleeve. This is likely because I made the body longer to accommodate his long torso. So, poor Joe will not have his jacket any time soon.

Some more info on the jacket:
Yarn: Cascade The Heathers, purchased at Capital Yarns, Color No. 9408
Gauge: 5 sts/in on US 6 needles (Inox)

14 July 2007

Bolivia, again

So sorry that I've been AWOL. Things have been somehow both busy and boring. I'm currently in Bolivia working on a couple of proposals, and will be here until the end of the month. Unfortunately, I learned the last time I was here that it is nearly impossible to buy decent yarn here, so I'm not going to try that hard this time. I did go past a place that might sell yarn today in a taxi, but I'm not sure if I will have a chance to get back there, given the workload I'll have over the next couple of weeks.

I did get some great textile shopping in today, though. Above on the left is a weaving from the town of Tarabuco. This traditional weaving style is done for fiestas, and was nearly extinct until two Chilean anthropologists worked with the women of the community to improve the quality and find ways to sell the weavings. I bought it at the Inca Pallay museum and shop, which is hidden above and behind the Comart Tukuypaj at Calle Linares 958. The saleswoman was very knowledgeable, and helped me to understand the symbols on the weaving. They come all ready to hang up on the walls, so there is no procrastinating for the framing. Very nice. All the proceeds go back to the women, so you can feel very good about shopping there.

I also bought some things at the Comart Tukuypaj. To the right is the scarf and sweater that I got there. Both are 100% alpaca and extremely soft. I can't seem to make the color in the camera phone photos show up well, so you have to imagine that the sweater is made up of very rich earthy colors. Not sure if it is for me or for a gift yet, so we'll see.

The brown blob is actually a picture of the sweater that I'm making for Joe. It is the Cambridge jacket from Interweave Knits summer 2006. I really like it. I'm knitting it in Cascade Heathers brownish. I had to rip out the top of the back after finishing the sides because I realized that I forgot one of the armhole decreases, but that's ok. It is a pleasure to knit. I'm excited that I'm almost done, since I started this for him last year. I think he's excited, too.

This last pic is of a toe-up sock I'm doing with Opal yarn. I like it so far, but it is my first time knitting on DPNs, and I'm not convinced of their superiority. I learned to knit in the round on two circulars, and thought that I would try this for the heck of it. It is fine, but a bit weird at the same time. I suppose that I need to get used to it. The sock yarn is ok, too. Not awesome, but solid.

I have another project on-deck, and it is Christmas knitting! I'm so good getting a jump on things. I'll post about it when I finish Joe's sweater.

On that note, I'm off. Do let me know if anyone out there has a suggestion for where to buy yarn in La Paz.

26 June 2007

The Eagle has Landed!

My stash (along with the rest of our earthly belongings, but we all know what is most important) has arrived unscathed! It traveled the sea, through the Panama Canal, and then the road from Guayaquil and not a thing was broken.


Check this out for laughs:

13 June 2007

Spider silk sometime soon for knitting?

This article is really cool -- I know that it isn't about knitting per se, but just imagine the possibilities! What if we could knit with spider silk? How freakin' cool would that be?

11 June 2007

Cuenca and Recife

Cuenca is beautiful and definitely worth a trip. Unfortunately, I don't have any yarn-store tips for you, since we were there for the art (the Bienal de Cuenca) and the romance (Joe's first not-tired-from-the-altitude weekend). Next time, I promise.
Here, a picture of the socks so far. Yes, it is the same sock yarn that I was knitting before, the Austermann Step. I didn’t like the first sock, so I started over. The first sock was my first top-down sock, and it just didn’t work for me. So, now I’m doing a toe-up, 2x1 ribbed version with a slip-stitch heel. I like them a lot.

Let’s see… The baby blanket (that yellow crochet thing I was working on) went over well, even though I made some modifications. I used the Tirmasu blanket pattern as an inspiration. It went fast and was really easy.

No real yarn shopping for a while. I was hoping to go on Saturday, but someone didn’t appear at the agreed-upon place at the agreed-upon time, so that didn’t happen. I have plenty of yarn in the stash, though, after my shopping when I was in B’more recently, and the rest of my stash should be showing up in Quito sometime next week! So, I really don’t need any more yarn.

