Volunteers

Catching up with the Club de Artesanas

Doña Antonia´s Crocheted Shawl

Doña Antonia´s Crocheted Shawl

Following is a quick summary of May and June. Doña Máxima held the Club de Artesanas meetings once a week at her house while I visitedtheU.S. Thanks to PAZA supporters the meetings were productive because the women were able to purchase yarn so they could work on crochet projects while chatting. Doña Antonia crocheted a shawl and began wearing it immediately to ward off the cold of the winter months of June and July. Coats are not part of the women´s wardrobe. They layer on acrylic sweaters and shawls.

View of Doña Màxima´s Loom

View of Doña Màxima´s Loom

Doña Máxima spent hours at her loom weaving the necessities for her husband´s regalia as mayor of Huancarani. When her hands weren´t otherwise occupied she had her pushka (drop spindle) in motion to ply the purchased yarn tightly in preparation for the next weaving. In early May, she warped her loom to weave half the aguayo with bright neon colored synthetic yarn, commenting that it made the natural dyed yarn seem dark and boring. The weaving had 4 columns of figures with 1 heddle string and 1 column of figures using the embedded double weave technique that uses 5 heddle strings and 4 weft threads. It was slow going and occupied most of her time for more than 2 weeks. Upon completion she warped her loom to weave the figureless poncho desiring the reward of making quick progress. She completed it in 4 days.

Focusing on the Embedded Double Weave Column

Focusing on the Embedded Double Weave Column

Upon finishing the poncho she immediately warped her loom again to weave the other half of the aguayo. Weeks later she used a decorative stich to sew the two halves together. The final step was a crocheted border.She’d planned on weaving a second aguayo for herself, but lacking time and energy it will be woven without the motifsonly possible using the embedded double weave technique. Her daughter Vilma had expressed a desire to learn the technique, but changed her mind after observing the painstaking process. The technique allows the weaver flexibility to experiment with figures, so weavings are often a motif mix of the ancient and the contemporary such as helicopters. Sadly, the skills to weave with thistechnique that has been used to create beautiful Andean weavings for eons will disappear as the ageing weavers pass away taking with them the skills they perfected as teens.

The Aguayo Still Needing the Crocheted Border

The Aguayo Still Needing the Crocheted Border

The mayor’s wife must also appear at celebrations and rituals properly attired. PAZA purchased material for Doña Máxima to sew a traditional wool pollera (skirt) and a blouse, to help make up for her wage being halved because the Club de Artesanas met only once instead of twice a week for 2 months. Both Don Julio and Doña Máxima will be in full regalía for Bolivia´s Independence Day celebration in Huancarani on August 6th, so photos will be included with the next blog posting.

Kelsey, Katie, Dorinda, Amanda at WARP Conference, 2015

Kelsey, Katie, Dorinda, Amanda at WARP Conference, 2015

The annual WARP Conference is always a highlight of the annual U.S. trip. Amanda Smiles, founder of Ruraq Maki, presented her ongoing design efforts to create woven products that will find a market. She has brought pattern ideas and samples for bags for the past 3 years to Independencia and came up with the idea for the yoga mat straps. At the Conference Amanda met WARP Board members Katie Simmons and Kelsey Wiskirchen who have visited Independencia as PAZA volunteers. Amanda purchased weavings to sell through Ruraq Maki’s sales venues. Katie and Kelsey kindly lugged home weavings to sell so that the PAZA weaving inventory in the U.S. didn´t have to go into storage until next year.

Warping a Weaving that will be a Ruraq Maki bag

Warping a Weaving that will be a Ruraq Maki bag

Marilyn Murphy of Thrums Publications and Cloth Roads was also at the Conference. Those organizations with Marilyn as the PAZA contact will again sponsor the Independencia Spinzilla team, the WarmisPhuskadoras (Spinning Women). Marilyn made purchases of Independencia weavings to sell through Cloth Roads. If you would like to purchase a weaving please contact one of the U.S. connections. Each sale motivates the weavers to keep weaving. The expenses for last year´s Spinzilla competition were $600, and this year´s competition is not as yet funded. Please consider supporting the team.

It was fun catching up with long time PAZA supporter Dorothy Thursby-Stern at the WARP Conference. Thanks to Dorothy and WARP member Lyn Lucas all the June and July PAZA activities were possible.Dorinda Dutcher, July 27, 2015

2014 Recap

68 Sewing, Knitting, & Crochet Projects Completed

68 Sewing, Knitting, & Crochet Projects Completed

Shiriin Barakzai, PAZA’s administrative mentor, set up PAZA’s “Rolling Program Plan” (RPP) while volunteering in 2010. The 2014 statistics were compiled and finally entered into the pages of Inputs, Outputs, and Outcomes/Lessons Learned to sum up what was accomplished and crystalize the nebulous plans for this year. Whew!

The Club de Artesanas (CdA) members enjoyed listening to a recap of the year´s activities, especially the statistics of their projects completed. All the weavers were interested in hearing how much income they earned from weavings sold in 2014, and their ranking in the year´s sales.

