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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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, email@example.com