It was a fabulous weekend at Mt Eliza and being at the Victorian Country Conference. I had brought heaps of my fluffy stuff and very special Navajo spindles made from 45.000 year old Kauri wood and some very special handwoven Navajo rugs. Ofcourse I didn’t have my carefully prepared handouts because of my computer meltdown, but I did do a talk about the Navajo rugs and their meaning and especially for the occasion, I took my drum and pow wow outfit and sang a Navajo blessing song...
Nobody fell asleep, no snoring was heard (probably because of my drumming..lol) and I had the most amazing responses from people saying they will have a whole new way of looking at rugs.
It was great fun to be part of the weekend!
It is not only a craft , but also a way of translating how we look at the world and incorporate its magic into a two dimensional framework. Even the way that we see looms are different: the ropes to hold the warp threads are the thunder and the the warp itself is the rain falling down from heaven to earth. I was always taught never to weave when there was a lightning storm because of that.
Ofcourse sitting at a large loom , exposed to the elements , is never an extremely good idea when a big lightning storm hits, but you see how it all interweaves into ones life. Everything has a meaning, everything around you is transformed and has its own magic. Just look at how the corn rug below resembles reality...abstract and yet so similar.
There are so many things going on in a navajo rug, whether it be something minuscule woven into certain spots like a feather into a horse blanket to make sure that the horse is fast as an eagle, or bits of hair or plants, all have their meaning.
And then , ofcourse, there is the story that they tell and the magic they hold . There are lots of ceremonial rugs, rugs used in puberty ceremonies or birthing ceremonies. At the Country Conference I especially talked about one rug I have and is extremely special to me: the colour yellow and the stairs it depicts from heaven to earth is especially important and used when the midwife was assisting in the birth.
In the old days , the midwife collected corn pollen and then a horny toad was found and the pollen was put on its head and mouth. It was an extremely good omen that the toad spat out the corn mush and often that is why these kinds of ceremonial birthing rugs have yellow woven in to them, much like this one here:
When a certain kind of rug is being woven, the collective spirit of the weaver and the family members meld with the words of a ceremony and the power it conjures up from a shared past to a new future and new stories to be told.
For many Navajos, weaving is a way of making a living. Navajo rugs hang in museums around the world and are highly valued. Weavers can sell a rug as fast as they can weave them and for most it is their only source of income.
The rugs sing a song, tell a story and that is what makes them so magical. If the past and the stories are forgotten, then the rugs won’t mean anything. About 5 out of ten Navajos do not have a job and most of the weavers do not receive a lot of money for their rugs at all. For example: a rug can make over a month to three months make (just the weaving not the spinning and gathering the plants for the dyeing) and is sold to a trader for $500, who easily sells it on to tourists or investors for $2000. This is not right and it makes me angry everytime. Even when I see fellow crafts people around me where I live now, who undervalue their work and not recognise that their work tells stories and is important.
The struggle to practice ones culture and still make a living is a big problem. There is so much to tell and so little time. I may have to do another blog about more of the magic in the rugs and more about story telling!
It is no wonder that wool and yarn is so intricately intertwined : no wonder that "telling a yarn" means "telling a story" ...
Let's all tell stories together and most of all learn from each other and pass the stories on and on and on !
After the weekend it has been full blast with custom orders, painting lots of spindles again and ofcourse, preparing all the clubs ! The sock yarn, fibre, funky bunny batt club and the mini skein clubs are going to be sent out next Monday and I love the way it all looks. The next sign ups for the clubs will start again this week for the next round of clubs starting in October. More on that at the end of this blog with al the information you need to sign up.
100+grams (+/-3.5Oz) AU$22
Due to immense hardship ( the imprisonment and the horrors of the long walk home, the government imposing a law that one family could only 1 sheep and much much more, which I won't get into now..) 90% of the churro sheep were culled and almost wiped off the face of the earth.
Thanks to the effort of the Navajo Sheep project started in the 1980s there are several herds and its looking up for the churro breed !
Support rare breeds by supporting small farms and buying this gorgeous fibre.
It spins like a lofty semi lustrous wool with a medium length staple. I have blended it with just a dash of angora bunny to make it close to skin and easy to spin for most projects from shawls to socks to rugs. You will love spinning this magical fibre.
New IxCHeL Club sign ups Open now !
October, November and December 2014!!
IxCHeL Fibre Club October, November and December 2014
The IxCHeL Sock Yarn Club July , August and September 2014
IxCHeL Mini skein Club October, November and December 2014
IxCHeL Funky Bunny Batt Club October, November and December 2014
IxCHeL Events to put in your Calendar!
Sunday September 28th, 9:30-3pm
Sheep and Woolcraft Day (with bunnies as well ofcourse !)
October 7th, 10am-2:30pm
PASCOE VALE SPIN IN
How To Order:
2. message me on facebook or ravelry where I am Ixchelbunny.
I will email you right back with all your order details and payment methods.
Any questions? Any custom orders for yarn or dyeing fibre? Please don’t hesitate to ask! Always happy to enable.