A Visit from Gilbert Begay

WIndow Rock, AZ  Master weaver Gilbert Begay stopped by to say hello today and we spent some time talking about the yarns used in weaving in this area.  At least 95% of the rugs woven today are made with commercially spun yarns.  About 80% of those are done with Brown Sheep Top of the Lamb knitting worsted, with another 20% being woven with Burnham’s Trading Post yarn and Condon’s yarns.

The Burnham yarn is my personal favorite among the commercial yarns because it has a high twist that produces a well defined design.  It’s about $1 a skein more expensive than Brown Sheep and not as widely available.  Brown Sheep comes in gorgeous colors, but it is very soft and produces a lot of fuzz unless the weaver respins it, which takes time.  There aren’t any yarn shops in the Window Rock area.  Weavers buy their yarns at the Navajo Arts and Crafts Enterprise and Griswold’s Trading Post which both carry large selections of Brown Sheep in worsted and sport weight at about $3.50 per skein.   If you want Burnham’s yarn you’ll need to drive about 40 miles to Sanders, AZ, or order their yarns over the Internet.    Burnham’s is the only trading post that I’m aware of that sells yarns online.  Brown Sheep yarns are so much less expensive in Window Rock than they are in Phoenix and Albuquerque that many weavers wait to buy their yarns here when they come home for a visit.  Condon’s Yarns are sold only in the Shiprock area, and are most often seen in Teec Nos Pos weavings.

A very small percentage of rugs are done with hand carded handspun wool.

Gilbert Begay and Laurie West swap yarns.

Gilbert Begay and Laurie West swap yarns.

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