Dye Season is Here

Road Side Suyku Above the Town of Independencia

The rains have fallen daily since early February so hopefully water won’t need to be rationed during the dry season. The school year started at the beginning of February, so Independencia went from a ghost town to action packed overnight. Carnaval week fell at the end of the month which gave water balloonists all month to practice.

Mordants, Assistants, and Suyku

The Club de Artesanas (CdA) spent a day collecting and preparing plant dyes and 2 days dyeing. The first dye day was devoted to cochineal due to the skeins the Huancarani weavers had dropped off with requests for reds and pinks. The dye pots for the 2nd dye day were loaded with leaves of local plants. The women of the CdA didn’t have to walk far to gather suyku, which was just starting to flower. Hitchhiking in vain the following day Dorinda trudged an hour up the mountain to a higher altitude where chilka grows prolifically along the road side. The rains had washed the road dust off the leaves so they were ready for the dye pot. A bit of suyku was gathered on the descent through its preferred altitude for growth. The local government has invested in heavy

Grinding Cochineal

equipment the past 5 years and uses it to widen the roads by pushing dirt, gravel, and roadside vegetation down the mountainside. Former plant collecting areas are inaccessible because of the drop off between the road and where the plants are now growing. The suyku seems to like disturbed soil and continues to proliferate along the roadside, except where it can’t get a foothold due to the ever growing erosion from the road maintenance practices.

The chilka leaves dyed the skeins a grey green when mordanted with millu, a mineral from the La Paz area that darkens dye baths. The dye was not as strong as it is during the dry season, so suyku was added to the 2nd dye bath with a few grams of copper sulfate and the result was a deep forest green. The dye in the suyku pot was strong enough for 4 dye baths resulting in a variety of yellow-greens and bronzes. Doña Máxima, Vilma, and Doña Antonia used a hand cranked cereal mill to grind the last of the 5 kilos of cochineal that PAZA purchased in 2012 at $36 a kilo. Inquiries have been made concerning the purchase of another 5 kilos, but a source has not been nailed down yet.

CdA Weavers Happy with Their Suyku and Chilka Dyed Skeins

A number of the Huancarani weavers visited Sunday mornings after selling their peaches at the weekly market in Independencia. They are working on weavings to fill orders from students of Laverne Waddington’s upcoming workshops in Florida and Arizona. Maribel showed up one Sunday with a huge smile and her first completed weaving. Weaving finally clicked with her thanks to Laverne’s help using diagrams to learn the motifs in Huancarani in January. Maribel’s weaving fit the specifications for a yoga mat strap, so of course it was purchased by PAZA as motivation for her to continue. Doña Máxima explained the importance of introducing more colors in the weavings. Maribel had used the yarn her mother-in-law had provided her. PAZA gifted her 4 natural dyed skeins to begin her own stash. She will have to ply them. She can add to her collection by purchasing more CdA dyed skeins at cost or by buying spun skeins and paying the CdA to dye them for 28 cents a skein or she can dye her own. She is the 118th weaver to sell through PAZA since 2008. Alas, many of the other 117 weavers have migrated, retired from weaving, or passed away. Last year there were only 30 active weavers.

“Sold!” – Maribel’s 1st Weaving with Figure Learned from Laverne

The CdA women were asked what projects they would like to work on this year. They asked for yarn to crochet shawls. A rural woman can never have enough shawls, especially if she has children. Kids always appear underdressed when it comes to bundling up in sweaters and coats. Moms usually carry at least one extra shawl to wrap up a shivering or slumbering child. Club members have to learn something new with each project so the women are looking at shawls of family and friends to find a granny square they wish to copy.

They asked about sewing projects, but without volunteer help in using the patterns a lot of material is wasted and clothing usually doesn’t fit properly. Unfortunately, there are no volunteers on the horizon, which is the CdA’s main resource for learning new fiber skills. It has been a couple of years since the CdA women have sewn the style of blouses they wear. Since they need to practice with the sewing machines blouses will be a 2017 project for the women. The blouse material can be purchased in Cochabamba whereas the flannel, quilt squares, and much of the material used for child and teen clothing is donated and carried down from the U.S.

