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Thursday, August 23, 2007

Dyeing & Weaving

Around 30 years ago I took a class in Navajo spinning, dyeing, and weaving from a Navajo weaver at Henderson Museum, CU Boulder. I loved the colors that I could get from dyeing wool with natural dyes, but since I was a single mother of 4 working my way through college, I didn't continue doing it (it was very time consuming). Instead, I turned to needlepoint to satisfy my love of creating with colored wool (it was portable, I could carry it with me wherever I went). I spent many years designing and stitching needlepoint pieces. Then after I retired, I was able to take a class in quilting, that I had always wanted to do, because my Granny made quilts for all the members if our family, and she had handed her patterns and sample squares to me when she could no longer use them. There has always been something about the textile arts that drew me.

The natural dyeing has always remained in the back of my mind and I still have 2 of the small tapestry looms, that we were taught to make in the class, hanging on the wall of my sunporch, as well as a few samples of yarn that I spun with a drop spindle and dyed with natural items like black walnut hulls, onion skins and various lichens that I gathered in the mountains behind Boulder. The vegetable matter that is on the yarn is dried Wormwood, from my garden, that I put with them to keep the moths away.

I recently posted about visiting the home of our friend, Klee, who raises, spins, dyes, and weaves her own sheep and goat wool. Her bathrooms were full of hanks of newly dyed yarn drying over the tubs.

Our talented friend, Deb H, had a link in a recent post to one of her friends, Michigan Quilter, who dyes wool and I really enjoyed seeing what she was doing.
Then this morning, in the Pueblo Chieftain, I found an article about a traditional weaver from Chimayo, New Mexico, and the photo is so beautiful and the article interesting, so I decided I should share it with you all. Makes me wish I could drop everything, run down to Chimayo and study with this weaver. We are so fortunate to have the traditional Navajo, Hopi, and Hispanic weavers keeping these arts alive in New Mexico. And thanks to Klee and Kathy for continuing this tradition.
Thanks to these reminders, I find that my creative urges are beginning to stir again. I love the look of wool quilts. I may just have to try dying my own wool for a quilt and see what happens.


jenclair said...

Your tapestry looms are pieces of art in themselves, Fran! I've always been interested in spinning, dyeing, and weaving, and would love to have a class...especially one from a Navajo weaver.

Your quilting, however, seems to have been the textile art that has suited you, from the your inheritance from your grandmother to the pieces you've made to honor her.

But the natural dyeing, couldn't you apply that to your fabrics? I'd love to do that...think I'll research that aspect! I'd love to say, "This fabric is dyed using onion skins!"

Quiltnbee said...

Back in other life, in my Art major early college days (dark ages) I did a lot of spinning (wheel and spindle, dying, and weaving, along with my basketry...I had to destroy my loom I'd made, it got all twisted, warped and rusty in my mom's garage over the years while I was a newlywed and then a busy mom...wish I had it now...I bet there are instructions for making one somewhere on the web...because ineed to start something new...heh..

Aren't his fibers wonderful! I love your looms hanging on the wall..

Rian said...

It sounds as if the Universe is trying to tell you something, it's dropping hints everywhere!

Deb H said...

Fran, Kathy will be thrilled to see your post here. She is going to a native weaver soon for a week long intensive.

We both loved using the natural dyes. The wool quilt she showed was a joint dye effort between the 2 of us.We collected black walnuts from a strangers yard (with her heartfelt permission & help), we also used mosses,berries, plants of all sorts,& weeds like goldenrod (the spiders crawling out of it creeped me out though).

Your looms are beautiful.

My DH keeps telling me I that he thinks you're a kindred spirit for me, & I think he's right! Maybe you & Kathy & I should get together some time!

diva of quilts said...

very beautiful! There's so much to tempt all of us in the world of fiber.

Deborah said...

I love it. I'm right there with you. Someday, that is exactly what I'm going to do: raise sheep for the wool. Very beautiful; so is the new quilt block.