Rufina Huayra Alanya

Board member of the Taype Textile Association

Rufina is a board member of the Taype Textile Asssociation. She is a knitter and crotcheter of traditional designs from the high communities of Huancavelica, a region to the southwest of Peru. The designs Rufina practices are ancestral patterns that she inherited from her mother and grandparents. Rufina remembers that her mother would hand spin yarn while pasturing her animals and would use bicycle spokes as needles to knit this yarn into hats, gloves, scarves and other textiles both for her family as well as for sale. When Rufina was a child of ten she learned to knit from her mother, but like all children she spent as much time playing as learning. One day she lost one of her knitting needles, but was afraid to tell her mother what had happened. Along with friends that were also pasturing their animals, Rufina looked for cactus and matara, a wild plant with strong, straight sticks. After finding a suitable stick, she removed the sharp point and with this was able to keep knitting. Today Rufina remembers this story fondly as it was from this moment that she began to knit hats, gloves, socks, scarves and much more. [In Colonial times and possibly before in pre-Columbian times, the long, thin spines of cactuses were used as knitting needles.]