Back to
Crossing the river before summiting 17,500 Pico Austria. Photo by Ella Williams (2016 Fall Semester Photo Contest, 2nd Place), South America Semester.


¡Hola amigos y familia!

This week marked the beginning of our ISP projects. I had a difficult time choosing between sustainable agriculture and textiles but I´m very happy with my decision to go with textiles.

Chinchero is considered the center of weaving in Peru. The small town is very well known for traditional textiles becuase the art has been passed down for so many generations. Women, young and old, in Chinchero still carry on the textile and weaving traditons of their Incan ancestors who dominated the Andes in the 1500s.

In the afternoon Liza, Molly, Raquel and I took a 40 minute autobus through the sacred valley (we also traveled 890 meters higher) from Urubamba to Chinchero. Upon arrival, our mentoría (who´s beautiful  Quechan name is completely slipping from my mind right now) met us at the bus terminal to walk us to the textile center perched on top of a hill. Immediately upon arriving the snow-capped mountains of Salcantay, Verónica and Soray are visible from the front steps.  The first week our main focus is on dying the wool with different natural resources that can be collected from around the area. The week after we get back from our trek in Nacion Q’eros, we´ll start producing textiles of our own. After exploring the center we walked about 15 minutes to a nearby farm to gather the ch´ilca for green dye. Anything green (such as tayanca) can be used for the dying process but ch´ilca is the most efficient. After harvesting about a kilo of ch´ilca, the leaves must be boiled for one hour. When they dry out they are useless. Afterwards, we were able to practice using a pushka (or drop spindle for those of you who might possibly know what a drop spindle is) to spin the alpaca wool into thread on a carrete (or spool). We were told that a single kilo of yarn takes about one month to produce by hand. The dying process of blue wool takes one month to dye, so we´re working with yellow, red, purple, and two shades of green.

I´m eager to return to chinchero tomorrow afternoon to continue learning about los textiles tradicionales!

Here are the different natural resources the center uses for dye:

-Ccollpa or tierra volcánica for the fix that keeps the different dyes from bleeding

-Flor de culli for amarillo (yellow) dye

-Ch´ilca for verde (geen) dye

-Cochinilla (an special type of insect that lives on cacti) for rojo (red) dyes

-Cochineal + jugo de lima (lime juice) for naranja (orange) dye

-Sal de maras (salt from the pans of Maras) + jugo de lima for naranja dye as well

-Musgo (moss) for marrón (brown) dye

-Chicha morada (a Bolivian and Peruvian beverage made from purple corn) for púrpura (purple) dye

-The black and white wool are natural


¡Hablamos pronto!