I found these scattered across Peru, the one on the far left in Lima, the middle one in Cusco, and the one on the right in Aguas Calientes, by Machu Picchu; they are all typical men’s hats of the Cusco region. There are subtle clues which might let us know where they are from. The two on the left are very similar, notice the earflaps have similar patterning and are constructed the same way, only the one on the far left has been fancied up with buttons. The color arrangement of their top pompoms are identical.
The chullu on the right has a different earflap construction, the center is knit downwards like the other two, but with a sewn on edging which matches the motifs in the diamonds above. It is perhaps my favorite hat, personalized with the name of the makers village, his own name and even his phone number – a sure way to get the girls!
Notice how many different colors are found in every row, each of them requiring a separate bobbin. I counted 34 colors in one row! The stitch gauge makes traditional fair isle knitting seem positively bulky! The center chullu has teensy tiny stitches-20 to the inch. The other two are 15 and 14 to the inch.
The technique for all three is what Cynthia Le Court Samaké named a “Corded Join”, inevitably there are several ways of doing it. The man I watched, didn’t knit at all, strictly purled…up to the cord, wrap and back around the other way, purling in reverse, never turning the work. The “Knitted Float Intarsia” I mentioned before, achieves the same result in a different manner, without the cord.
I’m practicing and trying to learn, but I feel all thumbs, which is helpful really, you use your thumbs a lot, makes it easier. Some of the people I saw in Peru were not especially fast knitters, but the ones who were – were blindingly fast – little bobbins bobbing along.
Read other accounts of “A New Skill”: google knitcroblo4