Cloth Roads

Much Ado About Handspun Yarn

Fleece Buying Frenzy, 2009

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

Doña Maxima Shears Sheepskin for Spinzilla 2016

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

Vilma & Doña Maxima Preparing Roving, Spinzilla 2016

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

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

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

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

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

Vilma Beating The Debris from a Sheep Skin

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

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

Wool Scouring Results, Joanna’s Demo

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

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

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

Nelva’s Card & Bracelet, She Loves Art Projects

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

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

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

2016 Annual Weavers´ Meeting, Huancarani

Tarp For Shade Already Engaged

Tarp For Shade Already Engaged

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

Prepping Beef for the Oven on a Foggy Morning

Prepping Beef for the Oven on a Foggy Morning

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

All Contributed Potatoes

All Contributed Potatoes

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

Collecting the Annual CAH Dues

Collecting the Annual CAH Dues

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

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

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

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

Happy Spinzilla Spinners with New Petticoats and Certificates

Happy Spinzilla Spinners with New Petticoats and Certificates

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

A Fun Social Day for the Rural Weavers

A Fun Social Day for the Rural Weavers

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

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

Measuring, Spinzilla Spinning Week

Doña Maxima and Vilma Compare Measuring Owwies

Doña Maxima and Vilma Compare Measuring Owwies

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

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

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

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

Doña Toribia Admires Doña Eulogia´s Black Yarn

Doña Toribia Admires Doña Eulogia´s Black Yarn

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

Breny Using an Ovilla as a Globe

Breny Using an Ovilla as a Globe

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

Potluck Picnic, You Could be Here Next Year!

Potluck Picnic, You Could be Here Next Year!

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

Measuring Team Using a Bench, Sanipaya

Measuring Team Using a Bench, Sanipaya

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

Two Measuring Teams at Work, Sanipaya

Two Measuring Teams at Work, Sanipaya

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

Doña Beatriz Plating Up Lunch

Doña Beatriz Plating Up Lunch

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

Andean Spin-In

Doñas Felicidad & Parciza Accompany Doña Antonia and Her Flock to the Spin-In

Doñas Felicidad & Parciza Accompany Doña Antonia and Her Flock to the Spin-In

Fifteen members of the Spinzilla Cloth Roads Team Warmis Phuskadoras met in the shade of the church tower in Huancarani on Wednesday for a spin in. They wanted to compare their spinning speed with each other.
As they arrived Team Captain, Doña Máxima, measured their waist and pollera (skirt) length for this year’s prize which will be a petticoat. Among the last to arrive was Doña Máxima´s sister Doña Narciza who had slowly made her way from home with her herd of goats. The drought in Bolivia continues and the search for grass while pasturing livestock is getting harder and harder.

Doña Alicia Being Measured for Her Petticoat Prize

Doña Alicia Being Measured for Her Petticoat Prize

Each spinner reported how many phuskas (drop spindles) they had filled by this Day #3 of Spinzilla Spinning Week. Doña Justina was way in the lead with 12 filled, Doña Eulogia had completed 9, and everybody else had filled between 2 and 5. However, using the measurement of a “filled” phuska may be misleading as to how many yards it will measure in the end. The women will wind the yarn from 2 phuskas together into the balls of yarn they present for measuring on Monday. That will be quickly done by placing a phuska between the big toe and the next toe of each foot and winding the 2 strands of yarn together into a ball.

Doñas Maxima, Narciza, Toribia, Goats and Sheep

Doñas Maxima, Narciza, Toribia, Goats and Sheep

A few of the women said they were behind due to their attendance at community meetings on Monday and Tuesday. There will be another meeting on Friday in regards to the completed potable water project that supplied each house with a water spigot. The new water spigot beside the church was festooned with streamers and flowers due to its inauguration ceremony. It came in handy before and after the potluck lunch where all used their hands to dip into the bowls of boiled corn with cheese and sheep jerky and macaroni with scrambled eggs.

The Spinners from Huancarani with the Ayopaya River in the Background

The Spinners from Huancarani with the Ayopaya River in the Background

One of the spinners announced a meeting coming up Saturday night for market vendors in Independencia, which many of them are and so must attend. The suggestion was made that they can spin at meetings and so they should continue to spin through Sunday regardless of where they are.

