The top 15 spinners from Spinning Week 2020 will be representing Bolivia in this year’s Spin Together competition! The 25-member team will be called the Phuskadoras Internacionales (International Women Who Spin with a Drop Spindle). If you spin with a drop spindle and would like to compete on the team, there are 10 available slots. Team registration will open on September 1st on the Spin Together website. This is going to be a truly international drop spindle spinning team!
Spinning Week starts noon on Saturday, October 2nd and ends at noon on Saturday, October 9th. The Bolivian spinners registered in July by signing up on 1 of the 2 local teams. Perhaps the bragging rights for being on the Phuskadoras Internacionales team will encourage all to spin more competitively this year. There will be a Phuskadoras Internacionales Facebook group on Dorinda’s new account, as well as a thread on the Spin Together website. Doña Maxima doesn´t use FB, but some of the younger Club members do. Although they don’t qualify for the Phuskadoras Internacionales team, they’ll hopefully post some photos directly from Bolivia in the upcoming weeks as the spinners prepare, compete, and measure the results. Most of the qualifying spinners are over 50. Doña Dionicia who´s always been one of the most active of the spinner/weavers did not register this year. She will turn 90 on October 9th.
In other news from Independencia, the Club de Artesanas members will be meeting twice a week in September. After months of working with the knitting machines, they asked PAZA for supplies to do crochet projects. They will be back at the knitting machines after Spinning Week knitting sweater vests as prizes for the 15 members of the 2nd place spinning team. Preparing fleece for Spinning Week will be an ongoing endeavor. Doña Maxima recently purchased a white fleece and a gray fleece. She promised to send photos the day the Club members load up their wheelbarrows and head to the river to wash the fleece they plan to spin. Some of the spinners who no longer spin daily because they don’t shepherd anymore depend on Spinning Week to do all their spinning for the year.
The Club de Artesanas members spent 2 days dyeing skeins. Leaves of the molle tree resulted in bright yellow and cochineal mordanted with alum and cream of tartar produced a bright red followed by red-orange in the 2nd bath, which was mordanted with citric acid. The 2nd dye day took more prep time to harvest and strip the leaves from chilka branches for dark green and suyku leaves and their dried flower tops for dark yellow and bronze. Doña Maxima reported that the mature leaves made for strong dye baths. In a voice tinged with regret, she said she’d explained to the 2 new members how they could play with color at home and darken the skeins with ash water. Daisy forgot it must be a cold-water rinse process and boiled a beautifully dyed skein in ash water which destroyed it.
Club members taught 4 knitting machine workshops in Huancarani in early August. Doña Eulalia gave the knitting machines another try after being intimidated by them during the June workshops. Doña Angelica was scared to apply the necessary force to move the carriage and stood shaking with fear at the knitting machine. Her husband took her place. After she watched him knit a sweater, she had the confidence to complete a project. Doña Ines overcame fear of the machines and Doña Sebastiana overcame her shyness to attend the workshops. Both did extremely well. It was empowering for them to receive recognition as their weavings are borderline quality for acceptance for PAZA sales. Husbands supported the workshops by offering to herd the women´s flocks, instead of having to asked. There is no plan for PAZA to continue funding knitting machine workshops in Huancarani. It is now up to the women to figure out how to run their communal workshop. PAZA will consider future training requests.
Thank you to Marjorie, Lyn, Gail, and Margaret for answering the call and supporting Spinning Week! The budget needs were met even with the increase due to the $15 per participant fee for the 15 spinners on the Phuskadoras Internacionales team. Doña Maxima and the Club de Artesanas success in running this year´s workshops is due to years of planning and activities. It has all been funded and will continue to be funded by donations, thank you. Dorinda had hoped to spend Spinning Week in Independencia and pick-up the 2 languishing weaving orders to have them available for holiday sales. Alas, travel remains wishful thinking. Dorinda Dutcher, August 31, 2021
Dorinda, I am so happy the team is competing this year. Thanks for the newsletter, it is always good to hear the news from the Bolivian spinners.