Rural Weavers

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

Huancarani Weave-In

Weave-In, Huancarani

Weave-In, Huancarani

The weavers of Huancarani were thrilled upon hearing that “La Laverna” would be visiting. They asked if arrangements could be made for her to visit Huancarani because they wanted to meet her. Laverne has placed orders since 2011 for weavings she uses in her weaving workshops. Her specifications were instrumental in the weavers learning about quality expectations when selling to a foreign market. Almost all have learned how to use a measuring tape instead of hand spans.

Laverne Teaches Doña Narciza Using a Diagram While Doña Felicidad Learns Using a Sample

Laverne Teaches Doña Narciza Using a Diagram While Doña Felicidad Learns Using a Sample

On Friday, Laverne, Doña Máxima, and Dorinda loaded into a hired van for the ride to Huancarani. Laverne immediately set up her back strap loom on the lawn in front of the church and began weaving while waiting for the weavers to arrive. They arrived singly coming from all directions; many of them were spinning or plying with their drop spindles as they walked. All arrived with huge smiles, stopping to shake hands and take a good look at La Laverna. They sat around the first back strap loom they had ever seen pointing and talking among themselves. When they are weaving a strap using body tension they tuck the end into the waistband of their pollera (skirt). Later Doña Máxima translated the Quechua and said the only strap the weavers had associated with weavings was the strap they make to secure the weavings used for cargo padding onto a horse or burro. Doña Máxima also related that she

Maribel Makes a Copy of the Figure Diagram

Maribel Makes a Copy of the Figure Diagram

had told them that while she did the exposition weaving at the 2013 Tinkuy the Peruvian weavers who use a back strap loom said they liked the idea of working without a back strap because it would be easier to leap up and attend to other tasks such as pots boiling over onto the wood fire.

It wasn´t long before the weavers´ fingers began to twitch and they wanted to learn new figures by doing. Doña Máxima warped straps and she and Laverne began teaching using diagrams from Laverne´s book, “More Adventures with Warped Face Pick-Up Patterns, A Follow-Up to Andean Pebble Weave”. This was a new approach for the weavers who have all learned by looking at a sample and memorizing the patterns. They prefer that method and said as grandmothers they are too old to learn a new way. However, 19 year old Maribel quickly understood how to read the pattern diagram and moved herself away from the others to be able to focus and weave, well as much as one can focus with a 2 year old.

Group Photo with Laverne

Group Photo with Laverne

In 2015, Maribel had briefly joined the Club de Artesanas (CdA) in Independencia but moved to Huancarani to live with her in-laws. During her time with the CdA learning to weave did not click, so the diagram was a breakthrough for her. By the end of the day she was reciting the pick-up pattern from the diagram to help her elders! She joined the Centro de Artesanía, Huancarani (CAH) in 2015 and is always the first to pay her dues. She wants to be part of the community and that means being a weaver. Because she is generations younger

Doña Narciza Walked 4 Hours To Independencia to Learn More Figures the Day Laverne Left

Doña Narciza Walked 4 Hours To Independencia to Learn More Figures the Day Laverne Left

than the weavers her youth was spent in school not shepherding and weaving. Another young mother walked uphill from a nearby community with her husband and daughter to learn more about the possibility of weaving as an income generating possibility for the family.

There were a lot of “Aha” moments as the weavers figured out new figures by examining an example or learning how to read a diagram. Some of the weavers had brought examples of their work and taught figures to others. July will be 10 years since the first PAZA meeting in Huancarani and it was a shock to realize that this was the first Weave-In! Thank you, Laverne!  Dorinda Dutcher, January 13, 2017

2016 Annual Weavers´ Meeting, Huancarani

Tarp For Shade Already Engaged

Tarp For Shade Already Engaged

Overcast skies did not give way to rain during the annual meeting for the Centro de Artesanía, Huancarani (CAH) members on December 26th. The weavers had chosen to meet at the site of Doña Toribia´s old house. A fire was roaring in the beehive shaped wood burning oven when the truck load of participants from Independencia arrived at 10:30am. The oven was the only structure at the site with a roof so rain or sun would have made for an uncomfortable day. The tarp used for shelter in 2015 was in use for drying sprouting corn that will be made into chicha, the sacred beverage of the Incas, for Carnaval.

Prepping Beef for the Oven on a Foggy Morning

Prepping Beef for the Oven on a Foggy Morning

The day´s scheduled events included the Spinzilla celebratory feast and prize awarding along with the annual CAH meeting. The first order of business was preparing the meat and potatoes for the oven. Doña Máxima had made arrangements with a butcher in Independencia to pick up 18 kilos (about 40 lbs. at $2.45/lb.) of beef. Beef is a treat, since cattle are usually trucked to Independencia to be sold and butchered because there is no refrigeration in the rural communities.