Right now, I’m in the São Paulo airport, waiting (probably in vain) for my flight to Recife, where I’ll be for the week for work. Last week, I had some issues getting my visa for Brazil, now I’m having some issues getting to my destination. It appears that there is an Air Traffic Controllers’ strike, so everyone’s flights are delayed. Thankfully, I met up with a very friendly guy from Ghana, which is making it a bit more fun.

Just as I wrote that last sentence, they announced our flight. I arrive this morning at 4:30 Recife time. Ugh. At least I could sleep for a bit, because we had no important morning meetings.

Anyway, as you can see from this picture, I’m making headway on the sock. My favorite part is the heel, which is coming up in about ½ inch, and from there it should go pretty fast. I also have some Opal sock yarn with me, which is washable blue self-patterning stuff, and should be very nice.

I’m going to try to post again on the sock progress this week while I’m here, but, being so close to the beach, I’m not guaranteeing anything.

08 June 2007

Interim Post!

I promise that I will post pics of my latest project and a bit about Cuenca this weekend. In the meantime, I'm stealing a trick from Wendy, and I'm going to answer a question from the comments:

Yes, J, you can contact me about development work whenever you want to. The email is lanapuraquito at gmail dot com. I'm a jaded and not entirely optimistic development worker, so do take that into account. Let me know if you need contacts/info about Peru. I loved Lima, and can't wait to get back there!

01 June 2007

31 May 2007

World Wide Knit in Public Day June 9th!

Grab your knitting and crocheting friends and head to a cafe, then to a lunch place, then to a pub for some public knitting!

Long Lost

Sorry I've been AWOL. I went to the States to pack up our house and collect my husband, and then came back and settled him into Quito. We're all settled now, sans our furniture, which should arrive sometime in the end of June (yeah right).

I will post some knitting pictures soon, I promise.

04 May 2007

The movie for the Golden Compass is coming out! Find out what your Daemon is.

BTW: I got a postcard from my pen pal!

25 April 2007


WARNING: long post, lots of pics

I got back today from my trip to Cuzco. Yesterday was such an amazing day that I was too overwhelmed last night to write about it. In summary, we went to visit microfinance clients of our local partner organization in Pisac and Chincheros. All of them were artisans: a silversmith who makes his own jewelery, a carver and potter who makes exquisite bowls from wood and clay, a man who carves and paints beautiful board games and pieces and also makes clay pottery, and others. It was amazing to talk to them all about how they were able to improve their lives with the microfinance loans. Their intelligence, talent, and persistence really impressed me.

I spent like it was the last day of money. My colleagues made fun of me, but how can you not support people like our microfinance clients? They earned my respect, and my soles, with their hard work and beautiful products. The first place we went was the artisan market at Pisac. It was thronged with tourists of all stripes, the good, the bad, and the painful, but you should go there. Buy a bowl from Benturino and a game from Roger. You won't regret it. Ask them about microfinance.

Then, after lunch, we went to Chincheros, where we first met a woman whose name I believe is Matilda. She has sheep, she shears them, washes and cards the wool, spins it, and then dyes it with all natural dyes. She is lively and smart and funny and talented. To the left, she is showing us a hat that she is working on, which is knit on the finest yarn I've ever seen someone using for a hat (like lace weight if you are Barbie) on five of the tiniest needles, which were more like pins, thin rudimentary metal sticks, than like the Addi Turbos some of us claim we can't live without. Stunning color work.

She also showed us some of the yarns she was drying and the things she used for creating the dye. To the right, the bags have green leaves (top), next to the yarn that was dyed using those leaves (chillca), and cochineal (bottom), which makes a beautiful red. Matilda also weaves some really nice traditional Chincheros pattern weavings out of alpaca and wool. She sold me the mountain of natural, un-dyed wool at the bottom for 10 soles, or about $3.00.