Chicas Making Jewelry on a Rainy Saturday

Abigail and Jhesica, the 2 oldest teens in the Club are doing great taking turns as the CdA chicas trainer. They planned out 2 months of activities for Saturday mornings. Abigail was the trainer for the 1st Saturday of the session and coerced Dorinda into teaching a yoga class then Dorinda coerced them into helping with a birthday sign to send to her niece. The next rainy Saturday 6 chicas crowded into the library to make wire and bead jewelry, listen to an Enrique Iglesias DVD, chat, and giggle. The 2 younger siblings who were along played with blocks and puzzles. Last Saturday only 2 teens showed up and they stayed an extra 2 hours utterly engrossed in crocheting bracelets adorned with beads.

Doñas Justina and Máxima, Tinkuy Bound

There will be only 3 PAZA participants at the Tinkuy in Cusco this November. Doña Máxima´s daughter Zoraida will not be able to make the trip because she is expecting her 2nd child later this year. Her 8 year old is wild with anticipation to finally have her long time wish for a sibling fulfilled.

Thanks to the orders from Laverne´s upcoming workshops, the weavers have been able to make it through the annual school supply and uniform buying frenzy without panicking about how to pay for it all. Thank you to Lyn Lucas, Irene Schmoller, Dorothy Thursby, and Susan Long for your ongoing support that allows PAZA to launch another year of Club de Artesanas (CdA) activities and to continue to help the Huancarani weavers towards their goal of preserving their weaving tradition and caring for their families thanks to their earnings from the sales of their weavings. Dorinda Dutcher, March 6, 2017

Carnaval Weavings

Dancers Wearing Aguayos, Chuspita’s, and Ch’ulos

For textile aficionados, Carnaval Week is the best time to see traditional weavings in Independencia. Unfortunately, quiet contemplation is impossible in the chaotic mayhem of sound, swirling color, and in dodging the ongoing barrage of water balloons. Carnaval kicks off on Sunday with a parade in which rural communities compete for prize money. The local authorities seated in front of city hall on the plaza judge each group for their traditional music, dance, and costumes. They mayor of each community adorned with streamers and balloons leads his musicians and dancers into the plaza for 30 minutes of dancing. The authorities are pulled into the dancing after being adorned with streamers and offered a scoop or two of chicha (fermented corn beverage) from a plastic bucket. One must question their ability to judge after an afternoon of scoops of chicha…

Decorative Hand Stitching of the 2 Halves is Indicative of a Handwoven Aguayos

On the 2nd day of Carnaval, the communities dance in the plaza again, but the dancers wear modern polleras (skirts) and pants instead of the scratchy bayeta (woven wool) polleras and pants. There are fewer water balloons flying so it is easier to focus on observing and photographing the woven aguayos (cloth for carrying on the back), chuspitas (small shoulder bags traditionally used to hold coca leaves), and the knitted ch’ulos (caps with ear flaps). No weaving with natural dyes was spotted. All of the aguayos and chuspitas were woven with brightly dyed synthetic yarn. The ch’ulos were knitted with synthetically dyed local wool or brightly colored synthetic yarn.

Llama Fiber Sling

The annual warakanaku competition followed the music and dancing. The warakanaku is a braided sling, often of llama fiber. Rural men and women carry a sling tucked in their waist band while out pasturing their livestock, and keep a few pebbles handy to fling at predators or to use on their livestock to keep them moving.

The Windup

Government officials lugged a bag of powdered chalk into the middle of the plaza and scooped out handfuls to make 2 lines about 20 feet apart. The names of the first 2 contestants were called and the men met between the chalked lines throwing their slings around the neck of the other and dancing to the right and then to the left. They walked to their places behind the chalked lines then turned to face each other cracking their slings aggressively. At the word from the announcer one man turned his back while the other loaded his sling with a peach and wound up. Most of the men had already dipped heavily into the chicha buckets and although there was a lot of power behind their fling their aim was off. Much to the amusement of the spectators the peaches flew down the road splattering the unwary blocks away.

