October in Independencia

Post Spinzilla Meeting, PAZA Store/Workshop

Post Spinzilla Meeting, PAZA Store/Workshop

Ten members of the Cloth Roads team Warmis Phuskadoras held an impromptu meeting in the PAZA store/workshop on October 16th.  All were curious about their standing in the results. Doña Casimira was unhappy she´d dropped from last year´s champion to 4th place this year. That led to a discussion of outside influences affecting their spinning during the week. There had been 2 community meetings and an inauguration of a potable water project that piped water to a spigot in the yard (not into the home) of every home in Huancarani. One family member had to attend each of the events, and in many cases it was a spinner. That led to a broader discussion about lifestyles of spinners on other teams. They were surprised to learn that the majority drive themselves to a job outside of the home, and only spin in the home.

Spinzilla Spinning Week, CdA, Independencia

Spinzilla Spinning Week, CdA, Independencia

It was pointed out that the team had spun roughly the same amount all 3 years. The total this year of 68,056 was down 455 yards from last year. That led to what will be an ongoing discussion of what the team can do to spin more. Their Spinzilla team was compared to a soccer team and one could see in their expressions that the concept of “team” finally resonated with them. They were asked to bring ideas for team building to vote on at the annual Centro de Artesanía, Huancarani (CAH) meeting in December.

The women in the Club de Artesanas spent the first 2 weeks of October immersed in the spinning and measuring for Spinzilla. All have sewing, knitting or crochet projects to work on during Club days until

Doña Justina, right, 2016 Spinzilla Champion for the Bolivian team

Doña Justina, right, 2016 Spinzilla Champion for the Bolivian team

the end of the year. Due to the lack of success CdA has had with teaching weaving skills, no promises can be made, but Doña Maxima is planning on teaching her daughters Vilma and Zoraida the embedded double weave technique as a CdA activity during the next few months. CdA member Adviana learned the technique from her grandmother. Hopefully she will take advantage of the training opportunity to increase her proficiency.

The Spinzilla results were not yet available when Doña Máxima and Dorinda turned their attention to next year´s Tinkuy International Weaving Conference in Cusco. It will be the 3rd Tinkuy for Doña Máxima and the first for her daughter, Zoraida, and for Doña Justina, the President of the CAH. Zoraida is the best of the PAZA sales team trio which includes her mother and Dorinda.

Doña Maxima, Granddaughter Zuni, and Zoraida, Cochabamba 2011

Doña Maxima, Granddaughter Zuni, and Zoraida, Cochabamba 2011

Doña Máxima had planned to weave a 3rd aguayo last year while her husband was mayor of Huancarani, because the one she´d hurriedly woven for herself did not include the motifs possible when using the embedded double weave technique. The yearlong mayoral obligation ended and weaving the aguayo was no longer a priority. The Tinkuy offers a reason to weave that aguayo.  Seven dollars of PAZA funds were used to buy the yarn she needed to supplement what she had on hand to create a masterpiece that will debut at the Tinkuy in November 2017.

CdA Chicas, a Jewelry Making Saturday Morning

CdA Chicas, a Jewelry Making Saturday Morning

The CdA chicas picked up a new member following Amanda´s September jewelry making classes. First grade teacher and Independencia local, Profesora Prisma, delighted in Amanda´s classes and joined the chicas the first 3 Saturdays in October for a morning of jewelry making. Gabriela, the CdA trainer, laid out the supplies and books Amanda had donated and all were soon engrossed in their projects. The complexity of their work increased after 2 of the chicas had to disassemble bracelets they´d made repeating a basic technique.

Delighting in their Jewelry Making Efforts

Delighting in their Jewelry Making Efforts

Dorinda traveled to the U.S. to spend time with family following Spinzilla, and will return to Independencia in mid-December. Doña Máxima will be holding CdA activities on Tuesdays and Thursdays in the PAZA workshop. She will have the workshop open on Sunday mornings to meet with the Huancarani weavers. The CdA chicas ended for the year. Gaby, the trainer, graduates in early December and 200 Bs. ($29) in PAZA funds were given to her as a graduation gift. She had hoped to attend the university, but the 5 years investment wasn´t practical. Instead she will enroll in a 2 year sewing and design program at a vocational institute.

