This is Celestino. He was living with his wife and young daughter in Santa Barbara, Peru when political violence forced them to leave.
“They killed my brother-in-law, a cousin and a nephew. Two other brothers-in-law went missing and another was put in jail. Three of my sisters are widows.”
Celestino left Santa Barbara with his wife and daughter and moved to a village outside of Huancavelica, his hometown. There, he bought a rustic loom and taught himself how to weave.
In 2001, he started working with Allpa, a fair trade organization that aims to improve the living standards of handicraft producers by providing technical help, product development advice, skills training, tools and equipment. His work involved developing products and fulfilling export orders. Today, Celestino runs a sophisticated workshop with Allpa, providing good jobs to over 70 weavers (using improved looms) in Huancavelica, one of Peru’s poorest cities.
Makers at Celestino’s workshop create textiles with alpaca fleece. Alpacas are raised in the foothills of the Andes, near Lake Titicaca in Peru and Bolivia. Their fleece is sheared by Peruvian herdsman. Alpaca fleece is hand spun into yarn, dyed by hand and then handwoven by makers using an ancient technique. Each throw is then washed and ironed. It takes three days and five people to make an alpaca throw.
Watch this video to see some of the process.
*Video created by Allpa and used with their permission.
Unlike sheep’s wool, alpaca fleece does not contain lanolin, so it’s naturally hypoallergenic, warmer and softer.
Celestino is proud to say that his textiles travel around the world and reach homes in Europe, North America, Japan and Australia.
Stay warm and cozy this winter with beautiful, handcrafted alpaca throws.