A Postcard from Tinkuy

At right, Doña, Katie, and Dorinda
At right, Doña, Katie, and Dorinda sort dye plants during a natural dye workshop with Nilda Callañaupa during Tinkuy.

In the past few blog posts we have seen a recurring theme that travel leads to stronger connections among weavers of different nations.  Katie Simmons sent this remembrance of one instance during her recent journey to Tinkuy a gathering of weavers in Cusco, Peru. Katie and other WARP helped raise funds to support Doña Maxima’s journey to Tinkuy.  Thanks to everyone who make this cultural exchange among weavers possible. To see more photos from the gathering, we have Tinkuy board on our Pinterest page. 

I sat still among a sea of color gazing at the elaborate clothes for a celebration that I know nothing about.Weavers wear unique hats, skirts, made in styles of weaving and spinning unfamiliar to me. In this crowded room, I make eye contact with fellow WARP members without whom I would not be here. Although many here are strangers to me, we all share a common bond through cloth making. I am in the middle of the Tinkuy: A Gathering of Weavers.

Wandering over to join a spinning circle, I am sad that I left my pushka (drop spindle) at the hotel. Lo and behold baskets of pushkas and fiber are available! A coffee colored alpaca fiber speaks to me and sit down to start spinning. Bolivian, master weaver Doña Máxima spindle is already filling up in the moments it took me to choose my fiber. She stops only to start my spindle and goes back to her work. Dorinda Dutcher, founder of PAZA gets caught up in the moment and joins in the spinning. All around us people are spinning. Some are learning for the first time, while others have been spinning their entire lives. Laughing together, Doña helps Dorinda untangle her yarn.

The spinning contest starts with dances in between. Doña Maxima takes second place, spinning almost five yards in the allotted time.  During the last dance the dancers on the stage flow into the audience. Doña is swept up, then Dorinda, I turn to get my camera and I, too, am pulled into the dance. As a dancer myself I relish that shared experience. I have no pictures of that dance. It is a rare moment for the three of us to dance with weavers from around the world, but it is not needed because I will always hold that dance in my heart.

Katie Simmons is a member of the WARP Governing Board. 

If you are interested in learning more about the weavers of Peru, be sure to pick up a copy of Faces of Tradition: Weaving Elders of the Andes by Nilda Callañaupa Alvarez and Christine Franquemont, with photographs from Joe Coca.  It is a treasure. 

Spinning and Weaving Week

Recycled Baskets
Judith Saunders, of Virginia and North Carolina, organizes a weaving challenge among her basketry students. They recycle junk mail and magazines by weaving baskets and sculptural forms from the paper strips. Each project is woven independently during Spinning and Weaving Week. Shown here are baskets from 2012. Credit Handweavers Guild of America

This week is National Spinning and Weaving Week.  In the United States, the first full week in October is set aside for textile enthusiasts to share their love of weaving and spinning with their communities.  Many find unique ways to inspire others to think about textile traditions in new ways.  Judith Saunders gives her basketry student students an annual challenge to create woven baskets from junk mail.

A Gyotaku flounder print helps teach students about the fish’s anatomy. Credit: Smithsonian Institute

If you are interested in exploring the breadth of textile traditions, browse the Textile Techniques column in WARP’s quarterly newsletter written by Deborah Brandon. Back issues are are available online.  In the Winter 2004 issues, you will  learn about Gyotaku or Japanese fish printing that was first used over 100 years ago by fisherman to record their catch.  Fish prints were emblazoned on rice paper or silk cloth.  Today it is a popular art form. The Smithsonian uses this method to teach kids about fish anatomy and introduce them to block printing, an often used textile technique.

In the Summer 2012 issue, we learn that some textiles have highly ritualized and ceremonial purposes.  Sikkes are the tall felted hats worn by Whirling Dervishes to accentuate the tilting of the head as they twirl.  According to Brandon, “The hat, similar to a tall version of a fez, is approximately two feet high and has a slightly flattened top. Traditional sikkes were made from the hair of a yearling camel, but now sheep’s wool or mohair are more commonly used.”  Wouldn’t it be fun to all make our own version of the sikkes and give them a whirl?

Celebrating textiles reaches far beyond this one week. In November, weavers of the Americas and beyond will gather in Cusco, Peru for Tinkuy to learn from one another.  The gathering includes seminars in product design, sustainability, and marketing for weavers indigenous to the Americas and their guests, plus hands-on workshops for the textile enthusiast.  The grand parade of weavers up the Avenida del Sol will be a site to see! Many WARP members are attending. If you go send us a postcard—real or virtual—we will be reporting back after the event.

Happy Spinning and Weaving Week!