Headed to 2013 Tinkuy, Doña Maxima Wearing a Factory Made Aguayo!

Headed to 2013 Tinkuy, Doña Maxima Wearing a Factory Made Aguayo!

Spinzilla Spinning Week was a blast and the repercussions will ripple out into next year. Thanks again to all of you who sent good wishes and who supported the Cloth Roads team Warmis Phuskadoras. Thank you Lyn Lucas and Dorothy Thursby for your ongoing support which made it possible to prepay for the next 2 months of PAZA activities so that Doña Maxima can keep the momentum going in Independencia. Thank you to Karen and Jan Krieger and Shannon Dutcher for your generous support. Dorinda Dutcher, October 28, 2016

Measuring, Spinzilla Spinning Week

Doña Maxima and Vilma Compare Measuring Owwies

Doña Maxima and Vilma Compare Measuring Owwies

Jubilant and exhausting sums up Monday and Tuesday’s measuring of yarn spun during Spinzilla Spinning Week. Three spinners including Team Captain Doña Máxima and her daughter Vilma turned in their ovillas (balls of yarn) for measuring and weighing on Sunday evening. The average ball of double strand yarn weighed 550 grams (1.21 lbs.) Vilma, who is the youngest spinner on the team at age 27, moved up from 24th place on the 2015 team to 15th place this year! Vilma said she is going to make up this week for the diet of soup her 4 children had to be satisfied with during Spinning Week.

Doñas Maximiliana, Eulalia, and Berna Waiting for Their Ovillas to be Measured

Doñas Maximiliana, Eulalia, and Berna Waiting for Their Ovillas to be Measured

The lack of a social media volunteer was sorely felt this year in lost photo opportunities as well as needing more help for the measuring. PAZA contracted Breny Ugarte to travel from her home in Cochabamba to help with the measuring on Sunday night and on Monday in the rural community of Huancarani. Breny is a Quechua speaker with roots in Independencia and a professional with a university degree. PAZA collaborated with the non-profit organization she worked with from 2008 to 2011, so the weavers know and respect her.

Doña Toribia Admires Doña Eulogia´s Black Yarn

Doña Toribia Admires Doña Eulogia´s Black Yarn

In Huancarani, Breny called a short meeting to review the objectives and rules of Spinzilla and to clarify anything that has gotten lost in the English to Spanish to Quechua translation in the past. Although it has been discussed every year, the spinners were still confused about the 15 Bs. they pay to participate. Ten Bs. ($1.45) is their contribution of the $10 entry fee. They said $10 is more than they could afford to pay and expressed their thanks again to those who supported the team. They also said they were proud to be a team of women who spin with drop spindles and part of an international competition.

Breny Using an Ovilla as a Globe

Breny Using an Ovilla as a Globe

Breny used a large ovilla to represent the Earth as she explained that during Spinning Week spinners in many parts of the world are spinning together. She said that Spinzilla would continue until enough yarn was spun to circle the Earth. Since many of the spinners rarely leave isolated Independencia and few have traveled further than Cochabamba trying to convey the concept of a larger world is presented in a different way every year. Spinzilla has brought much more to Independencia than just an opportunity to compete in a skill that has been part of their day for as long as they can remember.

Potluck Picnic, You Could be Here Next Year!

Potluck Picnic, You Could be Here Next Year!

Monday was a cool day and the sky was sullen but just a few sprinkles of the much needed rain fell. Two measuring teams worked across from each other on the wood table carted from Independencia. A third measuring team marked off a yard length on the edge of the church porch. Priority for measuring was given to the spinners who had flocks to herd.  After the photo and weighing of the ovilla the measurer would measure 5 yards then say “cinco” to the person keeping the tally. The spinner rewound her ovilla after it was measured and most kept an eye on the measuring team. The ovillas were 2 strands of yarn which had been wound into the ovilla together off of 2 filled drop spindles. The plying will happen after the ovillas are wound into skeins to be washed or washed and dyed. The measuring for 14 spinners in Huancarani took 6 hours. When the measuring was finished all gratefully plopped onto the ground for a potluck picnic.

