4 shaft Weaving travels

4 shaft weaving

Warping of the loom.


And the weaving begins:


4 shaft Weaving travels

New loom–Leclerc

Bought a used loom from Fay.  Sold 8 shaft table loom on Craig’s list after Fay offered to sell me her 4 shaft loom.


Hazel Rose Pin loom Weaving

Hazel Rose Pin Loom


I wove squares on the 7″ Hazel Rose multi-loom and then couldn’t decide what do to with them.   The owner of Fibers of Vision in Ashland suggested sewing each in the middle of a fabric square.  That is what I did for both Lily and Jackson.   With the addition of ribbon, the effect was lovely.

The second weekend was a shower for Megan with many friends and familyphoto5


Rigid Heddle Weaving Weaving

Rigid Heddle Adventures

32 inch Kromski harp rigid heddle loom.  10 dent reed.


Warp goes well with warping peg instead of the warp pegs that turn the back of this loom into a warping board (for longer warps).  Minor mishap, puppies find brown ball of yarn and turn it into a massive mess (see top of warping peg).

Warp for Jackson's blanket

320 threads pulled to the front of the heddle (warp wound on to the back beam).  Ready for threading…one of each pair of threads will go through the eye of the heddle.

Warp pulled through heddle, ready to thread heddle and tie up.

Warp below wound on to the back beam (from the back beam side).

Warp from the back beam angle.
Warp from the back beam angle.

The tie up begins from the outsides in.  I thread the eyes of the heddle at the same time as tying up 10 threads at a time in a traditional tie-up.


Tie up complete.

Warps tied up.

Weaving begins.  I am reminded that warp selection is important.  I had been weaving on a knitter’s loom from Ashford.  The eyes in the heddle were larger so less wear on the knitting yarn.  Two threads are dangerously weak in the early weaving.  Use fray check from my sewing box to help prevent some fraying.

Beginning to Weave

Weave color is lighter than I anticipated.  Called Yarn Garden in Portland to get another skein of brown.  Plan to weave weft in stripes.  They were very helpful.

Going to order the 8 dent reed for Lily’s blanket.  I think it will allow me to use this knitting yarn a little easier.  The dent size is good for Jackson’s blanket, the holes are just a little small.

This stand can be used for my Navajo loom if I so choose.  Weaving helps me hold a space for moving to Portland

Leaving Ashland Rigid Heddle Weaving Weaving travels

Rigid Heddle Weaving

I wove small pieces on both looms plus purchased a knitters loom (rigid heddle) and I wove Christmas  presents one year rather remarkably.   The knitter’s loom takes regular yarn and ribbon so all kinds of textures are possible with a simple weave. Took a basic class at Websters and a more advanced one there as well. Haven’t used the more advanced info (yet).

Found a great video on using a pickup stick with the rigid heddle (which is one of the advanced techniques I learned in class).

Navajo Weaving Journey Weaving travels

Fear to Beauty

It occurs to me that turning fear to beauty is the Navajo way.   Turning webs into an object of beauty with colors and patterns of our own choosing will help me with this.

A prayer from Reichard’s Spider Woman reminds me of an active way during a 9 day sing part of the prayer was:

“May happiness be mine again, I say.

The day may it be beautiful behind me,

May it be beautiful before me,

May it be beautiful above me,

May it be beautiful all around me.” pg. 167.

Beauty implies harmony to me.   Beauty was a translation used by Gladys Reichard.  She says that the Navajo word means many things: beauty, comfort, good luck, good health, etc.

The key is turning the feeling of fear toward action, the action of a creator, not the inaction of reclusive waiting, though both are true of my life here in Ashland.  I have been both, going deeper into inaction, and more widely into active creation.

spiderSpider image from

Navajo Weaving Journey Weaving travels

Spider woman awakes

Woke up thinking about Navajo Weaving.  On the breakfast table I had laid out the book, The Navajo Weaving Tradition:  1650 to the Present. I started leafing through the book looking for blue dyes.   Indigo seemed to be the most prevalent blue– set with fermented urine as not a mordant (or fixative) but a “strong alkaline solution as a carrier”, p. 134. Used until the late 19th century.

The study now begins for me of what blue is now used and what blue will emerge in my studies with Sarah Natani.    Using natural fiber and natural dye seems very important in creating a carpet from the earth.   I want an earth carpet.   Something that integrates the elemental earth, all aspects.

The Navajo have the beauty way, the way to harmony.   This step seems important in weaving to hold this feeling of harmony as I approach this study.

Earthues in Seattle uses natural dyes.   Combined with my study with Sarah Natani, I want to travel to Seattle to study with Michele Wipplinger who teaches wonderful classes on natural dye.   My long time friend and carpet lover, Joyce, has shown me the samples that she brought back from a class, really lovely.   We share the love of a good natural fiber either hand tied or woven into a carpet.

I digress.   This morning I received an e-mail from Patience who is a wonderful friend and mbira teacher from Zimbabwe.   I was reminded of the water spirit that I had met in my travels to Zimbabwe to the mountains village of Dzivaguru where the spirit mediums live.   I wondered what this carpet weaving on the Navajo reservation could mean.   Why was I being called to weave in a tradition that had so little water, no wide expanses of blue.   This was my reason for looking for blues in the Navajo carpet and for any small sense of elemental water.

The Shona have no “spider woman” lore.   Though the spiders are huge in Zimbabwe.   I need a spider woman in my life, a grandmother spider woman, creator and holder of a power that is grounded and harmonious.   This fearful image also brings life.   In a Jungian sense, is allows the shadow a place in one’s  home.

I want to weave a carpet with the image of spider woman.   This might take some time.   Looks simple but first there is much practice of stripes and zig zags.   Vertical lines, horizontal lines, diagonal lines, all must be practiced.

