Cozy yet campy vintage-inspired knit sweaters handmade the traditional way in Ecuador’s Andes Mountains
Welcome to Camp Kitschy Knits, the home of warm and wooly sweaters based on the outrageously bold knitting patterns of yesteryear.
Our kitschy knitted sweaters are for you if:
- You’re nostalgic about the chunky sweaters your grandma used to knit.
Our new sweaters are based on vintage knitting patterns of the 1950s and 60s, popularized by famed knitwear companies such as Mary Maxim and Bernat.
- You love a laugh and aren’t afraid to make a statement.
The campy Canadiana graphics of our quirky curling sweaters, tribal-inspired jumpers and Cowichan sweaters are perfect for loud and proud personalities.
- You hate the cold.
Our 100 percent wool sweaters are guaranteed to keep you warm and toasty even during the most freezing of northern winters.
- You like spending your hard-earned dollars responsibly.
Every sweater is handmade in the Andes Mountains by a cooperative of indigenous Ecuadorian knitters, whom we’ve employed since 2004.
Camp Kitschy Knits began with a teenage obsession with big graphic sweaters
I’m Meredith Kubicki, camp director, kitschy knit sweater aficionado, New Jersey housewife and chief bottle washer for my three young kids.
My oversized knit obsession stretches all the way back to the 1980s, when I thought it perfectly acceptable to rock my “Hey Diddle Cat and the Fiddle” sweater through most of middle school. Man, I loved that sweater, with its big cow jumping over the moon. Sadly, the 80s gave way to the 90s and the big graphic sweater trend moved on, and so did I – for a while.
I landed a job designing products for a major crystal giftware company. Yet I craved something more meaningful. Deep down I knew I wanted my own socially responsible business selling products I loved.
In 2004 I got the nudge – or hefty shove – I needed: I lost my job while five months pregnant. It was time to jump in.
From an expensive eBay habit into a popular line of kitschy knitwear
The idea was simple: to share my obsession with sweaters and knits based on vintage patterns (hello expensive eBay habit!) with the wider world.
I’d spotted Ecuador’s enormous creative talent while travelling the region as a kid with my Spanish teacher mom. So I jumped on a plane and returned home a few weeks later with my very own children’s knitwear line, designed in collaboration with a group of traditional knitters.
Soon we graduated to my true passion and began producing kitschy knit sweaters. Each design is based on vintage 1950s and 60s patterns I rummage up from thrift stores, collectors and eBay. It’s just as much fun as it sounds.
Oh – and we also make personalized traditional knitted Christmas stockings.
Meet the indigenous Ecuadorian women behind our range of knitted sweaters
More than 35 indigenous Quechua women now work for our knitting cooperative. They live a rural lifestyle in Ecuador’s Andes Mountains in a small town about 45 minutes from Cuenca.
These women are hardworking, honest and supremely skilled knitters. But major clothing companies often overlook Ecuador’s talent and instead head to next-door Peru.
I love that I can offer each woman a stable job. They love that they can knit while walking around town, riding the bus or caring for their children.
And here’s the beautiful thing I’ve learned producing outrageously kitsch sweaters over the past decade. Whether you’re an indigenous woman living in the Ecuadorian mountains or a New Jersey housewife, it’s clear we all want the same thing – to support our children and give them a better life. That’s the string that binds all of us together.