Volunteers

July, Back in Independencia!

Alison and CdA Women Knitting Rabbit Face Booties

Alison and CdA Women Knitting Rabbit Face Booties

There is no place like home, and after a 3-1/2 month absence it seemed like Paradise to settle back into the PAZA rooms at the Casa Callejas in Independencia. Thanks to Laverne Waddington and the orders she drummed up through her weaving workshops in the U.S., the weavers had stayed busy. Doña Máxima had carried on the Club de Artesanas (CdA) once a week and had managed the orders, but she was relieved that activities would return to normal at the PAZA workshop.

Alison Teaching the Chicas How to Weave Bracelets

Alison Teaching the Chicas How to Weave Bracelets

Former volunteer and friend, Alison Walsh, arrived for a 2 week visit in mid-July. She made a sample of a babyt bootie with a rabbit face from a new pattern book in the PAZA library. All the CdA women decided they had a little one for whom they wanted to knit a pair. When Alison wasn´t knitting she was weaving bracelets in bright colors. One Saturday morning the CdA chicas admired the array of bracelets adorning Alison´s arms and asked if she would teach them, which she did immediately. Why haven´t the chicas shown any interest in learning the local traditional weaving techniques? Is it because it´s something grandmother used to do, thus old fashioned and not “cool”?

Alison & Doña Máxima Enjoy Campo Hospitality

Alison & Doña Máxima Enjoy Campo Hospitality

It’s time to think about prepping the house gardens for summer’s rainy season. Alison and Doña Máxima were game for an adventure, so a truck was hired to head to Doña Gregoria´s farm to buy “fertilizer”. Sheep are corralled every night, and the manure is raked out and piled high outside the corral, where it is allowed to age. There was no way to contact Doña Gregoria, but she hurriedly appeared in answer to the shouted greetings and her frantically barking dogs. Her alpacas and llamas were disappearing from view having been let loose earlier to graze. It´s dry season so they cover a lot of territory each day to feed. Doña Gregoria doesn´t have much company so she talked animatedly to Doña Maxima while serving her unexpected guests steaming plates of boiled potatoes and boiled corn.

Note the Weavings Used for the Cargo Rigging

Note the Weavings Used for the Cargo Rigging

Doña Máxima was handed a rope and sent her off in search of a burro to haul the gunny sacks of “fertilizer” up the mountain to the truck. Alison, 5 year old Cristian who is Doña Máxima´s grandson, and Dorinda began filling light-weight plastic gunny sacks they´d brought along. Prior to the appearance of plastic sacks, rural women wove “costales”, gunny sacks, out of llama fiber or local wool. Doña Máxima returned having had no luck in finding the burro.

Fiber or plastic gunny sacks are sewn shut for transport, so women´s sombreros are usually adorned with fake flowers and a large sewing needle or two. Doña Gregoria came out of her courtyard bearing rope halters, cargo padding, and straps. She picked out 2 nearby small horses that she and Doña Máxima quickly captured and loaded with the bags of fertilizer. Weavings are often used as part of the cargo rigging and wrap around under the tail of the horse or burro. The walk back to the truck didn´t look steep, but at the higher altitude the horses´ pace of walk 10 steps then take a break was ideal. Once the bags were loaded on the truck, the horses were let loose to roll and wander off. The humans all plopped in the shade of the pickup to enjoy a campo picnic – a communal pot of rice, potato, and fried eggs.

Hey Dad, This Is a Lot More Work Than a Trip to Home Depot!

Hey Dad, This Is a Lot More Work Than a Trip to Home Depot!

Team registration for Spinzilla Spinning Week took place on Sundays when the Huancarani weavers were in town for market day. Doña Beatriz who is a CdA participant when she´s not farming in her community of Sanipaya confirmed that she and 5 other spinners from Sanipaya wished to participate again. Unfortunately, there has been no response to the request for 2 volunteers for Spinzilla Spinning Week. The team slot for a foreign spinner will be held until the end of August, at which time it will be released to a local spinner. A social media volunteer is still needed in Independencia during the October 2 to 9 Spinning Week plus the 2 additional days to help with measuring the yardage.

Doñas Felicidad, Justina, and Toribia Waiting to Measure

Doñas Felicidad, Justina, and Toribia Waiting to Measure

The Spinzilla expenses are estimated to run about the same as last year which was $1,005, and those funds must be raised so that the event doesn´t impact other PAZA activities. PAZA has currently raised $0…. HELP?!  All the spinners win first prize to encourage teamwork and to recognize all of them equally for their phenomenal spinning ability. The prize they chose for this year is a new petticoat. The other expenses are vehicle contracts for 4 trips to the rural communities, extra days of wages for Doña Máxima, and the end of the year awards ceremony and feast. Please note on the Paypal form attached to the “Donate” button above that your contribution is for Spinzilla. Thank you from the Spinzilla team Warmis Phuskadoras!  Dorinda Dutcher, August 8, 2016

Rescuing Andean Natural Dye Techniques

Tradition Use of Weavings with Synthetic Dyes and Natural Wool Tones

Tradition Use of Weavings with Synthetic Dyes and Natural Wool Tones

The Huancarani weavers grew up using brightly colored synthetic yarn for weaving and knitting festive wear and cheap easy to use powdered synthetic dyes for dyeing their local wool for colorful blankets. Undyed wool was frequently used for functional products such as woven gunny sacks and ponchos with the variety of natural colors allowing for contrasting stripes and designs. In 2007, the knowledge of natural dye techniques were fading but not lost when they asked Dorinda, a Peace Corps volunteer, if she could help them to rescue their natural dye techniques.