8 Volunteers Shared a Multitude of Skills

8 Volunteers Shared a Multitude of Skills

Because weaving is done at home, the CdA members work on sewing, crochet, and knitting projects on Club days. The 9 women involved in the Club improved their needle arts skills by completing 61 projects. The completed projects help clothe their families. The teenagers who joined when the Club began in 2010 will graduate from high school in December. Their interest in the Club and in weaving has increasingly waned and the 5 still involved completed only 7 sewing or crochet projects. Although they will be welcome to use the PAZA workshop for school projects the budget for project supplies will go towards younger girls wishing to learn how to weave.

68,479 Yards of Yarn Were Spun During Spinzilla Spinning Week

68,479 Yards of Yarn Were Spun During Spinzilla Spinning Week

The high school seniors will be invited to participate in the popular Ruraq Maki jewelry making classes one last time before they scatter to the 4 winds.

Spinzilla spinning week was the year´s high point. The weavers got a charge out of competing in an activity they´ve done almost daily their entire lives. Spinning is just 1 step in the process from sheep to final weaving, so the competition was an extraordinary opportunity to raise awareness of the ancient labor intensive Andean weaving tradition. The weavers are honored that Thrums LLC and ClothRoads have again offered to be the TNNA sponsor of Team

The Top Producing Weaver Sold 21 Weavings

The Top Producing Weaver Sold 21 Weavings

Warmis Phuskadoras for Spinzilla 2015. The documentary was great fun to film, and it would be wonderful if a textile oriented filmmaker would volunteer to visit us to film this year´s spinning week which will be October 5-11.

There were 165 weavings sold in 2014 by 29 weavers totaling $3,613. That is a decrease from the sales of 215 weavings in 2013 by 35 weavers totaling $4,477. Sales at the 2013 Tinkuy International Weaving Conference, sales to volunteers, and the generous purchases of a fair trade buyer at WARP’s annual conference Marketplace boosted sales that year. PAZA is transitioning from carrying an inventory of traditional weavings on consignment to placing orders with the weavers to be assembled into zippered pouches and a variety of bags, belts, sashes, yoga mat straps, guitar straps, and wallets requested by buyers.

CdA Held 6 Dye Days

CdA Held 6 Dye Days

The orders and production capacity maintained a delicate balance in 2014, however PAZA has an ever increasing inventory in the U.S. that needs to be sold to keep the rotating fund rotating. The woven products can be purchased online through Ruraq Maki and ClothRoads. Dorinda can ship orders during her U.S. visit in May. The WARP Conference Marketplace in Burlingame, CA, May 29/31 will be the only U.S. direct sales opportunity.

Amanda, Ruraq Maki Founder, Oversaw Completion of 33 Jewelry Projects

Amanda, Ruraq Maki Founder, Oversaw Completion of 33 Jewelry Projects

The industrial sewing machine needed to begin in-house assembly of the woven products was purchased in December, thanks to the fundraising efforts of Ruraq Maki. Following a training class, the sewing of the yoga mat straps began in February, providing income for CdA members. As the women improve their skills the assembly of the lined zippered pouches will also be done in the PAZA workshop. Volunteers to teach sewing workshops are needed to help the women improve their skills.

Many Weavings Were Warped During CdA Days

Many Weavings Were Warped During CdA Days

The PAZA successes can be attributed to people working together. Seventeen PAZA supporters raised $3,450 of the $4,047 spent in expenses. An additional $2,200 was contributed to the fund for 6 year old Joel Cachi’s medical evaluation. Noemi Chavez was able to begin her career as a nursing technician thanks to the funds that were gifted to cover the professional certification process. The fundraising efforts for Joel and Noemi met their objectives and are complete.

Noemi supported the Huancarani weavers by attending the 2015 municipal government budget meeting and demanding funding for the weavers. The weavers in turn reorganized their defunct Organization of Women so they can access those funds. They elected a CdA member as President. The local political winds have changed and freshened so local collaboration looks more promising than it has in the past 5 years.

Through the collaborative efforts of all who were involved with PAZA in 2014 the objectives to provide technical assistance to help rural Andean women generate income to care for their families and to help rescue and preserve the Andean weaving tradition were well met. Thank you. Dorinda Dutcher, February 5, 2015

Club de Artesanas Vacation Session Ends

Prepping the Year´s 1st Suyku Leaf Dye Pot

Prepping the Year´s 1st Suyku Leaf Dye Pot

The first month of 2015 flew by in Independencia as the members of the Club de Artesanas (CdA) packed a variety of activities into the last few weeks of the school vacation.

3 young teens in the CdA experienced their first natural dye day and were intrigued by the magical color change from red through tones of orange in the cochineal dye baths. Doña Máxima chose cream of tartar and citric acid to manipulate the Ph sensitive dye to produce “colores vivos”. The rains prompted new growth of the prolific suyku (Tagetes graveotens Schultz) plant, so leaves were collected for the

Dye Day Results

Dye Day Results

first time since last March. The women chose to add millu, a mineral from the La Paz area, as the mordant to darken the dye bath. The results were 2 dye baths of almost identical forest green skeins and the 3rd and final dye bath dyed the skeins light green.

