For years I have been trying to find a way to utilize my creative abilities to inspire and impact the world as a whole. In early 2013 I began to explore the possibility of achieving my dream through developing knitting patterns and products. However, my vision was not fully realized until after much prodding by family and friends. Through their encouragement, I finally put together a course of action which changed my life forever.
While brainstorming ways to make my dreams of impacting the world a reality, in February 2015 a light bulb came on and instantly the idea was born to design a series of knit hats. Specifications were laid out, materials bought, and the knitting began. The result of countless starts and many frustrated nights led to six designs, which are not only beautiful but also unique.
The Adventure Required journey had begun. Next came the logistical part of the venture that included planning a trip and getting together the necessary capital. Purchasing the tickets and making hotel reservations were the easy parts. However, the uncertainty of what would happen once we got to Cusco, Peru, our projected destination, was nerve-racking. We know that Cusco is one of the artisan capitals of Peru. However, at the time, all I knew about Cusco was what I had learned from the animated movie "The Emperor's New Groove". I was certain there were alpacas there, where we could get our much needed wool yarn supply; that was all I really knew about Peru.
With a prayer on the wind, I headed to Peru in May 2015 with a friend to try to locate knitters whom we hoped would be present and available. Arriving in Cusco on a Sunday gave us plenty of time to begin to acclimate to the altitude and climate change and to explore the city a bit before jumping into business on Monday.
We had done some research and knew where the markets were supposed to be located. Knowing we would have to solicit help from many artisans at these markets in order to accomplish our knitting goals, we understood this would be a daunting, if not impossible, task, especially since we needed to get so much done in such a short period of time. However, on Monday morning, when we showed up to the Plaza del Armas to find knitters, there were no stalls, no crafters, no sellers…..nobody but tourists. I knew at the outset that my dream would not be realized overnight and that much hard work, effort, faith and prayers would be required to see it become a reality. It was here, with no obvious crafters or sellers available at the Plaza del Armas, I could have become discouraged but instead looked forward with greater faith, knowing I had been inspired about Cusco and this location as the place to begin our search. With no obvious market here at this Plaza, a quick pop into a ticket center gave us another market to visit; it was 20 minutes away by taxi.
Grabbing the first taxi that pulled up to the curb, we jumped in. Right away, the taxi driver, whose name is Juan, asked us what we were doing in Peru. We explained we were hoping to find knitters to commission to knit the hats I had designed. He instantly became excited and told us his mother is the Matriarch of a village called Urcos, which is about one and a half hours south of Cusco and that she and ALL of her friends are knitters. After a short conversation and Juan’s quick call to his mother, we agreed to forego visiting the other market in Cusco. Instead we found ourselves on our way to Urcos to meet her. We did not know it yet, but it was at this point that Juan became our full-time chauffeur, our translator, and the official Adventure Required business manager for our entire stay in Cusco and the surrounding villages. Through Juan, I began to feel everything falling into place in direct proportion to how my dream was going to become a reality.
Once we arrived in Urcos, everything seemed so unreal to me. I felt as if I was taking a step back in time. Leaving all the hustle and bustle of life in the United States, I saw that life is taken at a slower pace in the villages of Peru. Walking into the courtyard at Juan's mother, Senora's, house we were immediately greeted with a hug and kiss. When we showed her the hat designs and shared our plan on what we would like to accomplish, she immediately began making phone calls and pulling her friends together. Her countenance changed as her eyes brightened for she knew this was something she and her friends in this small village could accomplish and in the timely manner we needed it done, even though, at the time, we could not fathom how it could be done so quickly. She directed us where to go to purchase the yarn and needles we would need the following day when we returned to begin working with the knitters.
Over the next four weeks, we had the privilege and honor of working with more than 200 knitters in two villages, Urcos and Kcauri. During this time we heard many inspiring stories which served to humble me and affirm that my vision and desires for this company, Adventure Required, could, indeed, become a reality.
I truly feel my vision to help make this world a better place can occur, and it can be done, “one hat at a time.” Each and every person who purchases a hat, which was hand knit by a beautiful Quechua artisan, is helping to support these women, their families, their villages and their creative natures. Each hat is based off a design. However, because most of the women cannot read, they would look at a sample hat and re-engineer their own version. So, when you purchase a hat from Adventure Required, you are getting a one-of-a-kind, hand knit, baby alpaca wool hat. And in each hat is knit the hopes and dreams of each of these women.
Angela McGarrah, Director and designer, Adventure Required Project