The Story of Cochineal in the Canary Islands

Just over 60 miles off the western coast of Morocco lie the Canary Islands: seven Spanish islands that are historically considered the bridge between Africa, Asia, and Europe. Within this deep history lies the story of cochineal, a small insect that grows on prickly pear cactus and produces a spectrum of red, from soft lilacs to deep crimson. To understand the Canaries, to understand the color red, you have to understand cochineal. 
So, that’s what we set out to do. Two photographers, we met in Montana a decade ago, and later made a pact to take a workshop together every year. This year, we decided to go on an adventure instead, to follow the story of cochineal on the Canary Islands—first, on the lush and tropical Gran Canaria and then on black, volcanic Lanzarote." -excerpt from fellow photographer and decade-long friend, Greta Rybus' and my article in the latest issue of Knit Wit Magazine.
All images ©Rebecca Stumpf for Knit Wit Magazine

 Cochineal dying in Gran Canaria in The Canary Islands by RebeccaStumpf.Food.Travel.Lifestyle.Denver.Boulder.Colorado.Photographer
 Chana Perrera of the association Milana in Lanzarote, Canary Islands harvests cochineal in her field of prickly pear cacti by RebeccaStumpf.Food.Travel.Lifestyle.Denver.Boulder.Colorado.Photographer
 A detail of cochineal being transferred between cacti with the use of a mesh bag in Gran Canaria, Canary Islands by RebeccaStumpf.Food.Travel.Lifestyle.Denver.Boulder.Colorado.Photographer
 A detail of cochineal in a tray with a harvesting spoon in the Canary Islands by RebeccaStumpf.Food.Travel.Lifestyle.Denver.Boulder.Colorado.Photographer
 Lorenzo Perez, Jr., harvests cochineal at his farm Canaturex in Gran Canaria, Canary Islands by RebeccaStumpf.Food.Travel.Lifestyle.Denver.Boulder.Colorado.Photographer
 Details of yarn dyed with cochineal in the Canary Islands by RebeccaStumpf.Food.Travel.Lifestyle.Denver.Boulder.Colorado.Photographer
 Hands holding two cups of natural dye liquid with cochineal...various shades by RebeccaStumpf.Food.Travel.Lifestyle.Denver.Boulder.Colorado.Photographer
 Uli Güse is a natural dyer in Las Palmas, Gran Canaria in the Canary Islands by RebeccaStumpf.Food.Travel.Lifestyle.Denver.Boulder.Colorado.Photographer
 Detail of dried cochineal ready to be used for natural dyes by RebeccaStumpf.Food.Travel.Lifestyle.Denver.Boulder.Colorado.Photographer
 Chana Perrera at Association Milana in Lanzarote, Canary Islands poses with freshly harvested cochineal by RebeccaStumpf.Food.Travel.Lifestyle.Denver.Boulder.Colorado.Photographer
 Lorenzo Perez Sr, and Jr., harvest cochineal in Gran Canaria in the Canary Islands by RebeccaStumpf.Food.Travel.Lifestyle.Denver.Boulder.Colorado.Photographer
 Chana Perrera at Association Milana in Lanzarote, Canary Islands poses with a scarf dyed with cochineal by RebeccaStumpf.Food.Travel.Lifestyle.Denver.Boulder.Colorado.Photographer
 A scarf dyed with cochineal blows in the wind by RebeccaStumpf.Food.Travel.Lifestyle.Denver.Boulder.Colorado.Photographer