All Contributed Potatoes

All Contributed Potatoes

A new water spigot had been installed since last year´s meeting, unfortunately, due to the drought there were long pauses between spurts of water. Doña Máxima and Doña Antonia went to work washing and salting the meat. Doña Toribia took tomatoes, garlic, oil, and dried chilies to her home next door to pound them into a paste for a meat rub. All the weavers brought potatoes which were washed, rubbed with oil, and laid out in long wide tin pans. The oven was filled with the trays of meat and potatoes and the round door cut from a 55 gallon drum was secured to the oven with mud.

Collecting the Annual CAH Dues

Collecting the Annual CAH Dues

Everyone settled comfortably on the ground for the annual CAH meeting. Twenty-one of the 28 members were present when Doña Maxima, the secretary, took roll. Doña Toribia, Treasurer, counted the cash in the tin can of dues. All wanted to be up to date with their 72 cent annual dues so time was taken for the collection. The two main topics were the setting of the weaving prices for the year and Spinzilla. The weavers love Spinzilla Spinning Week and voted unanimously to continue. Cloth Roads has once again generously offered to be the team´s TNNA sponsor.

Doña Justina Receiving Her Prize & Certificate from Dorinda & Doña Máxima

Doña Justina Receiving Her Prize & Certificate from Dorinda & Doña Máxima

The weavers cheered when they heard that the $5,017 in payments for their weavings was the highest year of sales since they began working with PAZA in 2007. What was wonderful about 2016 was that many of the purchases were by foreign weavers who appreciate the skill and culture heritage behind each piece. After years of trying to sell at Bolivian craft fairs and attempting to design and transform the weavings into saleable products for a trendy foreign market it seems possible that the door has finally opened to a niche market that appreciates the evanescent weavings.

Happy Spinzilla Spinners with New Petticoats and Certificates

Happy Spinzilla Spinners with New Petticoats and Certificates

The last meeting topic was the announcement that PAZA has invited 3 weavers to participate in the 2017 Center of Traditional Textiles Tinkuy International Weaving Conference to be held November 8/11 in Cusco Peru. The 3 were chosen based on their contributions to the joint objectives of the weavers and PAZA. Doña Máxima wears the hats of PAZA Coordinator, CdA trainer, and Captain of the Spinzilla Cloth Roads Team Warmis Phuskadoras. This will be her 3rd Tinkuy, and she will make a short presentation as a panelist, which is an honor for all the Independencia weavers! Her daughter, Zoraida, was invited because she is a member of the PAZA sales team. Doña Justina Vargas, the President of the CdA since 2014, has done an excellent job in organizing CAH events in Huancarani was the 3rd invitee.

A Fun Social Day for the Rural Weavers

A Fun Social Day for the Rural Weavers

After a leisurely meal many hands made quick work of the clean-up. The final event for the day was the awarding of the Spinzilla prizes. All Spinzilla participants win first prize and they had chosen a new petticoat as the 2016 prize. Constance Hall, Spinzilla Team Captain Organizer, had printed participation certificates and sent Spinzilla buttons providing tangible evidence that the competition is truly bigger than just their team. The petticoats were sewn by Doña Maxima´s daughter, Zoraida, who requested the work to earn the money to be able to purchase medicine for herself so she would not be dependent on her husband for it.

2017 is looking to be an exciting year for the weavers, although a bit frightening for PAZA due to the additional responsibility of raising the estimated $4,200 in funds for the Tinkuy expenses. Dorinda Dutcher, December 28, 2016

October in Independencia

Post Spinzilla Meeting, PAZA Store/Workshop

Post Spinzilla Meeting, PAZA Store/Workshop

Ten members of the Cloth Roads team Warmis Phuskadoras held an impromptu meeting in the PAZA store/workshop on October 16th.  All were curious about their standing in the results. Doña Casimira was unhappy she´d dropped from last year´s champion to 4th place this year. That led to a discussion of outside influences affecting their spinning during the week. There had been 2 community meetings and an inauguration of a potable water project that piped water to a spigot in the yard (not into the home) of every home in Huancarani. One family member had to attend each of the events, and in many cases it was a spinner. That led to a broader discussion about lifestyles of spinners on other teams. They were surprised to learn that the majority drive themselves to a job outside of the home, and only spin in the home.

Spinzilla Spinning Week, CdA, Independencia

Spinzilla Spinning Week, CdA, Independencia

It was pointed out that the team had spun roughly the same amount all 3 years. The total this year of 68,056 was down 455 yards from last year. That led to what will be an ongoing discussion of what the team can do to spin more. Their Spinzilla team was compared to a soccer team and one could see in their expressions that the concept of “team” finally resonated with them. They were asked to bring ideas for team building to vote on at the annual Centro de Artesanía, Huancarani (CAH) meeting in December.