Earrings Made During the Jewelry Class

Earrings Made During the Jewelry Class

The morning baking classes with Dorinda and the afternoon jewelry making and weaving classes taught by Doña Máxima will end when the chicas return to school in early February. The women participants prefer to sit and chat while sewing, crocheting, and knitting. In other words, they prefer using the time to relax away from their never ending chores

Rory and the Chicas

Rory and the Chicas

at home. Last week a landslide damaged Independencia´s water system high in the mountains near the source, so water flow was nonexistent or a turbid trickle all week as government workers and volunteers from local organizations worked to repair it. The rains stopped and the summer sun beat down for a couple of days just as the city water ended. The gods had a good laugh before sending forth the begged for rains that could be collected for home use.

Veronica and Esther Learning to Weave Andean Figures

Veronica and Esther Learning to Weave Andean Figures

Visitor Rory Curtain spent a week participating in the CdA activities. She delighted the teens by teaching them basic yoga moves and gymnastics. Their high spirited play was the perfect ending for the summer CdA session.

Doña Máxima´s Cochabamba based daughter, Zoraida, has sewn professionally with an industrial sewing machine. She graciously accepted the request to teach a 3 day class so we could put the new Juki sewing machine to use. Although all 4 women in the CdA expressed interest in participating in the class, two were intimidated by the speed of the machine and dropped out. Doña Máxima and Zoraida´s older sister, Vilma, completed the class.

Doña Màxima Sewing Her First Yoga Mat Strap

Doña Màxima Sewing Her First Yoga Mat Strap

The first project was to make a payasa (straw filled mattress) cover with zipper as an introduction to using the sewing machine. The goal of the class was to have at least one woman competent in the assembly of the yoga mat straps. The women also sewed zippered coin bags from weavings and sample zippered pouches with lining out of practice material. Every line of stitching for each project was examined and discussed. All the years Doña Máxima has spent listening to visitors, volunteers, and potential buyers on how to improve the weavings has paid off because she quickly understood the quality standards that apply to the sewing.

Sewing Class, 2 out of 4 Passed

Sewing Class, 2 out of 4 Passed

The class was a success. The in-house assembly of the yoga mat straps can begin immediately, thus providing income for local women instead of to the sewing workshop in Cochabamba. The women need a bit more experience with inexpensive material before assembling the lined zippered pouches. Our heartfelt thanks go out to Ruraq Maki for providing the funding to purchase the industrial sewing machine. The ongoing support of Lyn Lucas, Shiriin Barazkai, Dorothy Thursby-Stern, Nancy Meffe, and Susan Long made it possible to provide the intensive sewing workshop and are helping to keep the ongoing PAZA activities going.

Joel Will be Starting Kindergarten

Joel Will be Starting Kindergarten

Six year old Joel Cachi´s dream of entering kindergarten will be fulfilled this year. Thanks to the PAZA supporters who raised $2,200 his parents were able to take him to Cochabamba for a follow-up medical evaluation from his surgery to remove brain tumors. The positive results allowed them to obtain the medical release required by the school. He must return to the city in June for another evaluation and a brain scan to figure out where the nerve communication between his right hip and foot have gone haywire and get his toes working again. There was a balance of $1,056 that will go towards June´s medical expenses and a bicycle. Joel´s father said that in lieu of any available local physical therapy it was recommended that Joel learn to ride a bike to help strengthen the right leg. I authorized the purchase amount to be taken out of the donated funds. Various members of Joel’s family have separately asked that their sincere gratitude be expressed to all of you who have helped. On that note we´ll end this successful fundraising effort for Joel. Hugs from a happy kindergartener and his family. Dorinda Dutcher, February 1, 2015

Spinzilla Week Video

Spinzilla Week Was Joyous. Photo Credit: Jonathan McCarthy

Spinzilla Week Was Joyous. Photo Credit: Jonathan McCarthy

Spinzilla Week was INCREDIBLE. Please enjoy this video Jonathan McCarthy volunteered his time and skills to make to share with a wider world the joy it brought to the rural weavers. They were so excited to compete in an event in which they are so skilled.

Click below on “Traditions of the Andes – Spinzilla 2014”

 

 

Traditions of the Andes – Spinzilla 2014

Our sincere gratitude to Quentin Navia who graciously granted permission for the use of Sukay´s beautiful Andean music. Head to the Andes: Sukay Music

Team Warmis Phuskadoras didn´t win the spinning competition with the most yardage spun, but all have won in so many other ways. Thank you all who helped make it possible for the women to be part of a larger world by competing in Spinzilla 2014.  Dorinda Dutcher, October 20, 2014

 

 

 

 

Thrums/ClothRoads – Team Warmis Phuskadoras, September

Doña Eulalia Prepping Fleece, 2010

Doña Eulalia Prepping Fleece, 2010

The registration of 25 spinners for the Thrum/ClothRoads – Warmis Phushkadoras Spinzilla team is complete. Thanks to Ruraq Maki who provided the transportation to Huancarani and a jewelry making workshop we were able to meet with the weavers on August 27th to talk about the contest.