Measuring Team Using a Bench, Sanipaya

Measuring Team Using a Bench, Sanipaya

On Tuesday, Doña Máxima, Vilma, and Dorinda again loaded the table and plastic chairs into Don Vicente´s pickup truck for the longer ride to Sanipaya. Doña Beatriz, who is in the Club de Artesanas in Independencia when she is not in Sanipaya, had organized the 6 spinners in that community. The measuring was done on a raised covered earth porch at her home. It was obvious that Spinning Week was a welcome break in the monotony of the daily routine of their farmer subsistence lifestyle . The spinners had gathered in the morning to prepare lunch which was a colorful presentation of boiled potato, chuño (freeze-dried potato) with scambled egg, chicken in a savory broth with vegetables, and a salad of tomato and onion.

Two Measuring Teams at Work, Sanipaya

Two Measuring Teams at Work, Sanipaya

The spinners expressed many times their heartfelt thanks to all who helped make Spinzilla Spinning Week possible. Thank you Marilyn Murphy and Cloth Roads for sponsoring the Warmis Phuskadoras. A hug and thanks to the Spinzilla organizers who have brought this special event into the lives of the Andean spinners. The planning and actual event are empowering for the spinners. Furthermore, Spinzilla has given Doña Máxima in Independencia, Doña Justina in Huancarani, and Doña Beatriz in Sanipaya the opportunity to develop organization and leadership skills.

Doña Beatriz Plating Up Lunch

Doña Beatriz Plating Up Lunch

I am traveling to the U.S. next week for a couple of months and PAZA needs to sell the weaving inventory stored in the U.S. I hope to return to Independencia in December with another order for the weavers, but the revolving fund has stopped revolving… In the U.S. inventory are 2 sizes of yoga mat straps, chuspas (shoulder bags), 14” x 14” pillow covers, belts, guitar straps, camera straps, and zippered pouches. Please consider gifting an Andean weaving possibly spun with 2015 Spinzilla Spinning Week yarn this holiday season. Inquires can be directed to dkdutcher@hotmail.com. Thank you. Dorinda Dutcher, October 13, 2016

Andean Spin-In

Doñas Felicidad & Parciza Accompany Doña Antonia and Her Flock to the Spin-In

Doñas Felicidad & Parciza Accompany Doña Antonia and Her Flock to the Spin-In

Fifteen members of the Spinzilla Cloth Roads Team Warmis Phuskadoras met in the shade of the church tower in Huancarani on Wednesday for a spin in. They wanted to compare their spinning speed with each other.
As they arrived Team Captain, Doña Máxima, measured their waist and pollera (skirt) length for this year’s prize which will be a petticoat. Among the last to arrive was Doña Máxima´s sister Doña Narciza who had slowly made her way from home with her herd of goats. The drought in Bolivia continues and the search for grass while pasturing livestock is getting harder and harder.

Doña Alicia Being Measured for Her Petticoat Prize

Doña Alicia Being Measured for Her Petticoat Prize

Each spinner reported how many phuskas (drop spindles) they had filled by this Day #3 of Spinzilla Spinning Week. Doña Justina was way in the lead with 12 filled, Doña Eulogia had completed 9, and everybody else had filled between 2 and 5. However, using the measurement of a “filled” phuska may be misleading as to how many yards it will measure in the end. The women will wind the yarn from 2 phuskas together into the balls of yarn they present for measuring on Monday. That will be quickly done by placing a phuska between the big toe and the next toe of each foot and winding the 2 strands of yarn together into a ball.

Doñas Maxima, Narciza, Toribia, Goats and Sheep

Doñas Maxima, Narciza, Toribia, Goats and Sheep

A few of the women said they were behind due to their attendance at community meetings on Monday and Tuesday. There will be another meeting on Friday in regards to the completed potable water project that supplied each house with a water spigot. The new water spigot beside the church was festooned with streamers and flowers due to its inauguration ceremony. It came in handy before and after the potluck lunch where all used their hands to dip into the bowls of boiled corn with cheese and sheep jerky and macaroni with scrambled eggs.

