An Interview with Sarah Confer and Ariana Svenson of Threads of Peru

Threads of Peru is a nonprofit organization that connects the world to handmade treasures of Peru, helping to preserve ancient craft techniques and empower indigenous artisans.

What is Threads of Peru?

Threads of Peru is 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.  We work with Andean people, mostly women, to improve the quality and marketability of their weaving in an effort to strengthen cultural traditions, provide a supplementary income to artisans in rural communities, and offer a glimpse of this amazing culture to the rest of the world.

local women teach the basics of the ancient Andean weaving process.

You can read more here.

What inspired the title of the organization?

We were working with textiles, which are made of many threads, therefore we felt that “Threads of Peru” was a catchy name that also alluded to the different aspects of Peruvian culture.

What are some of its feature products?

Pitukiska Toque, K’ata Scarf, T’ika keyrings and finished off with a Qolque Change Purse

One of our favourite products is the poncho, and we offer a range of beautifully crafted ponchos to last a lifetime. The poncho has become such an object of pop-culture fascination — thanks in large part to a certain “man with no name” — that sometimes we forget that this garment traces its roots to the high mountains of the Andes. The Spanish word “poncho” likely came from the Quechua word “punchu” or similar words in other languages spoken nearby.

Chaska Poncho featuring the Chaska, the Andean Star

We also offer stunning ruana style wraps (or an open poncho).  The CAROLINA ruana  and ANGELINA wraps are a type of alpaca poncho that is open in the front.  More traditional in design, the CHASKA women’s alpaca poncho features a timeless, modern design, accented by the ch’aska – star – woven pattern at the edges.

In addition to ponchos, ruanas and wide alpaca scarves we also offer a carefully curated Home Décor line, a little bit hippy and with lots of bohemian flair, our home interior design items are super popular.

This is the Illariy Master Weaver Baby Alpaca Scarf

What are the main fibres and fabrics used in the products?

High quality fibre is the foundation of Threads of Peru products, and is at the core of the traditional Quechua lifestyle. Most of our products are made with alpaca or baby alpaca fibre, but many of our small accessory items and bags are made with wool.

Alpaca is a soft, luxury fibre which is finer, softer and more “slippery” in texture than sheep wool or llama fibre. It is naturally hypoallergenic, water-resistant, non-flammable and highly breathable. Alpaca fibre occurs in over 20 natural, undyed shades, ranging from browns, to greys, cream and black, making the alpaca the most colour-diverse fibre-producing animal on earth.

Wool is easier to work with and takes dye much better than does alpaca fibre. Though not as soft as alpaca, wool is extremely durable and warm, and the resulting cloth tends to be heavier than alpaca fibre products.

Who grows, harvests, designs, and manufactures the products of Threads of Peru?

The production process is one of collaboration between the small Threads of Peru team and the artisans. Many of our products are designed in-house, but some are the pure creative inspiration of the weavers themselves. Threads of Peru is involved in the coordination and preparation of yarn, from spinning to dyeing to plying, right up until the warping process before an item is woven. The weavers then have at least one month to work their magic, weaving those yarns into beautiful, complex designs. Some of these products are finished in the communities themselves, while some are taken to a local tailor to be sewn up into bags or other accessories. The Threads of Peru team are very hands-on throughout the entire process, ensuring the highest quality output.

Some products use fibre that has been sourced from the weaver’s own animals, while others are made with yarn that is sourced from Michell, a responsible Peruvian alpaca yarn manufacturer which has been in operation for over a century, and which sources their raw fibre from small producers all over the country – including communities like those that Threads of Peru works with.

To know more about Threads of Peru or if you’re interested in visiting Peru on a textile tour, visit the Threads of Peru website here.

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About the Author

Scott Douglas Jacobsen researches and presents independent panels, papers, and posters, and with varied research labs and groups, and part-time in landscaping and gardening, and runs In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal.

3 thoughts on “An Interview with Sarah Confer and Ariana Svenson of Threads of Peru

  1. But she is not saying what this “non profit” organization is actually doing for this people, if she can say what exactly makes, how much money she pays and how exactly this people are benefit from this “non profit” organization will be better and more credible

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