Tuesday, April 20, 2010

a peruvian knitting lesson

Today was an amazing day. I am in Arequipa, Peru, celebrating my 20th wedding anniversary on a fibre tour. The company who arranged the tour is called Puchka Peru and we are here for three weeks. The highlight of the tour for me is the knitting lessons and I have signed up for 8 days. Above is a picture of my teacher Rufina, and while she does not speak very much English and my Spanish is truly marginal, I still am thrilled with the results that I am creating.

In Peru, they knit backwards from what we do and they knit on the purl side while looking at their work. They put the yarn around their neck to help them maintain an even tension, which tends to make one feel like they are being strangled -- at least that is how I felt. They also use bicycle spoke knitting kneedles with ends that have been filed down to resemble a crochet hook.

Then there is the cast on. I never did really figure it out. It was a complicated affair using two colors, two hands and one needle. I was all thumbs and very frustrated. I was trying to over- think it but I was fortunate that Rufina's assistant Gloria, took pity on me, and did help me quite a bit with it and once I got past the cast on, what we were doing made more sense.

I ended up producing about two inches of my bolsita or purse after 7 hours of work with lots of ripping out and getting my mistakes fixed by Rufina who has endless patience and good humour. We seem to be getting by with the words, "OK, "NO" and "Excellento". Above is also a picture of my doggie motif that I am making from a book on traditional Andean patterns.

I was thinking how beautiful and unusual Rufina's clothing was when a fellow workshop participant said that it was for show and they probably wear jeans like the rest of us folks when not doing teaching. So, they don't look like they are part of a National Geographic TV Special, I guess. This was further re-inforced when I saw Rufina sending a text message after the workshop. I don't know why this was suprising to me, but it was.

I hope I can finish my purse before I leave this yarn lover's paradise.

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