Cloth Roads

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

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

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

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