After spending some time with her, we went to see two of the most amazing people I've met here: Adrian and Antonia Huaman. These two remarkably talented weavers are also microfinance clients of our local partner organization. And they, for me, are exemplars of what well-implemented microfinance can do for people. Originally, Adrian wove pictorial tapestries and Antonia sold them at a tourist restaurant. Then, they got a loan, and invested it in wooden looms, which they built themselves, and in hiring some younger boys to work with Adrian. Now, from that profit, they have a number of different kinds of looms, both of them make stunning weavings and tapestries in traditional Chincheros patterns, they employ about 10 people, and they bought a new house where they plan on opening a restaurant and gallery, where tourists can not only eat traditional Andean food (yum), but can also learn to weave and purchase beautiful weavings with a deeper appreciation of the tradition and talent that goes into each one.

Antonia's mother gave us a demonstration of how to ply yarn in the traditional way with a hand spindle. I'll have a movie of this, hopefully, sometime soon, so you can see her in action. It is amazing.

Adrian and Antonia showed us their weavings. They make table runners (yes, I bought one, and you should look for the ones that have the borders on them), and tapestries and handbags and purses. It takes 36-40 days to make a table runner, which they can sell to a tourist for around $50. The runners are made with the backstrap loom method, and the scraps of each are saved and used to make dolls and other small items, like change purses. Antonia told me about the dyes that she uses:

Cochineal - reds

Flor de Colli - yellows

Cacasuncay and Motemote - browns and pinks, respectively

and Awaypile - fuscia

Adrian and Antonia also showed us their hand-made looms, and showed us how they work. It was really impressive -- check out all those bobbins hanging from Antonia's loom! Crazy-making. Adrian makes the pictures from his head now, but he first paints the designs on the warp (?) threads, so that when they cross over the weft (? sorry if I'm not using the right words, weavers), they don't stand out as white, but blend in. He does some huge tapestries, with really elaborate pictures, wrapping little bits of colored unspun wool into place deftly.

So, the haul. Below, first picture:
a chess game, a parchesi game (from Roger in Pisac), a hand-painted clay mug (also from Roger, a gift!), two hand-painted wooden bowls from Benturino, baby alpaca yarn (oh, gotta tell you about that...), and a belt, called a faja.

Second picture:
a table runner from Antonia, the wool from Matilda, and a little change purse which was a gift from Adrian and Antonia.

23 April 2007

Do you know where your yarn comes from?

Today I had a really great treat -- I had an interview with the woman who is the head of a local organization here in Cuzco that works to provide artisan producer groups with an outlet to the market where they can earn a living wage. Now, I'm honestly not the biggest fan of fair trade, mostly because it has been poorly implemented by so many groups, unsustainable, notably unfair to many, and distorting to the markets. However, there is such a thing as good fair trade, I'm learning. This might be one example.

For those of you who are currently knitting with alpaca and those of you who often do, think about what you paid for the last bit of imported alpaca you bought: $7? $10? more? Now take a moment to think where each cent of those dollars went. How many do you think went to the people who spent the greatest number of hours in the production process? How many to those who have the greatest control over the quality of that product? If you guessed, "very little" or "almost none" in answer to those questions, you are correct. Almost all of the money you spent went to large factories who buy from intermediaries, who buy from other intermediaries, who pay almost nothing, well less than $1/day, to the people who carefully raise, shear, clean, card, and possibly spin that yarn.

It strikes me as strange that the highest value added in this chain goes to those who add the least value: industrial spinning and dying factories, intermediaries who do nothing but move the product from one place to another.

Anyway, the woman I interviewed validated my idea that it is possible to produce yarn in a way that would provide a living wage to women in a positive environment, as well as a more profitable buyer for alpaca herders to sell their fleeces. She wants to start a small-scale spinning factory for women that would also provide them with other social services. The women would hand spin or use wheels or small machines, and all the products would be 100% natural, alpaca and wool products dyed using natural dyes or not dyed at all. Sounds good to me -- I'd buy it. They could hire a consultant to help them improve the quality of the yarns and keep them apprised of changes in the market.

What do you guys think of this idea?

Up there is a project for someone lucky. I'm crocheting it, so they are very lucky.

