Annual Meeting & Spinzilla Celebration

Hauling Meat Tray to the Oven

The annual Centro de Artesanía, Huancarani (CAH) meeting and Spinzilla Celebration were held outside under brooding clouds. Once again, Doña Toribia donated her wood burning oven and it was fired up before the contingent from Independencia arrived with the 49 pounds of beef cutlets, a first time veggie option, tomatoes, oil, condiments, and sodas for the feast.  Weavers arrived singly or in pairs dragging branches for firewood or with an aguayo filled with just harvested potatoes or onions. Doña Toribia donated iceberg lettuce for the salad which is rarely seen and never for sale in the Independencia market. All set about prepping the food and laying it in metal trays. Branches of the

Mudding the Wood Burning Oven Closed

th’ola shrub were cut and tied to a branch to sweep the oven´s brick bottom clear of ash. Potatoes were tossed inside, the trays were set on top of them, and the oven cover which had been fashioned from the end of a metal 55 gallon drum was sealed shut with mud.

The women settled on the ground for the annual CAH meeting with one eye on the rain falling in the mountains to the south. A new Board of Directors was elected, Doña Justina stepped down as President after 4 years of doing an excellent job of coordinating with PAZA for workshops, meetings, and Spinzilla activities. Twenty year old Maribel took over as Secretary, because she can read and write she will set an example for the future of that Board position. Two new members joined CAH and both are younger than the median age of 60 for the members.

2018 Annual CAH Meeting, Huancarani

The weavers voted to establish an “honorable member” category to waive the annual membership fee for elderly women who no longer spin or weave but enjoy the social occasions the CAH offers. Doña Teodora, who hasn´t woven in decades because of a poorly healed broken shoulder, was CAH´s first honorary member.The new CAH banner was unveiled and all declared it to be beautiful. The intent was to have it made in time to take to the Tinkuy, but the 2 piece pole was so long that it was impractical for travel. It will be marched around the soccer field in Huancarani in the civic day parades.

Doña Teodora with her Photogenic Smile

The vote was unanimous to continue competing in Spinzilla Spinning Week. They asked, “Why wouldn´t we? We spin almost every day anyway and we like winning a prize”. They voted to raise their registration fee 5 Bs. from $1.44 to $2.16 per participant.

The New CAH Banner

Time was spent discussing whether or not to raise the price of the weavings and a vote for a small increase was passed. Thanks to Laverne Waddington the fajas (4-1/2” x 71” bands) are gaining popularity with U.S. weavers who purchase them to design and cut up for their own projects. The 2018 price was raised from $35 to $38. The price for a kilo of handspun yarn went from $10 to $11.50.

Viewing the Tinkuy Photos

Doña Máxima and Doña Justina spoke about their Tinkuy experiences and photos were passed around. The women were able to put a face with the name they hear many times during Spinzilla and that person is Marilyn Murphy of Cloth Roads who has sponsored the Bolivian team for 4 years. There were also photos of Doña Máxima and Doña Justina presenting thank you weavings to longtime supporters Lyn Lucas and Dorothy Thursby. The photo of Karen Sprenger at the exhibition table with Doña Justina and Doña Maxima was appropriate because she´s been instrumental in helping with sales of the inventory stored in Kansas.

Doña Narciza Receives Her Shawl and Spinzilla Photo

The meeting adjourned and the moment all had been waiting for arrived with the handing out of the shawls, the 2017 Spinzilla prize for all participants. Doña Máxima and her daughter Zoraida had selected and purchased the cloth in Cochabamba. The material was divided between Zoraida and the CdA members so they could earn a wage by crocheting the borders and adding fringe, thus personalizing each shawl. Unfortunately, a group photo was not taken because the wind picked up and the clouds had darkened.

