Saturday, February 13, 2010
Getting Down to Business!
Not that we haven't been working but yesterday (Friday), I watched the rapid production of las muestras (the examples). Lauren and I went up to the tejedores' shop in the morning and began by talking to Andrea about the different points and questions I had after talking to Jill the night before. Until I realized that all the women were sitting around. Waiting for something. We asked Andrea if they were waiting to start and she said (as polite as ever) that they were waiting for us to decide what colors of alpaca yarn for each design. Ohhhhh.... we quickly changed tacks and began picking out various colors for the Encarrujado Chalina (Curled Scarf), Salmón Chalina (Salmon as in the fish or color, I'm not sure Scarf), the Chalina Ladrillo (Brick Scarf), and so on (these names make a lot of sense once you see the patterns). As we did, Andrea started each knitter on a different project: winding out a ball of yarn, weighing it on the scale (each scarf is approximately 50 grams of yarn), and sitting down with the previously made scarf to knit a new one with a different yarn. Throughout the process of deciding colors (thank goodness for Lauren - not only is she a great translator but it is also very helpful to bounce ideas off of her), a knitter would come up with the first knit bit of an item and check it through Andrea. No, wider.... Yes, good.... No, a little tighter knit.... By the time we stopped for the lunch hour, there was 30 some muestras de chalinas in the works!
And, oh boy! I am super excited to see the final products! You should see the speed and the skill of these women. It takes them only about a day to knit the most complicated of scarves - well, you'll have to stop by the store to check out the designs.
Oh - and Andrea surprised me with an example of one of the newest products: un titero "husky" - a husky finger puppet which we had designed together. It is so cute and all created from a photo and the roughest of sketches that I drew for her. It does need a few modifications: ears closer together, white spots on its chest, a longer snout, a furrier tail but for the first go, I was very impressed.
In the afternoon I returned without Lauren to find Andrea and a teenage boy sitting at the computer in the tejedores' shop. It turned out he was Andrea's son, Elbes/Elvis (couldn't quite catch his name all so well) and he has been studying English for two years. Since Lauren hadn't quite joined us yet again and I needed to talk to her about the remaining points of design and business, Andrea called him over to "practicar" his English. Being excited to have another translator I started rattling off the most rapid of English filled with idioms. Poor Elvis. Although he did an excellent job, it took quite a few blank stares and sheepish "I have no idea what you're saying"s for me to slow down and explain things more simply. Interestingly, Andrea and I were often on the same page with hand gestures, pictures, and a few words of broken Spanish and although she called him over a few more times to explain things, I think we understood each other more rapidly than he could translate between us. However, it was extremely helpful to be able to talk to him about some of my more strange questions like if there were any folktales about the mountains around Arequipa. I don't know how but I think it would be interesting to have some sort of product or design that links Anchorage and Arequipa through one of their commonalities: mountains. As it turns out, there is an interesting story behind the famous peaks and volcanoes surrounding Arequipa (which I'll fill you in on later!). But to tell him the story of Sleeping Lady across the inlet from Anchorage and then ask for a story about the ones here was, at first, the most bizarre of conversations. However, when Lauren joined us once again, she was able to explain to Andrea why I wanted to know it. And we'll see what kind of product we can make from the mountain creation stories (if anyone has some clever ideas, let me know!).