More vocab:
  • Spinnery: hilanderia
  • Fair trade: comercio justo

22 April 2007

Chifas and some yarn

Saturday was a day for exploration in Lima. My friend, MJ, who is Peruvian, and I went to Chinatown in search of a good chifa, or Peruvian Chinese restaurant. Many folks who haven’t been to Latin America find it difficult to believe the number of Asian immigrants here. Peru likely has more than most, having had even a Japanese-descended president, Fujimori. Chinese food in Peru is similar to Chinese food everywhere, but with some special Peruvian touches. The fortune cookies are different, but the fortunes are the same. Mine said, “The stars are in your favor”.

After eating, MJ and I wandered around Chinatown a bit and saw the arch. It is small, but definitely Chinatown. I think that you can buy everything there, from Peruvian handicrafts to the latest in Japanese technology to Chinese herbal medicine to books in German. Wild.

Someone gave us intel on where we might find some yarn in the area, so we left Chinatown for downtown Lima. Neither place, I will note, is somewhere you want to go with a big handbag and lots of jewelery. You need to be very careful down there, and don’t go alone, even in the daytime.

Eventually, we found the Galería Santa Felícita on Huallaga Street, a big warehouse-like space with a bunch of stalls dedicated to crafts of all sorts on two floors. The first floor is mostly stalls selling retail or wholesale craft supplies, such as ribbon, beads, fabric, and, most importantly for our purposes, Yarn. The second floor is a series of workshops where you can take classes in different types of crafts (“manualidades” in Spanish). While these aren’t crafts in the taste of many gringos I know, I think that it would be fun to go with a Peruvian friend to make some things and learn how to do them. I’m always up for learning something new, craftwise or otherwise. There were even tables of women knitting, crocheting, and macraméing! That was cool.

Now, about that yarn. If you are looking for acrylic yarn, this is your place. They have a pretty decent variety of Peruvian-made acrylic yarns for good prices. There are some really fine cottons, too, if you want to make tatted lace or something crazy like that. However, we asked at every store about wool or alpaca, and not a single one carried 100% or even more than 10% natural fibers. For me, this was a grave disappointment. Like coffee-producing countries where the people only drink Nescafé, wool and alpaca producing Peru only uses acrylic for home crafting. I imagine that this is probably due to the better price that one can get in the export market or the value added that knitted items have in the tourist market.

So, I left empty-handed. Now I’m in Cuzco, and I have high hopes for finding some stash-worthy material up here.

Some Spanish yarn vocab, for those of you who are interested:
• Yarn: lana, lana hilada, lana para tejer
• Wool: lana, lana de oveja, lana de oveja hilada
• Alpaca: lana de alpaca, alpaca
• To Spin: hilar
• To knit: tejer
• Sheep: oveja

18 April 2007

Happy Birthday to Me!

Yay! One more fun year down, and many more to go, I hope. To the left, the birthday gifts I got today:
  • Flowers from Joe! What a good husband.
  • A pretty black scarf from the hotel (how many hotels that you've been to give you birthday gifts?
  • A cold Old Speckled Hen, my fav British Ale
  • Yarn! Of course

I also got flowers from my colleague, WB, which are also beautiful, and are currently decorating my office. A manicure was my present to myself, but I couldn't get a good pic.

The yarn came from a yarn store that my friend AS told me about here in Lima. The store is called Nakayama knits & crafts, at Avenida La Paz 324 Miraflores (they are still working on the website). The owner is a Japanese-Peruvian, and it looks like she may speak Japanese. They sell a lot of beautiful hand-knit items, both traditional Peruvian style and more modern stuff, as well as a wall full of yarn. They sell a wider variety than Alpaca 859, including blends and acrylics and novelty, which is nice.

I bought 700 grams of DK weight so-soft acrylic in a pretty light yellow color, made by a Peruvian company called Hilados Acrylicos San Juan, S.A. It is their Cigüeñita line, and even though it is 100% acrylic, it is super soft, and perfect for a baby blanket (I wonder whose...!).

This is a very friendly and nice store. I recommend that you stop by if you are in Lima.

One thing that I still have not found here in South America is a yarn store where you really feel like you could spend hours just looking; where you could plop down in a chair with a project and knit for hours (like at Lovely Yarns or A Good Yarn); where you feel comfortable touching everything and asking 2 million questions. Alpaca 859 and Nakayama have nice things, but limited selection (although Nakayama's selection of types of yarn is broader), but no... community space. Maybe that aspect of knitting just hasn't exported this far yet?