The 1 hour and 40 minute meeting coincided with the exact time needed for all to be pulled out of the oven cooked to perfection. Many of the women bagged up their meal and headed home hoping to stay ahead of the rain. The meal was a hurried affair as the rain rolled implacably towards the group. In the end all scurried to clean up and head home. Doña Narciza commented a few weeks later that the new shawls came in handy as a warm layer against the cold rain for her and her neighbors who had a long trek home. Thanks again to everyone who supported the Bolivian Spinzilla team! Dorinda Dutcher, January 8th, 2018

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Kicking Off The Year With Arts & Crafts

Embroidering, Drawing, and Painting with Surya

Embroidering, making piñatas, drawing, water coloring, and the Fiesta de Don Jorge made for a busy January for the Club de Artesanas (CdA). Under the tutelage of artist-in-residence, Suyra de Wit, the CdA women, teens, and kids were all thrilled to spend the 2nd month of the school vacation busily occupied with art projects. The first project Surya introduced was embroidering a design of choice. The embroidery of flowers as a required project at the local primary school has been replaced by fabric painting. The 3 girls completed their embroidery and with help from Suyra made small shoulder bags to showcase their work. The teens chose to use beads from the jewelry making kit to embroider their designs. The intent focus of the 2 boys over their embroidery hoops was a surprise. Doña Maxima commented that she liked the textural possibilities by combining known embroidery stitches with the new stitches she learned from Surya.

3 Happy Girls with New Bags

Preparation for the Fiesta de Don Jorge began a week prior to the annual all day party. Three Club families had birthdays during the month so a total of 4 piñatas were made. The layering of the paper mache over the balloons went quickly because it was the 2nd year of piñata making. Thanks to Surya’s help, the fringe decor was an improvement over last year. PAZA provided for the piñata filling which included toothbrushes and pencils along with the sweet and salted treats.

Making the Piñatas

On the day of the Fiesta the library and workshop overflowed with everybody working on masks and crowns. Lunch was everybody´s favorite festive dish, “Pique Macho”. Piping hot French Fries are piled with bite-size chunks of meat and sausage in a savory sauce. The diner adorns his or her heaping plate of yumminess with hard-boiled egg, onion, tomato, chilies, and in the kids case a lot of ketchup, mustard, and mayonnaise.

Fiesta de Don Jorge 2018

Doña Máxima and Vilma peeled and cut up 13 pounds of potatoes with knives – peelers and cutting boards are not local culinary techniques. Doña Máxima headed to the outdoor cooking lean-to to start a fire for frying the potatoes and Vilma headed indoors to cook the meat on the gas range. There was a bit of a lull after the meal. Everyone rallied for games and worked up an appetite so they could enjoy the 3 layer chocolate and lime birthday cake. Don Jorge will turn 88 in February and hopefully the photos and best wishes will reach his Kansas mailbox this year.

Jhesica Sharing Her Work with Veronica

Saturday mornings were reserved for the teens to work on their drawing skills. Surya is a portrait artist and noted that they had not learned to sketch a big picture but focused on small details. She started the classes with timed drawings of self-portraits, followed by instruction, and ended the class by letting the teens watercolor for their enjoyment. Surya’s work may be viewed at www.suryadewit.net.

On Sunday the 14th an emergency meeting of the Centro de Artesanía, Huancarani (CAH) was called at the PAZA workshop. A new President needed to be elected to replace Doña Cirila who did not meet the requirement of being a member for 2 years. She took it upon herself to go in search of the CAH members in town for market day and managed to gather up a quorum of 14. Her mother, a founding member, won the election and hesitantly took on the responsibility after Doña Cirila promised to help her. Maribel, Secretary and the youngest CAH member, ran the meeting as the most senior Board member. It is heartening to observe younger members taking an active role in the organization.

Waiting for Quorum of Weavers to Gather

The school year begins on February 5th, and that means high stress for mothers to come up with the cash to purchase school supplies. PAZA always has a weaving order so the weavers can count on income in February. During the last 3 Sundays in January most of the active weavers stopped by the PAZA workshop inquiring or dropping off an order. Doña Eulalia sighed as she commented on the ever increasing list of school supplies as her 4 children move through primary into secondary school. The weavings will be in the U.S. the end of April and need to be sold to keep the PAZA rotating fund for the weaving orders rotating. Thanks to the use of the weavings in Laverne’s Waddington’s workshops PAZA sales have changed from a myriad of products of our design to selling the cloth for you to design and cut for your own creations. The fajas (traditionally belts) are 70”x4.5”, wider weavings that we use to make the zippered pouches are 63”x9.5”, and straps (size used for the yoga mat straps) are 74”x1.5” or a bit longer at 78”x1.5”. There will also be zippered pouches, yoga mat straps, and a few ch’uspas (shoulder bags). Inquires can be sent to dkdutcher@hotmail.com.