The Spinners from Huancarani with the Ayopaya River in the Background

The Spinners from Huancarani with the Ayopaya River in the Background

One of the spinners announced a meeting coming up Saturday night for market vendors in Independencia, which many of them are and so must attend. The suggestion was made that they can spin at meetings and so they should continue to spin through Sunday regardless of where they are.

All the spinners except Doña Eulogia were spinning white fleece. She was spinning brown. Only Doña Antonia who arrived with her flock of sheep was using fleece from her flock. The majority of the spinners had purchased their fleece from a butcher in Independencia. Many of the spinners pasture their sheep at a lower elevation and the walkspinchatspines of the vegetation ruin the fleece for spinning. Doña Alicia complained that the fleece of her sheep is like goat fiber. Vertical agriculture is practiced in this Andean area. At the lowest altitude along the river the farmers grow citrus, tomatoes, peanuts, and produce to sell. Midway up the mountain which is where the school, soccer field and church are located the grains and cereals are raised. Continuing up the mountain and above the tree line the many varieties of tubulars are grown. It is interesting to pass so quickly, well when walking downhill, from one ecosystem to another. Doña Eulalia was nowhere to be found, so she had probably made the trek down to work on her farm by the river.

The Warmis Phuskadoras (Women Spinners) are thoroughly enjoying the camaraderie of Spinzilla Spinning Week, and wish the same for all the other Spinzilla teams! Dorinda Dutcher, October 5, 2016

Spinzilla Preparation

Vilma Beating The Debris from a Sheep Skin

Vilma Beating The Debris from a Sheep Skin

Spinzilla Team Captain, Doña Maxima Cortez, of the Cloth Roads Team WarmisPhuskadoras, along with her daughter Vilma and Doña Antonia had been checking on sheep skins at various local butcher´s for weeks. Three weeks before Spinning Week they finally found the fleece they wanted to spin during the competition. Each purchased 2 at 10 Bolivianos ($1.45) per sheep skin, which happens to be the same amount each spinner paidto register for Spinzilla.

 

Doña Antonia Relaxing While Her Sheep Skin Rinse on the River Bottom

Doña Antonia Relaxing While Her Sheep Skin Rinse on the River Bottom

Following their purchases half a day was dedicated to washing the sheep skins. The process began at Doña Maxima´s house where they mixed 2 cups of ash into a large pot of waterand brought it to a boil over a fire. The boiling mixture was poured into a large wash tub, and a short wide board was used to work the hot water through the wool. It took two pots of the water and ash mixtureto scour the 6 sheep skins. For the next step theyloadedthe heavy wet sheep skins into a wheelbarrow and headedto the Palca River a mile away. River access above the bridge provided a number of conveniently placed boulders that served for draping the sheep skins so that they could beat clingy debrisout of the fiber. The final step was to weight the sheep skins on the river bottom for a final rinse.The sheep skins were trundled back home to be dried in the sun in preparation for cutting off the wool.

Vilma Examing Her Sheep Skin Prior to Cutting the Fleece

Vilma Examing Her Sheep Skin Prior to Cutting the Fleece

Doña Maxima and Vilma spent all day during the Club de Artesanas (CdA) Tuesday prior to Spinzilla preparing their fleece for spinning. It took half a day to cut the fiber off one sheep skin using a sharp knife. As Doña Máxima cut the fleece off her sheep skin shewas surprised to find various tones of gray mixed in with the white. As she prepared the roving she separated out the colors to spin each separately. Most of the traditional weavings are warped with the gray yarn on the outside borders and to break up the color blocks of the dyed yarn. The columns of motifs are almost always woven with undyed black yarn for the figures on a background of natural white yarn. As Vilma closely examined her sheep skin prior to cutting off the fiber she was pleased with the fiber´s length and whiteness, although she could have done without the stickers.

Doña Màxima Cutting Fleece

Doña Màxima Cutting Fleece

After lunch the women followed the shade around the yard as they worked the fiber with their fingers into coils of roving. By day´s end they were tired but pleased with the proof of their efforts lying at their feet.On Thursday, both worked all afternoon to finish turning the fleece from their first sheep skin into airy coils of roving.

