Once upon a time, there was a spider called Wale’kerü that secretly knitted belts and bags in the moonlight.
One night, a girl approached her and told her how impressed she was with her creations. The spider, moved by the girl’s compliments, taught her how to knit.
For several days, the girl knitted non-stop until she managed to reproduce Wale’kerü’s techniques.
When the girl reached adulthood, with her first menstruation, Wale’kerü disappeared among the branches of a tree leaving this precious know-how as a legacy for the Wayúu people.
(Story from the Wayúu mythology)
This is the story that tells the origin of Wayúu knitting, one of the most popular craft techniques in Colombia.
To understand the value of these pieces, we invite you to travel with us to La Guajira!
This department, located in northeastern Colombia on the border with Venezuela is the home and place of origin of the Wayúu; an indigenous community of matriarchal structure dedicated to grazing, hunting, fishing, ceramic making, and knitting.
Knitting is an activity carried out only by women, who learn from an early age and transmit this know-how from generation to generation. Their crafts are present in everyday objects: fishing nets, blankets, hammocks, and bags (typically known as Mochilas).
For the Wayúu woman, weaving is more than a cultural practice and a legacy of her ancestors. Weaving is a way of expressing her way of thinking. In addition, it is a meditation exercise.
Their creations contain patterns with geometric figures called kaanás, which means in wayúu language “the art of weaving drawings”.
Kaanás represent elements of everyday life and figures with great symbolism for the Wayúu people.
The evolution of Wayúu Knitting
In the past, Wayúu women used cotton and natural fibers such as straw. designs. They also used other materials such as goat teeth and bones to decorate their designs.
In colonial times, sheep’s wool, and crochet techniques were introduced to weave small pieces. For large pieces, such as blankets and hammocks, Wayúu women used a self-made loom called anütpala.
Nowadays, Wayúu crafts are made from cotton threads, and craftswomen still use the technique of crochet and anütpalato make these beautiful pieces. The manufacturing time can be 14 days or more.