Read About Weaving

Amsden, Charles Avery. Navajo Weaving: Its Technic and Its History. The Fine Arts Press, 1934. Reprint. Chicago: Rio Grande Press, 1964.
This is one of the better older books on the subject.

Bennett, Noël. Designing with the Wool: Advanced Techniques in Navajo Weaving. Flagstaff, AZ: Northland Press, 1979.
This is the second book written by Noël Bennet. It includes quite a bit of material that was left of out of Navajo Weaving Way, including a description of how to do raised outline technique.

Bennett, Noël, and Tiana Bighorse. Working with the Wool: How to Weave a Navajo Rug. Flagstaff, AZ: Northland Press, 1971.
This book popularized the dream of weaving in Navajo techniques for many non-Navajos. It went through several subsequent printings and most, if not all, of the material is in Navajo Weaving Way. If you use the loom design, make sure you move the pipe strap that holds the lower beam onto the frame of the loom. If you don’t, your loom will tend to pull forward. The method of binding the warp onto the dowels which are mounted on the loom is very difficult to do, and there are alternatives. Refer to Navajo Weaving Way and Mary Pendleton’s Navajo and Hopi Weaving Techniques to see them.

. Navajo Weaving Way: The Path from Fleece to Rug. Loveland, CO: Interweave Press, 1997.
Noël Bennett and Tiana Bighorse collaborated again on this book, which was published last year. The problem with the loom design in Working the Wool was corrected, and material was added on dyeing, spinning and culture. This book makes as good a text as you can easily find. Weaving in general is not the easiest thing to learn froma book, and Navajo techniques are no exception. Hopefully, you’ll find someone who can demonstrate the techniques and will watch while you try. The books make a good reference when you need a reminder.

Blomberg, Nancy. Navajo Textiles: The William Randolph Hearst Collection. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1988.
Lots and lots of pictures of really beautiful rugs.

Bonar, Eulalie H., ed. Woven by the Grandmothers: Nineteenth Century Navajo Textiles from the National Museum of the American Indian. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1996.
I love this book. I loved the Woven by the Grandmothers exhibit. This is a book about Navajo weaving written mostly by Navajos, and contains descriptions of each piece in the Navajo language as well as in English. The articles are written mainly from the Navajo point of view, and help place weaving in the context of the lives of present and past weavers. If you are a weaver, read what Wesley Thomas says about the finishing process at the bottom of page 41. I really agree with his analogy to a child leaving home. See what you think.

Brown, Rachel. The Weaving, Spinning and Dyeing Book. 2nd edition. New York: Knopf, 1983. Contains chapter entitled “Weaving on a Navajo Loom”.
If you can’t find Navajo Weaving Way, this is an alternative.

Eddington, Patrick and Susan Markov. Trading Post Guidebook. Flagstaff, AZ: Northland Press
I realize that this book is not about Navajo weaving on the surface of it, but it might stop you from just driving by a really great place where you’ll meet a Navajo weaver demonstrating her craft. It also has some wonderful pictures of rugs. But, you really need to quit just driving by all those places. If you don’t stop it, they’ll all be Thriftways, or worse.

Hedlund, Ann Lane. Beyond the Loom: Keys to Understanding Early Southwestern Weaving. Introduction and observations by Joe Ben Wheat. Boulder: Johnson Books, 1990.
Ann Lane Hedlund is a leading authority on Navajo weaving and a terrific and thoughtful person.

. Reflections of the Weaver’s World: The Gloria F. Ross Collection of Contemporary Navajo Weaving. Denver: Denver Art Museum. 1992.
This book is another one of my favorites. It is one of the first books that focused on the weavers as well as on the textiles.

. Contemporary Navajo Weaving: Thoughts That Count. Flagstaff, AZ: Museum of Northern Arizona Press, 1994.

Hollister, U. S. The Navajo and His Blanket. 1903. Reprint. Chicago: Rio Grande Press, 1937.

James, George Wharton. Indian Blankets and Their Makers. A.C. McClurg and Co. , 1914. Reprint. Chicago: Rio Grande Press, 1937.

