Technique: Hand-Knit Animals
Each Manuela Ramos stuffed animal is hand-knit by an artisan in the Puno region of Peru, an area known for its rich cultural history and high-quality textiles. Despite being an international tourist destination, Puno remains one of the poorest regions of Peru. Manuela Ramos began its Artisan Women’s House in an effort to improve artisans’ quality of life. In addition to knitting, the female artisans also care for their families, tend livestock, and work in agriculture.
The women knit each stuffed animal by hand using soft alpaca wool. Indigenous to Peru, luxurious alpaca wool is highly prized for its warmth, strength, and lightweight texture. Alpacas have been bred in the Andean highlands for thousands of years, and form a crucial component of the Peruvian economy and culture.
In Peru, artisans at Naguska use knitting and weaving techniques to make dolls and stuffed animals. To start the process of making a new doll or stuffed animal, the master weaver who is in charge of prototype development creates the first prototype. Our product development team at The Little Market provides feedback on the sample, and then edits are made as needed. Once the samples are approved, the master weaver shares the pattern with other artisans working with Naguska. The parts are sewn by hand and/or with a sewing machine using 100 percent Peruvian cotton thread, and the handmade dolls and stuffed animals are then stuffed with a synthetic polyester fiberfill.
All of these materials are sourced locally in Peru. The group of female artisans moved to the outskirts of Lima after previously living in the mountain range of Peru; due to the cold climate in the mountain range, the female artisans typically learn to weave when they’re younger so that they can create their own clothing. While working with Naguska, they are able to work from home, which allows them to also take care of their children and household responsibilities. Each purchase of their beautiful fair trade goods helps to empower the women and their households.