The past week involved several community visits to check on orders placed with our weavers in Patacancha and to bring raw alpaca fiber to our spinners in Huilloc. We received a big order from a company in the US for 80 guitar straps that kept the women diligently weaving for the past two weeks. The job was evenly divided between the 39 weavers to be sure that the order was completed on time. As we try to expand to international markets, timeliness and standard weaving techniques are key to ensuring consistency and reliability. The guitar strap order provided the perfect test and we can now say that it was completely successfully!
Mercedes Durant, Awamaki’s Weaving Project Coordinator, led the trips to inspect and collect the orders. Her ability to speak Quechua is always a big help when communicating with the women we work with! After collecting orders, we made a quick stop in Huilloc. The previous week, Mercedes, Krissa, Andria and Courtney made the four hour journey to Pinchimuro where they picked up 33 kilos of raw alpaca fibre from a local man that Krissa met while hiking. The spinners are now in possession of the fiber and are busy spinning the naturally colored wool. The hand-spun spools will be sold in our store in Ollantaytambo and also used by our knitters to convert into scarves.
Mercedes leading a meeting with the weaving cooperative in Patacancha
Inspecting finished guitar straps
Adding finishing touches
Preparing guitar straps for collection
Mercedes and Awamaki weaving volunteers, Lauren and Tessa, collecting guitar straps
Before they are sheared, alpaca can be found roaming the mountains surrounding Ollantaytambo
A spinner in Huilloc inspects the alpaca fiber
The women begin with two kilos each for spinning
Kids play as their mothers talk business
The women use a wooden drop spindle for spinning and always carry it at their side
Mercedes demonstrates the size yarn that the wool should be spun to and what type of products might be made from such yarn- in this case a scarf
Each women checks in and receives pay for previous orders they have completed
With fiber in hand, the women are now ready to spin
To find out more about Mercedes’ work and the communities Awamaki works with, you can read an article that was recently featured on Stirring the Fire’s website.