RaisaAntonia was founded in 2012 by Raisa Lawrence West.
She is a textile designer, photographer and economic development specialist who has lived and worked in the Caribbean, Puerto Rico, Mexico and South America. She currently lives in rural New Hampshire and somehow figures out how to stay warm in the winters. RaisaAntonia Textiles echo the mix of colors and sights not just in Latin America, but also in New England and the West Coast. Using the highest-quality linen, cotton, wool and alpaca, we carefully hand-loom each individual pillow, shawl and decorative item in our New Hampshire studio in order to create pieces that will withstand the test of time. And the wool and alpaca pieces are downright cozy, which is just as important - especially in the winter!
I grew up surrounded by beautifully handmade things. Some pieces were made by my mother - an exquisite sewer and incredible abstract painter. Here's a link to her work. And she collected lovely crafts and artisan goods during her extensive travels around the globe. To this day, she can walk into a market anywhere in the world and spot THE unusual and extraordinary in under 5 seconds flat.
It's impressive. In this creative, energetic and elegant home I learned how to knit, sew and make things. After college, my mother gave me her old Sears Kenmore sewing machine. It's safe to say textiles and I have been fast friends ever since.
More recently, I took a machine knitting course at RISD with Anne Emmlein. Her balance of exacting technique and a rigorous design process changed the way I approached my work and use of fiber. Shortly after this time in Providence I established RaisaAntonia, LLC, and have been designing, making and selling my shawls, purses, bags and totes ever since.
More recently, my family and I spent six months in the mecca of knit design: Peru in South America. It was, unquestionably, an experience of a lifetime! And it was a true joy to spend time up-close to alpaca fiber, experienced hand knitters, artisans with generations of expertise and one organization in particular: Awamaki.org.
This group is committed to providing technical support to knitting cooperatives and female entrepreneurs in the Sacred Valley Region of Peru, the zone closest to the Incan ruins of Machu Picchu.
If I can bring 1/10 of this experience of our time in another culture into my new work and my RaisaAntonia venture, then the circle of fiber, learning and growing a business will indeed be complete!
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