Thank you Dorothy Thursby and Susan Long for kickstarting 2018 with your continued support of the weavers and teens.  Dorinda Dutcher, January 28, 2018

Tinkuy 2017 Report

Readying for the Tinkuy Inauguration Parade

Congratulations to Nilda Callañaupa, the Tinkuy International Weaving Conference Organizing Committee, the Centro de Textiles Tradicionales de Cusco (CTTC) weavers, and all the Tinkuy volunteers for creating an incredible 4 day textile extravaganza. All 5 senses reeled under the color, movement, texture, and sounds of Tinkuy 2017. Wow! It is still impossible to summarize coherently but references to the Tinkuy will be ongoing because there was so much information relevant to PAZA´s activities and idea possibilities for the future.

Doña Maxima in the Spinning Competition

Doña Maxima and Doña Justina loved their hands on experiences that included the spinning competition, giving their weaving/knitting demonstration, and taking the workshops. For life-long weavers, both found the advanced backstrap weaving class and the chinchilla border class challenging. The 17 minute presentation they were to give was the last presentation before the closing ceremony, so the burden of that upcoming event was carried throughout the conference. Doña Máxima and Doña Justina marched up to the stage, faced the large crowd, and stoically gave their presentation, “Stories of the Traditional Weavings of Independencia, Bolivia”. The English translation was a disappointment,

Doña Maxima Weaving and Doña Justina Knitting at Their Technique Demo

but there are probably only a handful in all of Cusco who could translate Quechua to English. The 5 months of research to put together the presentation led to some intriguing questions that will be fun to investigate and report on in future blogs. The women spoke in Quechua which was understood by the majority of the audience who were the hosting Quechua speaking CTTC weavers. It was a thoughtful way to end the 4 days of presentations.

There were numerous anticipated meetings between the Bolivian weavers and long-time PAZA supporters. The weavers met Lyn Lucas and David Anderson who were PAZA´s first supporters in 2010. Doña Máxima who has been the Spinzilla Cloth Roads Warmis Phuskadoras team captain for 4 years and Doña Justina who coordinates Spinzilla activities in Huancarani finally met sponsor Marilyn Murphy. Dorothy Thursby who has been an ongoing supporter of PAZA renewed her acquaintance with Doña Máxima from the 2013 Tinkuy. Katie Simmons who has been to Independencia 4 times and helped in the 2013 Tinkuy trip to Cusco was a welcome familiar face. Teena Jennings, WARP member and longtime supporter, met the weavers and introduced her husband and daughter who had

On Stage
(Photo Credit: David Anderson)

accompanied her. Prior to this trip Doña Justina who turned 60 this year had never been anywhere that wasn´t to visit family and on those trips she was always accompanied by family. The weavers met Karen Sprenger who lives near Dorinda´s parents in Kansas and has promoted the weavings in the local fiber community. As Doña Máxima chatted with Deborah Chandler in Spanish she was unaware that Deborah is the go-to person for advice when PAZA hits a snag in the road.

There have been many comments about Doña Máxima´s unsmiling countenance. It is cultural. For years she has been able to look through the PAZA photos to select those of herself and her family for developing. She never selects photos where she is smiling, she says they are ugly.

Karen Sprenger with the Weavers. All Weavings are in Kansas and are Available to Buy.

Dorinda has gifted many “happy face” photos to Doña Máxima who graciously accepts them, but who knows what she does with them when she gets home. The expression that should have been captured on film was Doña Maxima´s beatific smile when she walked off of the airplane in Cochabamba into the arms of her daughter, son, and 2 granddaughters. The smiles and tears of joy and relief on the faces of Doña Máxima´s family and Doña Justina´s 2 daughters and grandson would have made you cry. They were so happy and relieved to have their mothers safely home.

