Club de Artesanas

Spinzilla Prep & a Magical Dye Pot

Loading Up the Molle Leaves & Passengers

September was a month of preparation for Spinzilla Spinning Week and for November’s Tinkuy International Weaving conference in Cusco, Peru. Doña Máxima made a trip to Cochabamba to order the banner for the Centro de Artesanía, Huancarani (CAH) that will debut at the Tinkuy’s Inauguration parade. She and her daughter Zoraida also shopped for 2 shawl samples so that the Spinzilla participants will have some choice in this year´s “All Win 1st Prize”. They learned that the shawl vendors will have little or no inventory until next June when winter rolls around again. Spinzilla always offers a number of problem solving opportunities for the team, and one solution is to buy material and have the Club de Artesanas (CdA) members crochet the borders and add the fringe for a per shawl wage.

Dye Day #1 Results

In the midst of all the preparations for future activities the Club members started an amazing dye pot that just kept on giving. It began with a quick excursion to a lower altitude to collect the leaves of molle trees. Doña Máxima´s husband drives a student transport truck and because it sits idle between the early morning pickup of kids from a rural community and their midafternoon drop-off back home he was agreeable to driving the Club members for 50 Bs. ($7.20). There had been a few days of brief but intense rains that had washed the landscape free of the gritty tan dust that swirls and coats everything during the dry season. Time for bright yellow skeins was running out because the leaves do not yield dye during the rainy season will begin soon. It was a cloudless day so rather than begin the dye pot that afternoon the leaves were put to soak so the afternoon could be spent at the river washing and drying fleece in preparation for Spinzilla Spinning Week

2 Techniques for Washing Sheep Skins

Two days later the Club women fired up the dye pot and the molle leaves simmered scenting the air with a heavenly fragrance. The yellow resulting from the 1st dye bath met expectations but the possibility of a 2nd dye bath looked grim. Doña Antonia saved the day by offering to return from lunch with some dried turmeric root. A relative living in a tropical area of Bolivia had gifted fresh roots to her and she had dried them after the Club used them for numerous dye pots in 2013. The simmering turmeric added its exotic spicy scent to the air and the resulting color was a burnished golden yellow. For a 3rd bath a bit of cochineal was added and the results were a burnt orange. Dyeing continued over 3 more days due to the need to spin more yarn to dye. Glorious vivid reds and red oranges emerged from dye baths 4 through 8 with the addition of a few more grams of cochineal, cream of tartar, alum and citric acid. In 10 years of dyeing such a magical dye pot has never before been experienced, appreciated, and so enjoyed.

Child Labor? Mom and Grandmum Observing Emily’s Washing Technique

The rains that washed the molle leaves also flushed the river which had almost slowed to a stagnation. Fleece and sheepskins were scoured at home in hot water. After lunch following the molle excursion the Club members headed to the river. Doña Maxima and Vilma took turns pushing their wheelbarrow that held 2 sheepskins, a black fleece, and a gray fleece. Doña Antonia was carrying white fleece in a bag of woven plastic in her aguayo on her back. Doña Rufina had a mixed black and white sheepskin and some laundry in her wheelbarrow. With some effort the wheelbarrows were rolled to a pool above the ford where teen boys were lovingly washing their motor scooters.

Navigating Heavy Load of Wet Wool Up to Road

Doña Antonia wet the fleece she´d brought and then laid it over a large boulder and pounded it with a stick. Doña Máxima, Vilma, and her 8 year old daughter Emily submerged their sheep skins and fleece one at a time to work through them with their hands to remove debris. The rinsed fleece and sheepskins were draped to dry over sun warmed boulders. Wheelbarrows were washed out, loaded up, and with a sense of accomplishment the group headed merrily homeward.

Mission Accomplished, Leisurely Walk Home

The following week, and last week prior to Spinzilla Spinning Week, the Club members began preparing coils of roving. Doña Antonia watched Doña Máxima shearing fleece off a sheepskin and decided she was unhappy with the fleece that she had washed. It had dried hard instead of drying soft like the fleece Doña Máxima was cutting away from the sheepskin. Doña Antonia decided that she needed to start over using a sheepskin instead of beginning the washing process with sheared fleece. Doña Beatris, who is in charge of the 6 Spinzilla spinners from her community of Sanipaya, happened to be in town. She was spending the Club day doing her son´s “home economics” project of making a table cloth by pulling threads in a length of cloth and weaving in a bright green ribbon. She said she had 2 sheepskins and offered to sell one to Doña Antonia after washing them the following day. Unfortunately, a neighborhood dog snatched one of the washed sheepskins from where they were drying outdoors, so Doña Antonia was once again in search a sheepskin.

