TEEC NOS POS, Ariz. | Jan. 23, 2003
Tah Ni Baa Natani's fingers easily demonstrated spinning the Navajo three-ply with the light-colored wool.
"What our ancestors did is so ingenious," Natani said as she completed the three-ply with one string and a drop spindle. "It's our responsibility to learn that and remember that."
Roy Kady, Navajo master weaver, co-founded a casual, monthly weaving gathering called the Spin Off where Navajo and non-Navajo weavers can gather, socialize and support each other.
(Times photo - Sararesa Begay)
Natani, a fulltime weaver and shepherdess from Table Mesa, N.M., is a co-founder and organizer of the Spin Off gathering - a casual gathering of Navajo and non-Navajo weavers and spinners.
Natani and her co-founder and weaving colleague, Roy Kady, hosted a third Spin Off gathering Saturday at the Teec Nos Pos Community School.
"Part of this group is to teach anyone to spin and weave," Natani said as she began to spin a mushroom-colored bundle of hand-processed wool. "Someone could hand spin their own hair-tie, there's a lot to be taught at gatherings like this.
"There are different ways of preparing wool," Natani said. "We want to form a guild and a support group so it's done easier."
During the gathering, participants learned how to make felt from master weaver Kady, a full-time agro-pasturalist.
"He's a felter," said Natani as she looked over at Kady who was helping Lillian Trujillo, 78, of Shiprock, and Ida Barber, 66, of Fruitland, N.M. card their wool with the drum carder.
Spin Off participants were also introduced to the spin wheel.
Navajo elder Rita Jishie, 75, of Tsaile, Ariz., learned how to used the spin wheel that was imported from Holland.
Jishie, a life-long weaver, spun a bundle of brown hand-carded wool as fellow weaver Beverly Allen observed.
Allen, a Diné College extension agent, brought a van of Tsaile community members who have an interest in weaving and spinning. Allen teaches weaving to area residents.
Long ago, Navajo ancestors would get together, card, spin and weave, according to Kady.
"That's how they would socialize everyday," Kady said. "The goal of the Spin Off is to bring communities together, that's how we socialize."