Taking Aim

The women were steady on their feet and danced in place as they sized up their opponent and took aim. Out of the 3 attempts the women consistently had a higher percentage of hitting their target than the men. The contestants were not young, so as entertaining as the warakanku competition is its days are probably numbered. On the bright side, there seem to be an increase in rural communities dancing and many of the aguayos were not machine made but handwoven and gorgeous. Dorinda Dutcher, February 27, 2017

Summer Vacation Wrap Up Activities

Abi and Veronica Spending a Morning Drawing

Abi and Veronica Spending a Morning Drawing

Summer vacation is rolling towards its conclusion and the Club de Artesanas (CdA) chicas will return to classes on February 6th. They will continue Club activities on Saturday morning and for lack of an older teen familiar with CdA the older chicas who are sophomores this year will trade off as the CdA Saturday trainer. This is their 3rd year as Club members and the wage that goes with the additional responsibility will help them with their school expenses. The trainers the last 2 years were high school seniors who had been CdA members in their early teens. By training the sophomores this year with the younger girls looking on the Club will have Saturday trainers for the teen activities for years to come.

Veronica´s First Completed Weaving

Veronica´s First Completed Weaving

The chicas know they can drop by on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons to work on their weavings with Doña Máxima. Unfortunately, during the vacation they did not graduate to the leaning frame loom nor acquire the expertise to begin weaving to sell. However, thanks to Laverne Waddington´s visit they have interest so there is hope.

Fiesta de Don Jorge´s Grand March

Fiesta de Don Jorge´s Grand March

On January 26th, the Club de Artesanas (CdA) held the annual Fiesta de Don Jorge with mask and crown making, a grand march around the yard, games, dance competition, piñata bashing, lunch, and finally chocolate cake and a rousing round of  “Feliz Cumpleaños, Don Jorge”. Seven year old Emily sang her heart out and was bothered that Don Jorge was not able to be at the party for all the fun, especially since he´d bought the puzzles and decks of cards that were handed out as game prizes. Don Jorge is Dorinda´s father who will receive the sign, photos, and best

Short Work of a Piñata That Was a Lot of Work

Short Work of a Piñata That Was a Lot of Work

wishes for his February birthday. Doña Máxima, Doña Antonia, and Adviana spent hours peeling and cutting enough potatoes for 20 into thick French fries. There is something about wood smoke infused French fries that can´t be explained but should be experienced. While Doña Máxima manned the fry pot over an outdoor fire, Zoraida cooked beef and chorizo in a savory broth in the kitchen. Everyone was given a plate of French fries topped with the meat to adorn as they wished with onion, tomato, chilies, hard-boiled eggs, and condiments. This Bolivian dish is called Pique Macho and is a fiesta standard.

Weaving New Figures After Laverne´s Visit

Weaving New Figures After Laverne´s Visit

Laverne Waddington sent 2 orders shortly after returning to her home in Santa Cruz from Independencia. The women spent time during Club days warping their weavings to fill the orders because the process of rolling balls of yarn along the ground the length of the weaving takes two. Six Huancarani weavers showed up two Sundays after Laverne´s visit and breathed a collective sigh of relief to find weaving orders waiting for them. The beginning of the school year creates a state of panic among the rural women who must miraculously come up with the cash to pay for the ever increasing lists of school supplies and uniforms with no source of a cash income. Two of the Huancarani weavers left skeins to be dyed with cochineal, so February kicked off with a dye day.

Warping Adviana´s Weaving That is Destined for Florida

Warping Adviana´s Weaving That is Destined for Florida

The Club members will be dyeing regularly for the next few months of the rainy season so Doña Máxima looked through the dye supplies and came up with a list of needs. There is no online purchasing so sources have been physically tracked down through the years. The 2 gallon chicha vinegar container will be refilled early next month following Carnaval. The bag of salt chunks needs replenishing, so more will be purchased at a meat counter in Cochabamba´s huge vendor market. The unprocessed salt is used for meat preservation since many parts of the country don´t have electricity or refrigeration. A kilo of millu rocks, a mordant used to darken dye baths, needs to be purchased in the charm (ritual supply) section of the vendor market. The challah offering to the Pacha Mama (Earth Mother) that will be burned on the Tuesday of Carnaval will be purchased at the same time. There is plenty alum, cream of tartar, copper sulfate, and citric acid. Those purchases are made at a posh chemical store in Cochabamba.

