A Needlepoint Side Trip to Peru

Earlier this summer, Judy Harper sent me a beautiful book called To Weave For the Sun. It was written for a Pre-Columbian Andean Textiles Exhibition in Boston. I keep picking it up and looking at the beautiful textiles and wanted to get busy on something small to see how things would look in needlepoint. I think of coasters when I want to try out new things. Then I can work up to larger projects as I learn more about a new field or culture.

The piece pictured below caught my eye the first time I looked through the book so I started with this.

This piece of weaving is from a border of a rug. The rug was a plain brown weave. There are two amazing things about this piece: 1. It was woven in approximately 500 B.C.. and 2. It’s a triple cloth weave. Triple cloth means that they weave three layers of rug on one set of warp threads. About half of the motifs visible on this top side of the piece show on the reverse side of the piece as well. I can’t imagine how they could do that. It also shows how advanced weaving had become over 2500 years ago.

I started with graph paper and figured out how to lay out the little motifs on a 3 inch square and started working. Here’s the first photo I took showing one side of the pattern and a little of the background – to see how everything would look.

The Incas used camelids to make their wool yarns. Camelids include alpaca, llama, and vicuna. From my stash, I pulled a dark brown Alpaca 18 from Rainbow Gallery, and two Rainbow Tweeds (part cotton, part wool, part acrylic). I’m using 2 plies of the Rainbow Tweeds and it’s working well. The Alpaca doesn’t say it’s strandable, but I tried to pull it apart and use only 2 of the 3 plies. The thread becomes too fragile and just shreds when I stitch with it, so I’m using it as it comes off the card. The motifs are stitched in Mosaic and the background in Basketweave, which is packed tightly. I used shorter lengths for the Alpaca since it wears down quickly in the Basketweave stitch.

Here you can see that I ran out of Alpaca and will have to get some this week so I can finish this coaster. I have the second pattern ready to go, so I’ll start working on that one using only floss. I always show you two versions of each small project to show you the use of different threads and colors. This time the second version will use the same colors but you’ll see how the design is affected by different threads. These Peru coasters will appear again next Sat. with this coaster finished and the second one in progress.


4 responses to “A Needlepoint Side Trip to Peru

  1. Very pretty – good job! The Andean textiles are my favorite of the “ethnic weaves” I’ve studied – amazing techniques and pattern. I would never use alpaca for needlepoint – it’s too fragile. It’s even worse than cashmere. thanks for doing this- I’ve loved that book, but couldn’t figure out what to do with it for designing counted needlework.

  2. It’s horrendously complex to design a double or triple cloth – I can only imagine how long it took to prepare by hand – and actually weaving it takes twice as long as well. All in all, a lot of work. I can’t imagine they used this technique for everyday stuff!

  3. You’ve got a great “look” going here! It will be very interesting to see it interpreted in floss next week.

  4. I’ve loved these designs for years!….and use them in my band-weaving adventures. I did try to do an Andean Pebble Weave once …ONLY ONCE!!! Got myself in one heck of a mess, so I went back to simpler stuff…as I want to finish things in THIS lifetime not after the next three 🙂

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