Cloth Roads

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

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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