Dye Day, Adviana Crocheting, Zoraida Knitting, and Doña Máxima Dealing with the Chicha Vinegar

Dye Day, Adviana Crocheting, Zoraida Knitting, and Doña Máxima Dealing with the Chicha Vinegar

It is getting harder and harder to find khesi misa, the soot from kitchen cook fires, that dyes the wool skeins a rich brown that is popular with foreign buyers. It only accumulates in kitchens that have a thatched roof, and most homes have switched to tin roofs which don´t need replacing every year. Cochineal needs to be ground in the grain grinder, and we will need to look for a new source before year´s end because our previous purveyor has retired.

February will pass quickly as the CdA transitions into a new year-long session with a few new members. The weavers will be busy with orders. Life will just start to settle into a routine before being disrupted by the frenzied week of Carnaval which begins on February 26th. Because of the fiestas and fairs that happen regularly until December life really never will settle into a routine, which isn’t a bad thing…

Thank you Lyn Lucas and Dorothy Thursby for kicking off the year by supporting PAZA!  Dorinda Dutcher, February 3, 2017

Huancarani Weave-In

Weave-In, Huancarani

Weave-In, Huancarani

The weavers of Huancarani were thrilled upon hearing that “La Laverna” would be visiting. They asked if arrangements could be made for her to visit Huancarani because they wanted to meet her. Laverne has placed orders since 2011 for weavings she uses in her weaving workshops. Her specifications were instrumental in the weavers learning about quality expectations when selling to a foreign market. Almost all have learned how to use a measuring tape instead of hand spans.

Laverne Teaches Doña Narciza Using a Diagram While Doña Felicidad Learns Using a Sample

Laverne Teaches Doña Narciza Using a Diagram While Doña Felicidad Learns Using a Sample

On Friday, Laverne, Doña Máxima, and Dorinda loaded into a hired van for the ride to Huancarani. Laverne immediately set up her back strap loom on the lawn in front of the church and began weaving while waiting for the weavers to arrive. They arrived singly coming from all directions; many of them were spinning or plying with their drop spindles as they walked. All arrived with huge smiles, stopping to shake hands and take a good look at La Laverna. They sat around the first back strap loom they had ever seen pointing and talking among themselves. When they are weaving a strap using body tension they tuck the end into the waistband of their pollera (skirt). Later Doña Máxima translated the Quechua and said the only strap the weavers had associated with weavings was the strap they make to secure the weavings used for cargo padding onto a horse or burro. Doña Máxima also related that she

Maribel Makes a Copy of the Figure Diagram

Maribel Makes a Copy of the Figure Diagram

had told them that while she did the exposition weaving at the 2013 Tinkuy the Peruvian weavers who use a back strap loom said they liked the idea of working without a back strap because it would be easier to leap up and attend to other tasks such as pots boiling over onto the wood fire.

It wasn´t long before the weavers´ fingers began to twitch and they wanted to learn new figures by doing. Doña Máxima warped straps and she and Laverne began teaching using diagrams from Laverne´s book, “More Adventures with Warped Face Pick-Up Patterns, A Follow-Up to Andean Pebble Weave”. This was a new approach for the weavers who have all learned by looking at a sample and memorizing the patterns. They prefer that method and said as grandmothers they are too old to learn a new way. However, 19 year old Maribel quickly understood how to read the pattern diagram and moved herself away from the others to be able to focus and weave, well as much as one can focus with a 2 year old.

Group Photo with Laverne

Group Photo with Laverne

In 2015, Maribel had briefly joined the Club de Artesanas (CdA) in Independencia but moved to Huancarani to live with her in-laws. During her time with the CdA learning to weave did not click, so the diagram was a breakthrough for her. By the end of the day she was reciting the pick-up pattern from the diagram to help her elders! She joined the Centro de Artesanía, Huancarani (CAH) in 2015 and is always the first to pay her dues. She wants to be part of the community and that means being a weaver. Because she is generations younger

Doña Narciza Walked 4 Hours To Independencia to Learn More Figures the Day Laverne Left

Doña Narciza Walked 4 Hours To Independencia to Learn More Figures the Day Laverne Left

than the weavers her youth was spent in school not shepherding and weaving. Another young mother walked uphill from a nearby community with her husband and daughter to learn more about the possibility of weaving as an income generating possibility for the family.