Smushing Macha Macha Berries, Huancarani, 2008

Smushing Macha Macha Berries, Huancarani, 2008

The first natural dye workshop in Huancarani took place in mid-March of 2008 and was a collaboration between the municipal government who supplied the transportation and a Peace Corps Partnership Program (PCPP) grant that paid the wages for a local woman who was hired as the local natural dye trainer and Doña Máxima who was contracted as the workshop coordinator and translator. The trainer had walked high into the mountains to harvest the macha macha berries for the workshop. Upon arrival in Huancarani the women took off to harvest suyku which was in full bloom. The leaves and flowers were stripped into a second borrowed dye pot. The trainer´s knowledge stemmed from a workshop a non-government agency had provided not from natural dye techniques handed down through generations. She had no knowledge of mordants and added a handful of salt, half a dozen halved limes, and a cup of vinegar to every dye pot. Today, suyku is the favorite local dye plant because of the range of hues the weavers have learned how to achieve through Ph manipulation.

1st Suyku Dye Pot Results, Huancarani, 2008

1st Suyku Dye Pot Results, Huancarani, 2008

The second dye workshop in Huancarani was the focus of the PCPP grant that paid for the Arte Andino Board of Directors who were all rural weavers to visit Independencia for 3 days of workshops. They brought cochineal for dyeing and alum, iron sulfate, and copper sulfate to teach the mordant process. The Huancarani weavers were intrigued with cochineal having participated in a cochineal workshop, but there had been no follow-up to the 1 day of training and they had no knowledge as to the cultivation of cochineal. It grows in Bolivia on the nopal cactus that resides at lower drier elevations. The mordants used regularly today are alum and millu a local mineral salt. Copper sulfate is used occasionally with plants and citric acid with cochineal for orange tones. Salt and chicha vinegar are also used on occasion.

1st Dye Workshop in Chuñavi Chico, 2009

1st Dye Workshop in Chuñavi Chico, 2009

Everyone´s interest in local natural dyes was piqued but Dorinda´s Peace Corps service ended abruptly and a few months later the Peace Corps left Bolivia. Three months later she returned on her own to carry on the natural dye workshops, and continued to call her volunteer efforts PAZA. Although Peace Corps had left a non-profit organization called KURMI had begun working in Independencia funded by a development contract for the empowerment of women. The local government continued to provide transportation to rural communities so that Dorinda, the local trainer and Doña Máxima could offer dye workshops in 5 rural communities. KURMI staff would occasionally participate in a workshop to present topics on women´s rights.

Don Jorge Teaching Intensive Course, Independencia 2009

Don Jorge Teaching Intensive Course, Independencia 2009

The mordant processes learned from Arte Andino were well practiced and in July of 2009 thanks to the collaboration of the municipal government, KURMI, and PAZA an extraordinary 3 day intensive natural dye workshop was held in Independencia to train local trainers. KURMI brought weavers from other highland communities with whom they worked. The trainer, Don Jorge Gandarillas, had been the Arte Andino natural dye trainer and had over 50 years of experience working with Andean textile revival projects. He was a tough taskmaster and at the end of the course he assigned the participants the task of teaching a dye class in their community and returning in October to share their experience with the group.

Group Photo with Results of Don Jorge´s July Workshops, 2009

Group Photo with Results of Don Jorge´s July Workshops, 2009

The group met again in October without the support of the municipal government, and sadly it was the last collaboration in support of the Andean weaving tradition in the municipality. Friendships had formed between the weavers from out of town and the local weavers. Upon meeting again, they exchanged information about their successful and unsuccessful experiments with the plethora of Andean dye plants. Each participant had to role play as a natural dye trainer in front of the class.

Doña Narciza Role Playing as a Local Natural Dye Training, October 2009

Doña Narciza Role Playing as a Local Natural Dye Training, October 2009

Without municipal government support PAZA couldn´t afford to visit rural communities and has worked only in Huancarani and Independencia since 2010. The local trainer did not attend Don Jorge´s workshops and her lack of interest resulted in Doña Máxima taking over as local trainer. The macha macha berry introduced in the first workshop produces a fugitive dye and hasn´t been used since 2009.  In 2011, KURMI´s development project was not renewed and their office closed.

Limited Natural Dye Palette, 2008

Limited Natural Dye Palette, 2008

Through the years the Huancarani and Club de Artesana (CdA) weavers have learned to eyeball their dye pots to make the minute adjustments needed to arrive at the tones they seek for the color coordination of their weavings. The first dye workshop had taken place towards the end of the rainy season when flowers, leaves and berries were at their peak, so it shouldn´t have been such a shock to realize that quick roadside gathering of dye plants wasn’t possible year around.

If called upon, many of the Huancarani weavers and all of the CdA women members could serve as natural dye trainers. The PAZA curriculum for the 5 part progressive natural dye workshop program is waiting in the wings for when collaboration to rescue and preserve the textile heritage of Independencia is once again possible.

Laverne´s May Order

Laverne´s May Order

Thank you Laverne Waddington for your latest weaving order that is keeping Doña Máxima and the weavers in Independencia busy. A hug and thanks to Joyce Dutcher for her contribution to the Dutcher Family Fund that serves as the revolving fund to pay the weavers as soon as they complete an order. Thank you Dorothy Thursby and Nancy Meffe for your long-term support that allows all the PAZA activities to continue day in and day out.

Hallelujah, it´s time to rev up for 2016 Spinzilla! Thank you Marilyn Murphy and Cloth Roads for sponsoring the Team Warmis Phuskadoras for their 3rd annual competition!

I look forward to seeing and/or meeting all of you who will be attending the WARP Conference and/or Santa Fe International Folk Art Mart. Dorinda Dutcher, June 27, 2016.

