🧶Alonso, vicuña, and carrot soup
Today I’d like to introduce you to Alonso (the man, not the baby alpaca :))
Five years ago, I met Alonso in Arequipa, Peru, where we were filming what would become the first double-header workshop release of Knit Stars Masterclass Season 4.
I first met Alonso briefly when we arrived for our first day of filming at Inca Tops, one of the world’s leading producers of alpaca fiber. I was immediately struck by his presence – quiet, calm, but with a twinkle in his eye, strong and gentle at the same time. He was casually dressed in jeans and a simple pullover – but you could tell right away, this was a “man of the world.”
We were about to discover a whole new Alonso on day two.
The next morning, videographer Brad, my daughter Mallory and I met Alonso bright and early. We all climbed into his mud-covered SUV and embarked on what became a harrowing, magical ride up, up, up into the mountains, to the Pacomarca ranch and research facility at an elevation of 15,000 feet.
I say “harrowing” because Alonso does not drive slowly. As rocketed up narrow mountain passes, I sat in the backseat frantically trying to convert the kilometers on the speedometer to miles. We were well over 100mph. This wasn’t one of those car trips where I’d be knitting! 😳
Along the way, Alonso began to spin fascinating yarns about the history and culture of the region, as breathtaking vistas unfolded before us.
We drove by an actively erupting volcano. We picnicked.
We stopped to film herds of vicuñas as Alonso explained they are highly protected, undomesticated relatives of the alpaca. Their precious hairs are carefully collected and spun into one of the most expensive, softest and warmest fibers on the planet.
Just when we thought the moments couldn’t get more magical, Alonso gasped suddenly pulled over to the side of the gravel road and leapt out of the vehicle with his own camera.
“Guanacos” he whispered.
Guanacos are the undomesticated cousins of llamas, he explained under his breath. And until now, in all the decades he had been making this drive, he had only ever seen one or two at once in the wild. But as we watched, frozen…THIRTEEN guanacos appeared!
I decided we were gifted this magical moment because that day, of all days, was my birthday.
We finally arrived at Pacomarca and took in the sheer magnitude of it, and the thousands of alpaca who were apparently much better than us humans at breathing the thin air at the altitude. As we all adjusted to the shortness of breath and filmed some segment, we were famished.
Alonso pulled out some groceries he’d gathered at a little market as we were leaving Arequipa, and set about preparing the most delicious birthday meal I’ve ever had.
Everything was simply but gloriously prepared in the tiny kitchen, and as he cooked, Alonso explained that he and his wife were foodies who planned their travel around sampling the world’s cuisines. In his opinion, he said, Japan had the best food in the world, followed closely by Peru.
Then he served the carrot soup.
One of the most delicious things I’ve ever eaten! Sadly, I never got the recipe but since then, I’ve found a recipe that comes close (see end of newsletter).
The whole unforgettable experience of meeting Alonso brings to mind my all-time favorite quote:
“The world is so empty if one thinks only of mountains, rivers and cities; but to know someone who thinks and feels with us, and who, though distant, is close to us in spirit, this makes the earth for us an inhabited garden.”
I hope that wherever you are and whatever you might be doing this week, you feel my appreciation for your readership and support, across the miles or across the world.
12 Days of Yarn-mas, Day 9: Vicuña!
In honor of Alonso and the memories of that very special day, we’re making Vicuña our 9th Day of Yarn-mas special.
We have a very limited number of these “gold of the Andes” boxes available in 3 colorways: burgundy, black, and natural/black.
I believe knitting with Vicuña is an experience that every maker deserves. That’s why our precious boxes are regularly priced at about half what you can buy them for in Peru (if you can find them).
Today, they’re on sale 30% off, saving you $150 per box.
Need a project idea? “Sophie Scarf” by petiteknit is the perfect, indulgent little project.
For the past few months, I’ve been spending time in 1:1 conversation with many of our longtime Knit Stars customers, listening to their maker hopes and dreams, and thinking about how we can make our Season 9 Masterclass Premiere and Yarniverse membership even better for 2024.
Click the play button on the video screen above to watch “A Yarn Story in 3 Chapters: Chapter 2” …
And I’ll summarize what’s new, next and exciting for you and Knit Stars in 2024!
✨New for Masterclass Season 9: Early Workshop releases!
If you’re enrolled as an Earlybird for Masterclass Season 9, we’ve got a surprise for you! Starting in July, we’ll be early-releasing one Season 9 workshop a month into your portal, culminating with all the remaining workshops releasing at the usual time in late fall. This will give more time to savor the workshops and give the Season 9 Stars more time to shine!
✨New for the Yarniverse: Fresh weekly content!
For 2024, the Yarniverse will continue to be the place in the yarn world for fresh content, curation and community, all year round! Starting in January, we’ll have a new monthly cadence with fresh content each week.
Each month in the Yarniverse, Week 1 will be “Frogging with the Stars,” Week 2 will be “Making with the Stars,” Week 3 will be “Styling with the Stars,” Week 4 will be “Shining with the Stars / Member LIVE,” and if there is a Week 5 in the month, there will be a special bonus LIVE just for All Stars who are Yarniverse members!
From January through June, we’ll be releasing a new workshop from Seasons 1-7 into the Yarniverse each month, and the new weekly content will relate to that workshop. From July through December, each month will feature BONUS content from the upcoming Season 9 Stars, following the same weekly content cadence. So you can get to know the Stars and their Makers on an even deeper level, making the Yarniverse a perfect pairing with Season 9.
These new upgrades wouldn’t be possible without your support, as well as the dedication and commitment of our production partners (thanks, Brad, Sarah and Doug!) as well as the tiny but mighty Knit Stars team.
To celebrate, we are offering a limited-time Holiday Bundle: A full year of Yarniverse + Season 9 for just $497.
A whole year of magical mojo-enhancing content, curation and community? Yes please! 🎁
Photo & Recipe courtesy of CanyonRanch
Carrot Ginger Soup
Here’s a healthy carrot soup recipe that rivals the very special birthday soup Alonso prepared for me. Try it and let me know what you think! -xoxo
- 4 tsp olive oil
- 1 lb carrots, peeled & diced
- 4 oz yellow onion, diced
- 4 oz sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
- 6 cups vegetable stock
- 2 tsp garlic, minced
- 2 Tbsp ginger, minced
- 2 tsp thyme
- 2 Tbsp honey
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp black pepper
- In a large pot over medium-high heat, cook carrots, onions, and sweet potatoes in olive oil until the carrots and sweet potatoes begin to caramelize.
- Add minced garlic and ginger and cook for only a minute.
- Add vegetable stock, bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Continue simmering until carrots and sweet potatoes are soft.
- Add contents of the pot to a blender along with thyme, honey, salt, pepper, and purée until smooth and silky.
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