The majority of the weavers arrived with their phuskas (drop spindles) whirling as they spun or plyed while walking to the soccer field from their farms. As I mentioned before they are going to be formidable competition because they’ve spent the majority of their lives with their phuskas in hand or close by.

Doña Narciza Arrived to Late to Make Earrings so Plyed Yarn While Chatting

Doña Narciza Arrived to Late to Make Earrings so Plyed Yarn While Chatting

The women currently spin 3 weights of yarn. The finest yarn is used for the weavings made into ch’uspas (shoulder bags) and PAZA products. The yarn woven into tapa bancas (bench covers) is heavier. Those weavings are also used to hold padding on the horses when they can pack cargo. The heaviest density is for weaving blankets. Last year we had an elder spin yarn to weave bayeta (unpatterned cloth) on the floor loom, and it was spun finer than the chuspa weight yarn. It kept breaking, so the women lost interest in weaving it and the floor loom is once again gathering dust. Historically, bayeta was woven by men on floor looms and made into pants for men and the polleras (skirts), but it is a fading memory only seen during fiestas. Doña Máxima remembers 3 bayeta weavers in Huancarani when she was growing up.

Spinzilla Planning Meeting, Doña Máxima is Translating into Quechua

Spinzilla Planning Meeting, Doña Máxima is Translating into Quechua

We lacked only 3 team members when we left Huancarani. The women suggested that each participant receive a small memento of the event to avoid envy when the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place prizes are awarded. They said that´s what´s done at the Feria de la Chirimoya, Independencia´s harvest fair, in May.

Doña Dionicia Prepping Fleece, She´s the Eldest Weaver, but not the Eldest Spinner

Doña Dionicia Prepping Fleece, She´s the Eldest Weaver, but not the Eldest Spinner

Each competitor receives a machete or pitchfork and waits with bated breath for the announcement of 1st, 2nd, and 3rd, prizes. Suggestions for prizes were a metal cup or plate. It´s difficult to think of a small prize related to their weavings since nothing is purchased. My thoughts are to have a cup stamped with the Spinzilla logo.  Any suggestions?

Group Photo Receiving Official Centro de Artesanía, Huancarani Documents, 2012

Group Photo Receiving Official Centro de Artesanía, Huancarani Documents, 2012

Doña Máxima reviewed the rules with the weavers including that they begin spinning with empty phuskas on Monday, October 6th. The women were shocked that there would be 1,400 spinners and couldn´t believe some of them would be men. Men don´t hand spin in this part of Andean Bolivia. The opportunity to participate in Spinzilla is opening a bigger world to them, and they´re excited to begin.

Doña Alicia Arrived at the Workshop Plying Yarn to Weave a Blanket

Doña Alicia Arrived at the Workshop Plying Yarn to Weave a Blanket

The last blank on our sign-up sheet was filled on September 2nd. Nineteen of the spinners hale from the community of Huancarani, and of those 2 including the Captain, Doña Máxima Cortez, live in Independencia and are in the Club de Artesanas (CdA). Four of the spinners are from the community of Sanipaya, including CdA member Doña Beatris Flores who splits her time between her community and Independencia. The 2 youngest CdA members don’t have time to spin but signed up eager substitutes (a mother-in-law and a grandmother) who both reside in Sanipaya.  Doña Paulina Quiroz will represent the community of Chuñavi Chico and has been involved in PAZA activities since 2008. Club member Doña Martha Mamani commutes between Independencia and her farm in Lirimarca which is a 2 hour ride in the back of a cargo truck followed by a 3 hour walk (she keeps a burro where the truck drops her off to pack in the groceries).

Doña Ines Gets a Hand Winding a Skein for a Dye Workshop, 2010

Doña Ines Gets a Hand Winding a Skein for a Dye Workshop, 2010

A huge thank you to the Team Warmis Phuskadoras TNNA sponsor Marilyn Murphy partner of Thrums and ClothRoads for giving the women this opportunity to compete in Spinzilla 2014. It will be interesting to see what repercussions vibrate throughout the municipality of Independencia when the word gets out that hand spinning skills are valued and honored at an international level.

Thanks to Lyn Lucas, Shiriin Barakzai, Dorothy Thursby-Stern, and Nancy Meffe (Weaving for Women of the World) we were able to submit our $250 participant fee, and continue our ongoing PAZA activities. We still need to raise $200 for purchasing the prizes and transportation for 2 trips to Huancarani and if necessary extending the trip to Sanipaya for measuring the yarn on October 13thDorinda Dutcher, September 2, 2014

August with Ruraq Maki

Amanda Works with the Women in the Club de Artesanas

Amanda Works with the Women in the Club de Artesanas

The day of Ruraq Maki (RM) founder, Amanda Smiles’s, much anticipated arrival occurred on August 20th and was followed by 2 weeks of whirlwind activities. This year she was accompanied by

Devin Worked with the Kids Allowing their Mothers' to Focus on Their Class

Devin Worked with the Kids Allowing their Mothers’ to Focus on Their Class

RM Board member Devin Montalto. Amanda has offered jewelry making classes for 3 consecutive years. The past 2 years she taught wire working techniques, this year the women in Club de Artesanas and weavers of Huancarani learned introductory bead weaving techniques using brick and ladder stitches to make hoop and dangly earrings. They loved ‘em. Devin worked with the little kids allowing the mothers peace and the opportunity to focus on their jewelry making.