Looking Back to 2010

Dye Workshop in Huancarani, 2011

Dye Workshop in Huancarani, 2011

This posting reflects back on 2010 which was a roller coaster ride through PAZA´s darkest moments that sowed the seeds of what PAZA is today.

In early 2010, PAZA received a poorly typed letter stating that the gringa should leave Independencia because she was stealing the weaving tradition to take to her country. The author was never publicly identified but a few vocal women rallied to his cause. PAZA began in 2007 as a Peace Corps secondary project. The collaboration with the local government until 2009 made it possible to offer natural dye workshops in 5 rural communities and 2 intensive 3 day natural dye workshops in Independencia.

4 of These Weavings Went to France This Month

4 of These Weavings Went to France This Month

All local collaboration ended at a town meeting in October 2010 when the few contra-PAZA women who had been elected into positions of political authority stood on the stage shaking their fingers at Doña Maxima and Dorinda. They passionately exclaimed that they knew all that there was to know about traditional weavings and the market, so there was no need for PAZA’s technical assistance. Only the weavers of Doña Maxima´s community of Huancarani stood with PAZA. They are the only rural community of weavers in the area selling their weavings today.

Celebrating after Receiving the Official CAH Documents

Celebrating after Receiving the Official CAH Documents

The Huancarani weavers were going to hold a hunger strike to force local authorities to support PAZA. They were headed off by the Director of a local radio station. He suggested they form a legal weaving association to circumnavigate local politics. That led to 2 years of working through the bureaucratic red tape to form the Centro de Artesanía, Huancarani (CAH). It allows the weavers to seek financial support outside of the politically controlled municipal budget, which they’ve only done once as a training exercise. The members of CAH are responsible for setting the pricing for the weavings at their annual meeting each December. The Spinzilla Spinning competition is CAH´s biggest event of the year.

The Original Chicas, 2 Graduated and are Moms, 1 is Current CdA Chica Trainer

The Original Chicas, 2 Graduated and are Moms, 1 is Current CdA Chica Trainer

The Club de Chicas was born in 2010 out of the need to provide Doña Máxima with steady work and to help meet PAZA´s and CAH´s objective to preserve the local weaving tradition. The Club began during the school vacation, but when school started the 12 year old chicas didn´t have time to attend. Doña Máxima mentioned that women were interested in joining so several were invited to participate on Tuesdays and Thursdays. A few years later the Club name was changed to the Club de Artesanas (CdA). The original chicas learned to weave and were selling the weavings but by the time they turned 16 they had lost interest in the Club and in weaving. Motivating teens to learn how to weave is probably the biggest challenge facing any textile revival project. It is also the key to sustainability of any craft.

Katie was the 1st Volunteer and Made Her 4th Trip This Year

Katie was the 1st Volunteer and Made Her 4th Trip This Year

The women and chicas are highly skilled in the fiber arts, but have no resources to stretch themselves as artists. The rural communities still don´t have electricity to all homes. There are no magazines or newspapers for sale in Independencia. Few know about the postal service which is only available in the cities. Smart phones and tablets are making the Internet more accessible to youths thanks to data credit packages purchased through the cell phone companies, but the benefits for many adults are limited due to the high rate of illiteracy.

The Chicas Made Many Skirts Using the Pattern and Method Kelsey Taught Them

The Chicas Made Many Skirts Using the Pattern and Method Kelsey Taught Them

The PAZA volunteer program began in 2010 to provide technical assistance. The weavers have learned new fiber arts skills but still have not seen a foreigner weave or spin. For all they know foreigners do need to steal the Andean weaving tradition to learn how to spin and weave.

The CAH members have tossed down the gauntlet asking for a foreigner to join their 2016 Spinzilla team for Spinning Week which will be October 3rd to the 9th. The team has not had any inquiries for what will be an exceptional technical and cultural exchange for a foreign spinner. PAZA also needs a social media coordinator for the week to make the annual video clip.

The Chicas Learning to Weave, 2011

The Chicas Learning to Weave, 2011

Besides providing much needed technical assistance the volunteer program helps offset PAZA expenses. PAZA has no institutional support. Fundraising efforts began in 2010 when Dorinda attended her 1st  Weave a Real Peace (WARP) Conference. PAZA is supported by individuals (mainly women who are weavers) who understand the importance of helping women to help themselves so they can care for their families. Medical costs and school supplies are the two main uses for income generated from the sales of the weavings.

All CAH Meeting Minutes Are Signed by All But 1 Member Who Signs with a Thumbprint

All CAH Meeting Minutes Are Signed by All But 1 Member Who Signs with a Thumbprint

In 2010, PAZA sold 250 weavings for a total of $3,464 that went to 55 weavers in 9 communities. Last year PAZA sold 123 weavings for a total of $2,583 that went to 26 weavers of which 24 live in Huancarani or are members of the Club de Artesanas. Thanks to Laverne Waddington’s annual and additional orders and WARP member Susan Weltman’s February visit and order PAZA has already exceeded the 2015 sales by $300.

The saddest thing about the 2010 political brou-ha-ha is that the folly of a few was detrimental to the preservation of the weaving tradition and to all the weavers who could have been earning an income through the years. PAZA hopes that local collaboration will begin anew in the near future. The past years have been well spent training women who can take leadership roles when that day arrives.

Prepping Skeins for the Dye Pot, Huancarani

Prepping Skeins for the Dye Pot, Huancarani

It takes a village…. You don’t have to travel to rural Bolivia to be part of the weavers’ amazing journey. The purchase of the weavings, the gifting of financial support, fundraising assistance, and help to connect with potential volunteers are needed so that in 6 years we can once again look back in amazement of what a collective grass roots effort can achieve. Dorinda Dutcher, May 22, 2016

P.S. I am in the U.S. and am filling weaving orders from the U.S. inventory, please e-mail inquiries to dkdutcher@hotmail.com. Thanks for the words of comfort! My father is hale and hearty following 3 heart procedures and my mother has a new hip. Doña Máxima is doing an excellent job of keeping the CdA running and managing weaving orders in Independencia.

