We traveled to Hualhuas, Peru yesterday in search of more yarn! Our host mom had heard about the city on the public TV station and how they spun yarns and also had a knitting NGO that exported their goods to Canada. The town is about 20 minutes outside of Huancayo by bus and is known as “la cuna de artesanía textil” (the cradle of textile crafts).
The town is very quaint, set right up against the mountains that ring the Mantaro Valley. As you enter town, there are large fields of corn with cows grazing in them and a few homes on either side of the main road. At the end of the main road there is a small, purple church and park that mark the center of the town.
There are artesanía shops scattered throughout the town. They sell both finished crafts like woven rugs and ponchos, knitted hats and sweaters, dolls, purses, and other traditional crafts from the region, as well as skeins of yarn. We stopped in each of the town’s shops to look at their goods and ask about their yarns. We found both luxuriously soft alpaca yarns, as well as beautiful, naturally dyed wool yarns (as well as some acrylic yarns that a shop owner tried pass off as natural, but we knew better). My host mom and I were in knitter heaven!
After looking in every shop in town that was open, we ended up going back to the very first one we had stopped in near the beginning of the main road into town. The shop was called Tahuantinsuyo and had many old, wooden spindles and spinning wheels set up to spin the wool and alpaca into yarn, and also looms set up to weave the yarn into blankets and rugs. The alpaca yarns were completely pure, no dyes, no fillers. The wool yarns were also pure, but dyed with natural dyes from plants and berries from the region. The yellow yarns were dyed with retama, a beautiful yellow flower that grows on a small tree/bush that we found alongside the main road (photo below). The purple yarns were dyed with guindas, little reddish-colored fruits that grow on guindo (sour cherry) trees, which also grow alongside the road (sorry, no photo of this one). After haggling a bit with the manager, I walked away with natural, undyed alpaca yarn for s./ 85 per kilo ($30/kg) and naturally dyed wool yarn for s./ 30 per kilo ($10/kg). Talk about a steal! We will DEFINITELY be going back.