Doña Máxima Shears While Doña Antonia Looks On

The preparation for Spinzilla Spinning Week is a lot of work for the spinners, but it is work they’d be doing anyway. As an event, it recognizes their life long honed skills as spinners and weavers. It has created many learning opportunities for the 25 women, most of who attended few if any years of schooling. These 4 years of empowering experiences would have been impossible without your support.

Thank you Rob Nash for reconnecting in such a supportive way from our carefree youth! The generous support of a former Bolivian Peace Corps volunteer must be acknowledged with gratitude and a hug. The well wishes as well as financial support from other Spinzilla participants goes a long ways in communicating a bigger world’s recognition of the rural womens’ ancient fiber arts techniques and skills. Thank you Sarah Linder and Elizabeth White for once again supporting the Bolivian team. Thank you Taevia Miller. Dorinda Dutcher, September 28, 2017, dkdutcher@hotmail.com

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Independencia Update

Club Day – Warping, Crocheting, & Sewing

August was windy, dry and dusty, although the peach blossoms were glorious. Many of the Club de Artesanas (CdA) days were enjoyed out of doors crocheting and warping weavings as winter´s chill still clung to the cement floored rooms. Doña Rufina, the newest Club member worked stoically at weaving a yoga mat strap. She struggled to memorize the pattern often distracted by her active almost-toddler. Her days are divided between town and the family farm near an old growth forest which is a lovely walk up the mountainside unencumbered, but packing a baby and bags of groceries it takes a stout heart and strong legs.

David Opening His Prezzies

The Club members held a potluck lunch and surprise birthday party for David the day he turned 8 years old. He and his older sister bounce back and forth between relatives in town and their rural community below Huancarani since losing their mother 2 years ago. His sister is an honorary CdA member, but spends weekends and vacations on the farm so her participation is rare. It is the first time the Club members have taken the initiative to organize a charitable – or any event on their own. PAZA provided the birthday cake, prizes for the games, and school supplies in a chuspa as birthday gifts for David.

Veronica Spent 1-1/2 Days Making Lanterns for the Lantern Parade

The chicas are progressing in the baking course and complete 3 recipes each Saturday. When not in the kitchen they worked on art projects including making lanterns for the Independence Eve parade in early August, jewelry making using wire techniques, drawing and coloring, and painting scenery for the much talked about “Little Red Riding Hood” puppet show.

Preparation for Doña Maxima´s Tinkuy presentation, “Tales of the Traditional Textiles of Independencia, Bolivia” took place 3 times a week. On Tuesday and Thursday Club days she and Dorinda slowly built a PowerPoint choosing from the thousands of photos taken since 2007. Unfortunately, there are no historical photos due to the rarity of cameras until cell phones with cameras appeared. The presentation outline was sketched out after the July meeting in Huancarani when the weavers talked about what they would like to convey to a bigger world of weavers. The discussion has continued on Sundays when they could visit the PAZA workshop. Each has a different story about how they learned to weave, and rarely did they learn from their mothers. In fact, their words brought to mind the image of a parent in the U.S. trying to patiently teach their teen to drive a car.

Doña Alicia and Doña Máxima, Spinzilla 2015

It was Doña Alicia Solis, now 62, who as a teen was the “go-to” person to learn a variety of weaving motifs. More than 1 weaver mentioned herding the family flock with the goal of tracking down the young Alicia and her flock. Doña Casimira said that her mother died young and her father traded wheat and corn to a neighbor for weaving lessons.

One topic that did not come up when the weavers chatted about their weaving past was natural dyes from the local plants. Natural dyes were not often used as they were growing up except by one extremely poor family. Their interest in rescuing natural dye techniques was piqued by workshops provided by the municipal government and by learning that foreigners were interested in buying natural dyed weavings.

President Evo´s Visit to Independencia

The Spinzilla participants have sheared, purchased, or traded for the wool to spin for Spinning Week. They are looking forward to their special week, but it has been difficult to gather news because special events have interfered with their Sunday visits to Independencia. The 3 days of Independence Day festivities fell over a weekend and the rural spinners feted in their communities. Many of the Huancarani spinners are Evangelists and attended a weekend conference in Cochabamba. President Evo Morales visited Independencia on a Friday and attendance was mandatory (or a $15 fine) so nobody was up for another jarring ride in the back of a cargo truck for Sunday’s market.

