Somewhere in the fall of either 1984, or 1985, I saw a class advertised in the Cabrillo College handbook. The class description said, learn to weave a small Navajo rug on an upright loom. My actual thought at the time? Aha, a small rug on an upright loom, that shouldn't take up too much space.
I entered the class and met the instructor, Marilyn Brandon, and her husband Jim. I heard very young women using words like "warp and weft" and saying things like "Do you spin your own yarn?" I knew I had entered a whole new world. I completed the first class and knew I would never finish that little rug unless I took the class again. Little did I know that my life would never be the same. What has followed those early classes has been an adventure into fiber arts, different cultures, and a desire to know more about the world of textiles.
It was through Marilyn and Jim Brandon, that I was introduced to Sarah Natani. Sarah gave a workshop at the Brandon's home as I was working on my second small rug. I began a third small weaving and learned the ever-popular diagonal joint. Subsequent workshops with Sarah included learning the Coal Mine Mesa Raised Outline technique, and weaving a vest. I have explored some pictorial themes, but have always tried not to copy the traditional Navajo patterns.
Weaving in the Navajo style as the first step into textiles was fortuitous. I enjoy the idea of a set of customs and rules that provide the structure for creating something so beautiful. From the warping of the loom, through the designing, to those last tight rows, a part of me enters the weaving.
Each class, each workshop, each trip to the southwest has renewed my belief that weaving in the Navajo way is not only a beautiful craft, but is one of the most valuable things I do for myself.