Frequently Asked Questions
We source all our yarn - highland wool, alpaca and baby alpaca - from Michell and Cia. (http://michell.com.pe/michell/). Their production is 100% ethical, down to their fiber being hand-sorted (no machines) by micron quality and sourced from traditional alpaca herding families in the high Andes. Michell has also provided employment to hundreds of Peruvian employees for 80+ years and made genetic research advancements that will keep the alpaca industry alive in Peru.Last updated:
Natural dyes fade beautifully with time and may run a bit when washed but will retain their vibrancy with proper care. Anything made with Pichinku yarn is not suited for the spin cycle! We recommend gently washing in luke-warm water with a very small amount of mild detergent (Orvus, Euculan, baby shampoo, etc.), avoiding agitation, and laying flat to dry.Last updated:
I do wish that I could immediately accommodate orders in addition to rewards but will not be able to until later this year. We'll do our product development in Apr-May e.g. to make Pichinku yarn impeccably perfect quality - and the costs just aren't concrete enough yet for pricing.
It means waiting until October (wholesale orders are scheduled to open in July), but it will be well worth the wait! It will also give us the assurance that we are being as transparent as possible with our customers, in addition to providing the highest quality product.Last updated:
My passion is to preserve world heritage by investing in the artisans that carry on traditional practices today. In making them economically viable, we better ensure that they will survive, and support the well-being of artisans and their families.
It's disheartening for those of us that work with traditional pieces, and natural fibers, that the market doesn't seem to know the difference between those high quality products and cheap synthetics.
After working hand-in-hand with the Threads artisans, I started to imagine things differently because heavy textiles are difficult. Yarn on the other hand is “simple” and globally marketable. Pichinku aspires to help fill the lack of naturally dyed fiber on the market. And just by purchasing yarn, consumers positively impact the environment and generate long-term opportunities for artisans in Peru.Last updated:
Though I claim to be an honorary Peruvian, I was born in Hawaii, raised in Pennsylvania and studied Anthropology at Pennsylvania State University. And when I began to travel internationally in college, I never stopped!
But I’ve always been the “wanderer” in my family, fascinated by world travel, people and culture. When I moved to Cusco in 2013, I had worked in Brazil with clay potters, and in the Anthropology archives of both the Matson Museum of Anthropology and Carnegie Museum of Natural History.
I relocated - Pittsburgh to Cusco - in less than two weeks after accepting the position of director of operations for Threads of Peru, a not-for-profit social enterprise that connects the world to handmade treasures of the Andes, helping to strengthen ancient craft techniques and empower artisans. Let me tell you, my parents were thrilled!
Our team provides support and training to indigenous artisans that practice totally non-mechanized weaving and natural dyeing techniques. We work to improve the quality of their products and market them internationally. With rusty Spanish and absolutely no Quechua, it was the most extreme, breathtaking environment I can imagine even now. In days I was traveling to remote, in-need communities where basic education, running water and electricity are just now arriving.
To say that it’s been an educational and life-changing experience is to say very little. When the success or “failure” of your efforts could in part determine the well being of impoverished families, you find yourself striving to do much more than you would have imagined yourself possible.Last updated:
Inter-cultural communication, even with translators, can be challenging. It’s not so much what you say, but how we are shaped to think, feel and value things differently by our respective cultures. And particularly as an American, I was brought up to be kind of manic about time management. Well, things don’t really work like that in Peru, especially not in the Andes.
What I find to be most fulfilling and inspiring is when we connect just as people, communicating more with smiles and hand signals than words. And that whether it’s a little or a lot, that my work truly is having positive impact on lives other than mine.Last updated:
Pichinku yarn embraces that hand made items have identity. They tell stories of families and entire civilizations that can stretch back thousands of years.
The artisans that will begin Pichinku with me - four beautiful sisters from the Andean community of Totora - have become like an adoptive family. When asked, they will be the first to share how deeply they appreciate that their mother and grandmothers patiently taught them these skills, and that they passionately feel obligated to continue practicing.
Naturally dyed and natural fibers are qualities found in yarn from around the world. Their production may even employ artisans much like we do. Pichinku is unique because it tells the story of an ancient heritage, of 100% Peruvian-made yarn and the legacy of the Quechua people.Last updated:
Confession: I’m more beginner than the beginners, but I’ve knitted a couple hats and scarves that could pass as acceptable! Makes me wonder though, because I’ve never seen those people actually wear them. Maybe I should just stick with making beautiful yarn and keep “master knitter” on my bucket list!Last updated:
Immediately, Pichinku will provide stable work to skilled artisans, at fair wages and a comfortable schedule. But this “simple” yarn idea could grow much bigger than our humble beginnings!
For example, I daydream of incorporating other 100% natural fibers like cotton, which evades the limitations of heavy materials like alpaca and wool e.g. wool cowls don’t wear well in summer! And that while we grow and expand, Pichinku will provide more opportunities for more people, not just artisans, to have stable work, embrace their cultural heritage and learn about sutainable practices.Last updated:
After the campaign, we will send all backers a short survey about what they would most like for their rewards re: yarn weight and colors. We will then decide on the weight for each fiber and offer 6-8 color choices based on the majority vote.Last updated:
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