Doña Justina, the President of the Centro de Artesanía, Huancarani (CAH) stopped by PAZA on Sunday to make the final arrangements with Doña Máxima for Spinzilla Spinning Week. Doña Justina will arrange for the 16 Huancarani spinners to meet in the soccer field on Wednesday for a photo session and for yarn measurement the following Monday. She said Doña Dionicia, who will turn 85 the last day of the competition, returned to Huancarani after last week´s Sunday market in Independencia with a heavy gunny sack of 6 sheep skins she´d purchased, although she has a flock of her own. Doña Paulina had gone to sell produce at a fair in Oruro last week and

Finally, roving

Finally, roving

returned with 2 gorgeous white sheep skins with long fibers. Doña Maxima said she´d tried to buy one, but Doña Paulina wasn´t interested in selling. Doña Paulina had also purchased ph´uskas (drop spindles) in Oruro to sell in Independencia at 5 Bs. (72 cents) each. The last ph´uska maker in Independencia died about 5 years ago.

Doña Justina shuddered at the suggestion that a Spinzilla participant could ask for help in preparing the roving. Doña Máxima said that the spinners have a proprietary interest in the quality of the yarn they spin and prefer to do all the preparation and spinning themselves. The quality of their spinning affects the quality of their weavings which are an integral part of their self-identity. They grew up weaving for home and farm use and continue to weave for the home.

The Results of a Long Day´s Work

The Results of a Long Day´s Work

They also weave to sell and thanks to the orders received this year through Laverne Waddington and her weaving workshop hosts and participants the sales have hit a record high!

Thank you Anne McGinn for supporting the Cloth Roads Team WarmisPhuskadoras! When the results come in the following teams will be pointed out as having spinners who have supported the Bolivian team: Team San Diego Country Spinners, Team Lydia Yarns Spinning, Team Shuttles, Team Webs, Team Sweet Georgia. Please let us know if you supported the Bolivian spinners but the name of your team is not included!

Thank you Teena Jennings for your continued support in so many ways! Thank you Lyn Lucas for your generosity and warm wishes.Dorinda Dutcher, October 3, 2016

Jewelry Making and Spinzilla Prep

grpchicas September kicked off with the much anticipated arrival of Amanda Smiles, founder of Ruraq Maki and jewelry making instructor. This was her 5th year teaching jewelry making techniques with wire and beads. She taught 4 morning classes to the Club de Artesanas (CdA) women and 4 afternoon classes to the CdA teens. There was an afternoon class with homework for the 2 CdA trainers, and a class in Huancarani.

Amanda and the Chicas with the Final Results

Amanda and the Chicas with the Final Results

The techniques have gotten more complex each year, and Amanda donated 2 jewelry making books to the PAZA library that contain all the techniques that she has taught in a variety of new designs. The class for the CdA trainers was added this year to teach them how to plan and prepare for the jewelry making days to be held once a month. They need to learn to monitor the projects so the supplies are used responsibly and the students use the techniques in designs that improve their skills. If any of the CdA participants decide to make jewelry to sell they will be able to buy the supplies through PAZA to get started.

Doña Antonia Chasing After Her Flock of Sheep

Doña Antonia Chasing After Her Flock of Sheep

There was a great turnout for the jewelry making class in Huancarani. Eighteen out of the 28 members of the Centro de Artesania, Huancarani (CAH) crowded around plastic sheeting in the shade of the church to make rings. Three women had to bring their flocks of sheep so the hillside and soccer field were full. Doña Antonia Calcina’s flock was ornery and she took off running multiple times as they edged towards the downhill slope towards home.

All Enjoy Making Their Bead Selection

All Enjoy Making Their Bead Selection

After the class there was a brief Spinzilla Spinning Week meeting. Sixteen spinners on the Cloth Roads Warmis Phushkadoras Spinzilla team live in Huancarani and 3 more are from Huancarani but live in Independencia. Many of the women were spinning or plying as Doña Máxima, the Team Captain, went over the rules and reminded everyone to start preparing roving. The rural women learned to spin as girls and it is odd to see them without a phuska (drop spindle) in hand.

