The Frisenvang Story: From Peru to Denmark
The small company Frisenvang was established in 2014 to give Danes and Europeans an easier access to quality products from Peru and at the same time to support the living conditions of small local Peruvian producers. The Frisenvang assortment of products, are based on Peruvian woven and knitted products made from 100% baby alpaca wool, elected to fit a Nordic and European taste of colours and design.
Peru is a palette of strong colours ranging from the deep brown, black, white and green in the mountains to the strong orange, pink and fluorescent blue found in the local flowers and fruits. The South American country holds incredible beauty of nature and is inhabited by a loving and openhearted population. Peru holds a strong historical tradition for producing quality handicrafts of alpaca wool, which are seen clearly in the unique products, that we have selected for our Frisenvang assortment.
Frisenvang offers knitting yarn, woven products and knitted clothes. Our products come from two small local Peruvian companies and a community of local women in the village Marcapata in the Andes mountains. Frisenvang supports the possible growth and living conditions of the three local producers by selling their products in Europe and the rest of the world. All Frisenvang’s products are based on 100% baby alpaca wool, due to its softness, warmth and strength.
Frisenvang is run by three Danes, twho have a story together and each have a part in the Frisenvang story;
Marianne Frisenvang, is an experienced marketing woman, whom among many other projects, has created the marketing campaign Kildevæld’s Three liters of clean water for Africa.
Jørn Olling has a strong talent and passion for promoting and selling products that support a good cause.
Sofie Munk Frisenvang is a geographer and has a close connection and knowledge of Peru, due to her marriage a Peruvian.
We want Frisenvang to be as simple, personal and unique as our products!
The alpaca is an animal, that by many is known as the spitting lama. But for the Peruvians the alpaca is a lot more than just an animal that spits. More than 80% of all alpaca wool produced globally comes from Peru.
The alpacas live in the Andes mountains. The living conditions for the alpaca is best at highs above 3800 meters and in these cold regions the animals form a thick alpaca wool, which is more than five times warmer than wool from a sheep. The precious unique wool does not contain lanolin, the fibers are very durable, absorbs little water, they are lightweighted and best of all, the wool is incredibly soft and does not itch as it is the case with (some) sheep’s wool. Once you have felt how soft alpaca wool is, you will not wear anything else. Because alpaca-wool is so warm, it is the perfect purchase for cold winter weather.
There are 3 key classifications of alpaca wool, the Frisenvang products are made of two of the finest qualities:
• Royal Alpaca wool is the finest, most expensive and softest, this wool is very rare and only 1% of all alpaca products sold are made of this quality.
• Babyalpaca wool, which is super-soft, is the second most expensive quality. Baby alpaca is present at both young an older animals but the percentage of baby alpaca is largest the first time wool is “harvested” from an alpaca. The Frisenvang natural handspun knitting yarns are spun from 100% babyalpaca wool. All the Frisenvang woven products and some of our sweaters are made of this quality.
• Fine alpaca is the third category of alpaca. It is also extremely soft and does not itch. The Frisenvang ponchos and several of our sweaters are knitted of 100% superfine alpaca.
The Frisenvang products bring the Peruvian colours to Denmark, Europe and the rest of the world. The Frisenvang handspun knitting yarn has alpacas natural color (over 20 different varieties of colors) from white nuances, to brown and black shades.
Our yarn is produced by a small independent community of women in Marcapata in the Andes mountains and out knitted products by two small local textile companies in Lima.
The good cause
The main part of Peru’s population are farmers. Their income and the standard of living is very low for most of the country’s almost 30 million citizens. More than 150,000 of the families living in rural areas in the Andes mountains live below the poverty line and almost half of the young children in these families suffer from permanent malnutrition. Approximately 80% of the families’ incomes come from their alpacas, making their livelihoods vulnerable as conditions in the heights above 3000 meters are harsh and unpredictable.
More than 80% of all Peruvian alpaca wool is sold to two large producers. The two large producers control the entire production process and thus get the majority of the earnings of the produced yarn. Our mission is to contribute to support better living conditions for a number of people currently living in poverty. Therefore we buy our Frisenvang knitting yarn directly from the communities in the villages in the Andes mountains instead of from the large alpaca wool companies. When the alpaca breeders trade with Frisenvang they do not just deliver the wool, but they also perform the carding, hand spinning, plant coloring and packaging.
We thus ensure that the farmers get a much larger share of the profit. As a result, these communities can improve their overall standard of living, here and now, and ultimately, get new opportunities; Their children incl. girls can get an education and they have access to better medical care. Over time this will enhance their abilities to create a business that is large enough to include others in the communities.