The inventory of weavings in the U.S. is building up, and that slows down PAZA´s rotating fund for placing and purchasing orders with the weavers. ‘Tis the season… Weaving a yoga mat strap is where a beginning weaver starts weaving to earn income, although all the weavers weave them. If there is a yogi on your holiday shopping list the yoga mat straps for a 1/8” thick sticky mat are $21 and for the ¼” thick exercise mat the price is $22.

Yoga Mat Straps on Models Shannon Dutcher & David Whetzel

Is there a weaver on your gift giving list who would delight in hand spun, natural dyed cloth with Andean motifs to use for her own projects? The fajas are bands of cloth 67” x 4.5” and cost $35, larger weavings PAZA uses for making the zippered pouches are 63” x 9.5” and are $64. The 75” x 1.5” straps are $19. The lined zippered pouches are $15 and $16 with a wrist strap. There are dress/tunic sashes measuring 60” x 2.5” for $35. Also available are chuspas in a variety of sizes and priced accordingly.

All the weavings have a story, and that´s what makes them such special gifts. Orders will be accepted until December 14th, with the last shipping date on December 15th. Contact Dorinda at dkdutcher@hotmail.com.

Thank you Lyn Lucas and David Anderson, I hope it´s not another 7 years before our paths cross again! Thank you lifelong friend Geoff Folker for your support last month. Another thank you is in order for the P.J. Broderick Memorial Foundation whose support made it possible to attend the Tinkuy. Thank you everyone who has supported the Bolivian weavers, teens, and kids this year.  Wishing you the warmth of joy and laughter with family and friends this holiday season. Peace on Earth. Dorinda Dutcher, December 3, 2017

October Fun, Fun, Fun

Vilma Juggling Her Spinning Week Results on Measuring Day in Sanipaya

October was a super month. The Cloth Roads team Warmis Phuskadoras placed 27th out of the 70 Spinzilla teams. The Bolivian spinners spun 70,390 yards, all with drop spindles. The annual celebratory feast and prize awarding ceremony will be held in Huancarani in early January. Shawls are the prize for all of the Huancarani spinners. Doña Máxima will be purchasing the shawl material in Cochabamba and the Club de Artesanas (CdA) members will be crocheting the borders thus personalizing each shawl. Vilma, a skilled crocheter, was tasked with crocheting a sample to determine the labor cost and the amount of yarn needed per shawl. Her timid response was a wage of 25 Bs.($3.60) per shawl. After much discussion about the time and skill required PAZA upped the wage to 60 Bs. ($8.65).

Rebecca & the Chicas

Australia has come to Independencia. The year started out with Laverne Waddington’s visit to teach weaving workshops. She is from Australia but has made eastern Bolivia her home. The next visitor was Australian Cheryl Cartwright who was a great help in measuring the 70,390 yards of Spinning Week yarn. After Spinzilla, the women and teens spent a week working on cross stitch projects taught by Rebecca Rich. She lugged the workshop supplies and wonderful chocolate treats from Melbourne to Argentina, Peru, and finally Bolivia. The chicas adored their new friend. They showed up during the CdA weekday afternoons as well as Saturdays to work on their projects and hang out with Rebecca. She brought out a world map at least 3 times and all grew to feel a familiarity with that world so far away. You can read Rebecca’s visit report on the volunteer page of this blog.

Huddled in the Entry on an Inclement Day

An observation that Rebecca made early on was that Doña Antonia would probably make fewer mistakes if she had glasses. Rumor has it that the women will not wear glasses because glasses are associated with being educated, which most of the rural women are not. PAZA handed out about 2 dozen reading glasses a few years ago, but there wasn’t any encouragement to continue. Shockingly, Doña Antonia agreed that she needed glasses and actually wore them thus dramatically improving the quality of the butterfly she was cross stitching on a bib for her granddaughter. PAZA will invest in more reading glasses.