Shopping “Campo” Style

Llamas in a Variety of Colors

Llamas in a Variety of Colors

Susan Weltman, a weaver, who had listened to Dorinda´s tales at Weave a Real Peace (WARP) Conferences for the past 5 years, decided to check out Independencia for herself. Her husband, Steve Jervis, thought Bolivia sounded like a grand adventure and in late February they were Independencia bound. Although their stay was short, the Club de Artesanas (CdA) squeezed in 2 dye days. Susan and Steve treated Doña Máxima, Doña Antonia, and Dorinda to a “shopping” day in the campo. The other CdA members had kindergartners to pick-up mid-day so had to decline the excursion invitation.

Doña Máxima and Susan Examining the Alpaca Fiber

Doña Máxima and Susan Examining the Alpaca Fiber

The persistent chill rain stopped the afternoon before the excursion giving the road time to dry out. The air was fragrantly herbal and sun bright on the morning all climbed aboard the chartered pickup truck. The +1 hour drive headed up the mountains to the farmstead of Don Franciso and Doña Gregoria, owners of a variety of fiber on the hoof – alpacas, llamas, and sheep. The last fiber shopping trip to their farm had been in 2014. PAZA bought 3 kilos of tan alpaca fiber for $17.24. Doña Gregoria was firm on her price which hadn´t gone up since 2014, and she had no interest in raising it.

Towers that have Eclipsed the Vistas

Towers that have Eclipsed the Vistas

One huge change since the last visit was the intrusive electricity towers that marched through the family´s farmstead. The towers first appeared on the horizon to the southeast of Independencia in October 2014. By April 2015 the cable was being strung along their path through the Palca River Valley where Independencia is situated. The sheer speed and efficiency with which the towers were erected was an amazing feat to witness. Alas, there is no tower-free vista and the electricity generated by a new hydroelectric dam is traveling the cables to be sold outside of Bolivia, bypassing communities and farmsteads such as that of Doña Gregoria´s that lack electricity….

After the selection, weighing, and purchase of the alpaca fiber the group

Weighing the 3 Kilos of Alpaca Fiber Purchased

Weighing the 3 Kilos of Alpaca Fiber Purchased

ambled leisurely up the mountain following the grazing llamas and alpacas. A short break was spent watching the babies frolic. Doña Máxima identified her former llamas that she had sold to a llama broker for a pittance to help cover the costs of hosting Carnaval in Huancarani last month. Culturally she has more faith in ownership of livestock than money in the bank, so it saddened her to know the llamas were no longer hers.

Digging up Potatoes Without a Shovel

Digging up Potatoes Without a Shovel

The group continued uphill to the top of the world where the truck awaited. The next stop just past the crossroad to Huancarani was the potato patch belonging to Doña Antonia´s father. The ground was moist enough so that Doña Antonia and Doña Máxima could gently pull on the plants bringing the small white potatoes out of the rich black soil. Susan, Steve, and Dorinda walked along the side of the road picking the sunny yellow flowers, misiq´o (Bidens andicola) for the next day´s dye pot.

Steve and Susan Headed for the Picnic Spot

Steve and Susan Headed for the Picnic Spot

All loaded back into the truck to move a little lower in altitude to where the misiq´o flowers and suyku (Tagetes graveotens Schultz) could both be harvested along the side of the road. The truck headed down to a picnic spot, while the group walked downhill enjoying the views and harvesting dye plants. Susan’s comments of awe reminded the locals of their good fortune as to the abundance and variety of dye plants.

A huge thanks to Susan and Steve for an unforgettable week and for the weaving order, as well as for carrying the other orders back to the U.S.! Thank you Lyn Lucas, David Anderson, and Dorothy Thursby-Stern for your continued support. You´ll be happy to know that Doña Máxima has her llamas back. PAZA purchased them for $130 as a way to balance the wages she will not earn when the CdA meetings are reduced to 1 day a week during Dorinda´s upcoming U.S. trip. Dorinda Dutcher, March 12, 2016

Measuring in Sanipaya

Doña Rufina, Doña Beatris´s mom

Doña Rufina, Doña Beatris´s mom

At 8am Tuesday morning following Spinzilla Spinning Week the contracted pickup truck arrived to transport the Warmis Phuskadoras Team Captain, Doña Máxima, Dorinda (PAZA), and Shelby the social media volunteer to the rural community of Sanipaya to measure the yardage spun by 7 team members. The truck was quickly loaded with the measuring necessities including a wooden table with yard long measurement marks, 3 plastic chairs, 2 low wooden stools, 2 plastic buckets, and a bag of beverages. The truck wound its way up out of the Palca River valley and across the mountain tops past the turnoff to Huancarani and continuing on another half hour to the Sanipaya turnoff. It was another half an hour of winding down the mountain past the school and health post before finally stopping at what appeared to be the end of the dirt road.

Doña Máxima Measuring and Shelby Recording

Doña Máxima Measuring and Shelby Recording

Doña Beatris, is a Club de Artesanas (CdA) member, and divides her time between Independencia and her farm in Sanipaya. Last year she organized 2 other women in Sanipaya so the 3 of them could participate in Spinzilla, and this year she had organized 6 other spinners. She waved at us from her house which was on the other side of a wheat field that had been harvested and turned under.