This second pic is the back of my tank top so far. I'm almost at the neck, and then I will block front and back and Kitchener them together at the shoulder, and then do the neckband. So far, so good.

14 April 2007

Saturday shopping

This is what I brought home today. I also saw a pair of too-cool-for-school shoes in a window, but decided to save my money for baby alpaca. Good call, no?

On the left, three postcards, two with pics of cute alpacas doing their alpaca thing, and one of three vicunas. Two of these will hopefully make their way through the snail mail system to a couple of special people who shall remain nameless.

In the center, an unbearably cute watercolor of alpacas that I bought in the Parque Kennedy art market. The artist's name is Francisco Yarleque Antunez, but everyone calls him Chusty. He also does some oils that I'm not as fond of. If you would like to get in touch with him when you are in Lima, go to the park on a Saturday afternoon and ask for him among the other painters.

On the right, the baby alpaca in question. The color is a beautiful apple color, and it is a super soft DK weight, perfect for a Christmas gift for someone else who shall also remain nameless, but let's just say she's not yet received a knitted gift from me, but certainly deserves one. It is made by Mitchell & Co in Arequipa, Peru. This is their "Indiecita" 100% baby alpaca. I bought 500 grams for $48. Each ball is 50 grams, $4.80 a ball. This price is by no means great, but it is better than it was two years ago when I went to the same store.

The store in question is pictured below. I know, this is the one I complained about earlier in this here blog, but I couldn't help it. I didn't find any other place to buy and I just had to.

Alpaca 859 is on Avenida Larco in Miraflores. In fact, it is at Larco 859. you can email them at alpaca859 at yahoo dot com. The last time I went there, they were kind of rude and snobby, and told me that they didn't know where else one could buy yarn in Lima. This time, probably because I bought something from them first, they were nicer, so I have some places to check out next week. The selection is limited, but the colors they have are nice and the quality is high. They sell the little yarncakes individually or in bags of 10, and also have 1 kilo fingering weight cones in many colors.

In addition to all that goodness, I also had a grand treat today. A serendipitous treat. Passion fruit green tea bubble tea. YUM. This was my first (yes, I know, I'm behind the trend, but really, does that surprise anyone?) bubble tea, and I LOVED IT. They sell in in the cute Japanese store pictured below, along with a ton of other great Asian goodies on Pasaje Los Pinos 118 in Miraflores, across the street from the Ripley department store. They are open from 10am to 10pm. I drank this stuff down super quickly, and I swear it is the best remedy for a mild hangover ever invented by human beings.

13 April 2007

One Letter on its way!

I mentioned before that I joined Felicia Sullivan's pen pal project, which is a great idea. I forgot to mention that earlier this week, I received confirmation from our secretary that my first letter to Theresa has been sent through the Peruvian postal system! It was sent on 4/11/07, but who knows when she is going to get it -- the USPS has its problems, but compared to postal services in South America, it is perfect.

I hope that this inspires you to get out your pens and pretty paper and start writing again! Keep my Dad, the happy mailman, in business!

12 April 2007

Front done!

I finally finished the front of the tank top I'm making out of the alpaca from Bolivia, and have cast on for the back. I put a lot of shaping in the front, more than will be in the back, because, well, I'm rather well-endowed, and most of that endowment is on the front, and I find that fitted sweaters do all kinds of weird things when I wear them.

So, this is an experiment. There is no pattern, just math. Knit-to-fit. We'll see what happens!

This weekend, I'm going to head out to look for yarn shops in Lima, so if you can think of any suggestions, bring them on!

05 April 2007

Math and knitting

Exhibit A: proof that I can do math when assisted by technology.

As my colleagues and those who go out to eat with me know, math in my head is not a talent that I have. Inevitably, I will get things as simple as 10% of 100 wrong. Therefore, I had no faith in my ability to figure out knitting math in my head unassisted.

To the rescue: one very awesome Motorola Pebl phone in the blue color, and its very helpful calculator.