Doña Justina´s Chuspa Will Debut at the Tinkuy Parade

Preparation for the Tinkuy reached a feverish pitch by the end of the month, although the planning began in June. Doña Justina dropped by most Sundays to practice her part of the presentation. One Sunday she brought the ch’uspa she had just completed to wear in the Inauguration Parade. Doña Máxima practiced the presentation 3 times a week with the PowerPoint photos and without them at home. She spent her spare time during the day at her loom and worked on her beaded tulmas (braid adornments) at night. The local carpenter took forever to finish the simple leaning frame loom so that Vilma could get started on sewing a carrying case for the loom, flag pole, and the banner pole. Her results created a panic because the length was unmanageable. The preparation provided many a challenge, but, whew, the work is done, and all that is left is to enter the magical colorful whirlwind that is Tinkuy.

Readying Orders and Weavings Going to the Tinkuy Sales Table

The CdA will close for 3 weeks, allowing Doña Maxima a breather following the Tinkuy. She plans to spend a few days in Cochabamba to make the purchases for the Spinzilla prizes and enjoy her daughter Zoraida´s 4 month old baby girl. Yes, 8 year old Zuni finally has a sibling! Many have met Zuni who as a toddler spent long days playing in the PAZA sales tent at Cochabamba craft fairs. Dorinda is headed to the U.S. after the Tinkuy and will return to Independencia in late December. She will be accompanied by volunteer Surya de Wit who has been considering a visit to

Bibs & Bags

Independencia since 2013 when she was an artist-in-residence for Sustainable Bolivia. Surya draws, paints, and uses textiles in her art. The teens are excited about an opportunity to progress with their drawing skills. The women are curious about learning new dye techniques.

Thank you Rebecca for your kindness and generosity. Thank you Lyn Lucas and Dorothy Thursby, we look forward to seeing you at in Cusco where you will finally get to see for yourselves the results of your years of continued support! We are so excited about seeing everyone at the Tinkuy! Dorinda Dutcher, October 30, 2017

Measuring the Spinzilla Spinning

Measuring Team at Work, Huancarani

Early Monday morning following Spinzilla Spinning Week the measuring team headed to Huancarani. The back of the contracted pickup truck was loaded with the measuring equipment for 3 measuring teams. Those necessities included a wooden table, 3 plastic chairs, 2 wooden stools, 2 plastic buckets, and a small washtub. It is important to the participants that the same measuring method is used for all of the yardage.

A few of the spinners had already gathered near the porch of the church where the measuring is done each year. Those who had flocks to attend to were given priority by the other spinners. Doña Máxima and Vilma

Cheryl Tallying

sat down on either side of the table and marked off their side with a 1 yard measurement. A bucket was placed to their left to hold the ball of yarn to be measured. As they measured off each yard it was passed to the spinner who stood on their right and rewound her ball of yarn. After measuring 5 yards the measurers hollered out “cinco” to Cheryl who sat at the head of the table tallying the results.

Comparing Balls of Yarn

It works best to have unbiased help in charge of the tallying. This year we were fortunate that Cheryl Cartwright who is volunteering for a few months in Bolivia was able to make a spur of the moment trip to Independencia and handle the tallying. Cheryl comes from Australia, another country with a large sheep population and spinners who participate in Spinzilla. Dorinda marked off a yard on the edge of the church porch and using the small round washtub to contain the ball of yarn measured while Don Julio, driver and husband of Doña Máxima, marked the tally sheet.

Doña Casimira has Won Her 2nd Spinzilla Competition

Measurements were taken for 17 spinners plus 3 on the waitlist. The balls of yarn for 2 other waitlisted spinners were collected for measurement in Independencia, the repetitive action of measuring was wearing. The balls of yarn are 2 strands, so only half of the total is measured. The women wind a ball of yarn by placing the tip of a filled spindle between the big toe and next toe of each foot and wind the 2 strands together. They will ply the yarn after it is dyed.

The measuring took about 5-1/2 hours and a few of the women were able to make a day of it. Doña Justina was wonderful by keeping an eye on the measuring and lending a hand to keep the yarn from tangling when it was not rewound fast enough. There were a few giggling sessions over jokes and some raucous laughter. All had brought a dish to share during the communal lunch. PAZA supplied the drinks. Huge cumulus clouds in all shades of gray rose over the mountains in the afternoon, a spectacular sight not seen in the valley where Independencia lies.

