A southwestern wander: walking, drawing, and a few yarn shops

In December I had a trip to New Mexico. Armed with COVID tests, we were able to visit my parents in the town I grew up in. Gallup, NM is a place that almost defies description, but if you know it, you can probably explain a few of the peculiarities of my personality!

Home is Gallup

While home I was finally able to visit Weaving in Beauty. This yarn shop/weaving resource is on Coal Ave and has been there several years now. I was beyond impressed with the shop and what they do and carry. They’re there in part to provide fiber tools and materials to local weavers and spinners and in this economically depressed area of the country, I was impressed at how low they could keep the prices of their materials and tools. That is truly a service to the makers in the area (and to those of you who order from them online!)

They carry locally made Navajo-style tools and looms as well as some Schacht products for shaft weaving and spinning. They also have an impressive stock of regular knitting yarns which is a great advantage to area knitters as the next closest yarn shops are over a hundred miles away. Mary Walker, owner, says the knitting yarn also meets I-40 knitting emergencies. (You know the type… you’re on vacation, driving down the interstate, you finish a project or get stuck in town or just need something different. There didn’t used to be any place to get yarn in Gallup besides WalMart’s short selection of acrylic. Now there is.)

Weaving in Beauty carries my book! The Art of Tapestry Weaving looks right at home there, doesn’t it?

In the photo below, the yarn on the right wall is largely three sizes of churro singles hand-dyed in the shop. The yarn to the left is standard knitting yarn. There are many tools in the center as well as some undyed roving for you spinners.

The great wall of churro in three sizes… Several skeins of this yarn may have found their way into my bag and I’ll have to let you know what I think once I do some weaving with it. It looks lovely and I adore the hand-dyed nature of it.

A wall of churro yarn at Weaving in Beauty in Gallup, NM.

I purchased some of this churro roving and had a little pet of that knitting yarn on the wall behind.

Gallup Fabric Shop, now closed.

Gallup Fabric

When I was in high school I worked here. Gallup Fabric Shop. Mostly I sewed clothes for the owner’s kids. One was a junior rodeo champion so I made her a lot of snap shirts and jeans. I also remember making the littlest kid a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle costume for Halloween. I remember watching the Ceremonial Parade out the front window of the shop and helping Ruthie, the longest employee there, get the broomstick skirts mounted and ready for starching. They sold lots of fabric but also had a whole front room full of traditional Navajo clothing, sewn right there mostly by Ruthie. I used to sit and watch her industrial machine race through the hundreds of yards of thread that must have gone into each of those gathered skirts.

Gallup Fabric Shop has been closed for a long time now, but it is still empty and I keep hoping one of these times when I’m home someone will have opened another fabric shop in the same spot. I miss the sagging floors, the weird fluorescent lighting, the non-computerized cash registers, and the racks and racks of gorgeous velveteen, satin, and cotton fabric and the Navajo clothing made with it.

Petrified Forest National Park

Petrified Forest National Park, Blue Mesa

Petrified Forest National Park is only about an hour west of Gallup. I was able to go for a brief visit one day. It was fun to remember my 2016 artist residency there as well as the little set of tapestries I wove while in the park (more about that HERE and you can see or purchase a book about this residency HERE*). We had a short walk at Blue Mesa and enjoyed the phenomenal colors of the landscape and sky.

Santa Fe

Eventually we did have to return to Colorado and we did so through Santa Fe. I lived in Santa Fe for about a year and in this area of NM for most of a decade so it felt like coming home, however briefly.

In Santa Fe, I looked up which yarn shops were still open and found that there was one I had never been to called Through the Looking Glass. I had a good browse and also the joy of picking yarn for a friend which meant that I could leave with just one skein of yarn for myself… for a hat… which I apparently need as all the family photos I looked at for the last 15 years have me wearing an old ratty purple one I knitted forever ago.

Through the Looking Glass carries ALL the colors of Jamieson’s wool. This is one of the few yarns that is fairly common in yarn shops that works well for tapestry weaving. I’ve never been in a shop that had all the colors before. The photo below shows half of them. Beautiful, isn’t it? Fortunately I have quite a few colors at home because one of the projects coming up is sample weaving of a few new yarns for my online students. This yarn is one of them.

Jamieson’s Shetland Spindrift at Through the Looking Glass in Santa Fe.

I am always ready for a stop at Collected Works bookstore. First we stopped by the plaza because if you’re visiting Santa Fe, you do that, right? It was nuts. There were WAY too many people there even though they all had masks on. We skirted the plaza and went to the bookstore thinking it might be a calm oasis. Nope. Other people love a good bookstore too. I stayed long enough to find my book on the shelf which was unendingly thrilling and to quickly browse my favorite sections and then it was all too much and back out into the cold we went.

The Art of Tapestry Weaving at Collected Works in Santa Fe.

Collected Works has a small section of craft books wedged between the art and the southwestern books and thus The Art of Tapestry Weaving was right next to the selection of books about Georgia O’Keefe. Honestly, I couldn’t have been more thrilled by this. Thanks Collected Works!

The Art of Tapestry Weaving buddies up to Georgia.

We were able to see the Helen Pashgian show at SITE Santa Fe. It is well worth seeing. It reminded me some of the James Turrell installation at Mass MOCA.

Helen Pashgian show at SITE Santa Fe.

We have so many dear friends in northern NM and in Santa Fe in particular and it was hard to be there for such a short amount of time. We were only able to see one of them due to time restraints and COVID (we ran out of rapid tests and so it is back to Zoom for awhile).

Santa Fe did offer up one last treat. Revolution Bakery is open again near downtown. They were at a different location when I lived in Santa Fe and I was thrilled to find they were back. This dedicated gluten free bakery is a dream for me. I could have eaten ten of these cinnamon rolls.

Enjoying a gluten free cinnamon roll at Revolution Bakery in Santa Fe, NM.

Christmas is not about gifts but it is still about magic. My family created some with hand-made gifts this year. My dad made me the best finishers medal anyone could ever receive. I hiked the Colorado Trail in 2021 and he carved this piece to commemorate the journey. My mom made the fingerless mitts I’m wearing and my exceedingly artistic sister made me another marvelous textile which she says is a bathmat, but I’m skeptical I’ll be able to use it as such.

Colorado Trail Finishers Medal carved by my father.

It was good to go home for a little bit. The peace of the desert and the fun of returning to old haunts was good. I did a lot of drawing, a little bit of knitting, and one big jigsaw puzzle.

*Hint: If you click the PREVIEW text on the Blurb page for my Petrified Forest book, you can see the entire thing online.