Amanda Shares a Laugh with the Chicas

Amanda Shares a Laugh with the Chicas

There were 4 half days of classes for chicas ranging in age from 14 to 17. This year for the first time we invited a group from the Don Bosco high school. We did not plan a workshop in Chuñavi Chico this year, but Amanda offered to teach a Sunday course for anyone interested. Doña Paulina Quiroz a stalwart PAZA partner since 2008 arrived at the door with her youngest son and 14 year old José Luis who substituted for his mother who loves earrings but couldn´t make it into town.

The Huancarani Students Looking On

The Huancarani Students Looking On

Ruraq Maki generously covered the transportation expense to travel to Huancarani for a workshop. Because it’s not vacation many of the women couldn’t spend the day at the workshop because there’s nobody to pasture their flocks. Doña Eulalia recently purchased a flock of goats and we waved as she walked past, however she left them with another woman once they reached ample grazing and came flying down the hill her face alit with a huge smile to join us. The homesteads are isolated and social opportunities are rare so the women relish a chance to get together and still be productive. We met at the soccer field by the school so the kids joined us at lunchtime and after school. However, their priority was to check out the new litter of piglets over the wall from where we sat before seeing what we were up to. One young girl had the confidence to sit down, ask for help, and began making earrings.

Doña Eulogia and Doña Justina Select Their Beads for Making Earrings

Doña Eulogia and Doña Justina Select Their Beads for Making Earrings

Although I´d taken reading glasses the women weren´t comfortable using them, so Amanda and Doña Máxima spent a lot of time threading the beading needles. The staggered arrivals of the 8 participants kept them both busy as the day flew by. Two weavers arrived too late to make earrings but in time for the communal lunch.

At the final jewelry making workshop with the women in the Club de Artesanas, Amanda helped them with pricing the earring they made this year to sell locally. Doña Maxima was left with homework which is the responsibility for overseeing the production of earrings to sell at the PAZA booth at the harvest fair in May. The weavings don´t sell well so our participation at local fairs has been erratic through the years.

The Chicas Show Off the Results of a Class with Amanda

The Chicas Show Off the Results of a Class with Amanda

Amanda purchased traditional weavings during her first visit in 2011. She communicated that the weavings did not have a market through Ruraq Maki sales venues targeting young urban adults. In 2012, she worked with the leather store next to our hotel and left with exquisite shoulder bags pairing the weavings and

Bead Weaving was Taught in this Year´s Classes

Bead Weaving was Taught in this Year´s Classes

leather. Although there was a market there was a higher percentage of cost going to the leather shop instead of the weaver. She worked with volunteer designers in the Bay area and arrived with patterns and samples of 2 bag designs in 2013. One of the designs, a simple pocketed clutch that ties shut, has sold well. During a brain storming session last year she suggested yoga mat straps as a good product for a fair trade price and teaching traditional figures to motivate teenagers to weave to

Last Day´s Pricing Workshop

Last Day´s Pricing Workshop

sell. PAZA developed 2 sizes of yoga straps during 2013. Samples of two new product designs for 2014 are being made in Cochabamba by our designer/seamstress who sews all the PAZA products. These products may be purchased through the Ruraq Maki website.

Ruraq Maki held a fundraiser to raise $300 to buy an industrial sewing machine for the PAZA workshop. PAZA needs to raise the funds for training and rental of an additional room because we´ve outgrown the current store/workshop. A trainer will have to be contracted from Cochabamba, and that budget will be communicated at a later date. A huge thanks and hug to Amanda, Devin, and supporters of Ruraq Maki for all they have done for the weavers, kids, and teens this year. Dorinda Dutcher, September 1, 2014

Club, Spinzilla, and Independence Day

Vilma´s Daughters Model New Nightgowns

Vilma´s Daughters Model New Nightgowns

The women in the Club de Artesanas have spent the past few weeks finishing projects initiated by friend and volunteer Marian Leishman during her June visit. Although winter is waning the nights are still chill and young daughters can now snuggle up in warm flannel nightgowns. Doña Alberta was the first to finish the toe-up two at a time knitted socks. Vilma’s fingers have been flying as she made herself samples from, “The Granny Square Book” that Debora Petschek gifted the Club during her visit last month.

 

Doña Màxima Color Coordinating a Warp with Adviana

Doña Màxima Color Coordinating a Warp with Adviana

The women in the Club and from Huancarani have been working on two orders for weavings. Doña Máxima has been helping weavers to warp during Club meetings because it takes two to toss the balls of yarn back and she has a great eye for color coordination. Amanda Smiles, founder of Ruraq Maki will be arriving later this month and ordered weavings to make samples for three new bag designs. The local cultural center ordered 20 ch’upsas (shoulder bags), but with less than a month´s notice the order will be almost impossible to fill. Each ch’uspa takes about 40 hours to complete and the Huancarani women are busy with potato harvest. Potatoes are harvested three times a year and remain an important Andean staple and cash crop.