Measuring in Sanipaya

On Tuesday, the truck was reloaded and the measuring team headed past Huancarani to the rural community of Sanipaya. As in the past 2 years the measuring took place at the home of Doña Beatris. She splits her time between Sanipaya and Independencia and attends the Club de Artesanas when she can. The 6 spinners had gathered early to cook up a feast for lunch. A short meeting was held after lunch because it is the only PAZA visit to Sanipaya each year. The women asked if their prize could be different because they have a lot of shawls. There is a fiesta around Christmas time when a tree is adorned with shawls and through the years they have all accumulated plenty. They asked if their prize could be a sweater or a petticoat which they can use every day. The answer was yes, because they didn´t have any input into the prize decision.

Sanipaya Meeting

The results cannot be announced until after the official Spinzilla announcement. The team did spin more than in any of the past 3 competitions. Last year there was a community meeting and the inauguration of a potable water system in Huancarani and the 2 events impacted the amount of yardage spun.

Thank you Cheryl for helping out in so many ways! Cheryl responded to the S.O.S. put out by Milli Spence, former National Director of Sustainable Bolivia, to help with the measuring for Spinzilla. It is with great sadness that the 10 year partnership that PAZA has enjoyed with Sustainable Bolivia ended when they closed their doors in Cochabamba this summer. Many volunteers have found their way to Independencia through Sustainable Bolivia´s volunteer program. A huge thank you to Erik Taylor and all those who have worked in an administrative capacity through the years for your support and friendship, you will be missed. Dorinda Dutcher, October 12, 2017, dkdutcher@hotmail.com

Spinzilla Spinning Week in Huancarani

Doñas Maxima, Justina, & Vilma Spinning with the 1st Group Visited

Since 2014, the Wednesday of Spinzilla Spinning Week is spent taking photos in Huancarani and checking in with the majority of the Cloth Roads team Warmis Phuskadoras who live in that rural community. Each year it is more fun, probably because the spinners have come to realize that Spinning Week offers social opportunities just for them without added responsibilities or work. Fiestas and civic day celebrations involve cooking for a big crowd and then cleaning up.

Maribel Spinning at Home, Daniel Eating la Cayote Squash

A small pickup truck was contracted and driven by Don Julio, Doña Máxima´s husband. Besides driving he provided the community service of collecting signatures for paperwork that will be submitted to the national government for disaster relief from crop damage due to hail and wind last March. Doña Justina was waiting by the turn onto the new “road” leading to the north side of the community. Somehow she managed to effortlessly spin with her phuska (drop spindle) packed into the backseat with Vilma, Dorinda, bags, and stuffed aguayos. Don Julio parked on a grassy flat that offered a spectacular mountain view. Spinners were spotted walking and spinning from 4 different directions, except for Doña Julia who carried her phuska in one hand and a bowl of potatoes, eggs, noodles, and lettuce to offer the visitors. The spinners spun, and some of their husbands arrived to meet with Don Julio.

The 2nd Group Visited

Doña Andrea, who is competing for the first time since 2014, is the mother-in-law of Maribel, the youngest Huancarani weaver. Maribel is waitlisted for Spinning Week so although her name was not submitted to Spinzilla she is competing for the first time as a team member locally. Doña Andrea is Don Julio´s sister and she invited the visitors to their home a few steps away. It is rare that an opportunity arises to visit one of the rural farmsteads. The visitors were treated to a bowl of la cayote, a huge squash, that is normally undercooked and lacking in flavor. Doña Andrea had simmered the squash over a low fire all day the day before releasing the sugar which gave it a sweet delicate flavor with a hint of cinnamon. Yum!