Doña Beatris Winding 2 Strands Together

Doña Beatris Winding 2 Strands Together

Our driver, Don Vicente, was a great help all day. He carted the table through the field to Doña Beatris´s house, and served as a recorder to complete a third measuring team. Shelby worked as she had the day prior in Huancarani by recording for Doña Máxima and Dorinda who sat across from each other at the table calling out after every 5th yard they measured. The spinners rewound their balls of yarn as they were measured. There were breaks to stop and talk since 4 of the spinners were new to the competition this year.

The spinners of Huancarani had experienced Spinzilla last year and had a full year to think and talk about it. They also have worked with PAZA since 2007. As a Peace Corps volunteer in 2008, Dorinda had presented 2 natural dye workshops in Sanipaya. Unfortunately due to local politics a working relationship never developed between PAZA and the weavers of Sanipaya.

Rewinding Doña Rina´s Measured Yarn

Rewinding Doña Rina´s Measured Yarn

The last yarn measured this year belonged to Doña Rina. Her 2 balls of spun yarn were single ply and needed to be a double ply for measuring. Doña Máxima put each ball into a separate bucket at her feet so she could combine the 2 strands for measuring. Because the balls of yarn were different colors, they had to be separated after being measured. Doña Juana sat beside Doña Máxima to keep the measured yarn from snarling and fed it out to Doña Rina and Doña Tomaza who had formed a triangle to each side so they could each rewind a single strand. The standard practice to wind 2 drop spindles of spun yarn into a ball is to place a filled drop spindle between the big toe and the next toe of each foot and wind the 2 strands together. Give it a try….

Fleece to be Spun Draped Over Loom

Fleece to be Spun Draped Over Loom

Doña Beatris and her daughter Adviana who lives in Independencia and is a CdA member have been selling weavings through PAZA since 2012. The other spinners expressed interest in working with PAZA to sell weavings. A few workshops in Independencia will be necessary to teach natural dye recipes and how to weave to size specifications which the Huancarani weavers have been working on for 4 years. The piece missing in the government and non-profit organizations development projects concerning rural women generating income through the fiber arts is the sales and marketing. PAZA´s partnership with the local government to work with the Women´s Organizations in rural communities ended rather dramatically at a public meeting in Independencia in 2010. The results of the Spinzilla competition will be presented to the mayor of Independencia with the hope it will help open the doors to local partnerships.

Measuring Completed, Headed Back to Truck

Measuring Completed, Headed Back to Truck

In December, at the annual Centro de Artesanía, Huancarani (CAH) meeting the prizes and participation certificates will be handed out to the Huancarani spinners. Every spinner wins, and all participants will receive a sweater, which was their choice for the prize for participating. Doña Beatris will award the prizes and certificates in Sanipaya. Both Doña Máxima and Doña Beatris did excellent jobs in meeting their responsibilities for organizing the team. It´s been a joyful experience for the team and they share that joy and send their thanks to their TNNA sponsor Cloth Roads, all of you who made it possible for them to participate, and to spinners everywhere. Dorinda Dutcher, October 15, 2015

Measuring Yarn in Huancarani

Taking a Break From Selling Potatoes, Photo Credit: Shelby Deaton

Taking a Break From Selling Potatoes, Photo Credit: Shelby Deaton

The measuring of the yarn spun during Spinzilla spinning week began Sunday evening, with the measuring of the yarn of the 5 Independencia based spinners and 2 Huancarani spinners. Doña Julia and Doña Antonia had traveled from Huancarani in the back of a cargo truck on Saturday to sell their potatoes at Sunday´s market. Late Sunday morning they dropped by the PAZA store/workshop to leave their balls of yarn for measuring and asked if PAZA would buy it. Doña Julia said she had plenty of spun yarn to weave her next project, a poncho for her son, and the sales of her potatoes wasn´t going well. She was going to lower the already low price of the potatoes from $2.15 to $1.45 per 25 pounds in hopes of selling out in time to catch the truck back to Huancarani. PAZA purchased the yarn at $10 a kilo, which is double the local price. The yarn is dyed on Club de Artesanas dye days (local plants and cochineal) and sold to the weavers. Twenty-eight cents is added to the cost of the yarn per skein for the dyeing.

Doña Antonia Measuring While Maribel Records

Doña Antonia Measuring While Maribel Records

Doña Máxima did an excellent job of arranging transportation and planning for the measuring with the spinners in the communities of Huancarani and Sanipaya. She, Doña Antonia, Dorinda, and volunteer Shelby made up the measuring team. The back of the contracted pickup truck was loaded with a wooden table with measurement marks, plastic chairs, low wooden stools, plastic buckets for holding the balls of yarn being measured, and beverages for all. The measuring for 11 spinners took place on the porch of the church and a pew was used as a 3rd measuring station. Each spinner rewound their yarn into a ball as it was passed by the woman measuring who called out “cinco” or “marca” to the recorder after every 5 yards measured. Maribel, who was in PAZA´s Club de Artesanas before moving to Huancarani arrived with her baby and sister-in-law to lend a hand with the recording.

Doñas Felicidad, Justina, and Toribia Waiting to Measure

Doñas Felicidad, Justina, and Toribia Waiting to Measure

Spinners who arrived early ceded their place to those who arrived later but had left unattended sheep or goat herds nearby. Those who could linger did so enjoying the opportunity to socialize. The measuring began at 9:30am, and the measuring team was homebound at 2:30, having taken time out for 2 lunches provided by the spinners.

Doña Eulalia and Doña Narciza both have goat herds, so they were queried about where they had purchased their fleece. They said that traders pass through and trade sheepskins for dried corn kernels. Doña Justina said she´d traded for a black sheep skin and divided the fleece with Doña Casimira. The sheep skin cost each woman 25 pounds of corn kernels. Doña Justina said she filled 11 drop spindles with spun yarn from her half.

