The Spin Together Spinning Week competition begins today. The 15 Bolivian spinners of the Phuskadoras Internacionales team have been working all month preparing fleece to spin. There are 3 U.S. spinners who joined the team and have been sharing their preparations via the team Facebook page. Communicating through FB is proving to be challenging. Doña Maxima has a FB account but has yet to post. Vilma, her daughter, did make 1 post with photos over a week ago. This year´s Spinning Week is a learning experience in social media communication. Many thanks to the 3 U.S. team members who are helping to forge this cultural exchange of international spinners.
The Bolivian spinners are spinning on 2 teams of 15 for a total of 30 spinners. The top 15 spinners from 2020 are on the Spin Together Phuskadoras Internacionales team. Times change, and after assuming fleece would be trundled in wheelbarrows to the river for washing, it was learned that spinners, kids, and sheep hides were loaded into the truck of Don Julio, husband of Doña Maxima. In the photos, he can be seen working alongside the women in beating the debris out of the wet fleece. The skies opened up in a deluge as they finished. They were glad to be able to scramble to the truck instead of pushing heavy loads of wet sheep hides ½ a mile down the road in wheelbarrows.
During the Club de Artesanas meetings in September, Doña Maxima and the 5 members spent time on crochet or hand knitting projects and preparing fleece to spin. This week they will spin together on Tuesday and Thursday. On Wednesday, Doña Maxima will travel to Huancarani to meet with spinners at a couple of locations. That social event and measuring day help make Spinning Week a highlight of their year. Once the results are official the Club members can get to work on making the polleras (skirts) for the 1st place team members and knitted vests for the 2nd place team members.
Since the last posting the Johnson & Johnson Covid vaccine became available in Independencia. Don Julio works for the local school housing facility and arrangements were made for employee vaccines, because there were extra doses Doña Maxima also received the vaccine. Their adult children have appointments, whew! Because the majority of the weavers are vaccinated, and Dorinda can get the Pfizer booster, she will be traveling to Bolivia the end of October. The WhatsApp video chats have been great, but in-person exchanges are needed for all to fully comprehend the progress that has been made the past 2 years and the future direction for PAZA activities. Spin Together´s Spinning Week and the team Phuskadoras Internacionales has much potential yet to be realized. Hopefully by next year´s Spinning Week at least one foreign team member can travel to Bolivia to spin.
New weavings will be available for purchase by Thanksgiving. Thank you, Lyn, for your unwavering support of the Bolivian weavers. Dorinda Dutcher, October 2, 2021