Spinzilla Spinning Week 2017, Spinners Met in 3 Locations on Photo Day
July is registration month for Spinning Week which will be held October 11th through the 17th in Independencia, Bolivia. The Team Phuskadoras Alegres (Happy Women Who Spin with Drop Spindles) has won the past 2 years which is the sum of the years that team has existed. The Team Warmis Phuskadoras (Women Who Spin with Drop Spindles) was formed in 2014 to compete in Spinzilla, the incredible volunteer organized international spinning competition that ended in 2017 (and that still tugs at the heartstrings).
The Warmis grumbled at the 2020 Spinning Week prize awarding ceremony because they wanted the 1st place prize of a pollera (skirt). Each spinner can sign up on the team of her choice under Captain Justina Vargas for the original Warmis team or Doña Maxima, Captain of the newer team. The 2021 first-place prize will once again be a pollera, and if there´s grumbling the spinners will have to figure out what they deem an equitable team assignment process for 2022.
Knitting Machine Workshops in Huancarani
In mid-May, Doña Maxima and Vilma traveled to Huancarani to meet up with weavers interested in turning the abandoned classroom full of sewing and knitting machines into a functioning workshop. The workshop was given a good scrub. A broken window had allowed birds to find a home and dust to blow in. Replacing the glass is a problem because it must make the long trip from the city. Broken windows are usually covered with tin or wood, but many of the women are near-sighted so good lighting is imperative. A couple of the participants dropped out because of poor eyesight.
Around 2015, PAZA purchased and gave away about 4 dozen pairs of reading glasses. Doña Dionicia wouldn´t wear them because she connected them with being educated. She grew up when rural Bolivia was still divided into land grants awarded by the Spanish Crown. The attitude of the hacienda patron of the Huancarani area was that education would be wasted on girls, and that taint of being undeserving lingers. Both Doña Narciza and Doña Justina had retained reading glasses because they use them for weaving and so were able to complete their knitting machine projects. When travel is possible, PAZA will deliver more reading glasses to the weavers.
The Huancarani workshops were planned as a series of four. Three were 3 held in June. There wasn´t any interest in sewing, but all completed chulos (caps) and tank tops or sweaters on the knitting machines. The participants brought lunch, but it was almost time to head home before the group would stop to eat. Because the workshops were productive and resulted in a tangible return, the women´s husbands were willing to take over shepherding duty on workshop days. Doña Maxima always traveled with one or two current or a former Club de Artesanas member to help with the training. Each workshop provided 2 to 3 daily wages.
There will be a 2nd series of knitting machine workshops in Huancarani. Now that the women have used their communal equipment they are motivated to meet with the Organización de Varones (Men) of Huancarani to arrange a formal agreement for use of the abandoned classroom. The women are aware that they need to participate in the annual municipal budget process that will take place next month. They know that PAZA operates on a shoestring and that local government financial support for economic development should be available to them.
July is the coldest month of the year, so the Huancarani women asked that the next series of PAZA workshops be held in August. During July, the Club de Artesanas members in Independencia will meet twice a week to plan for the next series of Huancarani workshops and design the tank tops or vests that will be the 2nd place Spinning Week prizes. They are currently figuring out how to size a knitting machine project to a person´s measurements and incorporate necks into the design. Daisy knitted a sweater for her son and it was a big hit at school because it was a minature “man´s” sweater.
Although Spinning Week is 3 months away, PAZA always begins the fundraising effort when registration opens. Spinning Week expenses average about $1,000 a year and include transportation for 2 trips to Huancarani, 1 trip to Sanipaya, wages, prizes, and the annual feast. The participants pay 5 Bs. (73 cents) to register and provide lunch during Spinning Week gatherings. Please consider supporting La Semana de la Phuskadora 2021. Spinning Week recognizes and salutes these last generations of weavers whose self-identity is so intrinsically tied to their spinning and weaving skills.
Thank you, Lyn Lucas for your continuing support and for the weaving order! Dorinda Dutcher, July 5, 2021