The pic shows the alpaca swill I bought in Bolivia in the process of becoming a boat-necked tank top. I had to double it because it was too fine to knit even with size 1 needles. That made me annoyed, but so far, so good. In spite of the overpowering smell of patchouli on that stuff. Yuck.

Yarn shopping in Lima update: I got a lead from our receptionist about where I could potentially buy yarn here in Lima, but will not be able to do so until the 15th or thereabouts (payday). I bought my ticket to the States today, so I have no money, and plus it is a holiday here until after Easter.

However, I did check out a place on Avenida Larco that I found the last time I was here. It is closed like every other store that I actually want to go to, but I wasn't that disappointed. Really, I just wanted to get a pic of the inside and some prices so that I could complain to you, dear reader, how overpriced the place is and how it smacks of serious economic injustice. Lucky for Alpaca 859, they were closed.

Pen Pal Project update: I'm almost done my first letter to my pen pal! Very exciting.

03 April 2007

Nothing to do with yarn

I'm so sorry for those of you who only come here for the yarn-buying info, but this post is not about yarn or knitting, so you can quit reading if you have a one-track mind.

Otherwise, I would like to tell my dear readers about Felicia Sullivan's great new pen pal project! You can sign up on her blog and she will assign you a pen pal, with whom you will exchange REAL HANDWRITTEN LETTERS. Risa, I know you are going CRAZY right now to get a pen pal. I can just see you getting into this.

So go get your pen pal and pull out all that great stationery that you've been hoarding!

30 March 2007


I know it is a cheesy post title, but I don't know what else to say! I was just invited by the microenterprise project manager here in our Peru office to accompany him on a survey of our microfinance clients in and around Cusco. While cool no matter what they do with our money, this is an especially cool opportunity because SOME OF THEM SPIN ALPACA! I know. You hate me. I promise I'll take pictures, maybe video if you're lucky, and I'll definitely buy buy buy.
This is a great breakthrough for my not-so-secret alpaca and wool marketing project idea. Just imagine -- fair trade alpaca and wool, just like fair trade coffee and chocolate. Now, I'm not usually the biggest fan of fair trade stuff (really, I could go on for hours), but if we can actually do it in a fair way, or at least work with the producers to get them to be able to enhance their role in the value chain or enter a specialty value chain, I will feel like I can retire in peace.

The graphic below is a copy of the drawing our microenterprise guy put on my whiteboard to show me how the value chain for yarn works. Our clients are in the 1-3% group. The graphic shows the percentage of the final sale price (the price you pay in the yarn shop) goes to each group. We know that almost all yarn shop owners are honest brokers, so take that into consideration:

I'm not sure how I'm going to be able to concentrate for the rest of the day.

14 March 2007

Notice on flying in Bolivia

BTW: If you fly domestically in Bolivia or out of Bolivia, do not take your needles in your carry-on. They are very strict about it.

11 March 2007

Get Yarn in La Paz

While also not as easy as you would imagine it to be, it is possible to find alpaca and sheep's wool yarn in La Paz, Bolivia. On Calle Sagarnaga, where there are a ton of touristy souvenir shops (some of which sell great stuff), there is a store in a random shopping center where you can buy yarn in skeins, and two stores where you can buy very very very (light fingering, laceweight) yarn on cones. Even the yarn I bought (seen resting on my seedum at right), four 250-gram skeins in black and dark grey, are very light weight. Each skein cost a rather expensive 75 Bolivianos, or almost $10. I thought that it would be cheaper. In fact, the high price made me angry enough that if I knew of another place to buy, I would have gone there.

If you think about it, what are the chances of all $10 of those dollars, or even $9 of them, going to the women who washed, carded, spun and dyed that yarn? Very very low. The guy who sold it clearly wasn't a yarn expert, so he surely didn't earn whatever cut he was getting. Thus, I'm even more committed to figuring out the whole wool industry here in the Andes, and from that finding a way to get better prices to the producers.

If you want to buy yarn on cones (probably cheaper, and you can double it, but it was too awkward for me to carry back this time), or if you want to go and bother the other guy, the places are on Sagarnaga, below San Francisco by 1/2 a block on the left hand side. The shopping center is called the Galeria Palace Center, and is in the bottom of the Eva Palace Hotel. The stores are on the upper level once you go inside.

