The Process

All of the textiles that you will find on this site have been handmade in Chile by artisans working in their own homes. We are privileged to work with highly skilled artisans who practice their chosen craft using traditional techniques that have been handed down to them from their parents and grandparents before them. It is our hope that through supporting the work of these artisans, this knowledge base will stand a chance of being preserved for future generations. Over the coming months we will begin to share with you some details of the process by which these beautiful textiles are created. In the meantime, here is a taster...

The Raw Material

Resourceful by necessity, our spinners and weavers work with fleeces available to them locally. In the far north of Chile, herds of alpaca thrive on the high Andean plateaux (the 'altiplano'), whereas in the lush south, sheep are a traditional mainstay on family smallholdings, as well as grazing in vast flocks on the wide Patagonian plains.

Spinning

Washed fleece is traditionally spun into yarn using a simple huso, or drop spindle. This home made device is no more than a straight stick of wood, about 45cm in length, weighted at one end with a piece of clay or wood (or a piece of old car tyre, even a potato). Combed fleece is pulled out and twisted as the spindle is dropped to create a yarn. Two or three lengths of yarn may then finally be twisted together (plied) for extra strength and thickness.

Dyeing

Many of the products that we sell are dyed using leaves, flowers, roots and minerals. Women collect dye-plants in the locality of their homes and boil them to extract the colour with which the yarn is then dyed. If a mordant is required to fix the colour, alum or salt is added. Many plant materials are seasonally available, and colour will vary according to factors such as location and weather conditions. Our weavings reflect the rich colour palette of the landscape and season in which they are created.

Weaving

The majority of our weavers in Chile build their own looms out of timber sourced locally. The most commonly used types of loom are the upright “Mapuche” loom, which takes its name from Chile's main indigenous group from the Araucanía region of Southern Chile, and the horizontal “chilote” loom from the Chiloé Archipelago, which is worked from a kneeling position.

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