Juliaca is the capital of the San Roman Province in the Puno Region of Peru, not so far from the staggering beauty of Lake Titicaca. The whole region is full of amazing, talented craftspeople, many of whom specialise in both ancient and modern methods of knitting and weaving, using the amazing Alpaca fibre that has been part of the country’s history for thousands of years. Juliaca itself is a city like no other. The architecture in the area is a mind boggling and unexpected mix of 60s space age primary coloured glass and often raw brick buildings. There’s even a bizarre three-storey tall slide in the middle of the town that looks like a misplaced Soviet-era monument. The city is alive with people trading and producing all manner of goods, including whole streets specialising in traditional Peruvian dance and carnival costume wear.
It’s here - in the middle of the bustling city - that Edmundo has his knitting studio where he works with Royal Knit to produce his beautiful Alpaca and baby Alpaca garments. He is a sweet and welcoming man who is known by everyone as “Chorri” after one of Peru’s favourite football players who plays with all his heart and soul. Chorri initially started working with Royal Knit through their training programme in Puno - a city that sits on the banks of Lake Titicaca - and also worked for years (and became best friends) with Sebastián, one of the founders. In fact, so much of his life has been shaped by Royal Knit. He met his wife Amelia through the company, and he is treated like a brother by Gabriela and Mariela - Sebastián’s two daughters - who really feel their group of artisans are like an extended branch of their family.
As with most workshops, it’s a humble looking space - a place to focus and get work done - full of the tools of his trade, but he has worked hard to build his business and now has a team of 20 people working for him. When we visited, Chorri and his dog Odi showed us around the space, and all the different methods required to produce our Folkdays pieces. When you see the small hand operated machines and looms, you can’t help but be overwhelmed with respect for the amazing quality of work that Chorri and his team are able to produce.