August was windy, dry and dusty, although the peach blossoms were glorious. Many of the Club de Artesanas (CdA) days were enjoyed out of doors crocheting and warping weavings as winter´s chill still clung to the cement floored rooms. Doña Rufina, the newest Club member worked stoically at weaving a yoga mat strap. She struggled to memorize the pattern often distracted by her active almost-toddler. Her days are divided between town and the family farm near an old growth forest which is a lovely walk up the mountainside unencumbered, but packing a baby and bags of groceries it takes a stout heart and strong legs.
The Club members held a potluck lunch and surprise birthday party for David the day he turned 8 years old. He and his older sister bounce back and forth between relatives in town and their rural community below Huancarani since losing their mother 2 years ago. His sister is an honorary CdA member, but spends weekends and vacations on the farm so her participation is rare. It is the first time the Club members have taken the initiative to organize a charitable – or any event on their own. PAZA provided the birthday cake, prizes for the games, and school supplies in a chuspa as birthday gifts for David.
The chicas are progressing in the baking course and complete 3 recipes each Saturday. When not in the kitchen they worked on art projects including making lanterns for the Independence Eve parade in early August, jewelry making using wire techniques, drawing and coloring, and painting scenery for the much talked about “Little Red Riding Hood” puppet show.
Preparation for Doña Maxima´s Tinkuy presentation, “Tales of the Traditional Textiles of Independencia, Bolivia” took place 3 times a week. On Tuesday and Thursday Club days she and Dorinda slowly built a PowerPoint choosing from the thousands of photos taken since 2007. Unfortunately, there are no historical photos due to the rarity of cameras until cell phones with cameras appeared. The presentation outline was sketched out after the July meeting in Huancarani when the weavers talked about what they would like to convey to a bigger world of weavers. The discussion has continued on Sundays when they could visit the PAZA workshop. Each has a different story about how they learned to weave, and rarely did they learn from their mothers. In fact, their words brought to mind the image of a parent in the U.S. trying to patiently teach their teen to drive a car.
It was Doña Alicia Solis, now 62, who as a teen was the “go-to” person to learn a variety of weaving motifs. More than 1 weaver mentioned herding the family flock with the goal of tracking down the young Alicia and her flock. Doña Casimira said that her mother died young and her father traded wheat and corn to a neighbor for weaving lessons.
One topic that did not come up when the weavers chatted about their weaving past was natural dyes from the local plants. Natural dyes were not often used as they were growing up except by one extremely poor family. Their interest in rescuing natural dye techniques was piqued by workshops provided by the municipal government and by learning that foreigners were interested in buying natural dyed weavings.
The Spinzilla participants have sheared, purchased, or traded for the wool to spin for Spinning Week. They are looking forward to their special week, but it has been difficult to gather news because special events have interfered with their Sunday visits to Independencia. The 3 days of Independence Day festivities fell over a weekend and the rural spinners feted in their communities. Many of the Huancarani spinners are Evangelists and attended a weekend conference in Cochabamba. President Evo Morales visited Independencia on a Friday and attendance was mandatory (or a $15 fine) so nobody was up for another jarring ride in the back of a cargo truck for Sunday’s market.
We are almost halfway to our goal of $930 in expenses for this year’s Spinzilla Spinning competition. The expenses include the annual prize that recognizes all of participants. This year the prize is a shawl, nobody so far has chosen the option of yarn to crochet their own. Other expenses are transportation to the rural communities, the wage for Doña Máxima for those travel days, photo development so each spinner has a “recuerdo”, and the beef for the celebratory feast and awarding of the prizes.
Thank you Jenny Heard, Lyn Lucas, and Dorothy Thursby for continuing to support the spinners and weavers. Thank you to the Spinzilla participants of other teams who have sent support to the Cloth Roads Team Warmis Phuskadoras! A map will be needed to show the Bolivian team from where they are receiving good wishes. Thank you to Marion Gibson the Canadian Koigu Team Captain. Thanks are sent across the Pacific to Jane Cooper and Janet Ellison of the Team Hand Spinning News U.K. and to Katie and Anja Britton of the U.K. Team Hilltop Cloud. Patty Tompkins of Team Louet North America thank you for supporting the team since their first competition in 2015. Dorinda Dutcher, September 12, 2017