Doña Eulogia & Doña Justina, Spinzilla 2016

We are almost halfway to our goal of $930 in expenses for this year’s Spinzilla Spinning competition. The expenses include the annual prize that recognizes all of participants. This year the prize is a shawl, nobody so far has chosen the option of yarn to crochet their own. Other expenses are transportation to the rural communities, the wage for Doña Máxima for those travel days, photo development so each spinner has a “recuerdo”, and the beef for the celebratory feast and awarding of the prizes.

Thank you Jenny Heard, Lyn Lucas, and Dorothy Thursby for continuing to support the spinners and weavers. Thank you to the Spinzilla participants of other teams who have sent support to the Cloth Roads Team Warmis Phuskadoras! A map will be needed to show the Bolivian team from where they are receiving good wishes. Thank you to Marion Gibson the Canadian Koigu Team Captain. Thanks are sent across the Pacific to Jane Cooper and Janet Ellison of the Team Hand Spinning News U.K. and to Katie and Anja Britton of the U.K. Team Hilltop Cloud. Patty Tompkins of Team Louet North America thank you for supporting the team since their first competition in 2015. Dorinda Dutcher, September 12, 2017

Dancing and Gatherings in the Plaza

Virgen de Carmen

Day to day activities including Club de Artesanas (CdA) gatherings were disrupted throughout the month of July for fun and politics. The people of the municipality of Independencia held numerous meetings to allow their elected mayor every opportunity to give an honest accounting of himself in the regards to an alarming amount of funds missing from the municipal bank account. The meetings and investigation were interrupted in the middle of the month for the annual 5 day Fiesta del Virgen de Carmen. The Fiesta fell over a weekend so many city folk with roots in Independencia arrived for the festivities. The idea of Club members working together in an income generating activity during the Fiesta was vetoed because of family responsibilities.

Diablada Dance Fraternity

The Virgen de Carmen is the patron saint of Independencia and a lovingly attired idol resides year around in a glass case above the altar of the Catholic Church. During the Fiesta she is taken down to hold reign at the front of the church, and to be carried through the streets in a procession on July 16th. The 5 folkloric dance “fraternities” danced through the streets accompanied by brass bands for 2 days in devotion to her. The plaza was packed for 3 nights with the young and old dancing to popular music bands.

Tobas, Fé y Alegría School System

The Fiesta and winter vacation ended and life returned to normal the 3rd week in July. The Club women warped weavings for orders and worked on crochet projects. The Club chicas were all present for the first time in a month and they pulled out the bag of unfinished “Little Red Riding Hood” puppets to finish. That project was begun by a volunteer, Profesora Judy an art teacher in 2015, whose stay was too short for all the project ideas she brought with her. The chicas are working their way through a baking course where each will learn 4 recipes then teach them to each other. Upon demonstrating competence in the 4 categories that include cake, cookies & crackers, sweet bread & pastry, and a yeast bread they will be rewarded with a set of measuring cups and spoons.

Warping an Order, Vilma Showing Crochet Strip for a Shawl

Independencia was thrown into turmoil the 4th week in July when the increasing evidence of fiscal wrongdoing demanded action. Doña Máxima found herself locked inside a packed auditorium of concerned citizens at city hall until 4am on Saturday morning. They voted to close down the municipality except for the schools and hold a public meeting in the plaza on Monday. Late Sunday night the gate entering into the town of Independencia was chained shut. Trucks and buses were parked crosswise across all streets in and out of Independencia, and so began 3 days of blockades and strikes.

Jhesica Drawing Wolf Pattern

On Monday, the surrounding rural communities sent representatives to Independencia to participate in the decision making. They arrived in the back of cargo or dump trucks prepared for a 1 day meeting in the plaza that stretched out to 3 days. Those who did not have a place to go at night camped out in the plaza probably regretting that warm woven wool ponchos have gone out of common use.

Blockaded Street Near PAZA Workshop

Doña Máxima dropped by PAZA on Tuesday with a report. The general strike called for all businesses to be closed. Neighborhood vigilante teams had been organized to patrol their neighborhood to make stores did not open. Stores in Independencia are a room in homes with a door opening to the street and shelves of staples inside. If a store opened the vigilantes were to strip the shelves in punishment. However, people have to eat so between 6am and 7am a blind eye was turned as some covert transactions of eggs, rice, and flour took place. The vendor market was padlocked shut, but on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings in front of the market women sold meat out of wheelbarrows. Locals were allowed to prepare pots of food, sardine salad, empanadas, etc. to sell out of baskets or wheelbarrows to those without a means to cook for themselves. A delicate balance between policy and meeting basic needs was reached. Doña Máxima cooked for the representatives from Huancarani and PAZA donated rice and vegetables to her efforts.

