Knitting in South America

Jacklien Fernendus

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I have worked in the knitting industry for the past 15 years. When I was a child, my grandma used to knit and enjoy spending time with them on an easy chair in the winter to keep them warm and occupied. Now that I work in the modern knitting & Fashion industry, I see the same fascination in my 4-year-old daughter’s eyes when seeing me working.

knitting in South America


South America is known for its vibrant and colorful textiles, and knitting is no exception. The knitting culture in South America is rich and diverse, with a long history dating back to pre-Columbian times. In this article, we will explore the history, techniques, patterns, and communities that make South American knitting so unique and influential.

History of knitting in South America

Knitting has been practiced in South America for centuries, with evidence of pre-Columbian knitting found in ancient textiles. During the colonial period, knitting was introduced by European settlers and quickly adapted by local artisans. Today, knitting in South America continues to evolve and adapt to modern times.

Types of yarn used in South American knitting

South America is home to a variety of wool-producing animals, including alpaca, llama, merino, and vicuna. Each type of wool has unique qualities and is used for different types of knitting projects. Alpaca wool, for example, is known for its softness and warmth, while merino wool is prized for its durability and elasticity.

Traditional knitting techniques in South America

South American knitting techniques vary by region and cultural tradition. Andean knitting, for example, uses a technique called “ch’ullu” to create a distinctive pointed hat. Mapuche knitting, on the other hand, incorporates geometric patterns and natural dyes to create bold designs. Quechua knitting is characterized by its use of bright colors and intricate patterns, while Aymara knitting is known for its fine gauge and delicate stitches.

Popular South American knitting patterns

South American knitting patterns range from simple to complex, with a focus on color and texture. Intarsia is a popular technique that allows knitters to create multicolored designs by using different colored yarns. Stranded colorwork is another popular technique that involves carrying multiple strands of yarn across the back of the work to create intricate patterns. Lace knitting is often used to create delicate shawls and scarves, while cable knitting adds texture and dimension to sweaters and hats.

knitting in South America

Knitting communities in South America

South American knitting communities are made up of artisans, cooperatives, and local markets. Knitting cooperatives provide employment and income for women in rural communities, while local markets offer a place for artisans to sell their handmade goods. 

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How South American knitting has influenced the global knitting community

South American knitting has had a significant impact on the global knitting community. Textile traditions from South America have been incorporated into modern knitting patterns and designs, with an emphasis on sustainable and ethical fashion practices. South American knitting communities have also been instrumental in building a sense of solidarity and support among knitters around the world.

The future of South American knitting

As the world becomes more connected, South American knitting is poised to continue evolving and growing. Innovation and modernization will play a role in the future of South American knitting, but cultural preservation will remain important. By embracing both traditional and modern techniques, South American knitting will continue to inspire and influence the global knitting community.


South American knitting is a vibrant and colorful part of the region’s rich textile traditions. From pre-Columbian times to the present day, South American knitters have used a variety of techniques and materials to create unique and beautiful pieces. With a focus on community, sustainability, and cultural preservation, South American knitting is poised to continue evolving and inspiring the global knitting community.


What are some common South American knitting patterns?

Common South American knitting patterns include intarsia, stranded colorwork, lace knitting, and cable knitting.

Where can I buy South American knitting supplies?

South American knitting supplies can be found at local markets, artisanal shops, and online retailers.

How can I support South American knitting communities?

You can support South American knitting communities by purchasing handmade goods from local artisans and supporting fair trade and sustainable fashion practices.

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What are the benefits of using South American wool for knitting?

South American wool is known for its softness, warmth, durability, and sustainability.

How has South American knitting influenced fashion trends in recent years?

South American knitting has influenced fashion trends by promoting sustainable and ethical fashion practices, incorporating traditional textile traditions into modern designs, and building a sense of community and solidarity among knitters around the world.

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