Doña Beatris Receives Her Spinzilla Pin

Doña Beatris Receives Her Spinzilla Pin

The majority of the Spinzilla team will be the weavers of the rural community of Huancarani. Spinzilla is an international hand spinning competition, and 56 teams with 25 participants each are registered to compete. The lengths of yarn spun between October 6th and 12th will be measured to determine the winning team. We will be visiting Huancarani on August 27th and should fill the last 8 vacancies to complete the Bolivian team. Elections take place in Bolivia every five years, and October 12th is national Election Day. All registered voters from Huancarani must come to Independencia to vote, so we will probably take the majority of measurements that day.

The team participants will be submitting balls of yarn for measurement. They traditionally spin equal amounts of yarn on 2 pushkas (drop spindles) then pair the spun strands by balancing a pushka between the big toe and its neighbor on each foot and wind the paired strands off the phuskas into a ball. It looks easy, but to the neophyte eye so does the ease in which they create and transform airy clouds of fleece into yarn. They will not be submitting plyed yarn for measurement because plying is done after dyeing the skeins. We occasionally dye fleece during Club if we lack skeins.

Adviana & Doña Màxima Preparing Alpaca Fiber for Spinning

Adviana & Doña Màxima Preparing Alpaca Fiber for Spinning

Doña Máxima informed me that the Club members signed up for Spinzilla will not be spinning the alpaca fiber we purchased in January, although they are preparing it for spinning for future knitting projects. She said it´s slippery and doesn´t spin as quickly as sheep´s wool. She purchased a white fleece and a grey fleece from the local butcher that she will wash in the river, dry, shear, and prepare for spinning prior to the October competition. The grey skeins will be left natural and she will dye the white skeins for use in future weavings. The Club holds dye days when there are a plethora of dye plants available which is February through April as the rainy season winds down.

Don Bosco´s Class of ´14 Carrying Their Float

Don Bosco´s Class of ´14 Carrying Their Float

Bolivia´s Day of Independence is August 6th. The festivities kick off the night before with a torchlight parade. The schools, professional and civic groups all march up main street and through the plaza with homemade lanterns lit with candles. It´s quite informal and a bit magical. Everyone dresses up on Independence Day and following endless speeches the parade is repeated with straighter blocks of marchers and the smiles and laughter of the night before replaced with somber expressions. The 2 local high schools compete in the creation of an appropriately themed float moved by a tractor or

Bolivia Aleman High School´s Class of 2014

Bolivia Aleman High School´s Class of 2014

a truck with a parade princess precariously balanced waving to the crowd. A teacher walks beside the floats using a long stick to prod the bird’s nests of electrical wires up and over the high points on the floats. The graduating classes also compete in designing floats out of materials that can be found or purchased locally and can be carried through the streets.

Thank you Nancy Meffe for your support which will be split between Spinzilla and ongoing Club de Artesanas expenses. I will be returning to Independencia tomorrow with additional funding for the medical expenses for 5 year old Joel Cachi, thanks Sherry.

We are trying to raise the $210 in funds to cover the remaining expenses for competing in Spinzilla and we always need help for the ongoing Club activity expenses. Dorinda Dutcher, August 17, 2014

July Visitors and Fiesta

Debora and Selina Went to Work Upon Arrival

Debora and Selina Went to Work Upon Arrival

July’s highlights were the technical assistance provided by visiting mother and daughter Debora and Selina Petschek and the Fiesta del Virgen de Carmen.

Selina spent 6 weeks working with the Club de Artesanas members and Huancarani weavers in early 2013. The women and chicas knocked on our door at all hours wishing for assistance with knitting patterns. This year Debora brought a copy of “The Granny Square Book” by Margaret Hubert and she and Selina were kept busy helping the women and teenagers interpret the instruction to make samples. There are 75 granny square patterns in the book and well over half were crocheted.

Noelia Learning Spool Knitting from Debora While Chicas Crochet with Selina

Noelia Learning Spool Knitting from Debora While Chicas Crochet with Selina

There are few local resources available for knitting and crochet projects. The local yarn “shops” stock acrylic yarn made in China, albeit in a rainbow of colors. Only 1 tiny size crochet hook and knitting needles may be purchased in Independencia. A huge thank you to Debora for lugging supplies all over South America to donate to the Club. We now have double pointed wooden knitting needles in a variety of sizes, skeins of bulky wool yarn, and Margaret Hubert’s great granny square pattern book. The knitting needles and skeins will be saved for the day when another visitor needs the supplies to help the women work out patterns in our knitting pattern books. Debora had the local carpenter make some wooden spools to teach knitting to the 4-6 year olds.

