Meet the Weavers

Navajo Designs is working with Navajo Weavers to purchase rugs at a fair price, which is usually higher than the amount they receive from the local rug dealers. We are bringing hope and confidence to the weavers by selling their rugs at a low profit margin for our organization.

When you purchase a Navajo rug that is hand-woven, the weavers receive an average of 80% of the profits. Learn more about Navajo Designs.

Tommy and Nellie Skeet live south of Gallup, NM. Nellie learned to weave from her Aunts when she was a young girl. She grew up without her parents living with uncles and aunts. Nellie always has some kind of art project she is creating. In recent years she has used her hands to make other arts and crafts because her eyesight is diminishing. Together, Tommy and Nellie raised 9 children..

Tommy and Nellie are pillars in their community. Friends and family come by often to visit for prayer, encouragement, and guidance. Their health is failing, but they continue to walk with hope and joy with the Creator. Weaving is a good opportunity for Nellie to work out of her home. Often times the weavers and other elders meet at their home for fellowship and prayer. They continue to keep their doors open and walk in beauty.

Minnie Rose Begay and her husband, Jesse, are from Red Valley, AZ. Red Valley is located about 20 miles southwest of Shiprock, NM. She has 2 boys and 5 step children She started weaving when she was 10 years old and learned from her Grandmother "Big Hip Yazzzie." Weaving rugs is her main source of income and keeps food on her table. She is a known weaver in her community and has been weaving 40 years. Her rugs are often thicker due to the tight weave she produces. She often weaves the Yei and Yei' bi chei rugs which are full of color. She prays much as she weaves and trusts the Creator for provision for food, daily needs, and the sale of her rugs.

Lorraine Todacheenie lives a Blue Gap, AZ which is about 25 miles west of Chinle. She is a single parent of four children. She also takes care of her 2 grandchildren to help her daughter. Lorraine has been weaving since she was a young girl. Her mother taught her how to weave. Weaving has always been her main source of income. Most often she uses the commercially bought wool from the traders for weaving, but sometimes she begins with the raw wool from the sheep. Then she cleans, cards, spins, and dyes her own wool for the rugs. Her favorite design to weave is the storm pattern. Her weaving is very precise, tight, and detailed. Lorraine teaches her children, grandchildren, nieces, and nephews how to weave.

Nellie Glasses and her husband, Ken, live near Rough Rock, AZ. Rough Rock is North of Chinle AZ. Like many traditional Navajo's, Ken and Nellie have a summer and a winter home and raise sheep, cattle, and horses. They have 7 children, some of whom have gone to college. Nellie went to school for 9 years until she returned home to take care of her sick grandmother. Her grandmother taught her how to weave. For the first 7 years Nellie only wove stripes into her rugs. Her grandmother always instructed her never to pull or stretch the wool while weaving, and to pound it down. Her grandmother used to weave against a wagon on a loom, and always told Nellie, that if you sell the rugs you will not go hungry.

Nellie weaves all sizes of rugs and has several going at one time. She weaves all styles. Some rugs are woven with commercial wool, while others are woven using the wool from the sheep that she has prepared and spun herself.

The individual designs of the rugs are concealed in the minds of the Navajo women, and vary distinctly according regions across the reservation. These rugs are woven with the greatest of care as the weaver pours herself into each creation.

Some weavers begin their rugs by shearing their own sheep. Then they clean the wool, card it, and then spin the wool before dying it with the color of their choice. Once the wool is dyed and dried, they roll the wool into balls to get ready to weave the rug.

Carding the wool


Bessy and Glassy

Glassy Saunders is a weaver from Cousins, NM. She has 4 children and a number of grandchildren. Her mother taught her how to weave on a small loom when she was 11 years old. She enjoys weaving and the money she gets from the sale of the rugs. Glassy begins creating the rug from the raw wool she shears from the sheep. She then cleans, cards, and finally spins the wool to prepare for weaving. She almost always uses the local plants to dye the wool. Glassy is known for the thick rugs she weaves with the natural plant dyes

Rug history
Weaving was originally introduced into the area in the 1600's, during the same time that the horse was introduced into the new world. The tribes in the Southwest domesticated sheep and goats, which resulted in the development of new types of woven textiles. The Navajos used the rugs as clothing as well as covering and saddle blankets. The Navajos have always adapted to new technology with an entreprenueral spirit that continues to this day. Many tribes traded and bartered with the Navajos, and one of the prized objects was the Navajo woolen (rug) blanket because of its durability and intricate designs.


Bertha Laughing

 

The traders soon picked up on the valued art work and began to introduce new designs by hanging pictures on their walls from Far Eastern Cultures. As a result, patterns with a Persian rug feeling are woven into many Navajo rugs today.