The women in the Club de Artesanas spent the first 2 weeks of October immersed in the spinning and measuring for Spinzilla. All have sewing, knitting or crochet projects to work on during Club days until

Doña Justina, right, 2016 Spinzilla Champion for the Bolivian team

Doña Justina, right, 2016 Spinzilla Champion for the Bolivian team

the end of the year. Due to the lack of success CdA has had with teaching weaving skills, no promises can be made, but Doña Maxima is planning on teaching her daughters Vilma and Zoraida the embedded double weave technique as a CdA activity during the next few months. CdA member Adviana learned the technique from her grandmother. Hopefully she will take advantage of the training opportunity to increase her proficiency.

The Spinzilla results were not yet available when Doña Máxima and Dorinda turned their attention to next year´s Tinkuy International Weaving Conference in Cusco. It will be the 3rd Tinkuy for Doña Máxima and the first for her daughter, Zoraida, and for Doña Justina, the President of the CAH. Zoraida is the best of the PAZA sales team trio which includes her mother and Dorinda.

Doña Maxima, Granddaughter Zuni, and Zoraida, Cochabamba 2011

Doña Maxima, Granddaughter Zuni, and Zoraida, Cochabamba 2011

Doña Máxima had planned to weave a 3rd aguayo last year while her husband was mayor of Huancarani, because the one she´d hurriedly woven for herself did not include the motifs possible when using the embedded double weave technique. The yearlong mayoral obligation ended and weaving the aguayo was no longer a priority. The Tinkuy offers a reason to weave that aguayo.  Seven dollars of PAZA funds were used to buy the yarn she needed to supplement what she had on hand to create a masterpiece that will debut at the Tinkuy in November 2017.

CdA Chicas, a Jewelry Making Saturday Morning

CdA Chicas, a Jewelry Making Saturday Morning

The CdA chicas picked up a new member following Amanda´s September jewelry making classes. First grade teacher and Independencia local, Profesora Prisma, delighted in Amanda´s classes and joined the chicas the first 3 Saturdays in October for a morning of jewelry making. Gabriela, the CdA trainer, laid out the supplies and books Amanda had donated and all were soon engrossed in their projects. The complexity of their work increased after 2 of the chicas had to disassemble bracelets they´d made repeating a basic technique.

Delighting in their Jewelry Making Efforts

Delighting in their Jewelry Making Efforts

Dorinda traveled to the U.S. to spend time with family following Spinzilla, and will return to Independencia in mid-December. Doña Máxima will be holding CdA activities on Tuesdays and Thursdays in the PAZA workshop. She will have the workshop open on Sunday mornings to meet with the Huancarani weavers. The CdA chicas ended for the year. Gaby, the trainer, graduates in early December and 200 Bs. ($29) in PAZA funds were given to her as a graduation gift. She had hoped to attend the university, but the 5 years investment wasn´t practical. Instead she will enroll in a 2 year sewing and design program at a vocational institute.

Headed to 2013 Tinkuy, Doña Maxima Wearing a Factory Made Aguayo!

Headed to 2013 Tinkuy, Doña Maxima Wearing a Factory Made Aguayo!

Spinzilla Spinning Week was a blast and the repercussions will ripple out into next year. Thanks again to all of you who sent good wishes and who supported the Cloth Roads team Warmis Phuskadoras. Thank you Lyn Lucas and Dorothy Thursby for your ongoing support which made it possible to prepay for the next 2 months of PAZA activities so that Doña Maxima can keep the momentum going in Independencia. Thank you to Karen and Jan Krieger and Shannon Dutcher for your generous support. Dorinda Dutcher, October 28, 2016

Measuring, Spinzilla Spinning Week

Doña Maxima and Vilma Compare Measuring Owwies

Doña Maxima and Vilma Compare Measuring Owwies

Jubilant and exhausting sums up Monday and Tuesday’s measuring of yarn spun during Spinzilla Spinning Week. Three spinners including Team Captain Doña Máxima and her daughter Vilma turned in their ovillas (balls of yarn) for measuring and weighing on Sunday evening. The average ball of double strand yarn weighed 550 grams (1.21 lbs.) Vilma, who is the youngest spinner on the team at age 27, moved up from 24th place on the 2015 team to 15th place this year! Vilma said she is going to make up this week for the diet of soup her 4 children had to be satisfied with during Spinning Week.