Debora and Selina arrived on a Club day to the joy of the Club members who have fond memories of Selina and the help she provided last year. The yard rang with laughter the next 3 days as the women crocheted and the kids played. Everyone’s focus turned to the Fiesta del Virgen de Carmen the following week. Selina came planning to dance the Tinku with me, so her costume had been ordered. It turned out Debora is also a dancer

Selina, Carmen, and Julia Leading Our Dance Group

Selina, Carmen, and Julia Leading Our Dance Group

and was game to learn the 8 energetic steps that our dance group would be performing. The dance group consisted of 3 German volunteers, 3 North Americans (although Debora is Argentine by birth), and 7 teenagers from the Don Bosco high school. We christened our group the “Chajruys” (Quechua for mixture). Carmen, a local high school junior and our fearless leader, worked us hard and I vowed to be in better shape to dance next year.

The Fiesta began on the evening of July 14th. The Don Bosco school band provided the music and we danced our way to the church

Debora and Group Dancing in the Plaza

Debora and Group Dancing in the Plaza

to pay our first devotion to the Virgen de Carmen. Debora, Selina, and I all danced because the attire was street clothes. Debora and I shared a costume for the next 2 days of Fiesta dancing and I was secretly relieved not to dance both days.

The Fiesta fell in the middle of the week and was poorly attended. The municipal government had done a survey locally with the thought of moving the Fiesta to the weekend, but 75% of the responses stated that the Fiesta had to take place on July 16th. There has been so much migration to the cities that many who would like to return to Independencia for the Fiesta don’t have the flexibility of the farmers to take off work.

Last year there were 7 dance fraternities with 4 different folkloric dances represented. This year there were only 4 dance fraternities and just the Tinku and Morenada were danced. The local parish who usually sponsors the Diablada dance group decided to use the funds to paint the church. The other school in town also opted out this year for lack of funding. We all hope this year was just a fluke and not a downward spiral ending with the disappearance of the Fiesta.

MorenadaJust a few days remained following the Fiesta before Debora and Selina had to wing their way back to Seattle. Doña Antonia showed up on the last day to crochet granny squares. She and 2 of the other women in the Club regretted missing Debora and Selina´s workshops, but they had to spend the 2 weeks of school vacation working on their farms. Thank you Deborah and Selina, all look forward to your return! Dorinda Dutcher, July 21, 2014

June Odds and Ends

Noemi at Graduation with Her Proud Papa

Noemi at Graduation with Her Proud Papa

The Club de Artesanas leaped into action in June and there is a lot to report.

Wonderful news! Noemi Chavez Vargas graduated on Friday, June 27th with a nursing technician certification. She was able to complete a 3 year program thanks to financial assistance via this blog. Last December, graduation was suspended due to a change in a law regarding the certification of vocational institute programs. Following a frustrating 7 month wait she proudly walked on the arm of her father to take her place with her graduating class of twenty young women. The graduation ceremony was held at the Institute for Rural Education (IER) and all the families contributed to the potluck that followed the ceremony. Noemi sends a big hug and thanks to all of you who helped her achieve her dream. She graduated top of her class.

A Healthly Joel Working in my Landlord´s Garden Last Year

A Healthly Joel Working in my Landlord´s Garden Last Year

I wrote a blog posting in April asking for assistance for medical care for 5 year old Joel Cachi Chambi who was recuperating from surgery for the removal of brain tumors. Thanks to my parents, Joyce and George Dutcher; my dear friend from Olathe High, Sherry Yeakel; and a member of my Peace Corps group (B-43, ´06-’08) a total of $400 was presented to Joel’s father. Joel’s mother continues to act as his physical therapist daily and Joel’s visits to Cochabamba have gone from once a month to once every two months. The improvement of his feet coordination is not progressing as it should so the family is trying to raise $1,150 for a

Examining Crochet Samples from Pam Perkins and Victoria Johansson

Examining Crochet Samples from Pam Perkins and Victoria Johansson

battery of tests to pinpoint the problem. I told his father I would put out another request for financial assistance in the hopes that Joel will be able to enter kindergarten in February.

The Club de Artesanas leaped into action upon my return to Independencia following 2 months in the U.S. thanks to the technical assistance of friend Marian Leishman. Her 2 weeks flew by and she left the women with many works in progress. When the women or teenagers in the Club receive supplies to start a new project they must declare what they will learn. Thanks to Pam Perkins and Victoria Johansson who rushed a variety of crochet samples to me before I left the U.S., the Club members have resources they can work from for new textures.

More big news…. The Huancarani weavers will be entering the Spinzilla, spinning contest this year! Irene Schmoller founder of Cotton Clouds, told me about Spinzilla at the 2013 WARP Conference. It was the inaugural year and over 600 spinners competed on 27 teams in the U.S. At this year´s WARP Conference Irene told me Spinzilla 2014 would be open to international teams. Thanks to WARP member Marilyn Murphy our National Needlearts Association sponsoring organization will be Cloth Roads, a Global Textile Marketplace, http://www.clothroads.com who has supported us in past years by purchasing weavings.

