Our production in Cusco, Peru
The Andes mountains surrounding the city are home to the alpaca, a popular creature with quite the personality. Alpaca wool has been used by Peruvians for centuries and its magical features and unique qualities are one of the main reasons we decided to travel all the way to Peru to set up our first production facility inside the women’s prison about 20 minutes from Cusco - an ancient city full of history and traditions.
Almost all knits you find today are made on giant industrial knitting machines using a “cut and sew” technique. The “cut and sew” process requires cutting flat pieces of knitted material into shapes and sewing them together to make clothing items, resulting in large amounts of waste due to the material being cut away.
This production technique is preferred for mass production where speed and low-costs are the key drivers. We operate in a different way. We invest in people, in high-quality materials and in minimizing waste. We believe that bringing forth the person behind every product makes each piece come alive - on each label you can find the name of the woman who made it.
By using analog knitting machines we believe there is greater potential to combine the Peruvian knowledge with the fine and thin quality of alpaca wool. Intricate as well as plain patterns can be tested quickly, giving us the possibility to thoroughly test and choose the best and most elegant designs.
In the process of analog knitting, understanding how the fiber behaves, grasping new techniques and styles is not only easier access to us but also to the women in prison as it is possible to see, feel and correct the pieces.
The art of the fully-fashioned technique
In Peru, there is a long ancient heritage that revolves around knitting. We respect the Peruvian culture and the many thousands of years of knowledge gained about the alpaca wool. We have chosen to manufacture all of our products using hand-knitting and analog machinery, which are instruments and techniques that require skills, sensitivity and most importantly, a person to move the threads and create the right pattern.
This is where the art comes in. Female prisoners in Peru are already using hand-knitting machines, and many are extremely skilled knitters, a tradition that runs through families. You might not be able to immediately see the difference between two of the same sweaters, but each woman puts her unique pace and feel in every item. With fully-fashioned knitwear, you are able to have a maximum exploration of precious resources with minimal waste when being created.
We value quality and good design. With the fully-fashioned technique, we avoid stitching and ensure that the material has an elegant, natural and flattering fall on the body.
By using industrial hand knitting machines the women knit directly from the cone and use every centimeter of the superb material. Moreover, the pieces are produced in limited batches avoiding unnecessary stock to support a responsible production.
Every piece in our line of knitwear is made from 100% baby alpaca and every centimeter of wool comes from the Huacaya alpaca. This particular breed has the thickest and softest wool and creates the key to comfort in all Carcel knits. So what does ‘baby alpaca’ mean? Besides being the softest part of the animal, it refers to the grading of the fineness of the fiber, meaning the soft hairs on an adult alpaca (so no babies involved!). Local Peruvians refer to this pure material as ‘the fiber of the Gods’ and it is the very same wool we use for every Carcel item in baby alpaca. Say goodbye to itchy materials and hello to a soft, silky feel that keeps you warm.
Read more about alpaca in 'Alpaca has superpowers'.