Doña Casimira was the Top Ranked Spinner

Doña Casimira was the Top Ranked Spinner

Doña Casimira spun 4,680 yards and was the top ranking spinner in this year´s contest. She is twice widowed and her 4 children have migrated. Last year she tried to live in the tropical area of the state of Cochabamba with her daughter, but that didn´t last long. She doesn´t have any livestock and is between sowing and harvesting on her land. Her spinning was fine and care had to be taken not to break a strand while measuring her heaviest ball.

Sorting Out Snarled Yarn

Sorting Out Snarled Yarn

All but 1 of the Independencia based spinners ranked low on the team. Doña Paulina spends long hours each day selling vegetables in the Independencia market. There isn´t much activity during the week, so she was probably glad to pass the day spinning. Doña Máxima´s daughter Vilma, at age 26 and mother of 4, was the youngest of the spinners. She learned to spin as a girl when the family lived in Huancarani. Doña Máxima was pleased and surprised that Vilma´s spinning was not as she remembered, but fine and consistent. Vilma is one of the top producing PAZA weavers, and usually purchases skeins through PAZA.

Dorinda Reads Comments While Using World May

Dorinda Reads Comments While Using World May

Time for hand spinning is harder to fit into the town lifestyle. Doña Máxima, the team captain, was disappointed in her yardage total which was lower than in 2014, but happier with the quality.

After the measuring a world map was laid on the table to show the spinners where supporters and other participants live. The comments that accompanied the donations to support the team were read. The idea of having “sister” spinners around the world brought smiles, and the discussion will carry on through the year. The gathering broke up and the women headed in various directions, many of them spinning as they walked away. Dorinda Dutcher, October 12, 2015

Mid-Spinning Week Check In

Doñas Julia, Alicia, and Team Captain Doña Máxima

Doñas Julia, Alicia, and Team Captain Doña Máxima

Spinzilla spinning week provides rare social occasions for the rural Andean women. Their days are normally spent lost in solitary thought as the spin following the meandering route of their grazing sheep or goats.

Team captain Doña Máxima had arranged with the Huancarani spinners to meet in 1 of 4 locations on Wednesday morning. She along with her daughter and team member Vilma, Dorinda, and Shelby Deaton a social media volunteer climbed into a contracted pickup truck to check in with the Huancarani spinners.

Horses Had the Day Off, Note Use of Weaving

Horses Had the Day Off, Note Use of Weaving

The first stop was several miles off the main dirt road that leads to the center of the community (school, Catholic Church, soccer field, and unmanned health post). Doña Julia and Doña Alicia came out from their homes spinning as they walked. Doña Máxima´s aged mother-in-law and her husband were sacking up bags of gravel and sand that a dump truck had left alongside the road. They planned to move what they needed on horseback to their home a ½ mile away for the workers who were contracted by a government development project to build outhouses at each home. The visitors and driver all looked at one another and began loading the back of the pickup, including the filled bags the elderly couple couldn´t lift.

Sisters, Doñas Máxima & Doña Narciza

Sisters, Doñas Máxima & Doña Narciza

Doña Máxima and Vilma spun and chatted with the other 2 spinners while photos were snapped. The rules were reviewed and the plan for meeting in the soccer field to measure the spun yardage on Monday was discussed. The final bit of business was to have the 2 local spinners select the color and state the size for the sweater they will be awarded for participating in Spinzilla. Doña Máxima had brought along a variety of colored markers which the women used to make their color selection.

Doña Máxima and Daughter Vilma Applying Leaves for Pain Relief

Doña Máxima and Daughter Vilma Applying Leaves for Pain Relief

The next stop was to unload the gravel and sand for the outhouse project, then walk next door to visit Doña Narciza who is Doña Maxima´s sister and the top producing weaver. She was also the fastest spinner of the spinners queried, having filled 6 drop spindles. Because she has goats she was asked where she had procured her fleece. She said she was very pleased with the length of the fiber on the sheep skins she´d purchased from a butcher in Independencia. Doña Máxima had made a beeline upon arrival to the Tartaku (Riscinus comunis L.) bushes beside her sister´s house to pluck a number of the huge red-veined leaves. She wet the leaves in a metal tub which was filled by a trickle from a hose running downhill from a spring. She and Vilma applied the wet leaves to their shoulders to ease the growing aches from their days of spinning. There was just time for a few minutes of chatting and communal spinning before it was time to move on.

Spinners: Doña Antonia Calcina and Doña Felicidad

Spinners: Doña Antonia Calcina and Doña Felicidad

The truck bumped along on its way back to the main road and then to the next stop below the center of the community. Doña Julia and her next door neighbor, Doña Dionicia, were waiting with their flocks. They spun, chatted, and picked out the color for their sweaters. Doña Julia said she plans to sell her sheep after Christmas and devote more time to weaving. Her son, who is a doctor, requested a poncho, which she will weave with the yarn she is spinning. She´d also plans to weave to sell through PAZA. Doña Antonia and Doña Felicidad were waiting on the other side of the road, and they spun and chatted with Doña Máxima and Vilma. Doña Felicidad said she would be weaving ch´uspas (shoulder bags) with the yarn she was spinning to sell through PAZA.

Spinning with Joy, Photo Credit: Shelby Deaton

Spinning with Joy, Photo Credit: Shelby Deaton

The sun was merciless, and it was a relief to find the last gathering of women sitting in the shade of eucalyptus trees. Their combined flocks of sheep were spread out in a field behind them. Doña Eulalia´s herd of goats were out of sight and hopefully didn’t wander as far as they did during the last meeting. Doña Máxima and Vilma joined the group and their drop spindles began to whirl. All the spinners were spinning to weave PAZA orders. There were a lot of smiles and a lot of laughter. There was joy. The main comments throughout the day were expressions of happiness to know that there were spinners around the world spinning with them.