Showing Off Their New Rings. The Hands to Beat During Spinzilla! Photo Credit: Amanda Smiles

Showing Off Their New Rings. The Hands to Beat During Spinzilla! Photo Credit: Amanda Smiles

The women and teens all send a hug and thanks to Amanda for the long trip to Independencia lugging the jewelry making supplies. It was 2 fun weeks that all look forward to every year. Many of her students commented on the ease of working this year thanks to the 10 sets of jewelry making pliers that had been donated by Ruraq Maki.

 A huge thank you to Spinzilla Team Coordinator Constance Hall and to Marilyn Murphy the Cloth Roads sponsor for the team for once again getting the word out to rally support for the Warmis Phuskadoras. The budget of $1,000 for the event has been met.

Doña Casimira Set Last Year´s Team Record of 4,680 Yards During Spinzilla

Doña Casimira Set Last Year´s Team Record of 4,680 Yards During Spinzilla

Thank you Debora Petschek and Alison Walsh for your support, all want you to come back soon to visit! Those of you who supported the team last year and again this year helped to convey to the spinners that their skill is recognized and valued. Thank you Margaret Tyler, Sarah Linder, Susan Brady, Katrina Stewart, Victoria Huff, Judy Gilchrist, Penelope Brakenbury, Linda Ligon, and Shani Kari. It has been fun hearing from new friends who are supporting the spinners this year. Your comments will be shared with the spinners during Spinning Week.Thank you Peggy McKoy, Jayne Schafer, Dana Davidoff, Janet Davis, Jeanette Lurier, Anne Bluemel, and Katherine Spitler. All the heartfelt comments and support demonstrate to the rural Bolivian women that there is a bigger world of spinners sharing the camaraderie and joy of Spinning Week.

Doñas Alicia and Narciza Are Highly Competitive with Each Other During Spinzilla. Photo Credit: Amanda Smiles

Doñas Alicia and Narciza Are Highly Competitive with Each Other During Spinzilla. Photo Credit: Amanda Smiles

A thank you is due to WARP member Jere Thompson for being proactive in getting the word out for 2 volunteers during Spinning Week. The spinners really do want to see a foreigner spin and had asked that a foreigner join the team. There were some inquires, so maybe next year… Thank you, Kate Larson, for writing the great article about the Bolivian spinners for the, “Spin Off” blog.

An apology and belated thank you to friend and former Peace Corps volunteer Emily Hooker for her continued PAZA support. As always thank you Lyn Lucas and Dorothy Thursby for your ongoing support that keeps the PAZA activities ongoing! Dorinda Dutcher, September 19, 2016

CdA Activities Back on Track

Doña Máxima Checking on Cochineal Dye Pot

Doña Máxima Checking on Cochineal Dye Pot

It took the Club de Artesanas (CdA) members two dye days to attend to the pile of hand spun skeins of wool yarn that had been dropped off by the Huancarani weavers. All had requested cochineal tones, which was a good thing because this dry season is unusually dry and there are few local dye plant options. The municipality is rationing water and the hours it is available grow shorter weekly. Multiple containers were filled in the early mornings to handle the rinsing of the dyed skeins. Because both stovetop burners were not in use it was decided to premordant some of the skeins. On the first dye day alum was the premordant and on the 2nd dye day copper sulfate was used to dye the first batch of skeins a dark burgundy. There is something very satisfying about watching a clothesline full of newly dyed skeins drip drying.

Amy and CdA Women Working on Lace Knitting Samples

Amy and CdA Women Working on Lace Knitting Samples

Amy Booth played hooky from her volunteer work in Cochabamba with Performing Life Bolivia to volunteer in Independencia for a week. She enjoys lace knitting, so Lynne Watterson’s book, “The Very Easy Guide to Lace Knitting” which Dorinda’s Aunt Laura had mailed to the CdA years ago finally came off the shelf. It is now looking much used and loved. Amy worked with the women to knit a variety of samples from the book, and then they all trooped off to a local yarn store so the women could buy yarn to make sleeveless tops using their preferred stitches from the samples. Amy squeezed in 3 weaving classes with Doña Maxima and worked diligently into the wee hours completing her homework.

