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.
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
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.
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
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