By Letizia De Antoniis, Amano blogger
This is a story of a trip and, above all, this is a story of a hank of yarn. Before you start reading, I recommend you to make a cup of coffee or tea, find a comfortable seat and, possibly, hold in your hands a cozy-soft-natural hank of yarn. This will help you to start the trip. Ready? Feel the Andes and enjoy the reading!
Future and past of a hank
Every hank of yarn has a future, it could be a hat, a jumper, a scarf, a blanket; it could be knitted for yourself, for your best friend or for charity. No matter which will be the future of the hank because surely it will be a lovely story.
This story is not about the future of a hank, it is about its roots. Have you ever thought about its “past”? Because it does have a past and, trust me, it has a great story to tell.
From Arequipa to your home
Recently I had the pleasure and the honor to be guided through all the transforming process that brings to us all the great natural yarns of Amano.
I spent a couple of days in the white city of Arequipa, I visited the Colca Canyon, I saw beautiful wild vicuñas and the cutest alpacas I’ve ever met in my life. The last day of my trip I went to visit the Amano Yarns Plant that are surrounded by nature and a stunning view, three impressive volcanos: El Misti (5.822 m), Chachani (6.075 m), Picchu Picchu (5.425 m).
It is incredible how much work and expertise there are behind a hank that we buy in our favorite shop of yarns or we order online and receive with all comforts at home. I was so lucky to meet the real people, women and men that are usually in the backstage of all our knitting stories.
It would be impossible for me to remember all the little steps that transform fibers into yarns, but I want to tell some of them that really impressed me.
- The selection
- The washing processes
- The fiber-to-yarn procedure
- Labeling and packaging
The selection is totally made by hand (and eyes!). The factory receives tons of alpaca’s fiber, one alpaca may produce about 2 kg of different quality fibers. Expert women, simply by touching and watching, recognize and select different types of fiber, from the basic one to the most prized: Baby, Royal and Imperial Alpaca. Also, they separate the fiber by colors (white, black, and countless shades of grey and brown).
The washing processes
After the accurate selection, the fibers are washed, dried, treated with a sort of “balm” and gently brushed until they are completely clean.
The fiber-to-yarn procedure
At this step of the process, the fiber is transformed by machine into a huge yarn which is the basic for all the other transformations. From now on, we can obtain all kind of yarn thickness and mixtures possible.
Labeling and packaging
Almost the last step is when the final yarn, already weighted, is wrapped by hand into a hank (a nice woman taught to me how to do it and I tried a couple of times and “almost” succeed!).
That’s the end of the story and actually it’s where your unique knitting story begins.