3rd & Final Day of Meeting in the Plaza

It took 3 long days of speeches, votes, and collective hardship to arrive at an interim plan of action until elections can be organized and held to replace the former mayor. There were dramatic twists and turns throughout the 3 days including his arrest in Cochabamba and 2 small districts going renegade after being stirred up by his brother. Representatives of the miners of Kami arrived in Independencia during the final day of meetings and brought dynamite as their bargaining chip. An accord was reached, so windows just rattled instead of broke when they bade their usual farewell by setting off a few sticks well outside of the town’s border. The blockades were lifted and it was business as usual on Thursday.

The month wrapped up with weavers of Huancarani dropping off weaving orders and picking up their payments. All were carrying shopping lists of needs for their school age kids who will be marching in the parades and dancing in folkloric dance expositions in Independencia and Huancarani during the 3 days celebrating Bolivian independence beginning on August 6th. Dorinda Dutcher, August 1, 2017

Winter and Weaving

Doña Beatriz Teaching Herself new Figures

During June, the women of the Club de Artesanas (CdA) focused on weaving. Dorinda had returned from the U.S. with 3 orders for weavings from Laverne Waddington’s spring workshop students. The CdA members signed up to fill the orders and warped during Club days working in pairs. The weaving will be done during odd hours at home. Doñas Máxima, Antonia, and Beatris take turns using PAZA´s short demo loom to teach themselves new figures from Laverne´s book “More Adventures with Warp Faced Pick-Up Patterns”. When not involved in weaving activities the women of the Club keep their hands busy with crochet projects. Adviana´s working on a bedspread and a shawl. Doña Máxima put the finishing touches on a pink blouse that incorporated crochet stitches she learned from two-time volunteer Selina Petschek. Vilma and Doña Antonia are crocheting squares for shawls. All 6 women had sewn blouses and wanted to get the photo session over with so they could take possession and begin wearing them.

Doña Rufina Working on Her First Weaving with Figures

Doña Rufina the newest Club member has spent the past few months weaving narrow straps to learn a variety of figures from Doña Máxima. She has woven blankets for her family so has a rustic loom at home, but had never learned to weave figures. The two warped a yoga mat strap which Doña Rufina took home but brought back the next Club day not ready to weave on her own. Doña Máxima attached a stick crosswise to 2 limbs of a peach tree to serve as a support for PAZA´s 12’ leaning frame loom (2 notched poles). The other Club members who are all competent weavers keep an eye on Doña Rufina´s progress offering help if they spot her going awry. Sunny Club days are spent outside so everyone can soak up the warmth. The adobe and cement construction of the homes holds in the winter´s chill temperatures in rooms that don´t receive any solar heat.

Doña Máxima Giving a Weaving Class to Her Granddaughters and Veronica

The teens in the CdA spent the Saturdays in June organizing the huge bag of jewelry making supplies, drawing, learning how to use the microscope, and baking. Veronica was the only chica who did not spend the July vacation working on the family farm in a rural community. She was able to take CdA weaving classes with Doña Máxima and warped her first yoga mat strap, which PAZA will buy to encourage her to continue learning.

Veronica´s 1st Experience Weaving on a Leaning Frame Loom

The yoga mat straps have not proven to be the hoped for “hot” seller. PAZA continues to order them from new weavers to encourage them to learn a variety of motifs and improve their skills. The standard is high for the weavings to fill the orders of Laverne´s students because the buyers are weavers. This has forced the Huancarani weavers who have woven all of their lives with not a lot of attention to detail to improve their skills.

Doñas Maxima and Adviana Wrapping Up after Warping 2 Fajas

The registration for the 2017 Spinzilla spinning competition opened on Sunday July 2nd, and 11 of the Huancarani weavers were in town to sign up. There are 6 spots reserved for the spinners of the rural community of Sanipaya who were invited to join in 2014, the first year the Cloth Roads team Warmis Phuskadoras participated. There was a bit of grumbling from the Huancarani women that their community should have all 25 spots. Spinning week has become an annual highlight for the Spinzilla participants in Sanipaya as it has to the Huancarani spinners, so eliminating any former participants is not an option. Adviana, a CdA member, and Maribel who lives in Huancarani and began weaving to sell earlier this year are in their early 20´s and are anxious to spin during Spinzilla Spinning Week. How will they fare on a team composed of spinners who have whirled their drop spindles for a lifetime while pasturing their flocks?