James, H. L. Rugs and Posts. West Chester, PA: Schiffer Publishing Co., 1988.
This book presents the various trading posts and traders, and the rug designs that are associated with them. Many of the posts are history now, so it is a good reference, with more pictures than text.

Kaufman, Alice, and Christopher Selser. Navajo Weaving Tradition: 1650 to Present. New York, NY: NAL/Dutton, 1985.
The focus here is on the textiles rather than on the weavers. The pictures chronology is very complete.

Kent, Kate Peck. Navajo Weaving: Three Centuries of Change. Santa Fe, NM: School of American Research Press, 1985.
Kate Peck Kent is another leading authority on Navajo textiles and presents excellent technical analyses.

McQuiston, Don, and Debra McQuiston. Woven Spirit of the Southwest. San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 1995.
This book isn’t strictly about Navajo weaving, but about the context of it and other southwestern weaving traditions. The pictures are wonderful!

Monument Valley High School. ‘Ndahoo’aah Relearning/New Learning Navajo Crafts/Computer Design. Monument Valley, 1996.
Each year, Monument Valley High School brings together Navajo high school students and elders, computer scientists and math teachers for three weeks to learn and relearn what crafts, science, and culture have to offer each other. These are some of the best narratives from Navajo weavers that I have ever read. The booklet is available from the Monument Valley High School for $10 postage paid. Send a check or money order for the booklets and shipping and handling to MVHS, P.O. Box 360008, Monument Valley, UT 84536. Some of the narratives from the booklet are in the ‘Ndahoo’aah website.

Pendleton, Mary. Navajo and Hopi Weaving Techniques. New York: Collier Books, 1974.
Mary Pendleton owned and operated a fiber arts shop in Sedona, Arizona, for many years.  She has now passed on, but her work remains one of the best and most complete works on the subject. It is many years out of print, but look for it at yard sales and at used book stores. I have seen copies sell for $65. This book is worth $65, particularly if you are interested in Hopi techniques.

Reichard, Gladys. Spiderwoman: A Story of Navajo Weavers and Chanters. 1934. Reprint. Glorieta, NM: The Rio Grande Press, 1968.
Gladys Reichard made many trips to Navajo country in the 1930’s and learned to weave through a referral from the Hubbell Trading Post. Reichard’s views may not be politically correct from a 1990’s perspective, but the books are interesting reading, as long as you remember that much of what you read about reservation life has changed along with the rest of the world.

. Navajo Shepherd and Weaver. 1936. Reprint. Glorieta, NM: The Rio Grande Press, 1968.
Reichard describes many of the techniques used in weaving in detail. Her description of double faced weave is probably the best there is.

Rodee, Marian. Weaving of the Southwest. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1977.
This is a very complete and beautiful book. Rodee did some of the first writing from the weaver’s perspective.

Roessel, Monty. Songs from the Loom: A Navajo Girl Learns to Weave. Minneapolis: Lerner Publications, 1995.
If you are interested in Navajo weaving, read this book.

Schiffer, Nancy N. Navajo Weaving Today. West Chester, PA: Schiffer Publishing, 1991.
Good overall review of rug designs.
. Pictorial Weavings of the Navajo. West Chester, PA: Schiffer Publishing, 1991.
Good overall review of pictorial rug designs.

Wheat, Joe Ben and H. P. Mera. The Gift of Spiderwoman: Southwestern Textiles, The Navajo Tradition. Philadelphia: The University Museum, University of Pennsylvania, 1984.
This book is out of print, but well worth the time to find in a good library.

Willink, Roseann Sandoval and Paul G. Zollbrod. Weaving a World: Textiles and the Navajo Way of Seeing. Santa Fe: Museum of New Mexico Press, 1996.
This unique book introduces some thought provoking ideas on the development of the designs that we see today.

Are we missing a book? Please leave a comment or send an email and we’ll add it!

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1 Comment

  1. Inga on February 4, 2015 at 11:26 pm

    I’ve been looking through your books and could not find the one I have – Weaving a Navajo Blanket by Gladys Reichard (Dover Publication 1974). Checked through the book’s fine print – it is actually republishing of 1936 Navajo shepherd and weaver. 99 cents at amazon.

    Very much enjoying your teaching. You are an ocean of knowledge, and you know how to pass it on. Thank you.

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