The Hen Leading the Sheep, Goats, Dogs, & Spinners

The visitors headed back to the main Huancarani road and stopped half a mile above the community center of school, church, soccer field, and an irregularly staffed health post. Doña Ines with her youngest, Doña Casimira, and Doña Verna were sitting in a picturesque field chatting and spinning. As soon as the visitors made their way to the group Doña Toribia and Doña Eulogia came up behind them herding Doña Toribia´s mixed flock of goats and sheep. The odd thing was that a plump red hen of Doña Eulogia´s was leading the parade apparently unconcerned about the large mammals following close behind. Doña Eulogia´s daughter Doña Cirila arrived, she recently returned to Huancarani after years in the city and is competing for the first time. Don Julio took over keeping the flock from scattering so the women could chat and spin.

Following Doña Justina to Meet the 3rd Group

All too soon it was time to move on. Doña Máxima and Vilma wanted to walk to the next and last stop so they could spin. Doña Verna enjoying the opportunity to socialize joined the group for the walk. Doña Justina led the way down the mountainside past farmsteads, fields waiting to be sown, and a flowering field of potatoes. Unfortunately, yodeling is unknown in the Andes because it would have served well in the search for the third group of spinners. Doña Justina spotted a bit of color and the group headed left down a path where they found Doña Eulogia sitting peacefully on a large boulder spinning but keeping an eye on her goats who ranged down a wooded draw and up the other side. Doña Francisca arrived, it was her birthday and she was in high form with

Where is the 3rd Group?

jokes that kept all laughing. Doña Dionicia arrived with 2 plates of food to share with the visitors, which was the signal for all to plop to the ground, put down their phuskas, take the aguayos off their backs, and pull out plates of boiled corn and cheese or boiled potatoes, noodles, and fried egg for a communal lunch. The visitors had brought soft drinks, juice, and water that were served at each stop and much appreciated on this hot sunny day.

Last to arrive were Doña Antonia Calcina and Doña Julia with their flocks of sheep. Doña Julia is spinning on the waitlist this year because she couldn´t decide whether she had the energy to compete or not. They spun with the group and chatted for a bit then headed further afield with their flocks. It was a perfect day!

The 3rd Group Chatting and Joking

Spinzilla is more fun every year while offering learning and problem solving experiences for the women as individuals and as a group. A one-time experience would not be enough to make any impact on their lives, so with that in mind thank you to those who have supported the team and PAZA for multiple years! Thank you Kris Fister, Dorothy Thursby, Patty Tompkins, Margaret Tyler, and Linda Switzer for your continued support! We have reached our goal to meet the Spinzilla expenses.

Now, a true confession…. I could not do justice to the incredible photo opportunities to document the disappearing lifestyle of the Huancarani spinners. We have not had a social media volunteer the past 2 years and it is obvious when comparing the quality and content of the 4 years of Spinzilla photos. We have also not made a short Spinzilla documentary since 2015. It would be wonderful for all involved to have a fiber artist volunteer with photography skills join us next year! Dorinda Dutcher, October 5, 2017

Spinzilla Prep & a Magical Dye Pot

Loading Up the Molle Leaves & Passengers

September was a month of preparation for Spinzilla Spinning Week and for November’s Tinkuy International Weaving conference in Cusco, Peru. Doña Máxima made a trip to Cochabamba to order the banner for the Centro de Artesanía, Huancarani (CAH) that will debut at the Tinkuy’s Inauguration parade. She and her daughter Zoraida also shopped for 2 shawl samples so that the Spinzilla participants will have some choice in this year´s “All Win 1st Prize”. They learned that the shawl vendors will have little or no inventory until next June when winter rolls around again. Spinzilla always offers a number of problem solving opportunities for the team, and one solution is to buy material and have the Club de Artesanas (CdA) members crochet the borders and add the fringe for a per shawl wage.

Dye Day #1 Results

In the midst of all the preparations for future activities the Club members started an amazing dye pot that just kept on giving. It began with a quick excursion to a lower altitude to collect the leaves of molle trees. Doña Máxima´s husband drives a student transport truck and because it sits idle between the early morning pickup of kids from a rural community and their midafternoon drop-off back home he was agreeable to driving the Club members for 50 Bs. ($7.20). There had been a few days of brief but intense rains that had washed the landscape free of the gritty tan dust that swirls and coats everything during the dry season. Time for bright yellow skeins was running out because the leaves do not yield dye during the rainy season will begin soon. It was a cloudless day so rather than begin the dye pot that afternoon the leaves were put to soak so the afternoon could be spent at the river washing and drying fleece in preparation for Spinzilla Spinning Week