New Blouse Photo Session

What can be done to include everyone and keep the young women motivated? If the young aren´t encouraged to learn the ancient textile techniques how can the weaving traditions be preserved? The decision was made to create a waiting list for 5 extra spinners whose names will not appear on any Spinzilla form, but who will win the annual prize along with the 25 official entrants. The annual prize this year is a factory made shawl. The option of yarn for anyone wishing to crochet their own didn’t have any takers.

A huge thank you to Cloth Roads for the sponsorship and help with registration fees for the Spinzilla team Warmis Phuskadoras. Thank you Dorothy Thursby for your ongoing support so that the Club activities continue without interruption. Fundraising is not one of PAZA´s favorite activities, but a necessity none the less especially with the projected Spinzilla expenses of $820 not too far into the future. Hint, hint…. Dorinda Dutcher, July 5, 2017

Much Ado About Handspun Yarn

Fleece Buying Frenzy, 2009

The importance of the fleece selected to wash, spin, wind into skeins, dye, wind into a ball, and ply for weaving was first discussed at a natural dye workshop in 2009.  Don Jorge, the trainer, spoke about fiber and its role as the basis for the quality of a weaving. At his 2nd workshop a few months later a participant from another municipality started a shopping frenzy when she laid out long fibered fleece from her highland herd. Now, due to their 3 years of experience in preparing for Spinzilla Spinning Week and the weaving orders with specifications the Independencia weavers understand that they need to spend the time to seek out quality fleece to purchase.

Doña Maxima Shears Sheepskin for Spinzilla 2016

In 2014, under the sponsorship of Cloth Roads, the first Warmis Phuskadoras Spinzilla team was formed and that first competition taught the spinners the need to stock up on fleece prior to Spinning Week. Discussion on how to spin more yarn during the 2015 Spinzilla Spinning week led to most of the participants preparing their roving in advance.

Vilma & Doña Maxima Preparing Roving, Spinzilla 2016

Prior to Spinning Week 2016, the Club de Artesanas (CdA) members of the team purchased fleece in ample time to wash, shear, and prepare roving. Four months later several scheduled dye days had to be cancelled due to lack of skeins for the dye pots. Doña Máxima bemoaned the dark strands running through the white fleece she had purchased from a butcher. She spoke covetously of the white sheepskins Doña Paulina had purchased during a trip to the Oruro market which at an elevation of 12,159´ explains the long fiber of the fleece. Doña Antonia had spun gray fleece to be used au natural, although she already had plenty. Vilma was discontented with her Spinzilla spun yarn for the dye pot, but was spinning and gloating a bit as the proud owner of 2 bags of white fleece her husband had purchased post-Spinzilla in his rural community of Sanipaya.

Natural and Natural Dyed Yarn Use in Doña Máxima´s Weaving, 2012

Team registration for Spinzilla 2017 will take place during July. Thanks to the ongoing orders the weavers are receiving from Laverne Waddington´s weaving workshops they know that they need to have a wide color palette of spun yarn. Doña Máxima plans to encourage the Spinzilla spinners to inventory their yarn supply and make their fleece purchases based on need. White fleece is used for dyeing and for weaving the figures. Black fleece has become difficult to find locally and is used as the background for the woven motifs. Natural gray and tan fleece is spun to use au natural in the weavings. Longer fiber will speed up the spinning during Spinning Week.

Doña Toribia´s Herd in Background, Spinzilla Spinning Week 2014

In past years, CdA members were able to supplement their handspun yarn by purchasing skeins from PAZA. The demand is increasing and the supply decreasing through competition for purchasing the handspun yarn from a dwindling number of the elderly spinners in Huancarani. This year PAZA was able to purchase just enough to dye one skein per CdA dye pot. Those skeins are purchased at cost by the Huancarani weavers who don´t do their own dyeing. The CdA members were cautioned that PAZA was not going to have spun yarn for sale, but it took the cancelled dye days to stimulate discussion on how to take advantage of Spinzilla Spinning Week to be better prepared for the 2018 rainy season dye days.

Vilma Beating The Debris from a Sheep Skin

Many of the Huancarani spinners buy fleece because their forests are home to thistles and spiny trees and shrubs which denude their flocks. Other spinners buy fleece because they herd goats. During a March dye day Doña Máxima examined dyed skeins that had all come out of the same dye pot but with varied results and commented on the quality of the fleece from sheared live sheep vs. a sheepskin from the butcher and plans to buy the former in the future.