Some pics for you:
1) The FINISHED Afghan that I made for a friend as a wedding gift (shhh), using Cascade Superwash (which is AWESOME):

2) A finished scarf for hubbo, k2p2 rib with a 100% wool called Pecora from LHO that I bought at Manos de Hada. The yarn is a single that is wonderfully slubby, and makes a great show:

3) A silk rayon blend being made into the back of a sweater based on MDK's "Perfect Sweater" (losely based on), yarn also from LHO. You really can't tell, but the colorway has such great gradations of color and is really lovely:

05 March 2007

A Knitting Afternoon

Much thanks to Risa, who invited me to knit with some other superfab ladies yesterday afternoon here in Quito. There were eight or nine of us there, with good food and lots of yarn. The new knitters learned to cast on, and the rest of us worked on projects. It was very fun, and I'm so glad to have met cool knitters here. Thanks, ladies, for welcoming me!

01 March 2007

Yarn at Megamaxi

I can't find the reciept from the store to let you know the name, but there is a store in the Megamaxi on 6 de Diciembre (parking garage side, by the tailor) that sells yarn. Unfortunately, they only sell acrylic. They do have some novelty yarns, though, for those of you who like that sort of thing. The woman working there was unable to tell me why they didn't carry wool. If I go back and see someone else there, I'll ask again. This aversion to the most fantasic commonly available fiber for textiles is a mystery to me.

They also carry embroidery floss, thread, and other things you need for sewing, including a limited selection of patterns.

Hojasdegracia -- I see your comments, and will check out the places you mention when I get a chance.

23 February 2007

Oxfam superfab project: Tejiendo con Las Mujeres (Weaving with Women)

My colleague just handed me a great book about an Oxfam project, funded by ECHO (the European Commission Humanitarian Office), to help women recover from the trauma of Hurricane Stan (October 2005). The project, in Guatemala, taught women in affected communities how to weave, or how to embroider, and brought them together to weave and embroider huipiles, which are the traditional blouses of Guatemalan women.

The book is full of testimonials about how the project helped the women to recover from the loss of family and friends and to regain the confidence to move on with their lives. My favorite quote in the book is, "when we weave, we chitchat and we play. It is like medicine for us."

All of you who do crafts know how true it is that making something is like medicine.

12 February 2007

Yes, Virginia, there is a decent yarn shop...

I found one! On my way back from dropping some things off at our new condo today, I looked to my right and saw a sign that said, "Lanas de Argentina!" (Wools of Argentina). Yeah, I couldn't walk past it. So, even though the shop was closed, the lady let me in because they were having a class. They have classes!

The shop is called Manos de Hada (Fairy Hands). They distribute only LHO yarns from Argentina, most of which are unfortunately not made from pure wool, but all of which are nice for what they are. And cheap! I got four 250 gram skeins of a silk-rayon blend for $24, and two 100 gram balls of pure wool in a sort of slubby heavy worsted for $8. The shop is run by the Fiorella Group, which also sells some scarves and things made by the women in the shop.

Manos de Hada is located on Noboa Caamano 438, between Coruna and 6 de Diciembre, near the La Colina (or La Paz). They are open until 6 on weekdays.

I'll post pics of the yarn when my camera battery is charged.

Back from Guatemala

Yes, Risa, I was in textile heaven, but no, I didn't get any pics. I did, however, buy a bag, a shawl, a pen case, and a blanket for our new bed, so you can see some stuff when you visit.
Overall, Guatemala was a textile disappointment because I had no time to really explore. I'll have to make sure that I have another trip sometime soon with some more free time.

Before going, however, my husband came to visit me and we went up the TeleferiQuo, Quito's cable car, to the top of one of the mountains to the west of the city. I, of course, took my knitting, and below are some pics of me knitting pretty much as close to the sun as you can knit.

This is my Yummy Scarf. It is just a reversible scarf pattern, but the yarns, ah, the yarns. It is knit in blank mohair and a silk-rayon blend, both of which I forget the names of, but knitting it was a dream. A hat to match is in the works, but trapped in my stash in the States.