Amy´s Weaving Class with Doña Máxima

Amy´s Weaving Class with Doña Máxima

Although Amy had packed light for her week-long stay, she´d brought along 3 juggling clubs. John Connell, the founder of Performing Life, and volunteers teach circus skills to street kids. The kids use the skills to earn money by juggling at intersections around Cochabamba. The program is expanding to include aerial silks and trapeze and classes will be available for a fee to help subsidize the organization´s other programs. Amy is the second PAZA volunteer who spent years of her youth in a circus training program in London. She found out about Performing Life and PAZA through Sustainable Bolivia, a U.S. foundation in Cochabamba that has supported PAZA´s volunteer program and sales of the weavings since 2010.

CdA Kid, Emily, Marching with the 1st Graders

CdA Kid, Emily, Marching with the 1st Graders

August 6th, is Independence Day in Bolivia and the festivities kick off with a lantern parade the night before. A number of the CdA kids took advantage of the Club’s supplies to make their candle lit lanterns. Luckily, it was a lantern parade because the town’s electricity went off just as the parade started and didn´t resume until a few hours after it ended. The flaming “2016” sign of the graduating class was spectacular, as were the stars on the dark walk home. Everybody was dressed in their best for the official parade on August 6th. Volunteer Joey Hentzler arrived on the bus from Cochabamba during the parade and had no trouble finding Amy and Dorinda in the crowd.

Joey and the CdA Kids

Joey and the CdA Kids

Joey worked with the CdA kids teaching them about Día de los Muertos traditions in Mexico. They also used up leftover tissue paper from lantern making to make paper cutouts that were taped to string like prayer flags and taken home to decorate empty walls.

Everyone Smiled When the Juggling Clubs Came Out

Everyone Smiled When the Juggling Clubs Came Out

Alas, CdA trainer and weaver, Doña Maxima, was not sitting on pins and needles waiting to update Dorinda on 3-1/2 months of local gossip. In fact, local news is rarely related unless a topic is brought up that triggers a story. It was a bit of a shock while trolling for recent news to hear 2 year old scoop! While discussing the lack of retention of new CdA members, Doña Máxima said a member lasted only 1 year because her husband told her traditional weaving is something that only poor women do! It shouldn´t be a surprise considering that as rapidly changing rural Bolivia “progresses” the locals who now think of themselves as “modern” would spurn anything that might connect them with being old-fashioned. Doña Máxima didn´t appear disturbed about the attitude, her expression conveyed, “what idiots.” She did say that the CdA would probably be more successful in teaching weaving to young teens who live with female relative(s) who are weavers and can help at home.

Spinning with Joy, Photo Credit: Shelby Deaton

Spinning with Joy, Photo Credit: Shelby Deaton

Thank you Dorothy Thursby and Susie Strauss for your ongoing support of the PAZA activities. Thank you George Dutcher for your contribution to the soap making project. The smelly chore of rendering a mix of beef and sheep fat was done last week so the CdA members will be making lovely scented milled soap in the weeks ahead.

Thank you Jere Thompson for your help in getting the word out in our search for 2 volunteers for Spinzilla Spinning Week! We do need to raise funds for this year´s expenses which are estimated at $1,000. That account is currently in the red. Please consider supporting the Team Warmis Phuskadoras by clicking on the Donate button above. Thank you! Dorinda Dutcher, August 19, 2016

July, Back in Independencia!

Alison and CdA Women Knitting Rabbit Face Booties

Alison and CdA Women Knitting Rabbit Face Booties

There is no place like home, and after a 3-1/2 month absence it seemed like Paradise to settle back into the PAZA rooms at the Casa Callejas in Independencia. Thanks to Laverne Waddington and the orders she drummed up through her weaving workshops in the U.S., the weavers had stayed busy. Doña Máxima had carried on the Club de Artesanas (CdA) once a week and had managed the orders, but she was relieved that activities would return to normal at the PAZA workshop.

