07 March 2016

Nanyuki Spinners and Weavers, a women's self-help group near Mount Kenya

The Nanyuki Spinners and Weavers project trains women in the craft of spinning, knitting, and weaving wool, with the goal of becoming self-reliant. Nanyuki town (93 miles north of Nairobi) has favorable weather for raising sheep and is one of the major wool producing areas in Kenya.

Nanyuki, located on the equator, is 6,390 feet high in elevation. It's a short distance northwest of Mount Kenya, which is the highest mountain in Kenya (17,000 feet) and the second highest in Africa.

Our guide 'carding' wool to prepare it for spinning

The wool on the left has been carded; the wool on the right has not

Spinning the wool into usable yarn requires a steady rhythm, guiding it by hand and treadling the foot pedal 

The yarn is carefully and thoroughly washed nine times
Kenya highland wool is favorable for hand-spinning into yarn. The natural color of the wool ranges from white to almost black, with a range of warm browns and grays in between.

The women dye the yarn with natural ingredients, mostly found in flowers

Natural red dye from crushed Cochineal insect larvae makes all the colors in our guide's hand.
The women collect the larvae from cacti.

The final step is to weave the yarn into rugs, placemats, wall-hangings, etc.

The women skilled in sewing and spinning 
prepared blue, purple, and scarlet thread and cloth, and fine-twined linen. 
~ Exodus 35:25-26, New Living (in context of building the tabernacle)

I first toured this fascinating place approximately 10 years ago and was happy to return. I still have this depiction of Mount Kenya hanging in my living room, purchased on that first visit.

These colors are all natural, with no dyes. 

A glimpse of Mount Kenya, taken from Nanyuki Sports Club

I got this shot on a clearer day, from near Simba Lodge where we stayed. You can see snow on the peak!

There are many large wheat farms in the Nanyuki area. I got this shot while moving down the highway in a matatu.

Nanyuki in relation to Nairobi and Mount Kenya

Hyrax at Trout Tree restaurant, just down the road from Nanyuki

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Deb. I am always so delighted to take a "trip" with you on your many fascinating journeys. This one is so interesting of the people, the spinning, dyeing, weaving. Every picture and comment is great. I am blessed.