All the spinners except Doña Eulogia were spinning white fleece. She was spinning brown. Only Doña Antonia who arrived with her flock of sheep was using fleece from her flock. The majority of the spinners had purchased their fleece from a butcher in Independencia. Many of the spinners pasture their sheep at a lower elevation and the walkspinchatspines of the vegetation ruin the fleece for spinning. Doña Alicia complained that the fleece of her sheep is like goat fiber. Vertical agriculture is practiced in this Andean area. At the lowest altitude along the river the farmers grow citrus, tomatoes, peanuts, and produce to sell. Midway up the mountain which is where the school, soccer field and church are located the grains and cereals are raised. Continuing up the mountain and above the tree line the many varieties of tubulars are grown. It is interesting to pass so quickly, well when walking downhill, from one ecosystem to another. Doña Eulalia was nowhere to be found, so she had probably made the trek down to work on her farm by the river.

The Warmis Phuskadoras (Women Spinners) are thoroughly enjoying the camaraderie of Spinzilla Spinning Week, and wish the same for all the other Spinzilla teams! Dorinda Dutcher, October 5, 2016

Jewelry Making and Spinzilla Prep

grpchicas September kicked off with the much anticipated arrival of Amanda Smiles, founder of Ruraq Maki and jewelry making instructor. This was her 5th year teaching jewelry making techniques with wire and beads. She taught 4 morning classes to the Club de Artesanas (CdA) women and 4 afternoon classes to the CdA teens. There was an afternoon class with homework for the 2 CdA trainers, and a class in Huancarani.

Amanda and the Chicas with the Final Results

Amanda and the Chicas with the Final Results

The techniques have gotten more complex each year, and Amanda donated 2 jewelry making books to the PAZA library that contain all the techniques that she has taught in a variety of new designs. The class for the CdA trainers was added this year to teach them how to plan and prepare for the jewelry making days to be held once a month. They need to learn to monitor the projects so the supplies are used responsibly and the students use the techniques in designs that improve their skills. If any of the CdA participants decide to make jewelry to sell they will be able to buy the supplies through PAZA to get started.

Doña Antonia Chasing After Her Flock of Sheep

Doña Antonia Chasing After Her Flock of Sheep

There was a great turnout for the jewelry making class in Huancarani. Eighteen out of the 28 members of the Centro de Artesania, Huancarani (CAH) crowded around plastic sheeting in the shade of the church to make rings. Three women had to bring their flocks of sheep so the hillside and soccer field were full. Doña Antonia Calcina’s flock was ornery and she took off running multiple times as they edged towards the downhill slope towards home.

All Enjoy Making Their Bead Selection

All Enjoy Making Their Bead Selection

After the class there was a brief Spinzilla Spinning Week meeting. Sixteen spinners on the Cloth Roads Warmis Phushkadoras Spinzilla team live in Huancarani and 3 more are from Huancarani but live in Independencia. Many of the women were spinning or plying as Doña Máxima, the Team Captain, went over the rules and reminded everyone to start preparing roving. The rural women learned to spin as girls and it is odd to see them without a phuska (drop spindle) in hand.

Showing Off Their New Rings. The Hands to Beat During Spinzilla! Photo Credit: Amanda Smiles

Showing Off Their New Rings. The Hands to Beat During Spinzilla! Photo Credit: Amanda Smiles

The women and teens all send a hug and thanks to Amanda for the long trip to Independencia lugging the jewelry making supplies. It was 2 fun weeks that all look forward to every year. Many of her students commented on the ease of working this year thanks to the 10 sets of jewelry making pliers that had been donated by Ruraq Maki.

 A huge thank you to Spinzilla Team Coordinator Constance Hall and to Marilyn Murphy the Cloth Roads sponsor for the team for once again getting the word out to rally support for the Warmis Phuskadoras. The budget of $1,000 for the event has been met.

Doña Casimira Set Last Year´s Team Record of 4,680 Yards During Spinzilla

Doña Casimira Set Last Year´s Team Record of 4,680 Yards During Spinzilla

Thank you Debora Petschek and Alison Walsh for your support, all want you to come back soon to visit! Those of you who supported the team last year and again this year helped to convey to the spinners that their skill is recognized and valued. Thank you Margaret Tyler, Sarah Linder, Susan Brady, Katrina Stewart, Victoria Huff, Judy Gilchrist, Penelope Brakenbury, Linda Ligon, and Shani Kari. It has been fun hearing from new friends who are supporting the spinners this year. Your comments will be shared with the spinners during Spinning Week.Thank you Peggy McKoy, Jayne Schafer, Dana Davidoff, Janet Davis, Jeanette Lurier, Anne Bluemel, and Katherine Spitler. All the heartfelt comments and support demonstrate to the rural Bolivian women that there is a bigger world of spinners sharing the camaraderie and joy of Spinning Week.

