Threads of Peru Blog

Threads - 2015 Year in Review: Part I - New Team Members, New Communities, New Skills

2015 – Year in Review

 

Part I - New Team Members, New Communities, New Skills

 It’s hard to believe that another year has gone by! As we head into 2016, at Threads we’re taking time to reflect on the past year and start thinking ahead to this year’s goals and upcoming projects.

 A Growing Family

In 2015, we welcomed two new team members: Lourdes Hancco Chaucca and Isabel Van Der Loos. Lourdes hails from Lamay, a small community in the Sacred Valley. She grew up steeped in the local Quechua weaving tradition and is currently completing her Master’s degree in Public Management and Business Development. With her combined weaving knowledge and administrative skills, she is a wonderful asset for Threads, not least of which because we are now able to conduct more of our work in Quechua, the weavers’ native language!

 

Lourdes

 Lourdes working with the women of Chaullacocha

 

Isabel is originally from Holland and a long-time resident of Cusco, and has been helping Threads out part-time since early fall. In a very short time, she’s become a master of inventory management and a huge help to the Cusco team.

 Threads’ extended weaving family also grew! As our orders have increased over the years, we have been able to provide steady work to five communities as well as to our Master Weaver family, up from just two in 2011. Last year, we began reaching out to another three weaving associations in two communities. One of them, familiar with our work in the region, took pains to contact us, tracking Dana down unexpectedly in the Ollantaytambo town square! If demand for Threads of Peru Quechua Collection products continues to increase, we hope to work full time with these new communities as well, bringing our weaving family to nine groups in eight communities, and 149 weavers!

 Members of the Huaran Weaving Association after a Dye Workshop

 Developing New Skills

 Threads has undertaken many development projects over the years, from providing the salary for an elementary school teacher, to building homestay rooms and teaching hosting skills to families interested in community rural tourism. Our primary focus, however, has always been weaving. Threads of Peru works with Master Weaver Daniel Sonqo to provide one-on-one training to the weavers in two communities to help them improve their weaving and develop new skills. Last year, Daniel led four such workshops.

 

In November we saw the results of years of this training pay off in a most exciting way: three weavers took top prizes in a special weaving competition hosted by the Center for Traditional Textiles of Cusco (CTTC) and the Ministry of Culture and Tourism! The CTTC invited Threads to participate in the local competition, and we facilitated a number of weavers’ participation in the event. Two of the winners made a special visit to our office in order to share in their glory. Lucia commented that it was Threads’ sustained efforts to improve quality and accuracy that gave her the skills to be able to compete successfully. Our hearts nearly melted to hear those words!

 

Here, Martina smiles enormously as she displays her enormous check!
 

 Here, Martina smiles enormously as she displays her enormous check!

 In addition, one of the new groups to begin working with Threads – a group of mostly women in their 20s and 30s – benefited from a workshop by Daniel to learn how to wash textiles – an integral skill that they had never been previously taught! They were really keen students, which was wonderful to watch.

  

 

The Huilloc Weavers gather round and listen intently to Daniel Sonqo, Master Weaver

 The Huilloc Weavers gather round and listen intently to Daniel Sonqo, Master Weaver

 

Even without direct tutelage from a Master like Daniel, we have noticed so many amazing improvements in the weavers’ skills – not only weaving skills, but also organization, leadership, time management and team building – thanks to our commitment to quality and our constant communication, making two trips per month to each community during peak periods and the daily weaver visits we receive to our Cusco office!

 

Here, two women in Upis compare the quality of two of their group's weaving samples. In June, we discussed what makes one sample higher in quality than the other, with each woman sharing her thoughts on feel, evenness of the edges, and tightness of the weave.

 

Coming next week: Part II of Threads- 2015 Year in Review