There were a lot of “Aha” moments as the weavers figured out new figures by examining an example or learning how to read a diagram. Some of the weavers had brought examples of their work and taught figures to others. July will be 10 years since the first PAZA meeting in Huancarani and it was a shock to realize that this was the first Weave-In! Thank you, Laverne!  Dorinda Dutcher, January 13, 2017

Independencia Weave-In

Laverne Demonstrating on Her Back Strap Loom

Laverne Demonstrating on Her Back Strap Loom

Laverne Waddington crosses continents in her annual travels to teach weaving workshops. Early in January she crossed Bolivia to visit Independencia. The flight from her home town of Santa Cruz in eastern Bolivia to Miami is shorter than the bus ride from Cochabamba where Dorinda met her to Independencia. Laverne, Doña Máxima, and Dorinda were roommates at the 2010 Tinkuy in Cusco Peru having connected as the only Bolivian based Weave a Real Peace (WARP) members. Doña Máxima and Dorinda have tried to lure Laverne to Independencia ever since.

The Chicas Finally "Got It" by Using Laverne´s Diagrams

The Chicas Finally “Got It” by Using Laverne´s Diagrams

Laverne´s first day in Independencia dawned sunny and Club de Artesanas (CdA) members began arriving casting shy glances at the foreign weaver they had heard so much about. Nobody knew what to expect because none of the local weavers had seen a foreigner weave. She worked with the adult weavers Adviana, Doña Antonia, and Doña Máxima and they worked with the teens. FINALLY, it happened! The weaving fever was contagious and the teens caught it and chose to weave all day along with the women. Not only were they weaving and enjoying it but the barrier between the adults and teens disappeared as all worked together.

Warping the Leaning Frame Loom

Warping the Leaning Frame Loom

Doña Máxima remembered that there were still a few spools of  Pearly Perle cotton yarn that Irene Schmoller, founder of Cotton Clouds, had donated in 2013. She used it to warp straps for the chicas. The cotton yarn is smoother than the handspun wool yarn making it easier to move the heddle strings and less frustrating for beginners. Doñas Máxima and Antonia warped a short leaning frame loom so Laverne could teach one of the larger motifs from her book.

Doña Máxima Getting One on One Instruction from Laverne

Doña Máxima Getting One on One Instruction from Laverne

The CdA members had a day off while Laverne went to Huancarani. On Saturday which was her last day Adviana, Doña Máxima, and the chicas returned to learn more figures. The weavers sat every which way on the walkway weaving and enjoying the quiet camaraderie and crisp freshness following the night´s rainfall. Laverne wove on her back strap loom when not helping others. Doña Máxima sat on a low stool in front of the leaning frame loom. Adviana and the chicas worked figures using body tension looms tied to the flower garden railing or their big toes. The scene was everything the Club de Artesanas was supposed to be when it began as the Club de Chicas in 2010 to teach teens to weave.

Laverne Picked Up Her 2017 Faja Order in Independencia

Laverne Picked Up Her 2017 Faja Order in Independencia

Laverne began placing weaving orders in 2011 with specifications and an expectation that the quality meet her standards. She has critiqued as necessary sending accompanying photos which have been Doña Máxima´s main learning tool on working with the weavers to improve the quality of the weavings for the foreign market. The weaving orders for “La Laverna” are given to the weavers who have listened and learned through the years and who have progressed from weaver, as are all women in the rural communities, to artist. In 2016, Laverne let it be known in her U.S. weaving workshops that weavings could be ordered from the Independencia weavers and those sales helped to make it the best year for sales so far. Laverne is too modest to ´fess up to all the help she has provided the Independencia weavers, but she has been instrumental in their growth as artists. Her visit was an inspirational and extraordinary three days for everyone involved. Dorinda Dutcher, January 15, 2017

2016 Annual Weavers´ Meeting, Huancarani

Tarp For Shade Already Engaged

Tarp For Shade Already Engaged

Overcast skies did not give way to rain during the annual meeting for the Centro de Artesanía, Huancarani (CAH) members on December 26th. The weavers had chosen to meet at the site of Doña Toribia´s old house. A fire was roaring in the beehive shaped wood burning oven when the truck load of participants from Independencia arrived at 10:30am. The oven was the only structure at the site with a roof so rain or sun would have made for an uncomfortable day. The tarp used for shelter in 2015 was in use for drying sprouting corn that will be made into chicha, the sacred beverage of the Incas, for Carnaval.