A huge thank you to the Warmis Phuskadoras Spinzilla’s TNNA sponsor Cloth Roads who has generously donated the sponsor fee and the participant fee this year!

Wool Scouring Results, Joanna’s Demo

A hug and thank you to Karen Sprenger, friend, WARP member, Tinkuy participant, and backstrap weaver, who organized 3 fiber events for Dorinda in the Kansas City area this spring. Besides sales from the vendor table at the Missouri Spin-In, Dorinda was richly rewarded in the responses to her queries to other vendors on a myriad of fiber related topics. The wool scouring demonstration presented by Joanna Mohn of Wildflower Acres clarified numerous online investigations that had resulted in a hazy understanding.

Karen & Marcia, Arrow Rock Handweaver’s Guild President, Leaving Meeting

Karen and Dorinda gave joint presentations on backstrap weaving and Andean natural dyeing at the Fiber Guild of Greater Kansas City and the Arrow Rock Handweaver´s Guild. Thank you to all the participants who made the events so enjoyable and for your interest and support of the Bolivian weavers.

Nelva’s Card & Bracelet, She Loves Art Projects

Over the past 2 months, the women of the Club de Artesanas (CdA) have sewn blouses, practiced new figures from Laverne Waddington´s weaving book, worked on their crochet projects, and hopefully figured out what to do with the 2 gunny sacks of alpaca fiber. Thanks to an alpaca breeder at the Missouri Spin-In, Dorinda did learn how to wash alpaca fiber (one gunny sack is a spinner´s nightmare because it was washed the same way that fleece is washed).

Inspiration For Nelva’s Drawing, Jonathan McCarthy Photo, Spinzilla 2014

On June 9th CdA members, kids, and a dog or two will greet Dorinda at the Independencia bus station dancing in anticipation of what is in the heavy bags to be hauled uphill. The books, puzzles, sketch pads and markers, quilting material, and the treasure trove of jewels from thrift stores will be used for projects that one day might generate income for a CdA member. Long and short term CdA projects are possible thanks to the ongoing support of Dorothy Thursby, Lyn Lucas, and Susan Weltman. The weavers will also be happy to hear of the generous support from Teasel Hill Angoras, Sheryl Shreve, and the Arizona weavers who received their order of Independencia weavings last month. Thank you!   Dorinda Dutcher, May 29, 2017

Rainy Season Natural Dyeing Continues

Khesi Misa and Sumakaya Dye Pots

Most mornings in March began with the sun’s rise backlighting a veil of pearly fog. It was anyone’s guess as to whether the fog would swirl and rise or darken and lower with rain. One morning when blue sky and the sun won out 3 women of the Club de Artesanas (CdA) headed out with machetes and aguayos to harvest a few branches of mature sumakaya trees. It is a once a year expedition and Doña Maxima’s comment upon returning with their treasure was it was “mucho sacrificio”. The path to the area they’d harvested in the past was impassable due to undergrowth and a trail that had disappeared into a swamp. They were forced to climb higher in search of another grove.

Lots of Rinsing Needed for Khesi Misa Dyed Skeins

After lunch they worked with knives and machetes to remove the rough outer bark and scrape the bright orange inner bark into the dye pot. The bark was boiled for an hour before the first skeins were added to the pot. The weavers knew their ancestresses had used sumakaya as a dye but few had dyed with natural dyes prior to the first PAZA dye workshops in 2008. Through the years they’ve learned that the bark must be used immediately upon harvest or the dye is lost. Stored dye baths ferment and also lose their dye potency. What was learned from this dye pot is that the 1st batch of skeins should be boiled than left overnight in the dye bath and the dyeing continue the following day. The 2nd batch of skeins that did overnight in the dye bath were a glorious shade of orange. In the future the annual sumakaya dye bath will be a 2 day event for maximum dye strength.

Results of Khesi Misa and Sumakaya Dye Baths

The women had collected rock and tree lichen while out harvesting the sumakaya. It was put to soak for a few hours and then added to the khesi misa dye bath. Khesi misa is soot that collects in a straw thatched roof over a kitchen wood fire. The CdA had not dyed with it in 4 years because it is getting harder to find as thatched roofs are replaced with longer lasting tin roofing sheets. The request for khesi misa browns in the weavings prompted Doña Máxima to search more diligently and she finally located half a bucket from an “abuelita” (little grandmother) who lives alone. The abuelita asked to be paid in noodles, bread, and bananas instead of in cash. There is now an ongoing business relationship with the abuelita to supply the CdA with khesi misa.

