“My wish is to grow hand in hand, because this work is our life. My goal is to make our craft known in the world and thus create work in our communities.”– Rubén
For the production of our 100% handmade baby alpaca sweaters we work together with three families in Cusco. Ruben’s family is one of them.
Ruben is the manager for the entire production of our alpaca sweaters. Together with his wife Isabelle and his mother-in-law Antonia, Ruben takes care of every single step in our production: from the finishing of our designs, knitting the pieces, sewing the pieces together, sewing the threads, washing, two days drying, ironing, to the quality check. These manual processes can take several weeks or even a few months of work.
In Ruben’s workshop only traditional knitting machines are used which are very similar to the craft of his parents and their ancestors.
However, since Ruben is an innovator through and through (he likes to talk about himself as a technician) he has found a solution to allow traditional knitting machines to communicate with his computer via a cable. Ruben can thus create the designs on the computer in “Paint” and transfer them directly to the knitting machines.
This way, the knitters get the information which needles they have to cover with which thread via a small display directly on the knitting machine. A small innovation which leads to a big saving of time.
“I currently have four knitting machines in my workshop. Of course, I could use industrial machines and produce much more in a short time, but then I wouldn’t be creating jobs for my family and community. Furthermore, I would contribute to the loss of the traditional craftsmanship of my parents and ancestors.”
For Ruben, sustainability means his work. Because this can only be done in groups. Each individual is responsible for a specific process and therefore an expert in it.
“Our craftsmanship has always existed. We simply continue it in our families. And as our production grows, we ask our neighbours and friends for support and offer them work. These in turn ask other people from our community as we continue to grow. We also use alpaca wool. Wool from our Andes. My goal is to use only “ingredients” from the environment. Our solar panels on the roof allow us to work completely without industrial impact.”
We asked Rubén what Achiy means to him. Achiy is Quechua (the language of the Incas) for “enjoy”. This is his answer:
“Enjoyment is passion for me. The passion I feel for my work.”