NM - The soft hum of a treadle spinning wheel set the soundtrack
Tuesday at the annual "Sheep is Life" celebration at Navajo
firmly planted on the pedals of the spinning wheel, Sarah Natani
let the silky strands of cashmere wool slip through her fingers
while she joked with a small group of women.
ask how the wool gets to be orange," she said. "We tell
them it comes from orange sheep. They ask where we get orange sheep,
and we tell them you feed them lots of carrots. A lot of people
of Table Mesa, is teaching a vegetal dyeing class at the week-long
event. The "Sheep is Life" celebration, in its 13th year,
is a way to honor the animal's significance.
also is a gathering of people who are interested in sheep, from
the pasture to the loom to the dinner table, said Roy Kady, a Teec
Nos Pos, Ariz.-based weaver.
the wool came from the sheep I raised," he said. "Not
very many people are still doing that."
was commissioned to teach dyeing, but she also agreed to help spin
wool for use in various weaving classes running simultaneously on
the Navajo Prep campus, including Kady's sessions on horse cinch
a dying art," he said of the technique, which originally was
done between tree limbs. "I learned it from my grandfather."
technique is something Angela Crist of Cotopaxi, Colo., has wanted
to learn for 10 years.
who grows and spins her own wool, said she always was fascinated
by Navajo weaving. When the "Sheep is Life" celebration
came to Farmington, she signed up for the class.
fascinating to be able to go back to the basics and create your
own fabrics," she said. "It's really nice to be able to
talk to someone who knows how to do Navajo weaving. There are books
out there, but this is better."
homegrown fibers is a rarity, but the end products are unmatched
in their quality, Crist said. She is hoping to add horse cinches
to her products for sale.
traditional weaving is time-consuming, she said she wouldn't do
it any other way.
weaving is a rarity," Crist said. "Probably because you
can get the products en mass, but in 100 years, this hand-woven
one will still be around."
and other traditional arts are making a comeback, said Shirlene
Jim, a home economist and 4-H leader at New Mexico State University.
who is assisting Kady in his weaving class this week, said she plans
to teach weaving to as many as 40 students this summer.
kids are interested in learning it," she said. "Elders
are so happy it's coming back. It's our culture, our way of self-sufficiency.
It's a way to reintroduce our culture to the younger generation."
is Life" activities continue through Saturday with workshops
about breeding, spinning, dyeing, weaving, butchering and cooking.
The celebration ends Saturday with a banquet and auction. All activities
are on the campus of Navajo Preparatory School, 1220 W. Apache St.,