Spider Woman’s Children author Lynda Pete has taken time from her demanding teaching and lecturing schedule to send us this moving story of sharing the first copies of Spider Woman with her family. You’ll love it. Thanks, Lynda, and welcome home!
Thump, thump, thump, my weaving comb is singing to me as I beat down my tapestry. My batten snaps, giving me a start, jarring me out of my daydream. It’s time to switch to a narrower batten. I resist the urge to use my long batten to reach behind me and turn on the ceiling fan, and I glare at a tall glass container that holds weaving tools that need maintenance. I chastise myself that some of those mishaps could have been prevented. I am finally back at my loom in my home in Denver, Colorado, after six months of travel.
In early July, my sister Barbara and I attended a family event in Farmington, New Mexico, and we had an advanced copy of our book Spider Woman’s Children: Navajo Weavers Today. We wanted our aunts, Margaret Yazzie and Mary Louise Gould, to see the book since they are both featured in it. We wanted to assure them their copies would be mailed to them. Aunt Margaret arrived first and we showed her the book. She looked at her portrait and a slow smile broke, and she said, “I look old.” I smoothed down her hair and hugged her and said, “Shima (mother), you look beautiful.” She patted the photo of her son Jones Lee and a twinkle of tears appeared in her eyes.
She turned the page and looked at the two photos of her unfinished Two Grey Hills tapestries and her tears spilled. She said, “I had hoped to finish these weavings; my eyes and my hands are not cooperating.” Barbara put her arms around her and said, “If you give me the wool for these projects, I will help you finish them.”
As our cousins, Aunt Margaret’s children arrived, they all commented on how pretty she looked and asked for copies of her portrait. We relayed the request to Thrums Books, and super photographer Joe Coca sent us photographs of the weavers featured in the book; when we hand delivered the photographs to each weaver, they were delighted.
Our Aunt Margaret has recently been admitted to a nursing care facility and as much as our hearts have hurt to see her needing care, we are also reminded of the strong woman that raised a large family, cared for her flock of sheep and we will remember the laughs that she shared with our mother Ruth Teller during one of their trouble-shooting gigs at our house. They would drink coffee, trade advice on how best to fix a weaving, and them we’d hear their adorable squeals of success when they fixed a weaving problem. Afterward, we’d see the cloud of dust Margaret left as she drove off in her beloved pick up truck.
—Lynda Teller Pete
Learn more about Margaret Yazzie and twenty more Navajo weavers featured in Spider Woman’s Children. Order your copy from Thrums Books and receive a 20% discount.