No, haven’t been spinning. I have been braiding and thinking about projects new and old. I am aware from my visits to Ravelry that the great annual Tour de Fleece is underway and, while I am not participating, I was motivated by all the excitement connected with the event to dig through the cupboard and pull out some old handspun projects which I have woven with the alpaca and llama fiber you can see above. If you are wondering what’s in that bowl, it’s llama jerky.
I had bought that llama fiber while wandering around a tiny country settlement in Uyuni, Bolivia back in 2002. It was coarse, dry and brittle but I knew no better. I was thrilled just to have it as it is impossible to obtain down in the jungly lowlands where I live.
I had already learned to spin but I think that spinning that rough llama fiber was the best spinning training I could have had. It was awful to card. I had a wheezing attack each time I pulled the dusty stuff out of a bag and the memory of the smell of that dust still turns my stomach. The first things I wove with that spun llama fiber still sit framed on my wall. It had been such a business that I never thought I would do it again!
Later, when my friend Janet in the U.S gave me some prepared alpaca fiber, I couldn’t believe how easy it was to spin. It felt like cheating. Here’s one of the alpaca projects on the loom…
I ended up making quite a few pieces of coth which I sewed into shoulder bags and pouches. These are the things that I have been pulling out of my closet. They were obviously made in the days before I started weaving tubular bands and embellishing my pieces …there is not a single tubular band or tassel to be seen!
The long pouch had some forgotten tools in them. It was nice to unzip it and discover those. I decided that this whole lot needed some sprucing up. The black bag will get a new strap and have its flap edged with something decorative. The brown bag could also do with a more interesting strap.
I decided to edge the long zippered pouch with a tubular band. This would be my chance to apply the band that is used to edge cloth in the community of Chahuaytire. Although I have sewn this kind of tubular band to pieces of cloth in samples as you can see above, I had never used it in a real project and I had not woven it with wool.
When I visited Marijke van Epen in The Netherlands in 2012, I worked with her on figuring out this band from a picture. Almost immediately after that visit, I went to Peru and was lucky to be able to watch one being woven and buy a warp in progress to see how it was set up.
While I have seen the patterned tubular band on the right, which I learned in Chinchero Peru, also woven here in Bolivia, I have never seen what I will call the ”Chahuaytire style’,’ on the left, here in Bolivia at all.
One of my weaving teachers in Bolivia, Maxima, has an older sister, Narciza, who knows how to weave the Chinchero style of tubular band and frequently attaches it to the edge of her woven coca-leaf bags.
Dorinda, who works with Maxima, recounted one of Maxima stories in which she told of how her mother did not know the figure on the tubular band to teach them and so bartered corn to have a neighbor teach her oldest daughter, Narciza. The neighbor had recently moved to the area from Oruro (also in Bolivia).
Maxima was not interested in asking her older sister to then teach her the pattern as Narciza was in the habit of giving her a smack when she made a mistake. I always wondered if my weaving teachers sometimes had the urge to give me a wee slap when I was learning! I can remember their frustration with me back in 1996 when I broke my warp threads while trying to operate the heddles.
And so, it was only in 2013 when Maxima had the chance to attend the Tinkuy de Tejedores in Cusco, Peru, that she had the opportunity to learn to weave the ñawi awapa pattern in much the same way I had in 2010.
However, Dorinda has since told me that Maxima seems to have forgotten how to weave the ñawi awapa band since returning to Bolivia. She sends her weavings to her sister if she wants them to be edged with a ñawi awapa.
As with everything new like this, if it is not immediately put into practice, it can easily be forgotten. Ask any of my students!
One day I hope I can go out to Independencia and help refresh her memory.
I have had so much fun with the ñawi awapa since learning it, attaching it to so many things and, most recently, using it for jewelry.
Not all tubular bands need to have pick-up patterns. I have often woven and attached them in just one solid color and have also used ”threaded-in” patterns, that is, ones that are created by the order of the colored threads in the warp rather than with pick-up.
Maxima often uses simple Andean Pebble Weave patterns in her tubular edgings using two sets of heddles and I have also seen weavers in Pitumarca weave tubular bands with the pattern set up in multiple heddles.
Having learned the discontinuous-warp, or ticlla, technique with weavers from Pitumarca, I used the particular tubular band pattern used by weavers in their community to edge my workshop piece when I got home and finished it. You can see how the edges of my cloth rolled when I took it off the loom. This was due to the high amount of twist in the handspun alpaca yarn that we were given to use. The cloth lay flat once the tubular band was applied.
Of course, I didn’t spend my entire week on this one tubular band. As the title of this post implies, I was braiding and thinking…..braiding the enormous number of ends on my wall hangings at four minutes per braid. There are still plenty more to go.
And I was thinking about the shapes I want to weave on my next ikat ”sample”. Yes, I don’t feel ready yet to dive into the real project. I think that just one more sample with curved shapes needs to be done.
I also thought about the new slip cover I need to for my new laptop. This new one is slightly bigger than the notebook I have been using these last five years and so a new cover is needed.
Here’s the one I have been using so far with its pattern taken from Central Asian textiles…
And, while I think, I pull out books, look online and make sketches. While going through the cupboard, I also pulled out a lot of fiber crying out to be spun. Maybe I will also set myself a wee spinning goal for the next months.
I will leave you for this week with this final picture of an event which is creating a lot of excitement here in Santa Cruz.
We are on holiday today as the Pope is in Santa Cruz where he is celebrating his only Mass during his Bolivian visit. BoA, the Bolivian airline that transported him, has been posting pictures of the visit on Facebook and kindly gave me permission to show one here. Pope Francisco was presented with a handwoven souvenir of his visit when he landed and walks hand in hand with a boy who is dressed in the typical green and white outfit of Santa Cruz with his sombrero de sao.
See you next week…..