Sunday, November 7, 2010
In Northern New Mexico, not far from the Rockies and the Colorado border, is a small town that has seen more prosperous days, Los Ojos (it means 'the eyes'). The village is surrounded by the high-altitude plains and deserts of northern New Mexico, and is just a bit north of the area where Georgia O'Keefe used to spend a lot of her time (Abiquiu). There isn't much to live on here, mostly cattle ranching, and it is old Indian country.
In this little village that now mostly consist of some older houses of varying upkeep and a strikingly white Catholic church is the cooperative Tierra Wools, a gorgeous place with gorgeous people.
We found it by following little signs from the highway for the weaving shop, and since I have a soft spot for hand spun, natural yarn, it was a natural detour. Tierra Wools is a women-owned cooperative that keeps ancient Indian traditions alive by making handmade wool rugs from local and hand dyed yarns. We spent maybe an hour in there, looking in the weaving room, hearing stories about when Robert Redford came by, and I bought yarn of course.
It reminded me of my grandmother's, aunts' and mom's weaving, and I was thinking it is sad nobody in my generation in our family is weaving anymore. At least we knit and embroider and sew and keep some of the handbased traditions alive.
The fantastic rugs were too expensive for us, but I walked out with two skeins of hand dyed New Mexico sheep wool dyed with the plant mullein ('kungsljus') and iron. Recently I started to make a scarf for PP with this yarn in a pattern called kelp forest and after a while realized I wouldn't have enough for a whole scarf... so I called up Tierra Wools hoping they would have at least one skein left of that particular batch (hand dyed wool varies between batches so you need to get the same days batch if you want exactly the same color).
And they did! Incredible. See this photo? The yarn is the gray-green yarn next to the yellow. This photo was taken before I bought what I wanted, so in August there was only one skein left, and it was still left now. Boy, I am a lucky person. That much-needed skein of yarn is now on its way across the United States, from one old store in New Mexico to a small house in New Jersey. See the bottom left red skein? That is made from cochineal-bugs that live on cacti. All these yarns are dyed from natural dyes and are therefore more subdued in their colors than synthetic dyed ones.
I hope more people find this oasis of artisan work and fantastic women that carry traditional knowledge into the future. If you can't get there, check out their website and call them. They have gorgeous hats, scarves, and mittens too.
(There just is something special about New Mexico skies, something that just makes me melt inside...)