Shelby

Shelby

The spinners are very appreciative of the support through Spinzilla that enabled them to participate and that made the week so special for them. They enjoyed the comments from other spinners which is a beginning in understanding that there is a larger fiber arts world outside of their isolated valley.

Shelby will be putting together a short mix of photos and video of Spinzilla 2015 in Bolivia to share via U-tube with all who are interested. We were pleased to be granted permission to use the delightful folkloric music of the musical group, “Sacambaya” whose founder is from Independencia. Its availability will be announced via the Ravelry thread soon. Thank you, Shelby, for everything! Dorinda Dutcher, October 9, 2015

Ruraq Maki Visits Independencia

Amanda Working With the CdA Teens and Women

Amanda Working With the CdA Teens and Women

The Club de Artesanas (CdA) activity focus in September was learning new jewelry making techniques. Amanda Smiles, founder of Ruraq Maki, made her annual 4 day journey to Independencia from Ayacucho Peru where Ruraq Maki (RM) offers craft training workshops to incarcerated women in the Yanamilla Prison. It was her 4th year teaching wire jewelry making techniques and working with Doña Máxima as the local trainer. The 4 new chicas in the Club had looked forward to Amanda’s arrival with increasing anticipation. The earrings they´d not sold at the Harvest Fair last May were reviewed and praised by Amanda. She showed all the jewelry makers how to correct a few minor flaws in their workmanship.

Doña Máxima Modeling a Yoga Mat Strap

Doña Máxima Modeling a Yoga Mat Strap

Ruraq Maki has helped with the product design of the traditional weavings over the past 5 years. The yoga mat straps were Amanda´s idea during a brainstorming session in 2012. The yoga mat straps and zippered cosmetic bags began being assembled in-house last year thanks to the industrial sewing machine funded by Ruraq Maki. Additional training is needed to tackle the larger lined fashion bags. PAZA is searching for a Quechua speaking sewing instructor to teach a series of short intensive workshops in Independencia. PAZA needs help to get the yoga mat straps into the hands of yoga practitioners. The hope is that a climb in sales will allow PAZA to get the word out encouraging more weavers to weave and teens to learn to weave.

CdA Dye Day

CdA Dye Day

Doña Juana, the newest CdA member, was introduced to the magic of cochineal during a Club dye day. She´s already sold her first weaving, a yoga mat strap, to Ruraq Maki. She lacks natural dyed yarn for the weavings PAZA sells, so had handspun enough wool for 8 skeins to take advantage of PAZA´s upcoming dye days. A few of the Huancarani weavers had sent skeins to the CdA for dyeing. All requested an orange dye, which was easily done with the addition of citric acid to a cochineal dye bath.

Doña Juana admiring her cochineal dyed skeins

Doña Juana admiring her cochineal dyed skeins

The cochineal PAZA uses was purchased from Potosí Bolivia through PAZA´s natural dye trainer. He had the cochineal lab tested and the highland Potosí cochineal had a higher carminic acid percentage than the cochineal from Cochabamba (local). PAZA´s first purchase of cochineal in 2009 cost $14.50 a kilo, and luckily the 5 kilos purchased held out through the rise in pricing to $86.50 a kilo in 2010. When the next purchase was needed the price had dropped to $36 a kilo. Rumor had it the spike in pricing was due to the demand of the food and drug industry for an organic colorant. Perhaps the demand diminished when consumers discovered the organic colorant was a bug, or they may have found the distinctive odor off-putting.

Doñas Máxima and Beatris, Measuring Day in Sanipaya, 2014

Doñas Máxima and Beatris, Measuring Day in Sanipaya, 2014

Club member, Doña Beatris, who spends the majority of her time in her rural community of Sanipaya, was able to participate in the dye day. She sells weavings to PAZA regularly and is doing a great job in organizing the 8 spinners in Sanipaya who will be competing in the Spinzilla spinning competition. Six of the spinners are entering for the first time and will have a better understanding of the competition after spinning week. Doña Máxima will visit to measure the yardage of spun wool and resolve the lingering doubts of why it costs the spinners $2.15 each to participate. Please consider donating to support the Spinzilla Team Cloth Roads/Warmis Phuskadoras so the event doesn´t financially impact the other PAZA activities.

RM Tote Modeled by Adviana, the Weaver

RM Tote Modeled by Adviana, the Weaver

The soap making project began anew. The 3rd recipe for basic soap was made using a new recipe that includes cocoa butter and vegetable oil along with the rendered tallow that was the only fat used in previous batches. The cocoa butter was purchased in the U.S., although an effort will be made to find a Bolivian source since cocoa is harvested in the Amazon area of the country. Although coconut trees grow in Bolivia, coconut oil is outrageously expensive, so it´s possible there is no processing done in Bolivia. Such possibility, such poverty, ah, Bolivia….

Thanks to the ongoing support of WARP members Lyn, Susan, and Dorothy and new PAZA supporter Jeane PAZA can offer a variety of Club activities hoping that they will spark entrepreneurial interest for income generating activities for the teens and women. The weekly activities also allow for the continued documentation of an ancient culture in transition. Dorinda Dutcher, September 18, 2015

August in Independencia

CdA Chicas Making Lanterns for Parade

CdA Chicas Making Lanterns for Parade

Volunteer José Sánchez ended his visit as Michelle Burdette began hers with the festivities of August 6th which is Bolivia´s Independence Day. The fun began with a lantern parade the evening of the 5th. The following day, José stayed in Independencia at the invitation of the graduating class who he had helped design and paint the map of Bolivia they marched through the streets. Michelle and I headed to Huancarani at the invitation of Doña Máxima to experience Independence Day in a rural community.

