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Oct 23

Bolivian Handspinners Shine in Spinzilla Competition

The results are in! Spinzilla, the international handspinning competition, announced final numbers on Monday. Collectively and worldwide, Spinzilla spinners spun 3,983,286.18  yards of yarn in one week! Really they did. And while the Bolivian team, Warmis Phuskadoras, supported by ClothRoads/Thrums didn’t make the top ten (they came in #19 of 56 teams), these 23 spinners handspun 66,071 yards of wool on hand spindles for a total weight of just under 29 lbs. (The top team Fancy Tiger spun 171,492.6 yards and I bet they used wheels—just saying). I am going to beat the drum for Warmis Phuskadoras because, as the only representatives from Bolivia, they came in third place in the yardage by country category. Heck, they even beat out the U.K. and Australia. You can read more about the forming of this spinning group in my blog here.

Dorinda Dutcher helped organize the Warmis Phuskadoras handspinners and updated us on the competition:

“The women were so thrilled to compete in a skill they learned as children and use almost daily throughout their lives. There was so much joy and laughter the day we went to Huancarani to photograph the spinners. Jonathan McCarthy, a friend from Cochabamba, was along to take pictures and he made this short video (view the Andean spinners here).

The women decided that all would stop spinning on Saturday, October 11, because those living in Huancarani had to travel to Independencia on Saturday´s public transportation to vote in the national election on Sunday. The majority of the Huancarani spinners were at my house for five hours Saturday night having their yarn measured. We measured a few more on Sunday morning, and hired a vehicle to travel to Sanipaya on Monday to measure the results of four more spinners.

We used broomsticks marked off at a yard and figured out how to go about it. We ended up with measurement teams of three people. One person would measure and shout out every five yards for the recorder to make a tally mark. The owner of the yarn rolled it back into a ball while keeping an eagle eye on the process.”

“There is a law for the Development of Artesanía that was signed into effect in 2012. It states efforts must be made for the recognition of the talents and spirit of artisans. Spinzilla week was a perfect example of how that can be done. I´m not sure how the respect bestowed on the hand spinners of Team Warmis Phuskadoras from the competing teams will trickle down to them since we live in an Internet-free zone for the most part. But, it was a joyful experience for them and empowering for many.

The word “international” really doesn´t mean anything to anyone except the Captain, Doña Maxima, who has attended the Peruvian weaving gathering Tinkuy. The women competed against each other and really enjoyed it. However, they were very critical about their results. They don´t know what the Internet is so I wasn’t able to explain Spinzilla’s global reach.”

Well we’re mighty proud of these women and are game to sponsor them next year. Seeing some of the behind-the-scenes brings joy to my being. What about you?

A big thanks to Jonathan McCarthy for all images. Photo credits go to him. If you want to read more behind-the-scenes go Dorinda’s blog at pazaboliviablog.com. You can contribute to these amazing spinners too.

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