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.