Andean Knitting

by - Tuesday, May 12, 2009

2009 Maiwa Textile Symposium

Instructor Nilda Callañaupa Alvarez

Men’s knitted caps are in common use in many indigenous communities in the highlands of southern Peru and Bolivia. The shape of the caps varies from one area or community to another, but usually they are pointed at the top, and often they have earflaps. Typically they have multicoloured designs similar to the weaving designs of the region. They are worn instead of or underneath European-style brimmed hats. In some communities the women knit, while in others it is the men. Usually very thin needles are used, made of wire or bicycle wheel spokes, and the work is correspondingly fine.

The technique used by indigenous knitters in the Andes today has a number of features that are unlike modern western knitting techniques and that probably represent older techniques now no longer used.

Nilda joins us from Peru to teach this one-day workshop in the indigenous techniques of Chinchero knitting.

Basic knitting skills required.

Nilda Callañaupa Alvarez

Nilda Callañaupa Alvarez is an expert weaver who has travelled extensively to teach and give presentations at Harvard, Cornell, the University of Vermont, Brown, the Textile Museum in Washington, DC, and other institutions. Her expertise is recognized by international scholars of Inca textiles and culture. Nilda joins us from Peru.

Nilda is the founder and director of the Center for Traditional Textiles of Cusco. She has established weaving associations throughout the Andean highlands to preserve a splendid tradition of fine handmade textiles and to promote economic development. She has appeared in documentaries as a spokesperson for her culture. Nilda’s weavings have been exhibited in Peru, the US, and elsewhere. Nilda lives in Cusco, Peru, with her husband and two children. Visit the centre at

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