Spinning and Knitting at a Meeting in Huancarani, 2009

Spinning and Knitting at a Meeting in Huancarani, 2009

It’s taken numerous conversations, but there was definitely enthusiasm last Sunday as a group of Huancarani weavers discussed how to organize potential participants for their team. Doña Máxima will be the team captain, and I´m hoping she´ll prepare the alpaca fleece we purchased in January to spin. National Spinning and Weaving Week, October 6-12, will be the week the teams of spinners compete to see who can spin the most yarn. We will need help to finance the expenses which are $10 per team participant ($250), and $130 for 2 trips between Independencia and Huancarani ($380). An advance THANK YOU for helping the weavers compete in this international spinning competition. Cloth Roads has handled the registration of the Independencia spinners and the registration fee. Thank you!

Buying Alpaca Fleece last January

Buying Alpaca Fleece last January

One last note of gratitude is to my parents. Joyce Dutcher has been our strongest supporter since I began working with the weavers in 2007. This year she added to the fund she began in 2008 which has become our revolving fund for being able to place orders with the weavers and offer them immediate payment. The fund has also been used for the development of new products, and for a few emergencies. Thank you, Joyce. My father, George Dutcher, made a donation with the stipulation that it will be spent on starting the soap making project. He sent me soap making books some years ago when I´d lamented about the inability of the locals to purchase bath soap because it is imported and expensive. He´s right in his assertion that it will go a long way in ills brought about by poor hygiene. Thank you, George. Dorinda Dutcher, June 29, 2015 

 

 

Marian and the Club de Artesanas

Marian Teaches Patchwork Piecing Techniques

Marian Teaches Patchwork Piecing Techniques

Thank you for your patience with no blog postings during the 2 months of my annual visit to the U.S.

Marian Leishman, a longtime friend from Bozeman, traveled with me to Independencia. She knits, crochets, quilts, sews, and can fix anything – she is the ideal technical resource for the Club de Artesanas. Along with her skills she schlepped a large suitcase of project materials to share during her 2 week stay.

Starting Toe Up Two at a Time Socks

Starting Toe Up Two at a Time Socks

Marian´s workshops began with a private class with Doña Máxima to teach her the first project, quilted hot pads. Although Marian doesn´t speak Spanish, the techniques were taught by doing, and Doña Máxima explained them the following day in Quechua. Marian had brought quilting squares, heat resistant batting, Teflon cloth, a self-healing mat and rotary cutter to teach patchwork piecing and quilting techniques. She emphasized the need for precision in cutting and sewing, which are areas in which all Club participants need to improve.

Knitting Circle

Knitting Circle

The Club had met 6 times during my absence, but the momentum had waned. They were thrilled to jump in with new projects, so we added an extra half day to the first week. The second project was learning to knit toe-up two at a time socks on round needles. The women are high level knitters, but none had ever knit adult size socks. They used locally purchased acrylic yarn and knitting needles.

Lizeth and Marian with the Finished Quilt

Lizeth and Marian with the Finished Quilt

The afternoon had been reserved for the teenage members of the Club, but only Lizeth showed up. She and Marian worked together to make a patchwork pieced pot holder. As she headed out the door, she said she´d be back on Saturday with more of the chicas.

The third project for the women was to sew nightgowns for their young daughters or granddaughters. We´d brought lovely thick, warm, soft flannel from the U.S. Marian worked with the women one at a time to cut out the material. She chose the most adept with the sewing machine to sew the first nightgown, with the understanding she’d have to help the others following Marian’s departure.

A Happy Lineth Shows Off Her New Nightgown

A Happy Lineth Shows Off Her New Nightgown

It is winter and although sunny and 70s during the day, the temperature plummets at night. The adobe rooms with cement floors hold the chill. The knitters and their kids would migrate outside, while Marian and 1 woman layered up to sew inside. Our oldest sewing machine has had steady use for 4 years and ceased to function. It will be hauled into town and either repaired or replaced. With just one functioning sewing machine, the knitting project kept all hands busy.

Final Day, Group Photo with Complete Projects

Final Day, Group Photo with Complete Projects

Lizeth returned on Saturday with 4 chicas and Marian began a new project with them. She´d brought a quilting pattern and a “jelly roll”, strips of quilting material in bright happy shades of yellow, orange, blue, and green. She set the chicas to sewing strips together to make blocks for a baby quilt. By the end of the session the chicas had all ceded their time at the sewing machine to Lizeth, who returned alone 2 more afternoons to finish the quilt. Although I said it was a group project and it would be put on the wall, it will be displayed for a month and then it will be given to Lizeth. I hope her sewing teacher at the high school will allow her to enter it into the end of the year exhibition.
Quilting is an unknown technique here. It was a surprise to realize how proud I was to talk about the quilting heritage of my country. I´m not a quilter but quilts have had an important cultural role throughout my life. Thank you Marian, for this epiphany and for all the technical assistance you provided during your “vacation”.

Thanks to the ongoing support of Dorothy Thursby-Stern and a generous gift from a member of my Peace Corps group (B-43) we are able to continue the Club meetings twice a week and will be able to repair or replace the sewing machine. Thank you! Dorinda Dutcher, June 27, 2014