Secrets of Spinning, Weaving, and Knitting in the Peruvian Highlands

Secrets of Spinning, Weaving, and Knititng in the Peruvian Highlandsby Nilda Callañaupa Alvarez
Paperback | 144 Pages
ISBN: 9780998452357

Winner of the 2017 Independent Book Publishers Association Benjamin Franklin Silver Award. 

Ten years after the publication of her seminal book Weaving in the Peruvian Highlands, twenty years after founding the iconic Center for Tradition Textiles of Cusco, Nilda Callañaupa Alvarez provides an inspirational new view into the world of Andean textiles. The Peruvian highlands are home to one of the world’s finest textile traditions. The native Quechua people of the region use tricks and techniques dating to pre-Inca times to create sophisticated and beautiful handspun, handwoven, and handknitted clothing and household goods. Callañaupa Alvarez has gathered artisans of all ages to share their knowledge, lore, and deep skills, highlighting many of the techniques used by spinners, weavers, and knitters of the Andes. For many of these techniques, they offer concise step-by-step instructions accessible to North American crafters. Poignant and detailed descriptions of Andean cultural traditions frame each section, providing context and rare insight into what textile work means as a living heritage of the Quechua people. Callañaupa Alvarez pays special recognition to the Young Weavers Groups who are proudly carrying forward the textile traditions of their ancestors with ingenuity and innovation.


Nilda Callañaupa Alvarez is one of the founders and Director of the Center for Traditional Textiles of Cusco where she works with ten weaving communities to preserve and promote Cusqueñan textile traditions and to support the weavers and their work. Nilda grew up in Chinchero, Peru, learning spinning, weaving, and knitting from her family and other elders of the community. She holds degrees from the National University of San Antonio Abad in Cusco, and is an international speaker and expert in Cusqueñan textiles. Nilda lives in Cusco and Chinchero with her husband and two sons. Her previous titles, Weaving in the Peruvian Highlands, Faces of Tradition, and Textile Traditions of Chinchero have sold more than 40,000 copies.


Praise for Secrets of Spinning, Weaving, and Knitting in the Peruvian Highlands

“A beautifully informative new book with only one flaw: its title is much too modest! It not only offers, in patient words and detailed pictures, a primer on ancient Inca spinning and textile-making, it also spins a tale of ancient heritage and living craft. The book’s generous sharing of textile knowledge deeply enriches your own textile practice on many levels. Like learning a new spoken language, learning a new craft vocabulary opens up a new culture, with its different rules and definitions. A glimpse into these structures helps enrich not just a textile practice, but our sense of what it is to be human.”
Keith Recker, founder and editor of Hand/Eye magazine

“The Cusco weaving tradition is the proud modern descendant of the expertise and creativity found in cloth of the Inca Empire, kept alive in our time by the energetic efforts of the Center for Traditional Textiles of Cusco. This valuable book provides insightful introductory text and beautifully clear instructions and illustrations for how to reproduce the more basic techniques.  Even those who never try to use the techniques will gain a greater appreciation of this rich tradition, while for textile practitioners the book is a gold mine, revealing the little tricks needed to use these techniques successfully.”
Ann Pollard Rowe, Research Associate of Indigenous American Textiles at The Textile Museum, Washington, D.C., and author of numerous touchstone publications about Andean textiles

“Nilda Callañaupa Alvarez and her young associates at the Center for Traditional Textiles of Cusco share their vast knowledge of making textiles in highland Peru and also provide a unique window into the meanings associated with their processes. The book is chock-full of photographic details and succinct captions that take the reader through the steps of making yarn and cloth the Andean way. “
Mary Frame, author and scholar of ancient and ethnographic Andean textiles

“This publication, through written words and integrated with beautiful photos, openly makes accessible Quechua indigenous weaving techniques and ancient practices passed through centuries but never before documented in such a written and visual publication. It’s a beautiful gift for future generations of Quechua youth and young people throughout the world who are challenged to retain the ways of their ancestors while living in and contributing to the modern world.”
Dr. Andrea M. Heckman, author of Woven Stories: Andean Textiles and Rituals


Profusely and beautifully illustrated from cover to cover, “Secrets of Spinning, Weaving, and Knitting in the Peruvian Highlands” is a unique, extraordinary, authentic, impressively informative, and highly recommended addition to community and academic library Needlecraft collections.
Midwest Book Review


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