July is sign-up month for the Spinzilla Cloth Roads team Warmis Phuskadoras. Registration has grown over the years from scrambling to fill the 25 member team in 2014 to having a wait list of 5 spinners this year. Last year the invitation was extended for a foreign spinner to join the team, but there were no takers. It appears it was a one-time offer as now a foreigner would be on the waiting list.
Those on the waiting list will pay the required 15 Bs. ($2.16) participant fee to sign up and will receive the same prize as the official participants. This year the prize is a store bought shawl, nobody opted for the offer of yarn to crochet a shawl of their own design. The waiting list was added so that everybody who was interested would be encouraged to participate. Adviana, a long time Club de Artesanas (CdA) member, wanted to sign up last year, but didn’t make her wishes known until after the registration deadline. Although her lifestyle in town does not lend itself to pasturing and spinning, she does weave to sell through PAZA. During the Club dye season she is always short of skeins to dye, so space had to be made for her to spin during Spinning Week. Maribel, the youngest member of the Centro de Artesanía, Huancarani (CAH) is also on the waitlist. It is worth recording how much and how well the 20-somethings spin this year to be able to measure their improvement over time.
Another new spinner on the wait list this year is Florinda, who is about 17 years old and is physically handicapped for which there are no services in rural Bolivia. In 2009, it was brought to PAZA’s attention that a young girl in Huancarani who loved school was not going to be able to continue because she was getting too heavy for her parents to carry her from their home up the mountainside to the school. There were 2 visitors from Bozeman who met Florinda in Huancarani and bought the family a burro named Luisa. The family still has Luisa and Florinda continued her education repeating 5th grade not wanting school to end, but it did.
Florinda cannot stand or walk so is confined to the family home and grounds where she helps her family by throwing rocks to keep the birds out of the crops. At the weavers’ meeting in Huancarani in early July, Florinda’s mother, who participates in Spinzilla, said that her daughter is the better spinner and wanted to join the Spinzilla team. Florinda was signed up, and PAZA paid her registration fee. She is back on the PAZA radar, and the Club de Artesanas will make an outreach effort by offering her patterns and supplies for crochet and knitting projects. Did the founders of Spinzilla have any idea of how far reaching the competition would be?
Doña Francisca is on the official Spinzilla roster for her first year competing. She has spent her life spinning and weaving, but for years has gone round and round with Doña Máxima for lack of attention to quality standards with her weavings. Last week, she finally presented a faja that met the quality standards, although she did not follow the color specifications of the order. PAZA bought the faja with the caution that the next time a weaving does not meet the order’s specs it cannot be purchased and will go into the store inventory. She smiled, nodded her assent, and was obviously happy to join the ranks of the weavers filling orders and participating in Spinning Week. She said she was already getting ready for the competition and had traded corn for a sheepskin of long white fleece to spin.
It is time for the annual Spinzilla fundraiser which needs to be fully funded so that the ongoing PAZA activities are not impacted. Expenses not yet covered are estimated at $730. If you donate and are a Spinzilla spinner please include a note with the name of your team. All comments and words of encouragement that accompany donations are passed on to the Bolivian team members. Thank you Lyn Lucas, Dorothy Thursby, and Myra Gilliam for kickstarting this year’s fundraising effort! Hugs!
Thank you Marilyn Murphy and Cloth Roads for sponsoring the team Warmis Phuskadoras for their 4th year! Dorinda Dutcher, August 2, 2017