I Want to Give You a Scarf from Peru

In our very first Thrums Books textile giveaway, you have a chance to win one of my treasured Peruvian scarves. I bought this alpaca scarf while I was working in Peru with Nilda Callañaupa Alvarez on her book Secrets of Spinning, Weaving, and Knitting in the Peruvian Highlands. It’s a beauty of a scarf, isn’t it? It makes me happy when I wear it (note my smile above). But before I give it away, I want to tell you a few things about it, about the dedication and the skill that went in to making it.

First You Shear an Alpaca

Think of the skills required to make a scarf like this one. Someone must tend the alpaca, and shear it when the time comes. Someone must spin the yarn. Someone must plan the warp, and find a warping partner to help with setting up the yarn for weaving. Someone must know the techniques—in this case, plain weave and pebble weave (and a bit of complementary warp), and they must know the motifs, and weave them one row at a time from memory.


An artisan from Chahuaytire, Peru, shears her alpaca for fiber she will later spin into yarn and weave into a handsome scarf, just like mine.

Then You Weave a Scarf

Noemi Ana Guerra Quispe, a young weaver from the high Andes village of Chahuaytire, knows these things. Oh—and more. She knows how to make the elusive ñawi awapa eye braid that confounds American weavers and protects the edges of her shawl. She knows that overdyeing one of her skeins of brown alpaca with indigo will give a subtle distinction to her fabric. She has the skills, and she also has an innate sense of design; her stripes are balanced and graceful, and the half-wave, bird, llama, and other motifs march along in harmony.

Noemi Ana Guerra Quispe sits among a richness of woven goods as she sells me her alpaca scarf.

Then I Buy It–and Give It Away

I love this scarf for its beauty, and for the almost giddy pleasure Noemi felt in selling it to me, and for the memory of bright sun, clear air, and welcoming community. But I’m going to let it go. I want to share it with someone who will appreciate its beauty and quality, and the care that went into the making. And I just might give it to you! Signing up to receive our weekly newsletter is your automatic entry into our Peruvian Scarf Giveaway. And stay tuned–we just might do it again.




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