This is an edited version of a post first published on my other blog, Vida Huancaína.
Hualhuas, Peru is a little town high in the Mantaro Valley of the Peruvian Andes, about 30 minutes by car from Huancayo and known for its textiles. Our host mom, never having been herself and knowing that I was on the hunt for natural alpaca yarn, planned a trip for us to visit the town together.
We arrived on a rainy afternoon and were greeted by a large sign that proclaimed Hualhuas as “la cuna de artesanía textil” (the cradle of textile crafts). A very good sign (haha, see what I did there?).
The town is very quaint, set right up against the mountains that ring the valley. There are corn fields with grazing cows set in between homes, and also artesanía (craft) 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. (There were also many puppies sleeping next to, or on top of, piles of yarn!)
We stopped in each of the shops to look at their goods and ask about their yarns. We found luxuriously soft alpaca yarns and 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’s heaven!
After looking in every shop 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, Tahuantinsuyo, had many old, wooden spindles and spinning wheels to spin the yarn, and also looms to weave blankets and rugs.
The alpaca yarns they had 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 bush that we saw growing alongside the main road (see the middle photo cluster above). The purple yarns were dyed with guindas, little reddish-colored fruits that grow on sour cherry trees, which also grow alongside the road (sorry, no photo of this one).
I’ve now been back to Hulahuas three times. I’ve used or gifted all the yarn that I purchased there the first two times. My third visit was to stock up on more yarn before we move back to the US in just a few days! I have never been one to stash yarns before, but after being here in Peru with the amazing quality, easy availability, and low prices, I just haven’t been able to say no! I may or may not have a duffel bag full of yarns to bring home with me. 🙂