Interminable (adjective)- having or seeming to have no end, especially wearisomely protracted

One of my favorite events to look forward to in the spring is a clothing swap party with friends. My goal has always been to get rid of more clothes than I take home. I don’t necessarily need new clothes just something different to spice up my wardrobe once in a while. That being said, it is not surprising that I don’t particularly enjoy shopping. I find the amount of choices, as well as store displays and lighting, overly stimulating to a point of sensory overload and fatigue.

However, a brand that I discovered while traveling in Peru swept me off my feet- Kuna. I am barely exaggerating when I say that I’d like to own every item in the store. The beautifully-designed pieces incorporate intricate patterns and neutral tones with splashes of bright colors. Made from the fibers of adult alpacas, baby alpacas, or vicunas, these fabrics are soft beyond imagination. “Muy suave” quickly became the second most frequently-spoken phrase on this trip after “Bueno, no?”

In Arequipa, we visited a small alpaca farm where we learned about wool production, from sheering to sorting to dying to weaving. Each type of camelids also received a brief shout-out:

VICUNA- The smallest and most beautiful of all South American camelids (latter superlative a bit subjective, no?), the vicuna still roams wild in the Andean highland and is a species that is custodied by local peasant communities.  The vicuna produces the finest fiber in the world, which is why, in the 19th century, it was hunted down practically to the point of extinction. Today, the vicuna is a protected species and numbers have increased substantially.

GUANACO- This large-sized, cinnamon-colored camelid known for its enormous strength, roams wild and adapts easily to both coastal and highland environments ranging from Peru to Patagonia. The species is currently protected by international law. Ancient Andean cultures used it as a source of food and clothing, and in the Peruvian highlands it was actually domesticated and genetically engineered to produce the modern-day llama.

ALPACA- This camelid roams the Peruvian Andes, its original habitat, and produces the longest fiber with the broadest color range between and white and black. There are two main species: the long, silky-fibered Suri, and the shorter wavier-fibered Huacaya. The extraordinary warmth and softness of both fibers were a source of inspiration for the development of the Andean textile industry, particularly during the Inca times. Today, this extraordinary fiber plays a key role in the fashion industry.

LLAMA- Similar in size to the guanaco, the llama is a symbol of strength and was domesticated hundreds of years ago by ancient Peruvian civilizations which attributed to it magic and religious significance. They used its fiber, consumed its meat, and used it to carry their products along the interminable Inca trails. There are two species: the long fibered Chacu and the short fibered Ccara, both of which display a variety of colors and attributes. Llamas are still bred by shepherds along the entire Andean range, but primarily in Bolivia and Peru.

Camelid profiles from left to right: vicuna (most beautiful), guanaco (excellent swimmer), alpaca (best hairdo), llama (most colorful)
Fibers are sorted carefully by hand based on color, length, and texture
Removing dirt and other impurities from the wool
Natural dyes from plants
Soft sweaters

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