One of the things I had a hard time explaining to Kevin and our guide when we were in Peru was that I wasn't just looking for yarn--I was looking for yarn I wouldn't be able to find at home (although that broke down in the face of the amazing deal on the alpaca laceweight I found at the end of the trip... but at least I tried!).
Each of the villages we stayed in had an open air market in the center of town, sometimes with both food and things for sale (that was the distinction we made between the markets when I studied in Russia--neither of the big markets seemed to have a name, so we called them the Thing Market and the Food Market... maybe we would have been more articulate if we had had larger Russian vocabularies?), and sometimes just things--local crafts, alpaca sweaters, wool rugs, t-shirts, etc. We saw yarn a couple of times, but on closer inspection it turned out to be alpaca and acrylic, and failed the "can't get at home" test. One of our hotels had some gift shops on the first floor, and I spotted Plymouth Baby Alpaca Grand, which failed the "can't get at home" test with flying colors. (Isn't Plymouth based in Massachusetts?)
Can't Get This At Home
Anyway--eventually, I spotted some yarn I definitely couldn't get at home--handspun wool, naturally dyed (I'm not sure with what). So I bought 4 small balls (about the size of oranges), and 1 larger ball (not pictured, but it's the same color as the darkest of the little ones).
The woman selling it said the four colors were dyed using the same plant, in different concentrations. She had sets of other colors too--same dye, but different shades--browns, reds, purples and greens. They were gorgeous all together (but as usual, I felt weird taking a picture...).
For the moment, the yarn is art (in a bowl over the fireplace). It reminds me of the triangular Icelandic shawls, with bands of different (usually natural) colors along the lower edges. But it seems funny to turn Peruvian wool into an Icelandic shawl, so I'm still thinking. (Or, maybe not funny--we did get married in Iceland, and the vacation part of the trip to Peru was our first anniversary present to ourselves. Hmm.) Also, it would probably be an outer shawl, because the yarn is a smidge scratchy--fine on my hands or over a shirt, probably not so good on my neck.
The fact that I think it's a bit scratchy may mean it's totally unfit for normal (non-knitting) human use. I have a very high tolerance for scratchy... One pointless story, and then I swear I will quite babbling: I wanted to make mittens for my dad, who has a very low scratchy tolerance. I went to the yarn store, where I fondling yarn with a perplexed expression as I tried to imagine whether I would think the yarn was scratchy, assuming I thought wool was scratchy at all. The store owner came over, and asked if she could help. I explained that whole knitting-for-dad-with-low-scratchy-tolerance issue, and she said, "it's not scratchy, it's textural." So: the yarn is a bit textural.
Ok. Must go.
Wait! I finished Garnstudio 103-1, except I'm undecided about the buttons (I may want to use a pin, instead). Pictures soon, since I'm planning to wear it today or tomorrow, even buttonless.