Mayors Leading Parade, Doña Màxima´s Husband Wearing Her Weavings is in Center

Mayors Leading Parade, Doña Màxima´s Husband Wearing Her Weavings is in Center

The authorities set up the podium then herded everybody up the hill above the soccer field to march back down. The 3 mayors led the parade with their tin staff of office in hand. Each was attired in a poncho and ch’upsa (shoulder bag to hold the ceremonial coca leaf) their wives had woven this year. Behind the mayors marched their families, the Organization of Women led by CdA member Doña Antonia who is the current President, the Organization of Men, a few Cochabamba based youths who returned for the holiday, and a small group of

The Authorities Seated to View the Program

The Authorities Seated to View the Program

school children. The procession circled the soccer field than stood at attention at the podium for the national anthem and speeches.
The program continued with folkloric dances by the children in creatively constructed costumes and a feast. A sheep had been butchered and potatoes and fava beans were cooked in the communal wood burning oven at the school. We left before the

Doña Màxima Wore Her New Aguayo with the Embedded Double Weave

Doña Màxima Wore Her New Aguayo with the Embedded Double Weave

feasting, and Doña Máxima reported that the festivities went on until 3am in the morning. She thoroughly enjoyed the 2 days she spent in her home community. The opportunity to participate in a celebration there had eluded her for over 12 years.

Michelle and the Chicas Taking a Selfie

Michelle and the Chicas Taking a Selfie

Michelle´s University of Akron professor who is a WARP member and longtime PAZA supporter challenged Michelle with linking her Club de Artesanas (CdA) workshops to her millinery internship. Michellebrought quilt squares, thread, buttons, and headscarf patterns.She and Doña Máxima spent half a day working together to sew the headscarves that the women and chicas adorned with bows and pom-poms. The women enjoyed adorning the headscarves and the chicas were over the moon. The chicasare easily spotted in the streets with their colorful headscarves woven through their long dark braids.

The REsults of Michelle´s Classes

The REsults of Michelle´s Classes

PAZA wishes to thank José and Michelle for all their contributions to the CdA and the community.
The Spinzilla Spinning Week is just a month away and we still lack a volunteer to make the short documentary and a volunteer to manage the social media. The Spinzilla expenses are not yet funded. Last year the expenses were $600.
Thank you Lyn Lucas and Dorothy Thursby-Stern for your continued support that has helped keep the CdA activities moving forward.

Joel Joins the Chicas for Snack Time

Joel Joins the Chicas for Snack Time

Joel Cachi skipped kindergarten and plunged into first grade last February thanks to the medical evaluation paid for by PAZA supporters. He couldn’t register without submitting the evaluation results.PAZA raised $2,200 for the medical evaluations following his surgery to have brain tumors removed in 2013. Joel and his father traveled to Cochabamba in late June for the final evaluation. His father reported that there are no further signs of tumors and Joel should recover completely. Joel’s family has asked that their appreciation of your support be conveyed again. Thank you!Two of his sisters are CdA members, and Joel often joins us around snack time. Dorinda Dutcher, August 22, 2015

Call for Spinzilla Volunteers and Support

Jonathan McCarthy Photo, Spinzilla 2014

Jonathan McCarthy Photo, Spinzilla 2014

The Spinzilla Team WarmisPhuskadoras will be competing in their second spinning competition, which will take place between October 5th and 11th. Spinning is an integral part of the vanishing farmer subsistence lifestyle in the Andes, so documenting Spinzilla spinning week is much more than just filming the spinning event.

Doña Narciza and Jonathan Share a Laugh

Doña Narciza and Jonathan Share a Laugh

Last year PAZA friend Jonathan McCarthy volunteered to spend a week filming in Independencia and Huancarani. He edited the footage to produce a short 4 minute film that was available on U-Tube a few days after spinning week. PAZA is looking for 2 volunteers to assist with this year’s spinning week. One volunteer is needed to produce a short documentary. The ability to capture the spirit of the Andean campo is more important than filming expertise. A second volunteer who could manage the social media communications and assist in measuring the spun yardage would be an enormous help for us.The visit will include day trips to the rural communities of Huancarani and Sanipaya offering a rare glimpse into the lives of the weavers and their ancient Andean weaving tradition.

Measuring Handspun Yardage in Sanipaya, 2014

Measuring Handspun Yardage in Sanipaya, 2014

Although this is a specific volunteer request, PAZA is always in need of volunteers wishing to offer needle arts technical assistance. Help to improve sewing skills is a current priority. Volunteers can arrange to learn Andean weaving skills from Doña Máxima. There is a nominal charge for the volunteer program which goes towards the sustainability of the PAZA activities. If you are interested please read through the blog´s volunteer page to see if this program and a visit to Bolivia might be just what you are looking for as a cultural and volunteer service learning experience.

Help is Needed to Film, Manage Social Media, Measure & Tally the Spun Yardage

Help is Needed to Film, Manage Social Media, Measure & Tally the Spun Yardage

The expenses for the Spinzilla event were $600 last year, and have not been funded for 2015. Please consider supporting the Bolivian team.

The 25 members of Team WarmisPhuskadoras are signed up and looking forward to this year´s spinning week. They wish to thank Marilyn Murphy and their Spinzilla sponsors Thrums Publications LLC and Cloth Roads for making their participation possible. The weavers appreciate the support of Cloth Roads as a sales venue for their weavings. Dorinda Dutcher, August 2, 2015