All that goes into the making of...
The Peru Tote.
Natural fibers from alpacas and sheep dyed with natural dyes (black and white aren't dyed)
The making of stunning alpaca wool scarves
And above are the cintas, which are the strips of hand-woven woolen textiles I traveled far and wide to find to hand pick for my totes!
To get to them, we took a long flight to Lima, Peru and then another hour-long flight from the coast to the mountains to get to Cusco, Peru...
...and then further on to the Sacred Valley, which is about a 2-hour car ride, where farmers shear their sheep and alpacas to make the most beautiful and warmest woolen goods and gather plants, seeds and berries from the land they live on to make the dyes. This is where I find the cintas for the "Peru Tote"!
Our journey to find the beloved cintas was not without its adventures. Typically when we said we were about to have an "adventure"...it meant this....
One adventure was so bad and so sudden that I thought I just might actually for real poop in my pants. I wanted so badly to visit this cooperative where about 60 mothers make textiles to sell on the weekends. Well, it was closed. But as we were deciding where to go next I had that feeling in my stomach. You know that feeling. The feeling you only want to have in the comfort of your own home when no one else is home. Not in Peru where you can't even flush the toilet paper. All evidence of what you did is right there in the non discrete trash can. I wanted to leave an "I'm so sorry" sign on every bin.
I asked for a bathroom and at first they said there wasn't one. I was about to create a scene straight out of "Bridesmaids", but when they saw my worried face they took me to their house. When I came out from the toilet, a table was set with tea for us and one woman had gone to the garden to pick special herbs for my stomach.
They also placed a roll of toilet paper on the table.
We also traveled over wild roads...
and came to a halt as some bulls fought in front of us... (and they really fought. I think one would have killed the other if we hadn't finally honked. It was hard to watch).
We found them.
Thanks to beautiful hands like these, the land, and this guy....
I present to you...
My sister, Caiti, my fiancé, Wyatt and I went to many different places where women were selling these textiles. We would pick out our favorites and then venture on to another, pick out some more, and then venture on to another. It was so much fun and so inspiring to see all of their beautiful handmade work.
Every single piece takes so much time. Never mind just the weaving itself, but the gathering of the herbs, bugs, fruits and plants - and then the work of churning all of that up to make the dyes. Then raising their sheep and alpacas and shearing them. Then turning that wool into yarn, dying the yarn, and then finally the timely craft of weaving.
Every piece tells a story. You'll see the eye of the princess, the beloved alpaca, the rivers that run through the land, the mountains, the sacred valley and the condors that fly the skies. Ancient stories and everything they see around them is woven into their textiles.
I'm now sitting by my fire in New Hampshire after gathering all of our woven treasures up, hauling the massive load back over the mountains, to the airport, back to Lima, over the ocean, and then finally home. It's a beautiful feeling when you hate to leave a place you love so much but also love to come home. Back to our animals and our own sacred land....
Here are some of the textiles we picked out. Production on the "Peru Tote" starts very soon!
This is a limited edition bag. Each one is completely different from the other. I hope you will find it to be as special as I do.
Accepting pre-orders here:
Your bag will be ready by March 2018!
(all photos are taken and owned by Wyatt Knox: firstname.lastname@example.org)