Some of you might remember this post... but then, it was clear back in January. Some ideas take a long while to come to fruition, but this weekend I was able to take a beginning weaving workshop with Marilyn Greaves and Mel Silva, in weaving in the Navajo tradition. Both of them have been weaving since 1995, and have taken workshops from Navajo weavers, but not being native Navajos themselves, do not bill their trainings as "Navajo weaving". With that disclaimer, we went on to learn many traditional techniques over the three days, all while warping the small looms they had built for us and weaving a sample mini-rug.
First, we started warping by flipping our looms over and using the warping pegs that can be inserted on the back side... a great way to multi-task a piece of equipment. What sounds so simple, and required only one sentence actually took most of the morning, and then adding selvedge cords and tying our warps onto the front of the looms took most of the rest of the afternoon! This is the part where I will have to refer back repeatedly to my notes in order to warp on my own. Marilyn is helping Roma with her warp spacing in the above photo. The towel on the table keeps the loom from slipping as we pull and tug to adjust our warps and later beat our weft into place. Who knew weaving was so violent?!
Here's my weaving, at the end of day one... several of the bottom stripes completed. The stick with the loopy strings around it is the 'pull shed', and the loops are heddles catching every other thread. Navajo-style weaving is similar to tapestry weaving, in that it is completely weft-faced, meaning once the weaving is done, none of the warp threads show. Therefore, many design elements can be incorporated into the piece as you go along. The stripes set a base for a later design... which I was able to start by mid-morning on Saturday.