Prepping Beef for the Oven on a Foggy Morning

Prepping Beef for the Oven on a Foggy Morning

The day´s scheduled events included the Spinzilla celebratory feast and prize awarding along with the annual CAH meeting. The first order of business was preparing the meat and potatoes for the oven. Doña Máxima had made arrangements with a butcher in Independencia to pick up 18 kilos (about 40 lbs. at $2.45/lb.) of beef. Beef is a treat, since cattle are usually trucked to Independencia to be sold and butchered because there is no refrigeration in the rural communities.

All Contributed Potatoes

All Contributed Potatoes

A new water spigot had been installed since last year´s meeting, unfortunately, due to the drought there were long pauses between spurts of water. Doña Máxima and Doña Antonia went to work washing and salting the meat. Doña Toribia took tomatoes, garlic, oil, and dried chilies to her home next door to pound them into a paste for a meat rub. All the weavers brought potatoes which were washed, rubbed with oil, and laid out in long wide tin pans. The oven was filled with the trays of meat and potatoes and the round door cut from a 55 gallon drum was secured to the oven with mud.

Collecting the Annual CAH Dues

Collecting the Annual CAH Dues

Everyone settled comfortably on the ground for the annual CAH meeting. Twenty-one of the 28 members were present when Doña Maxima, the secretary, took roll. Doña Toribia, Treasurer, counted the cash in the tin can of dues. All wanted to be up to date with their 72 cent annual dues so time was taken for the collection. The two main topics were the setting of the weaving prices for the year and Spinzilla. The weavers love Spinzilla Spinning Week and voted unanimously to continue. Cloth Roads has once again generously offered to be the team´s TNNA sponsor.

Doña Justina Receiving Her Prize & Certificate from Dorinda & Doña Máxima

Doña Justina Receiving Her Prize & Certificate from Dorinda & Doña Máxima

The weavers cheered when they heard that the $5,017 in payments for their weavings was the highest year of sales since they began working with PAZA in 2007. What was wonderful about 2016 was that many of the purchases were by foreign weavers who appreciate the skill and culture heritage behind each piece. After years of trying to sell at Bolivian craft fairs and attempting to design and transform the weavings into saleable products for a trendy foreign market it seems possible that the door has finally opened to a niche market that appreciates the evanescent weavings.

Happy Spinzilla Spinners with New Petticoats and Certificates

Happy Spinzilla Spinners with New Petticoats and Certificates

The last meeting topic was the announcement that PAZA has invited 3 weavers to participate in the 2017 Center of Traditional Textiles Tinkuy International Weaving Conference to be held November 8/11 in Cusco Peru. The 3 were chosen based on their contributions to the joint objectives of the weavers and PAZA. Doña Máxima wears the hats of PAZA Coordinator, CdA trainer, and Captain of the Spinzilla Cloth Roads Team Warmis Phuskadoras. This will be her 3rd Tinkuy, and she will make a short presentation as a panelist, which is an honor for all the Independencia weavers! Her daughter, Zoraida, was invited because she is a member of the PAZA sales team. Doña Justina Vargas, the President of the CdA since 2014, has done an excellent job in organizing CAH events in Huancarani was the 3rd invitee.

A Fun Social Day for the Rural Weavers

A Fun Social Day for the Rural Weavers

After a leisurely meal many hands made quick work of the clean-up. The final event for the day was the awarding of the Spinzilla prizes. All Spinzilla participants win first prize and they had chosen a new petticoat as the 2016 prize. Constance Hall, Spinzilla Team Captain Organizer, had printed participation certificates and sent Spinzilla buttons providing tangible evidence that the competition is truly bigger than just their team. The petticoats were sewn by Doña Maxima´s daughter, Zoraida, who requested the work to earn the money to be able to purchase medicine for herself so she would not be dependent on her husband for it.