The project we support counts 265 families. The women, many of which are illiterate, are an important part in the cooperation with Frisenvang; It is primarily the women who are responsible for further processing the wool, thus contributing positively to the family household.
What are the living conditions of the alpacas in Marcapata?
The alpacas that produce the wool for the Frisenvang yarn live a quiet life in the highlands of the Marcapata region in the Andes. During the day they walk around freely. During the evening and night they find their own way home to the family that own them. Here they rest over night in a secure enclosure, due to the risk of wild animals and so their owners can make sure that they are all right.
How do they harvest wool from the alpacas?
The wool from an alpaca is cut with a scissor in the same way as cutting a sheep. The cutting takes place once a year in November when the winter wool is the thickest and the alpacas don’t need it (Peru has summer when it is winter in Europe). The cutting is not painful for the alpacas. The only uncomfortable part is that they do not like to be hold tightly.
How is the Frisenvang yarn produced?
The Frisenvang yarn is produced in the region Marcapata in the Andes Mountains in Peru by organic/ecological principles. It is a time demanding process to produce handspun yarn by ecologic/organic principles:
– The alpacas are cut. Then the wool is watched thoroughly. The alpacas that produce the Frisenvang yarn, walk around freely in the highlands. The wool is therefore very dirty when it is harvested from the alpacas. The wool is sorted into three main qualities; Royal, baby and fleeche (also called alpaca).
– The wool is washed by hand to take away impurities as small stones, leaves, branches etc. It demands the eyes of an experienced woman around 10 hours work to clean the wool from one alpaca.
– Fredericio cards the wool in the old, used, but very effective carding machine. The alpaca breeders have collected money for a long time to be able to buy the machine. The thorough process of carding is one of the reasons behind the smooth structure of the Frisenvang yarn.
– The nature colored yarn (off-white, natural black, gray and brown colors) is now ready to get spun by hand.
– The yarn is handspun in a small workshop in Marcapata. Sabina and her colleagues are incredibly good craft workers, who can spin the yarn both even and stable in structure. All the Frisenvang yarn is two-stringed and is therefore first made in one string and after worth the two strings are spun together into one.
– The yarn is bundled and a banderole is put on it.
Why is the quality of the Frisenvang yarn so high?
Fore and most the reason for the high quality of the Frisenvang yarn is due to the really skill full craft workers in Marcapata. The Peruvian alpaca wool is in general of a very high quality, which has something to do with the height that it is produced in. The wool used for the Frisenvang yarn comes from a region in the Andes Mountains at the height of over 3800 m. Here the alpacas create strong, durable and thick wool with very long fibers. This gives the wool special characteristics:
– Warmth, but without being uncomfortably isolating of heat, because the alpaca fur adapts to the seasonal changes with both cold winters, but also warm summers.
– Wool that does not lint, due to the long fibers in it.
– Slightly water repellent
How many strings does the Frisenvang yarn hold?
All our yarn is two-stringed (two plied)
Is the Frisenvang yarn colored?
The natural colored Frisenvang yarn (The off-white, gray, natural black and brown colors) have the same colors as the alpacas that it comes from. The other colors are made from plant colors by ecological/organic dyeing methods (nog niet verkrijgbaar bij Wolgoed).
Why is there a difference in the colors of the Frisenvang yarn?
The nature colored yarn has the same color as the alpaca it comes from. Typically 7-8 alpacas deliver yarn for a production of off-white Frisenvang yarn. There can therefore, in the same delivery, be color differences and the difference can be even bigger from one delivery to another. We therefore recommend always to buy a sufficient amount of yarn for every knitting project to not miss out on the exact color needed.
Is the Frisenvang yarn ecological/organic?
Our yarn is produced by ecological/organic principles, but the yarn does not have an ecological/organic certificate. The majority of the alpaca breeders are not able to read. The certification process would therefore be very complicated to fulfill. We do therefore in the first place focus on placing as many orders as possible in Marcapata, to support the community in creating better life conditions for themselves and their children, for example as better education for their children.
How should I wash my knitted product?
The alpaca wool has by it self a cleaning effect. It is therefore not needed to wash the knitted outcome very often. Hang out your clothes and let the air ventilate it for a few hours. Then it will normally appear almost as newly washed. We have clothes knitted in alpaca wool that have not needed to be washed after several years of use.
If the above is not enough, we recommend to hand wash the woolen clothes in medium warm/cold water. Always use wool washing powder or a soft shampoo for the hair. The woolen clothes need to lie down to dry on a towel. Due to the weight the clothes will go out of shape if dried hanging.
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