Alejandra Paz Huete is 18 years old and has infinite curiosity. In January of this year she decided to learn how to knit, but she would do it self-taught. She began searching for tutorials in YouTube after seeing a picture of an embroidery in Instagram.
“I did not even know what it was, or how I did it, but it awakened in me a lot of desire to learn,” says this young medical student. Although some schools and many grandmothers teach embroidery, she did not have “such luck”; but that was not an impediment to “accept the challenge to do it.”
Her first embroidery was the Big Dipper constellation, but every time she looks at something or comes up with an idea, she sets herself the goal to do it. “It has been a long process,” she says. At first I used to knit every day to perfect my technique, which she presumes, is getting better and better.
From January to April she received some orders but was not dedicated full-time “to her business” because she had to devote time to her medicine classes. When the protests began and after participating in some demonstrations, she decided to dedicate her art to do things in favor of Nicaragua and the protestors.
Art for a cause
Alejandra has seen with indignation the excessive violence exerted by Daniel Ortega’s government towards the demonstrators. That is why she decided to produce pieces to pay tribute to people that, in one way or another, have been affected during the protests. One of those pieces is a fabric woven in tribute to Brandon Lovo Taylor and Jeremy Slate, two young men who have been accused by the Prosecutor’s Office of killing journalist Angel Gahona.
“This is a case that has caused a lot of indignation because it is unjust. They are accused, although everyone knows they are innocent,” she insists. That piece is “unique” and is not available for sale, although she has received a dozen orders for that woven piece.
She also did a woven piece in homage to the people of Masaya that fought for various weeks defending barricades from repressive forces. “This time I wanted to try painting inspired by various photographs that circulated about that heroic people,” she explains.
Although she did not know how to paint either, she decided “to learn again by watching tutorials.” The final piece, was a mixture of painting and weaving, and is inspired on a video by Carlos Mejia Godoy.
“This is a piece that presents the struggle of Monimbo and all the resistance by the people,” assures this young woman. Both pieces have stayed with her, she won’t sell them because they “are too personal.” To the mothers of Brandon and Glen, however, she gave them as a gift “unique copies” of the original piece inspired by their children, and “as a tribute to their children who are prisoners,” even though the family of journalist Gahona assures they are innocent.
The pins appear
Since the protests began she used her Twitter account and created the Instagram page “Red Needle Embroidery” to promote her creations. I used to weave things by orders and people wrote to ask for a particular design to be made, perhaps as a gift to a partner, a loved one or as remembrance,” she stated.
However, experimenting, one day she decided to make some pieces of her own inspiration to sell them. “I decided to try making a pin or broach with a Nicaraguan flag wrapping a small five-cordoba coin and then knitting on it,” she said.
She hung her creations on social networks and realized that people loved it. “I received good comments and my friends, my boyfriend, began to motivate me,” recalls Alejandra.
“A bunch of requests”
After the “success” of her first piece in pin format, her curiosity returned and she went to the market to look for material to make small pieces with designs that “she already had in mind.”
That is why she decided to weave three pins alluding to Nicaragua and the protests. One of them is the flag of Nicaragua, the other is the country map with a closed fist and the third is a mortar with flowers. “They are designs inspired by the struggle of thousands of young people,” explains this young woman.
Orders for pins did not stop. Her content immediately went viral in social networks. “I was thinking on the right moment to publish, because I feared that nobody would see them, and I was very fortunate that people decided to share it,” she says.
At present, she works on fulfilling all the requests, but feels that she needs to “multiply” herself in order to produce them quickly because “many people want to give them as gifts to people leaving the country.” The pins cost 50 Cordobas (a little over $1.60 USD).
Alejandra is also thinking about new shapes to knit to create “new pin models” and soon she will give an embroidery workshop to teach more people something they can use “as therapy” to cope with the crisis that affects Nicaragua.