Alison Teaching the Chicas How to Weave Bracelets

Alison Teaching the Chicas How to Weave Bracelets

Former volunteer and friend, Alison Walsh, arrived for a 2 week visit in mid-July. She made a sample of a babyt bootie with a rabbit face from a new pattern book in the PAZA library. All the CdA women decided they had a little one for whom they wanted to knit a pair. When Alison wasn´t knitting she was weaving bracelets in bright colors. One Saturday morning the CdA chicas admired the array of bracelets adorning Alison´s arms and asked if she would teach them, which she did immediately. Why haven´t the chicas shown any interest in learning the local traditional weaving techniques? Is it because it´s something grandmother used to do, thus old fashioned and not “cool”?

Alison & Doña Máxima Enjoy Campo Hospitality

Alison & Doña Máxima Enjoy Campo Hospitality

It’s time to think about prepping the house gardens for summer’s rainy season. Alison and Doña Máxima were game for an adventure, so a truck was hired to head to Doña Gregoria´s farm to buy “fertilizer”. Sheep are corralled every night, and the manure is raked out and piled high outside the corral, where it is allowed to age. There was no way to contact Doña Gregoria, but she hurriedly appeared in answer to the shouted greetings and her frantically barking dogs. Her alpacas and llamas were disappearing from view having been let loose earlier to graze. It´s dry season so they cover a lot of territory each day to feed. Doña Gregoria doesn´t have much company so she talked animatedly to Doña Maxima while serving her unexpected guests steaming plates of boiled potatoes and boiled corn.

Note the Weavings Used for the Cargo Rigging

Note the Weavings Used for the Cargo Rigging

Doña Máxima was handed a rope and sent her off in search of a burro to haul the gunny sacks of “fertilizer” up the mountain to the truck. Alison, 5 year old Cristian who is Doña Máxima´s grandson, and Dorinda began filling light-weight plastic gunny sacks they´d brought along. Prior to the appearance of plastic sacks, rural women wove “costales”, gunny sacks, out of llama fiber or local wool. Doña Máxima returned having had no luck in finding the burro.

Fiber or plastic gunny sacks are sewn shut for transport, so women´s sombreros are usually adorned with fake flowers and a large sewing needle or two. Doña Gregoria came out of her courtyard bearing rope halters, cargo padding, and straps. She picked out 2 nearby small horses that she and Doña Máxima quickly captured and loaded with the bags of fertilizer. Weavings are often used as part of the cargo rigging and wrap around under the tail of the horse or burro. The walk back to the truck didn´t look steep, but at the higher altitude the horses´ pace of walk 10 steps then take a break was ideal. Once the bags were loaded on the truck, the horses were let loose to roll and wander off. The humans all plopped in the shade of the pickup to enjoy a campo picnic – a communal pot of rice, potato, and fried eggs.

Hey Dad, This Is a Lot More Work Than a Trip to Home Depot!

Hey Dad, This Is a Lot More Work Than a Trip to Home Depot!

Team registration for Spinzilla Spinning Week took place on Sundays when the Huancarani weavers were in town for market day. Doña Beatriz who is a CdA participant when she´s not farming in her community of Sanipaya confirmed that she and 5 other spinners from Sanipaya wished to participate again. Unfortunately, there has been no response to the request for 2 volunteers for Spinzilla Spinning Week. The team slot for a foreign spinner will be held until the end of August, at which time it will be released to a local spinner. A social media volunteer is still needed in Independencia during the October 2 to 9 Spinning Week plus the 2 additional days to help with measuring the yardage.

Doñas Felicidad, Justina, and Toribia Waiting to Measure

Doñas Felicidad, Justina, and Toribia Waiting to Measure

The Spinzilla expenses are estimated to run about the same as last year which was $1,005, and those funds must be raised so that the event doesn´t impact other PAZA activities. PAZA has currently raised $0…. HELP?!  All the spinners win first prize to encourage teamwork and to recognize all of them equally for their phenomenal spinning ability. The prize they chose for this year is a new petticoat. The other expenses are vehicle contracts for 4 trips to the rural communities, extra days of wages for Doña Máxima, and the end of the year awards ceremony and feast. Please note on the Paypal form attached to the “Donate” button above that your contribution is for Spinzilla. Thank you from the Spinzilla team Warmis Phuskadoras!  Dorinda Dutcher, August 8, 2016