2 Techniques for Washing Sheep Skins

Two days later the Club women fired up the dye pot and the molle leaves simmered scenting the air with a heavenly fragrance. The yellow resulting from the 1st dye bath met expectations but the possibility of a 2nd dye bath looked grim. Doña Antonia saved the day by offering to return from lunch with some dried turmeric root. A relative living in a tropical area of Bolivia had gifted fresh roots to her and she had dried them after the Club used them for numerous dye pots in 2013. The simmering turmeric added its exotic spicy scent to the air and the resulting color was a burnished golden yellow. For a 3rd bath a bit of cochineal was added and the results were a burnt orange. Dyeing continued over 3 more days due to the need to spin more yarn to dye. Glorious vivid reds and red oranges emerged from dye baths 4 through 8 with the addition of a few more grams of cochineal, cream of tartar, alum and citric acid. In 10 years of dyeing such a magical dye pot has never before been experienced, appreciated, and so enjoyed.

Child Labor? Mom and Grandmum Observing Emily’s Washing Technique

The rains that washed the molle leaves also flushed the river which had almost slowed to a stagnation. Fleece and sheepskins were scoured at home in hot water. After lunch following the molle excursion the Club members headed to the river. Doña Maxima and Vilma took turns pushing their wheelbarrow that held 2 sheepskins, a black fleece, and a gray fleece. Doña Antonia was carrying white fleece in a bag of woven plastic in her aguayo on her back. Doña Rufina had a mixed black and white sheepskin and some laundry in her wheelbarrow. With some effort the wheelbarrows were rolled to a pool above the ford where teen boys were lovingly washing their motor scooters.

Navigating Heavy Load of Wet Wool Up to Road

Doña Antonia wet the fleece she´d brought and then laid it over a large boulder and pounded it with a stick. Doña Máxima, Vilma, and her 8 year old daughter Emily submerged their sheep skins and fleece one at a time to work through them with their hands to remove debris. The rinsed fleece and sheepskins were draped to dry over sun warmed boulders. Wheelbarrows were washed out, loaded up, and with a sense of accomplishment the group headed merrily homeward.

Mission Accomplished, Leisurely Walk Home

The following week, and last week prior to Spinzilla Spinning Week, the Club members began preparing coils of roving. Doña Antonia watched Doña Máxima shearing fleece off a sheepskin and decided she was unhappy with the fleece that she had washed. It had dried hard instead of drying soft like the fleece Doña Máxima was cutting away from the sheepskin. Doña Antonia decided that she needed to start over using a sheepskin instead of beginning the washing process with sheared fleece. Doña Beatris, who is in charge of the 6 Spinzilla spinners from her community of Sanipaya, happened to be in town. She was spending the Club day doing her son´s “home economics” project of making a table cloth by pulling threads in a length of cloth and weaving in a bright green ribbon. She said she had 2 sheepskins and offered to sell one to Doña Antonia after washing them the following day. Unfortunately, a neighborhood dog snatched one of the washed sheepskins from where they were drying outdoors, so Doña Antonia was once again in search a sheepskin.

Doña Máxima Shears While Doña Antonia Looks On

The preparation for Spinzilla Spinning Week is a lot of work for the spinners, but it is work they’d be doing anyway. As an event, it recognizes their life long honed skills as spinners and weavers. It has created many learning opportunities for the 25 women, most of who attended few if any years of schooling. These 4 years of empowering experiences would have been impossible without your support.

Thank you Rob Nash for reconnecting in such a supportive way from our carefree youth! The generous support of a former Bolivian Peace Corps volunteer must be acknowledged with gratitude and a hug. The well wishes as well as financial support from other Spinzilla participants goes a long ways in communicating a bigger world’s recognition of the rural womens’ ancient fiber arts techniques and skills. Thank you Sarah Linder and Elizabeth White for once again supporting the Bolivian team. Thank you Taevia Miller. Dorinda Dutcher, September 28, 2017, dkdutcher@hotmail.com