cover image How to Weave a Navajo Rug and Other Lessons from Spider Woman

How to Weave a Navajo Rug and Other Lessons from Spider Woman

Barbara Teller Ornelas and Lynda Teller Pete. Thrums, $29.95 (152p) ISBN 978-1-73442-170-5

Fifth-generation weavers Ornelas and Pete (Spider Woman’s Children) offer experienced weavers inspiring instruction in the art of creating Navajo rugs. They first relate the craft’s origin story: the deity Spider Woman gave the skill to the Navajo people after she was taught to weave the universe by a spider god. Ornelas and Pete clarify that Navajo weaving was not borrowed either from the Pueblo or Europeans, as some historians posit. They describe the sheep that traditionally provided the wool, though they, and most fellow Navajo weavers, now use mill-spun yarn. Carding (combing and cleaning the wool) is consequently less important, but, they state, still a rewarding community activity, and a good way of “blending different colors of wool together to create a greater range of hues.” While also touching briefly on making blankets and tapestries, the authors spend most of the book on the rug project, providing instructions that are intricate, detailed, and, for those new to weaving, intimidating. They also include notes on cultural symbolism (the vertical yarn lines on the loom represent sky, lightning, clouds, and rain) and a smattering of humor (“having a warped sense of humor” helps when using a warp frame). Ornelas and Pete’s passion for their craft and their heritage results in a lovely and unique crafting resource. (Oct.)