Masiq’o Flowers on Left and Suyku Leaves on the Right

The khesi misa/lichen dye pot was begun late in the day along with the sumakaya dye bath so the 2nd skeins were left in the dye bath overnight. The skeins took a lot of rinsing, but the results were a lovely dark chocolate from the first dye bath and a milk chocolate for the 2nd dye bath. Doña Máxima commented that it was worth the sacrifice as she admired the row of sumakaya dyed orange and khesi misa dyed brown skeins hanging from the clothes line.

Two weeks later a vehicle was hired to take the CdA members higher into the mountains to harvest the flower masiq´o (Bidens andicola) and suyku (Tagetes graveotens Schultz). The delicate yellow masiq´o flowers are available during March and when mordanted with alum the flowers gift a lovely pale orange dye. The suyku was divided into a dye pot with leaves and a dye pot for the clusters of the bright yellow flowers. Although the CdA members have dyed twice with suyku this year they manipulated the dye baths with mordants and achieved different hues that will coordinate breathtakingly with their formerly dyed skeins.

Masiq’o and Suyku Dye Day Results

The final dye day of the season was with suyku the women gathered within walking distance of the PAZA workshop and cochineal. Three Huancarani weavers including Maribel had dropped off skeins to be dyed. Maribel had purchased spun yarn from an abuelita in Huancarani since she is not a spinner.The abuelita still spins but no longer has the strength to weave and appreciated being able to sell her handspun yarn. Doña Máxima and the other women compared the suyku dye lots for the past 3 months and decided that the suyku growing at elevations higher than Independencia’s 7,943’ above sea level provide a stronger dye. Next year PAZA will spring for the $7 – $15 vehicle contract fee to harvest suyku at a higher elevation. Besides, everybody loves an excursion.

Doña Rufina Weaves, Adviana Advises, and Vilma Crochets a Baby Blanket for her Sister

The newest member of the Club de Artesanas is Doña Rufina who spent almost every moment learning to weave new figures. She has a toddler and a kindergartner who is rapidly learning Spanish at school. Quechua is still the prevalent language in the homes of the CdA women and chicas. The CdA trainers, Abigail and Jhesica, did a great job leading the activities of jewelry making with wire and crochet thread as well as a day of soap making.

Doña Máxima and Vilma Take a Last Look at Weavings U.S. Bound

Dorinda traveled to the U.S. in early April carrying 3 orders bound for Laverne’s Waddington’s weaving students and workshop hosts. Thank you for those orders, the requests arrived in time for the women to weave and collect payment to pay for this year’s school supplies and uniforms. Doña Máxima will continue to open the PAZA workshop for Club de Artesanas activities on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The women have sewing and crochet projects besides plying the yarn that they´ve dyed. The chicas know they can drop by in the afternoons for weaving instruction. Doña Máxima will work in the PAZA workshop on Sunday mornings to be available to the Huancarani weavers in town for market day.

Thank you Lyn Lucas and Dorothy Thursby for your faith in and continued support of the weavers and chicas. A huge hug and thank you for support from high school friend, Rob Nash, whose life journey also meandered from the plains of Kansas to the Andes. Dorinda Dutcher, April 22, 2017

Dye Season is Here

Road Side Suyku Above the Town of Independencia

The rains have fallen daily since early February so hopefully water won’t need to be rationed during the dry season. The school year started at the beginning of February, so Independencia went from a ghost town to action packed overnight. Carnaval week fell at the end of the month which gave water balloonists all month to practice.

Mordants, Assistants, and Suyku

The Club de Artesanas (CdA) spent a day collecting and preparing plant dyes and 2 days dyeing. The first dye day was devoted to cochineal due to the skeins the Huancarani weavers had dropped off with requests for reds and pinks. The dye pots for the 2nd dye day were loaded with leaves of local plants. The women of the CdA didn’t have to walk far to gather suyku, which was just starting to flower. Hitchhiking in vain the following day Dorinda trudged an hour up the mountain to a higher altitude where chilka grows prolifically along the road side. The rains had washed the road dust off the leaves so they were ready for the dye pot. A bit of suyku was gathered on the descent through its preferred altitude for growth. The local government has invested in heavy

Grinding Cochineal

equipment the past 5 years and uses it to widen the roads by pushing dirt, gravel, and roadside vegetation down the mountainside. Former plant collecting areas are inaccessible because of the drop off between the road and where the plants are now growing. The suyku seems to like disturbed soil and continues to proliferate along the roadside, except where it can’t get a foothold due to the ever growing erosion from the road maintenance practices.

