March 13, 2008 Humble Beginnings

Handwritten_3
Handwritten_3

Sometimes dusting off relics from the past can be a satisfying way to appreciate the present. It allows you to see the journey from a new perspective.  Back in the day (32 years ago to be specific), Annie and her mother Biddy began their small artisan-made alpaca sweater business from their own kitchen table. Inspired by Annie’s anthropology research on women in the Andean marketplaces of Peru, they created a small catalog with Annie doing everything from designing, modeling, photography and writing the copy, while Biddy took care of the packaging and shipping of orders and managing the growing rolodex of potential customers. 

The above image is an insert from their 1980 digest-size catalog.  Penned entirely by Annie, the "Field Sketches" style of this page looks as if it could have been inspired by the journal of Hiram Bingham himself, a nod to Annie’s own anthropology background. 

To read more about how Peruvian Connection began, click here.

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February 28, 2008 The Architecture of Art-Knits

Handknit Corset Tunic
Handknit Corset Tunic

"Ornamentation is the principal part of architecture, considered as a subject of fine art."
John Ruskin, True and Beautiful – Sculpture

There are times when I am fortunate enough to see the elemental design graphics for our art-knit masterpieces while still on the drawing board.   I cannot help but appreciate not only the artistic talents of our designers but also the ability to design architecturally a wearable piece of art. 

Lacing Back Detail
Lacing Back Detail
For example, our Handknit Corset Tunic is exceptionally difficult to render as the front exhibits a knit latticework pattern with hand embroidered climbing vines and flowers.  The bas-relief dimensional cabling reminds me of the sculptural temple carvings seen in Indian architecture. Just as those impressive stone works exhibit the talent of its designer and the masterwork of the stone mason, each meticulous stitch of our knit sculpture was also mapped and crafted by gifted hands.

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Archaeologists Find 5,500-year-old Plaza in Peru

5,500 year old plaza
5,500 year old plaza

(Reuters) – A ceremonial plaza built 5,500 years ago has been discovered in Peru, and archaeologists involved in the dig said on Monday carbon dating shows it is one of the oldest structures ever found in the Americas.

A team of Peruvian and German archaeologists uncovered the circular plaza, which was hidden beneath another piece of architecture at the ruins known as Sechin Bajo, in Casma, 229 miles north of Lima, the capital.  Friezes depicting a warrior with a knife and trophies were found near the plaza.

To read the entire article click here.

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February 22, 2008 The Resurrection of a Chancay Warrior

Chancay Warrior Textile and T-Shirt
Chancay Warrior Textile and T-Shirt

The Chancay people inhabited the Chancay and Chillón valleys on the central coast of Peru circa AD 1000 Р1476. They are best known for their textiles and fortunately thousands of Chancay textiles survive in museums around the world. This is in part due to a good environment for preservation on the Peruvian coast, but is also probably the result of extensive production. The Chancay are often compared with the more widely known and intensively studied Chimu culture of the North Coast. The Chancay and Chimu were often in conflict with each other because they shared a common border. However, because of this, they share many similarities in their textiles. Both kingdoms were conquered and incorporated into the Inca Empire in the mid to late 13th century AD.

Our Chancay Warrior T-Shirt is hand embroidered to replicate an original textile depicting a warrior deity preparing for battle.  Notice he is surrounded by fish and as a coastal people the Chancay used fish not only as a food source but also as a ritual ingredient and even the fish bones were utilized as part of their weaponry. 

Tap into your warrior spirit with these Chancay inspired designs:

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February 13, 2008 African Mud Cloth

Mud_cloth
Mud_cloth

As you may have already surmised, Annie is an enthusiastic and learned collector of textiles from around the world. Her passion for these windows on culture is contagious and so it is not surprising to find our design team pulling inspiration from textiles from around the globe. Such is the case with our Grand Bazaar Cardigan (pictured above).

The name was chosen to reflect the rich spicy hues present within Istanbul’s largest market. However, the motif design itself is from an African mud cloth pattern. Bogolanfini, which translates as "mud cloth", is a long established tradition that originated in central Mali. Hand-dyed mud cloth uses a centuries old process with numerous applications of various plant teas and mud to dye hand woven cotton cloth. Each piece tells a story and no two are alike. The symbols, arrangements and color reveal secrets to the trained eye. The designs also define a person’s social status, character or occupation. Mud cloth is an expression of Malian national identity and a symbol of belonging within the African Culture.

The Smithsonian Institution has created a fabulous site where you can create your own viritual Bogolanfini mud cloth. Enjoy!

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