Somehow there seems to be time to think of practicing.   I who have been up against time, seeing that it no longer feels unlimited and looking for ways to take my patterns into the world of spirit where they might remain at least in traces of memories after death.

What survives?  I watch my parents lose touch with all the things they thought to be important except family, a bit, and glimpses of greater love.  Who are they now?  What is the function of these later years that flirt with death even with a cosmology that embraces death, what part of that cosmology has failed my parents, and has been failing me now.

My search is for that peace, to allow beauty.  To sit with people who allow beauty in simplicity, survivors of a harsh white world.

How can a bit of wool and a simple loom be the gateway to another world, the world where spider woman awakes.  More on that thought to follow.

Navajo Weaving Journey Weaving travels

Spider Woman

After many encounters with spiders in my temporary housing in Ashland, Oregon, a brother, Kevin, suggested that I look at my fear as a source of power.  My interest in weaving and love of the Southwest combined in my search for the seat of Spider Woman’s power.

Over the last 4 years, the interest in Navajo weaving has come up again and again.  Two years ago I tried to enroll in Sarah Natani’s weaving course at Table Mesa, New Mexico.  The course was filled.  Meanwhile, I met Kathy at Llamas and Llambs in Jacksonville, Oregon.

Kathy recommended two books, Spider Woman: A Story of Navajo Weavers and Chanters by Gladys A. Reichard and Navajo Weaving Way: The Path from Fleece to Rug by Noel Bennett and Tiana Bighorse.  I purchased Navajo Weaving Way as it was readily available.  Also the video set, Navajo Weaving:  Sharing the Technique and Tradition by Angie Walker Maloney (assisted by Susanne Clark) which I found at Webster’s Yarn in Ashland, Oregon.

A friend gave me a loom and when I went to pick it up where it was stored, I was fortunate to met, Audrey Moore who helped found the Damascus Pioneer School which is now Damascus Fiber Arts School.  Her weaving which included the spider woman image, inspired me.

When considering my move back to Portland, I thought surely I would go straight to the Damascus Fiber Arts center to register for a class.  Surely this will happen, meanwhile, while visiting Llamas and Llambs, Kathy mentioned that she had had a visitor who had information about a class being organized in Carlton, Oregon featuring Sarah Natani.  Kathy had some serendipitous events going on herself as her original Navajo Weaving teacher had just come through the store.

Kathy sent me the email of information for the Carlton class organized by Lora Pirtle Rinke.  Lora answered immediately through facebook that there was indeed room in the class in Carlton.

Meanwhile, I contacted Kathy Burnham who was organizing the class with Sarah Natani on the reservation and she said, “yes there is room”.

So in the course of two days, I had signed up for two classes.  Lora had posted that it would be possible to get hand carved forks and battens from Al Snipes.  He responded to my e-mail that he didn’t do retail but would make a batten as part of a batch he was sending out and mail it to me.  He followed up with a phone call.

At this moment, I was charmed by the community surrounding Navajo Weaving.  This kind of care in providing a weaving tool seemed way out of the ordinary.  I have since received my batten that has a smooth, pleasing touch.  Beautifully crafted.


Over lunch, I read Spider Woman a bit a day, having now finished the book, I marvel at the intelligence and unique quality of the writing of Gladys A. Reichard. I had previously read her book, Navajo Religion. This book provided my first glimpse into the complexities of the Navajo way of life, a complexity and commitment to cosmology that Ms. Reichard suggested lead to the survival and flourishing of the Navajo as a people.  Impressive.  Intriguing.

Cosmology was a challenge question presented to a small group of practicing masters of the Usui System of Natural healing.  The question was, do you have to know your cosmology?  Is it important. Yes, it seems that it is.

Without digressing, that question has lead me to this moment. Where lies Spider Woman in my cosmology and what is it that I need to know here?

Navajo Weaving Journey Weaving travels

Navajo Weaving Bibliograophy

Navajo Weaving Bibliography

(personal collection)

Bennett, Noel and Tiana Bighorse.  Navajo Weaving Way: The Path from Fleece to Rug. Interweave Press:  Loveland, 1997.  (Three books combined formerly:  Working with the Wool:  How to Weave a Navajo RugDesigning with the Wool, and The Weaver’s Pathway all by Noel Bennett with additions and revisions).

Dedera, Don.  Navajo Rugs:  How to find, Evaluate, Buy and Care for  Them. Rev. Ed.  Northland Publishing: Flagstaff, 1975.

Jongeward, David.  Weaver of Worlds:  From Navajo Apprenticeship to Sacred Geometry and Dreams, a Woman’s Journey in Tapestry.  Destiny Books:  Rochester, 1990.

Kaufman, Alice and Christopher Selser.   The Navajo Weaving Tradition:   1650 to the Present. Counsel Oaks Books:  Tulsa/San Francisco, 1985.

Kent, Kate Peck.  The Story of Navaho Weaving. McGrew Printing: Phoenix, 1961.

McQuiston, Don and Debra. The Woven Spirit of the Southwest.  Chronicle Books: San Francisco, 1995.`

Maloney, Angie Walker.  Navajo Weaving:  Sharing the Technique & Tradition.  Yarn Barn: Â Lawrence KS, 1998.  (2 videos).

Reichard, Gladys A.  Spider Woman:  A Story of Navajo Weavers and Chanters.  University of New Mexico Press:  Albuquerque, 1934.

Reichard, Gladys A.  Weaving a Navajo Blanket.  Dover: New York, 1974.  (originally Navajo Shepherd and Weaver.  J.J. Augustine: New York, 1936.)

Spurgeon, Caroline M.  Weaving the Navajo Way:  How to Create Rugs, Miniatures, and More!  Caroline M. Spurgeon:  2008.