The wrap-up.

Wenatchee, Washington

Date: Sat, 02 Aug 1997

Hola Lee and Alan

Bad weather and delays at airports caused my trip home to take two days--we had an overnighter at Dallas--and I was tired when I got home. Even so I left three days later for a first-ever Lackey Family Reunion in the California mountains. That was wonderful: it was the first time in 50 years that all five sisters-in-law were ever together. (Only two of the brothers remain.) We five have always been good and loving friends, though never before together as a group. My grandkids were there, and lots of family. It was pretty marvelous. Now I'm almost rested and wanting to do new things.

Lee, I want to thank you for your careful overseeing of me down there. And Lindsey, too. I owe her a special thanks for being so good when I had my back problem. And by the way, my doctor here says my back is fine and I had good care in Nicaragua. You can tell those wonderful weaver-nurses that for me.

Lee, there were things I'd hoped to talk to you about on our ride to the airport but I felt uncomfortable doing it in front of the others who were riding with us. Next time, perhaps.

How are things at the co-op? Did they ever get that shipment of yarn they were waiting for? Are they weaving the place mats? I did leave them with instructions to weave mostly white-on-white, but to do some with selected color stripes, and to make napkins to match. I think they should be great.

I will be selling some of the things I brought with me. Lynn Lloyd came by Saturday and will be buying some of the throws (colchas pequenos) to take to a fair in Seattle next week. Alan, she's the lady from Cashmere who bought stuff last spring. She's been following fairs all summer and has been doing pretty well at it, she says.

Now, Alan, I'd like to have your opinion on what the women are doing. How do the products look to you? I'm thinking this is probably the last time they'll be getting yarns from the U.S. In any quantity, at least. I just don't think there's a lot of point in them weaving with threads that are a hodge-podge of left-overs that can't sell. And US yarn has become intolerably expensive for US weavers, let alone Nica weavers. If we can find another source for GOOD closeouts, as we got from Susan Druding these past two years, that would be good. But Susan has a heart of gold and a lot of missionary zeal and is a friend, especially of Lolli's but also of mine. We're not likely to find that combination again. And we got all that particular yarn she had left.

So I'm still hoping that they can depend on weaving Nicaraguan yarn exclusively. That may mean they have to do more long-term thinking. I mean, they were waiting for a shipment when I left, and the salesman said the mill hadn't been receiving any cotton. So they may have to get double orders when they can get them. Danelia told me they went for three months last year without any Nica yarn.

I tried to counsel them about colors when I was there, and to point out how rich the blended colors are (blue and green together, blue and lilac together, blue, green and lilac together, etc.) I'm soon going to send them a chart for blending colors for dyeing. I mean, dyeing separate colors and blending them after they are dyed. I talked about that when I was there. Ana seemed to have caught the concept best, I think. And maybe Mirian. It would certainly expand their range of colors in Nica yarn. And they'd learn to do it so it wasn't as big a hassle eventually. But they do need that washing machine to spin out the excess dye.

And I'm hoping I'll find a good swift for them to use winding the skeins. There must be one out there somewhere, maybe a new invention from Japan for know-nothing knitters. The Scandinavian swifts are wonderful when one learns how to use them, but the learning may take a long time. My years teaching weaving have scared me off many products.

I need to know for sure, too, how many containers does the Sister Cities send to Nicaragua? Is it two a year? I'm going to try to get some stuff on the next one. Is that in March?

Another question: the Sister Cities Project has been fronting the money for the US yarn, being paid back with products. Are you willing to do that for a supply of Nica yarn? And dyes? Eventually, that shouldn't be necessary, if they can be taught to anticipate needs. That's pretty hard, though, when they have trouble getting food for dinner.

On the whole, I was encouraged and delighted with the work the women were turning out when I was there. Even more, I was encouraged by their attitude. To see with what willingness they worked to correct errors--eager, even, to get things right. I had only to run my finger along a slight mis-threading and they would see it and set about to correct it. So different from last year, when I had trouble trying to tell them that an American housewife didn't want a tablecloth or colcha with an obvious streak of error running its full length. And no knots in the fabric. I'm really proud of them. They work so hard, they deserve success.

So now I have another question: What kind of money are they making? How much money do they get from New Haven? They do get more than just yarn, don't they? Or do they? I hope the only cash they get doesn't come from their local sales -- they'll starve. How did the money they made last year compare with the years before? I'd like to have a picture of what they are making as individuals.

I'm haunted by the memory of Cecilio, his first week here last year, sending the weavers $10. "I love you very much," he wrote. " I am sending you $10 to buy food so you won't be hungry." I interpreted that to mean they hadn't had any sales.

On that distressing note, I say adios,


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