Doñas Maximiliana, Eulalia, and Berna Waiting for Their Ovillas to be Measured

Doñas Maximiliana, Eulalia, and Berna Waiting for Their Ovillas to be Measured

The lack of a social media volunteer was sorely felt this year in lost photo opportunities as well as needing more help for the measuring. PAZA contracted Breny Ugarte to travel from her home in Cochabamba to help with the measuring on Sunday night and on Monday in the rural community of Huancarani. Breny is a Quechua speaker with roots in Independencia and a professional with a university degree. PAZA collaborated with the non-profit organization she worked with from 2008 to 2011, so the weavers know and respect her.

Doña Toribia Admires Doña Eulogia´s Black Yarn

Doña Toribia Admires Doña Eulogia´s Black Yarn

In Huancarani, Breny called a short meeting to review the objectives and rules of Spinzilla and to clarify anything that has gotten lost in the English to Spanish to Quechua translation in the past. Although it has been discussed every year, the spinners were still confused about the 15 Bs. they pay to participate. Ten Bs. ($1.45) is their contribution of the $10 entry fee. They said $10 is more than they could afford to pay and expressed their thanks again to those who supported the team. They also said they were proud to be a team of women who spin with drop spindles and part of an international competition.

Breny Using an Ovilla as a Globe

Breny Using an Ovilla as a Globe

Breny used a large ovilla to represent the Earth as she explained that during Spinning Week spinners in many parts of the world are spinning together. She said that Spinzilla would continue until enough yarn was spun to circle the Earth. Since many of the spinners rarely leave isolated Independencia and few have traveled further than Cochabamba trying to convey the concept of a larger world is presented in a different way every year. Spinzilla has brought much more to Independencia than just an opportunity to compete in a skill that has been part of their day for as long as they can remember.

Potluck Picnic, You Could be Here Next Year!

Potluck Picnic, You Could be Here Next Year!

Monday was a cool day and the sky was sullen but just a few sprinkles of the much needed rain fell. Two measuring teams worked across from each other on the wood table carted from Independencia. A third measuring team marked off a yard length on the edge of the church porch. Priority for measuring was given to the spinners who had flocks to herd.  After the photo and weighing of the ovilla the measurer would measure 5 yards then say “cinco” to the person keeping the tally. The spinner rewound her ovilla after it was measured and most kept an eye on the measuring team. The ovillas were 2 strands of yarn which had been wound into the ovilla together off of 2 filled drop spindles. The plying will happen after the ovillas are wound into skeins to be washed or washed and dyed. The measuring for 14 spinners in Huancarani took 6 hours. When the measuring was finished all gratefully plopped onto the ground for a potluck picnic.

Measuring Team Using a Bench, Sanipaya

Measuring Team Using a Bench, Sanipaya

On Tuesday, Doña Máxima, Vilma, and Dorinda again loaded the table and plastic chairs into Don Vicente´s pickup truck for the longer ride to Sanipaya. Doña Beatriz, who is in the Club de Artesanas in Independencia when she is not in Sanipaya, had organized the 6 spinners in that community. The measuring was done on a raised covered earth porch at her home. It was obvious that Spinning Week was a welcome break in the monotony of the daily routine of their farmer subsistence lifestyle . The spinners had gathered in the morning to prepare lunch which was a colorful presentation of boiled potato, chuño (freeze-dried potato) with scambled egg, chicken in a savory broth with vegetables, and a salad of tomato and onion.

Two Measuring Teams at Work, Sanipaya

Two Measuring Teams at Work, Sanipaya

The spinners expressed many times their heartfelt thanks to all who helped make Spinzilla Spinning Week possible. Thank you Marilyn Murphy and Cloth Roads for sponsoring the Warmis Phuskadoras. A hug and thanks to the Spinzilla organizers who have brought this special event into the lives of the Andean spinners. The planning and actual event are empowering for the spinners. Furthermore, Spinzilla has given Doña Máxima in Independencia, Doña Justina in Huancarani, and Doña Beatriz in Sanipaya the opportunity to develop organization and leadership skills.

Doña Beatriz Plating Up Lunch

Doña Beatriz Plating Up Lunch

I am traveling to the U.S. next week for a couple of months and PAZA needs to sell the weaving inventory stored in the U.S. I hope to return to Independencia in December with another order for the weavers, but the revolving fund has stopped revolving… In the U.S. inventory are 2 sizes of yoga mat straps, chuspas (shoulder bags), 14” x 14” pillow covers, belts, guitar straps, camera straps, and zippered pouches. Please consider gifting an Andean weaving possibly spun with 2015 Spinzilla Spinning Week yarn this holiday season. Inquires can be directed to dkdutcher@hotmail.com. Thank you. Dorinda Dutcher, October 13, 2016