The next photos are of me knitting a sock at the top of the teleferico ride.

15 January 2007

Getting the Scent

Today while I was working on some things here at home, the maid came in to clean my apartment. She complimented my knitting (a strip for an Aran afghan), so I asked her if she knew where to buy yarn in Quito. She did! I hope.

Apparently, one can buy yarn somewhere in the old town section, near the Santo Domingo church and up Calle Flores to the Teatro Sucre and to the east. I didn't see anything when I was there the other day, but I was very preoccupied with not being robbed. She suggested that I not take a purse at all, but just stick my ID and money in various pockets and my bra when I go down there, and to take the trolleybus.

This weekend, I will. And I'll drag Joe along. Woohoo!

Also, sorry for the lack of photos. I don't have the cable to hook up my camera. When I do, you will see pics, I promise.

13 January 2007

A Yarn Shop for those of you in Lebanon

Since I couldn't tell you about a yarn store in Quito today, I thought that I'd give you the skinny on one I found in Beirut.

Y.knot is a really great shop with a fantastic and friendly multi-lingual staff. They carry a wide variety of imported yarns such as Rowan and Anny Blatt. It is a beautiful shop, with a big rustic worktable and endless tea or coffee for sitting around knitting. I highly recommend it.

Saifi Village
Mkhalissiya street 162
Beirut, Lebanon
y.knot at cyberia dot net dot lb

Knits, knits everywhere, but not a skein to buy

Today, during my first exploratory walk through Quito, I landed in the Parque Ejido artisan's market, at the southern end of the Avenida Amazonas. While it is a pretty good little market, as is usual for such things, most of the stalls are selling the same items and most of it is only mediocre quality at best. That said, it is pleasant and manageable, and probably a good place to buy some gifts if you are a tourist.

Probably two-thirds to three-fourths of the stalls sell knitted or crocheted goods in wool, alpaca, and (to my horror) acrylic. Why someone would want to buy a cheesy acrylic poncho in the land of alpaca and wool is completely beyond my understanding. I figured that with all those knitted items around, there had to be some yarn somewhere, right?


I did see some of the women vendors crocheting. No, crochet is no the most traditional of crafts in Ecuador, but whatever. I asked one of them where she thought I could buy wool to knit with (lana para tejer). She told me Otavalo, and said she didn't know where you could buy it in Quito, if at all.

While I don't believe that there are no decent yarn stores in Quito, a city that has almost everything anyone would want to buy, I did find this news disheartening. If she doesn't know of a place, then it would certainly not be easy to find if it existed, and probably expensive at that. Oh well. The search continues.

As I walked through the stalls, I had to resist the repeated temptation to buy an ugly alpaca sweater or poncho just to liberate the alpaca yarn and let it be something more aesthetically pleasing. I can totally see that happening someday.

11 January 2007

A Book and a Place

This is a book I want: Andean Folk Knitting: Traditions and Techniques from Peru and Bolivia. Apparently, it is out of print, but recommended by Suzanne.

The place I want to visit is Otavalo. It has a huge market, where one can find wool, alpaca, and things made from both, including yarn! I can't wait to go. I will, of course, send pics and info.

One thing that is both frustrating and encouraging is that there is almost no information for knitters about where to buy yarn in the Andes (or any country outside of the US and Europe for that matter) on the web. I hope that this blog becomes a resource for those of you who want to buy yarn when you travel. It is a start, but ideally, it should be collaborative. So, if you want to share recommendations about where to buy yarn in the Andes, South America, or anywhere else, please email the blog at lanapuraquito at gmail dot com or leave a note in the comments.

10 January 2007

The beginning

I'm starting this blog to chronicle my search for wool and yarn in South America in the course of my time working here. I'm living in Quito, working for an international humanitarian organization, and I knit. I know, I'm in wool and alpaca heaven! But, finding yarn to knit with isn't as easy as it seems it would be. So, I've decided to hunt it down and provide you with the stories, tips, contacts, and wool/alpaca-industry info I find out in the course of my travels.

I hope that you all like it. Send me questions and information that you might have. I hope that you and I both find this blog to be a good resource, and an entertaining read.