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Cuzco Bag

These little bags, knit on circular #9s in Cascadeís Ecological Wool in natural, are of Andean inspiration. What I'm offering you isn't really a pattern; itís more like a formula that you can apply to anything you want to make.

The bags are simple cylinders in any size you want as long as all the stitch repeats divide evenly into the number of the foundation row. Then you fold them, seam them across the bottom, make a braid and sew it on, and then felt the daylights out of them.

The Materials you'll need for this Knitting Project:

I made these Cuzco bags out of small amounts of Cascade Ecological Wool, left over from working on Andes sweater and Altiplano vest. You will find that the Cuzco bags are an excellent use of your leftover yarns.

The inspiration behind this bag pattern

The inspiration for all the Peruvian/Andean patterns--Andes, Altiplano, the Cuzco bags--was Cascade's Ecological Wool, which comes from Peru, in an array of natural colors (and now some new dyed colors). It is a pleasure to knit with, and felts (as the Cuzco bags show) just about perfectly. I bought a mess of this on an afternoon when I knew I couldn't make it to the Wool Mart Festival up in Estes; four hanks of cream, and one each in four colors ranging on the spectrum from mouse beige/brown to espresso. It's a great deal; I paid $12, with a discount, per 250 gram hank, so that was 2000 grams of yarn, or 4.4 pounds. Nothing inspires playfulness like balls and balls of coordinate yarn, especially really nice yarn.

I like to wind my balls by hand, instead of having the yarn shop do it or using a ball-winder, so this was a lot of ball-winding (and in one of the newsletters, I will deal with this subject, because if you wind too tightly, everything you make will shrink like mad). It was such lovely stuff that I got thinking about Peruvian color change motifs, which I've collected off and on for ages, and about doing patterns with Peruvian themes. I got the motifs in order via my knitting software. Then Altiplano went first, then Andes, then the Cuzco bags.

The Andes, like the Rockies and the Sierra, are High Country--are cold at night even after a hot summer day, short of growing season, subject to violent changes of weather, dangerous if you don't know what you're doing up there and keep your wits about you. Wool is the fabric of choice in high places (the local Search and Rescue people tell anyone who can listen that cotton kills). The Andean nations have been, from before the Conquest, wool country, with its llamas and alpacas, its vicunas and guanacos. The Spanish imposed sheep, of course; at the time of the Conquest, Spain monopolized the trade in merino wool, and imposed a death penalty on anyone who exported breeding merinos.

So that yarn inspired all of these patterns, and will inspire more. I've done a series of color-change patterns adapted from the Kuba cloth of Congo.

Some people think neutrals are boring. I don't. I think they are like the elements of a great musical ensemble--a jazz or string quartet, each contributing is own tone and color, blending and sometimes (if you get it right) soaring. This particular yarn is something that inspires making that happen.

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