Doñas Alicia and Narciza Are Highly Competitive with Each Other During Spinzilla. Photo Credit: Amanda Smiles

Doñas Alicia and Narciza Are Highly Competitive with Each Other During Spinzilla. Photo Credit: Amanda Smiles

A thank you is due to WARP member Jere Thompson for being proactive in getting the word out for 2 volunteers during Spinning Week. The spinners really do want to see a foreigner spin and had asked that a foreigner join the team. There were some inquires, so maybe next year… Thank you, Kate Larson, for writing the great article about the Bolivian spinners for the, “Spin Off” blog.

An apology and belated thank you to friend and former Peace Corps volunteer Emily Hooker for her continued PAZA support. As always thank you Lyn Lucas and Dorothy Thursby for your ongoing support that keeps the PAZA activities ongoing! Dorinda Dutcher, September 19, 2016

2016 WARP Conference

Everyone Benefits During Informal Gatherings

Everyone Benefits During Informal Gatherings

Nobody remains a stranger for long at a WARP Conference where new friendships take off like wildfire. All the laughter and joy was rejuvenating, although the to-do list from all the brainstorming sessions remains daunting.

Following a three and a half month absence from Independencia, it was wonderful to be able to reminisce with Kelsey Wiskirchen, Katie Simmons, and Susan Weltman who have all made the Andean trek to meet the weavers and to check out the PAZA activities first hand. Life wouldn’t be complete without checking in annually with the hardcore WARP members who attend each conference. A lot of work gets done,

It´s Always Worthwhile to Pay Close Attention to Philis´s Tales

It´s Always Worthwhile to Pay Close Attention to Philis´s Tales

but why can’t work always be as much fun as it is when Teena Jennings-Rentenaar Judy Newland, Jackie Abrams, Linda Temple, Deborah Brandon, Linda Ligon, Carol Pierce, Sara Lamb, Cathie Joslyn, and Adrienne Sloane are involved? The Conference closed with everybody on the edge of their chairs wondering what witty remarks, Cindy Lair, WARP President would come up with as she auctioned off folk art pieces at the fundraising Conference finale. One must always find an opportunity for sitting and chatting with Philis Alvic, who subtly weaves pearls of wisdom into very entertaining stories. Deborah Chandler couldn’t attend this year and was missed. Her mentoring since 2010 has been invaluable in PAZA’s progress. What would one have to pay a life coach for the suggestions and wisdom she so generously and graciously dispenses?

Doña Nilda Callañuapa and a CTTC weaver

Doña Nilda Callañuapa and a CTTC weaver

The annual WARP Conference tends to move around the country, although it’s moving out of country to Oaxaca Mexico next year. Thanks to the scheduling coinciding with IFAM this year the attendance was larger than usual. It had been a few years, so what fun to catch up with Edwina Bringle, Sam Brown, Tara Miller, Dale Fairbanks, Carol Ireland, Judy Krol, Karen Sprenger, and Susie Strauss. Personal thank yous on behalf of the Cloth Roads Team Warmis Phuskadoras were passed on to one of the original Spinzilla organizers, Liz Gipson, who helped with arrangements for the team the past 2 years. A quick verbal exchange with Marilyn Murphy, Cloth Roads cofounder and the team’s TNNA sponsor, set the ball rolling for the team’s participation this year.

Marilyn, Kelsey, and Jon at the Book Signing

Marilyn, Kelsey, and Jon at the Book Signing

A highlight at the Conference was witnessing the arrival of Marilyn Anderson´s new hardback book hot off the press from Guatemala. The book is a text compilation of fading handicrafts drawing on her decades of travel and research in Guatemala and illustrated with her woodcut prints. The books arrived just in time for the Sunday afternoon book signing. Marilyn´s husband, Jon, had joined her this year and hopefully he will attend future conferences.

Marilyn Tries on a Stylish Poncho at the CTTC Booth at IFAM

Marilyn Tries on a Stylish Poncho at the CTTC Booth at IFAM

WARP connections tend to have a ripple effect. It was through WARP that PAZA heard about and received support to attend the first Tinkuy International Weaving Conference in Cusco, Peru in 2010. The Tinkuy is hosted by the Centro de Textiles Tradicionales de Cusco (CTTC) and their Director and WARP member, Doña Nilda Calluñuapa. In 2010, Dorinda and Doña Maxima roomed with WARP member Laverne Waddington. Laverne has placed annual weaving orders ever since and her exacting specifications have been fundamental in the improvement of weaving quality over the years. This year a number of weavers who host Laverne´s U.S. weaving workshops placed orders as well, including Marilyn Romatka, founder of Taproot Folk Arts. The WARP Conference provided the opportunity for several brainstorming sessions between Marilyn and Dorinda that went beyond what email correspondence would have provided.

Thank you Kelsey, Jackie, and Katie For Your Years on the Board!