The chilka leaves dyed the skeins a grey green when mordanted with millu, a mineral from the La Paz area that darkens dye baths. The dye was not as strong as it is during the dry season, so suyku was added to the 2nd dye bath with a few grams of copper sulfate and the result was a deep forest green. The dye in the suyku pot was strong enough for 4 dye baths resulting in a variety of yellow-greens and bronzes. Doña Máxima, Vilma, and Doña Antonia used a hand cranked cereal mill to grind the last of the 5 kilos of cochineal that PAZA purchased in 2012 at $36 a kilo. Inquiries have been made concerning the purchase of another 5 kilos, but a source has not been nailed down yet.

CdA Weavers Happy with Their Suyku and Chilka Dyed Skeins

A number of the Huancarani weavers visited Sunday mornings after selling their peaches at the weekly market in Independencia. They are working on weavings to fill orders from students of Laverne Waddington’s upcoming workshops in Florida and Arizona. Maribel showed up one Sunday with a huge smile and her first completed weaving. Weaving finally clicked with her thanks to Laverne’s help using diagrams to learn the motifs in Huancarani in January. Maribel’s weaving fit the specifications for a yoga mat strap, so of course it was purchased by PAZA as motivation for her to continue. Doña Máxima explained the importance of introducing more colors in the weavings. Maribel had used the yarn her mother-in-law had provided her. PAZA gifted her 4 natural dyed skeins to begin her own stash. She will have to ply them. She can add to her collection by purchasing more CdA dyed skeins at cost or by buying spun skeins and paying the CdA to dye them for 28 cents a skein or she can dye her own. She is the 118th weaver to sell through PAZA since 2008. Alas, many of the other 117 weavers have migrated, retired from weaving, or passed away. Last year there were only 30 active weavers.

“Sold!” – Maribel’s 1st Weaving with Figure Learned from Laverne

The CdA women were asked what projects they would like to work on this year. They asked for yarn to crochet shawls. A rural woman can never have enough shawls, especially if she has children. Kids always appear underdressed when it comes to bundling up in sweaters and coats. Moms usually carry at least one extra shawl to wrap up a shivering or slumbering child. Club members have to learn something new with each project so the women are looking at shawls of family and friends to find a granny square they wish to copy.

They asked about sewing projects, but without volunteer help in using the patterns a lot of material is wasted and clothing usually doesn’t fit properly. Unfortunately, there are no volunteers on the horizon, which is the CdA’s main resource for learning new fiber skills. It has been a couple of years since the CdA women have sewn the style of blouses they wear. Since they need to practice with the sewing machines blouses will be a 2017 project for the women. The blouse material can be purchased in Cochabamba whereas the flannel, quilt squares, and much of the material used for child and teen clothing is donated and carried down from the U.S.

Chicas Making Jewelry on a Rainy Saturday

Abigail and Jhesica, the 2 oldest teens in the Club are doing great taking turns as the CdA chicas trainer. They planned out 2 months of activities for Saturday mornings. Abigail was the trainer for the 1st Saturday of the session and coerced Dorinda into teaching a yoga class then Dorinda coerced them into helping with a birthday sign to send to her niece. The next rainy Saturday 6 chicas crowded into the library to make wire and bead jewelry, listen to an Enrique Iglesias DVD, chat, and giggle. The 2 younger siblings who were along played with blocks and puzzles. Last Saturday only 2 teens showed up and they stayed an extra 2 hours utterly engrossed in crocheting bracelets adorned with beads.

Doñas Justina and Máxima, Tinkuy Bound

There will be only 3 PAZA participants at the Tinkuy in Cusco this November. Doña Máxima´s daughter Zoraida will not be able to make the trip because she is expecting her 2nd child later this year. Her 8 year old is wild with anticipation to finally have her long time wish for a sibling fulfilled.

Thanks to the orders from Laverne´s upcoming workshops, the weavers have been able to make it through the annual school supply and uniform buying frenzy without panicking about how to pay for it all. Thank you to Lyn Lucas, Irene Schmoller, Dorothy Thursby, and Susan Long for your ongoing support that allows PAZA to launch another year of Club de Artesanas (CdA) activities and to continue to help the Huancarani weavers towards their goal of preserving their weaving tradition and caring for their families thanks to their earnings from the sales of their weavings. Dorinda Dutcher, March 6, 2017