This part of the United States is famous for its Native American weavers though they are no longer touting their wares by setting up their looms beside the road — an image I remember vividly from my childhood when highways were two lanes and there was no fast-food or interstates. It was a very lovely thing to see, a Navajo woman dressed in velvet, sitting on a blanket, her loom in front of her, and baskets of spun wool beside her.
“What’s she doing, Mom?”
My mom may have been a little cynical…
The first time I visited this region as an adult was on a “vacation” with the first ex in the early 70s. We stayed in Santa Fe and wandered through all the small towns we could reach in Northern New Mexico, Chimayo, Picuris, Española – all places within reach of car for me now. I loved them. They fascinated me and the music of their names and the mystery of their stories found a permanent place in my heart.
Everything now is fancier. The dust and mystery has naturally been replaced by websites and galleries. Native-American weaving isn’t something you find in the houses of people who live along what is now the I-25 corridor, it’s everywhere.
Here is a couple of videos — the first is Navajo weavers, the second is Tewa weavers. Weaving is a major art form among all these tribes. Their weaving is sometimes purely decorative but usually it contains motifs that have a meaning beyond decoration.
They may or may not use commercial yarn, but historically, the process of weaving a blanket began with taking the wool from the sheep, cleaning it, carding it and spinning it on a hand spindle. Spinning thread (yes) or yarn on a hand spindle? Yeah, I read about it as a kid learning about settling the frontier, but until I saw someone do it I didn’t realize that, historically, people have spent major parts of their lives with a hand spindle and a wad of wool. From that comes a blanket. Seriously. Think about that. Here’s the best video, but you have to watch it on Youtube, so copy and paste the link https://youtu.be/D_p7OIghMVw