Thank you Kelsey, Jackie, and Katie For Your Years on the Board!

Nancy Meffe has been a WARP member and a PAZA supporter for years, and attended this year’s WARP Conference. She sells her own weavings through craft fairs and donates the proceeds doing business as “Weaving for Women of the World”. When I’m asked about what one can do to be involved with weavers in marginalized communities because moving to a remote mountain village isn’t practical I cite Nancy’s work as an excellent example of weavers helping weavers.

Thanks to the WARP Board and to Rita Chapman the WARP Administrator the Conference was incredibly fun and productive! Wouldn´t you benefit from a few days a year spent with kindred spirits who stand together in defiance of the gaping maw of global cultural homogenization? What are you waiting for? Join WARP! Dorinda Dutcher, July 20, 2016

Spinzilla 2015 is Over, Now What?

Vilma Collecting Molle Leaves for the Dye Pot

Vilma Collecting Molle Leaves for the Dye Pot

October was a month to remember! The 25 spinners on the Cloth Road’s Warmis Phuskadoras team spun a whopping 68,511 yards during Spinzilla Spinning Week, all on drop spindles. The team ranked 24th out of the 64 teams, which put Bolivia in 4th place out of the 14 countries represented.

Thanks again to all the well-wishers who helped make it possible for the women to participate. The support and words of good cheer helped them to begin to understand that they are part of a bigger world of spinners. Cloth Roads has enthusiastically agreed to sponsor the team for Spinzilla 2016 and the women are already talking about how to spin more during next year’s competition.

Prepping Sumakaya Bark

Prepping Sumakaya Bark

What will they do with the 68,511 yards of yarn you may wonder? All the women are weavers, and the spinning is just 1 step in their ancient weaving tradition they learned as girls. The yarn will be wound into skeins, washed, dyed, washed, plyed, warped, and finally woven. The weavings could be for home and farm use, cultural celebrations, or PAZA orders which help the women to generate the income they need to meet the basic needs for their families.

Winding Skeins

Winding Skeins

When the hoopla of Spinzilla dyed down the spinners in the Club de Artesanas (CdA) were ready to start dyeing. On Tuesday they collected and prepped sumakaya bark and molle leaves and spent all day Thursday dyeing. Unfortunately, the molle leaves which produce a bright yellow dye produced nothing. The notes from past dye workshops were reviewed and showed successful dye pots in August, so no bright yellow until next year. A cochineal dye bath replaced the molle pot on the 2 burner dye stove with alum added to produce pink tones. Adding a mordant to a cochineal dye bath never ceases to arouse murmurs of awe from those around the dye pot. Two weavers from rural communities had sent in skeins with requests for the colors they needed which helped the CdA members plan Thursday´s dye day.

Dye Day Results

Dye Day Results

The simplicity of the rustic loom set-up allows weavers to have more than 1 weaving in progress. Last week, Doña Máxima rolled up the aguayo half which was ¾ of the way woven and set it aside. She replaced it with a warp for a PAZA order. The aguayo is being woven for Carnaval in February. The weaving for the PAZA order helped her meet unexpected costs related to her son´s upcoming graduation from a 2 year accounting program in Cochabamba. She commented on how much easier it is to weave with the smooth synthetic yarn used in the aguayo as compared to the physical strength needed to beat down the warp of the nubby natural dyed wool.

The CdA Chicas with Their Drawings

The CdA Chicas with Their Drawings

Her weaving for the PAZA order will be used to make prototypes of a clutch and an organizer bag, which will be paired with leather. PAZA has worked with a leather store in Cochabamba for 4 years to produce the guitar straps, belts, wallets, keyrings, camera straps, and a few bags each year. Thanks to a new Cochabamba connection, PAZA will leave the higher end leather products on consignment in their shop in hopes of sales to keep orders going to the weavers.

Decorating Halloween Cookies

Decorating Halloween Cookies

The CdA chicas continue to meet on Saturday mornings, and have branched out from just crocheting. They tried their hand at soap making and spent another day drawing, in which they were so utterly engrossed they had to be asked 3 times to take a break for tea and peanut coconut cookies. The fruits of their labor adorn the walls of PAZA´s library. Halloween, which is not celebrated in Independencia, fell on a Saturday and the chicas got a charge our of wielding the cookie cutters shaped liked witches, pumpkins, cats, and bats and decorating the baked cookies with colored royal icing. It was good practice for the upcoming holiday baking extravaganza when enough cookies will be baked and decorated for all the CdA members to take a bag home to share with their families.

A hug and thank you to Lyn Lucas whose long-term support has helped keep PAZA chugging along week after week with the mundane as well as the dramatic. Dorinda Dutcher, November 1, 2015