This month is the official kick-off of “La Semana de las Phuskadoras” (“The Week of Women Who Spin with Drop Spindles”) in Independencia, Bolivia. Registration opened on July 7th and will close at the end of the month. Spinning Week will be November 4th through the 10th, and for the first time 2 local teams of 16 will compete against each other.
Between 2014 and 2017, the ClothRoads Spinzilla team “Warmis Phuskadoras” were the only Latin American representatives. The Andean spinners consistently placed in the upper 40%, competing against
spinners and spinning wheels from around the world. The Spinzilla founders organized the spinning competition as a way to raise awareness of the joys of spinning and to encourage a global connection of spinners. Thanks to the personal notes and financial support from spinners on other Spinzilla teams and PAZA supporters the Bolivian spinners learned of the existence of the big fiber world outside of their isolated mountain communities.
This year, the spirit of competition that goes back to childhood is going to reach new heights as the 2 local teams square off against each other. Their spinning and weaving skills are an integral part of the farmer subsistence lifestyle and are the core of their self-identity. It will be a competition where the “abuelitas” (little grandmothers) rule.
Whether Spinning Week is international or local the spinners are adamant that the event be held annually. To help them recognize their merit in a tangible sense each team member is awarded the same prize. They vote on the prize each year and it is always their choice, personal, and something they rarely have the ability to buy for themselves. The prizes chosen this year are petticoats for the first place team and cardigans for the second place team.
The “Semana de las Phuskadoras” is estimated to cost $1,200 which will cover the prizes, local wages, logistics, and transportation for the visits to the 2 rural communities involved. Trips to the communities are made for the mid-week Spinning Week check-in, measuring the results, and the prize awarding and annual feast. Any funds raised over the cost of Spinning Week will help meet the challenge of raising the monthly operating expenses of $175/month.
The two “Semana de las Phuskadoras” team captains will be Doña Maxima Cortez who is the PAZA Coordinator and manages the Club de Artesanas in Independencia and Doña Justina Vargas who does an excellent job of managing the Spinning Week logistics in the rural community of Huancarani.
Dorinda Dutcher began PAZA as a Peace Corps project in 2007 when she began working with the spinners at their request. She moved back to the U.S. in 2018, but maintains a home in Independencia and will be on hand to provide oversight of this year’s event.
You can help to make the Spinning Week competition a success and support the Bolivian spinners in two ways:
- Donate by clicking on the “Donate” button above. Any amount is most welcome.
- Purchase a weaving which will provide cash flow to the spinners as well as building their sense of self- esteem in knowing that their skills will allow them to care for their families. Inquiries may be made by contacting Dorinda Dutcher, email@example.com. Information about the weavings: https://pazaboliviablog.com/2019/04/13/bolivian-weavings-have-arrived/
Updates on the “Semana de las Phuskadoras” and the spinners and weavers will be posted regularly to this blog. Dorinda will personally respond to all forms of support as well as inquiries for further information or weaving orders. We thank you in advance for your help in keeping this global connection intact and look forward to November’s Spinning Week. Finally, thank you to the BritSpin spinners for encouraging the Bolivian team to register – maybe next year! Dorinda Dutcher, July 20, 2019, firstname.lastname@example.org