At Warp Speed: Travels with the Navajo

In mid-December, we received a detailed narrative from Lynda Pete and her sister Barbara Ornelas (authors of Spider Woman’s Children: Navajo Weavers Today) about the consulting work they were doing at the Bard Graduate Center Gallery in New York. It seems they were on hand to help prepare an interactive Navajo weaving exhibition at the Bard Gallery in early 2021. We often get these updates from the sisters and are awed by the variety of activities they take part in, at how they gadabout the country year-round, teaching weaving, warping, and natural dyeing to eager students; researching Navajo history; and, of course, weaving and selling their own prize-winning work at various art shows.

Spider Woman’s Children authors Barbara Teller Ornelas (left) and Lynda Teller Pete. Photo by Joe Coca.

Earlier this week Lynda finished teaching Navajo weaving and warping classes at Gauge Yarn shop in Austin, Texas. Barbara and her son Michael Teller Ornelas are gearing up for the Indian Fair and Market at the Heard Museum March 7–8 in Phoenix, Arizona. While the mother-son weaving duo represent the family there, Lynda will be teaching Navajo weaving classes at SPUN fiber Art Studio and Yarn Shop in Palisade, Colorado. Then the sisters will meet up at Grandma’s Spinning Wheel in Tucson and together will teach a series of weaving and warping classes through the end of March. 

Mother's day
Lynda, always the teacher! Photo from Spider Woman’s Children, photo by Joe Coca.

What has always struck me as a life-changing textile travel experience is spending a few days in Canyon de Chelly in the Navajo Nation, taking a weaving class from Barbara and Lynda, which is where they’ll be once again this April. Lynda has regaled us with fun stories of the wind and the rain in the Canyon this time of year. She has also written of the beauty in the Canyon and the camaraderie that develops among the students. Those things happen when you practice weaving in the wonder of that sacred canyon.

Canyon de Chelly at sunrise. Photo from Spider Woman’s Children, photo by Joe Coca.

And that’s just their March and April schedule, but so it goes throughout the whole year! Here’s the really crazy thing: in the midst of all the teaching, the weaving, and other work, they’ve managed to write another book. More about that in the months ahead, but it just might be that one day soon, you too could learn how to weave a Navajo rug.

Barbara Teller Ornelas weaves a magnificent Navajo rug in her home studio. Photo by Joe Coca.

In the meantime, if you have an opportunity to take a class with Lynda and Barbara in your area or meet them at an art show and read their first book Spider Woman’s Children, do it. It will be fun. And meaningful. Guaranteed.


One thought on “At Warp Speed: Travels with the Navajo

  1. Deborah Chandler says:

    What a contrast! The pace of weaving a Navajo rug vs. the pace of the lives of the teachers of same.

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