My friendship with Cynthia Lecount Samaké, author of our new A Textile Traveler’s Guide to Peru & Bolivia, has been a long and winding road, much like the tours she leads to far flung places all over the world.
It started in the early 1990s when Interweave, which I then headed, bought rights to her book, Andean Folk Knitting. I loved that book! It revealed so much of the cleverness and beauty and intricacies of Peruvian knitting: working on the wrong side, knitting backward, knitting little secret pockets, and so much more. Here was a woman who had clearly gone deep into the culture and traditions, who really knew her stuff. It was an important resource, and people wanted it. I had a dream of doing a revised edition that would have much more color photography and some must-do projects.
When the original edition went out of print, I started a conversation with Cynthia about that possibility, but she was then in discussion with another publisher. Back and forth we went, the other deal fell apart, she was guiding tours to Turkey, Ghana, Mali, Laos, Cambodia, Uruguay, India, Morocco, Bhutan . . . you can see the full reach of her travel opportunities at Behind The Scenes Adventures. No time to do a major book revision!
Fast-forward about a dozen years: it’s 2010, I was in Cusco working with Nilda Callañaupa Alvarez on plans for the first Tinkuy de Tejedores, and who should pop in but Cynthia. She was in the midst of taking a group through the Peruvian highlands and into Bolivia (a trip she has made more than forty times), and we had only moments to chat. But from that brief connection sprouted the seeds of stories she wrote for the Interweave magazine Piecework and for one of our first forays into a digital magazine. Cynthia shared freely of her incredible textile collection, and I remember especially her little knitted chuspas (coca bags) in the shape of tiny men and women, so cunningly detailed.
How did the notion of asking Cynthia to write a travel guide come up? It’s obvious. She goes everywhere, she can write, she can take good photos, she knows textiles, she’s a ton of fun. Tracking her down for editorial checks was sometimes a challenge, because she does not stay in one place much. But deadlines were met, the book got made, and if you’re an intrepid traveler who wants to know the best and most interesting places to go in Peru and Bolivia to find the most exuberant textiles and most colorful festivals and yummiest restaurants and comfiest hotels, you will want it. Even if you don’t go there.
What a delightful surprise that A Textile Traveler’s Guide to Peru and Bolivia got on the fast track (or the fast cargo ship!) from our printer and arrived way ahead of schedule. Lucky for you, Cynthia’s new guide is available for purchase now, and only from the Thrums Books online store, and at a 20% discount. The guide is also available in convenient eBook format.