2017 is looking to be an exciting year for the weavers, although a bit frightening for PAZA due to the additional responsibility of raising the estimated $4,200 in funds for the Tinkuy expenses. Dorinda Dutcher, December 28, 2016

Holiday Season in Independencia

PAZA has been busy the past few months but due to Internet access problems there has been a 2 month lag in the blog postings.

Cutting Out Cookies

Cutting Out Cookies

December’s headliner was that the rain began falling regularly. Cool overcast skies finally replaced the merciless summer sun. The fields of spindly corn were in agony trying to survive in soil more akin to cement than a growing medium.

The 5 Club de Artesanas (CdA) members who are enrolled in this summer vacation session spent the week prior to Christmas baking and decorating dozens of cookies. They took home a festive variety bag to share with their families. On the morning of Christmas Eve the 3 chicas formed animal figures out of a sweet bread dough to adorn and take home. The father of Abigail and Nelva was so impressed he splurged on coffee to accompany the treat. Although coffee grows in Bolivia it is not a customary drink in Independencia and it is the instant variety that prevails. All 3 chicas said enjoying the baked goods was all that their families did in celebration of the holidays.

Cookie Bags Headed Home to Share with Families

Cookie Bags Headed Home to Share with Families

After Christmas the CdA members spent weeks working on paper maché piñatas for their families using a star shaped balloon as a mold. The piñatas are not a Bolivian tradition, but all knew of them. Creating a burro shaped piñata for the upcoming Fiesta de Don Jorge was a group project.

Making Piñatas

Making Piñatas

PAZA rarely gifts cash to weavers or the CdA members. An exception was made for 12 year old CdA member, Veronica. She cancelled the plan to bake her birthday cake on Christmas Day in the PAZA kitchen because she had to work. Her father was going to take her to Cochabamba for dental care but the family was strapped for cash so she found a weekend job cleaning the public bathroom at the market. Not complaining but with a swollen jaw and expression that was heart rending she asked to reschedule the baking of her birthday cake. Her face lit up in a smile when PAZA gifted her 100 Bs. ($14.50) to cover the roundtrip bus fare to Cochabamba for her and her father. They spent almost a week in Cochabamba while she recovered from having 2 molars surgically removed.

Abigail & Nelva's Piñata Made Their Sister´s January Birthday More Festive

Abigail & Nelva’s Piñata Made Their Sister´s January Birthday More Festive

All Club members get to bake a cake to take home for their birthday so Veronica will bake and share a belated birthday cake and piñata bashing with her siblings. Her piñata is a work of art, she spent 4 days decorating it with pleated streamers and rosettes, so maybe they won´t be bashing her piñata. PAZA gifts toothbrushes regularly to its members. There seems to be headway being made in the understanding of preventative dental care, which is a good thing considering the baked goods and sweets that are part of all celebrations and the CdA activities.

Frying Outdoors Makes Cleanup Easier

Frying Outdoors Makes Cleanup Easier

New Year´s Day fell on a Sunday, so Doña Máxima and Dorinda invited the Huancarani weavers to drop by the PAZA workshop for api and pastel. Api is made by dissolving powdered corn in boiling water spiced with cinnamon and cloves and sweetened with sugar. A pastel is bread dough with a cheese filling that is rolled thin and deep-fried so that it puffs up and the cheese melts into gooey yumminess. A sprinkling of powdered sugar completes the confection. Doña Maxima and Doña Antonia built a fire under the outdoor grill to fry the pasteles. Huancarani weavers arrived around the same time so all sat to sip, eat, and chat. The comfortable camaraderie on a fresh cool sunny morning was the perfect way to ring in the New Year.

In a blast from the past high school friend, Dave Miller, contacted Dorinda while she was in Kansas to ask about buying some weavings for Christmas presents. Thank you Dave, for your support and your interest! Thank you Kris Fister for your continued generous support and we look forward to knitting with you here in Independencia one day. Thank you Lyn Lucas, Dorothy Thursby, and Nancy Meffe for your ongoing support that makes it possible to keep chugging along on track plus allows some leeway to diverge off track. Dorinda Dutcher, January 4, 2017