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Maybe It Twill: Explore Navajo Twill Weaving with Nikyle Begay (Wednesday Evenings: October 21, 29, November 4, 11, 18)
October 28, 2020 @ 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm MDT
Looking for a way to advance your skills in Navajo weaving techniques? Consider this five-week class on the use of twills on a vertical Navajo loom. Weaving in Beauty offers Nikyle Begay’s “Maybe It Twill: Explore Navajo Twill Weaving” on Wednesday evenings starting on October 21. Nikyle is a master Navajo weaver and rancher who lives in Ganado, Arizona. They teach for Diné be’ iiná (Navajo Lifeway), the Flagstaff Wool and Fiber Festival, and many other places. Nikyle’s just-completed online twill class for a group of our advanced students got rave reviews. The class begged for more, so here we are!
Nikyle teaches in a style that invites questions and exploration. Twill weaving goes back to the roots of Navajo weaving and the ties it has to other cultures of the southwest, so there is plenty to check out. The technique pre-dates the introduction of wool. Twill counts passed down family lines, and become lost as weavers age and younger generations lose interest in traditional arts. Our customers frequently cite it as one of the skills that they are most anxious to learn.
Twill weaving in the Navajo context centers around the concept of the “count”, similar to a draft in floor loom weaving. Nikyle will be sharing three different counts in this class and you’ll be weaving a sampler incorporating each count. Nikyle will share the background of each twill count with you and guide you through the intricacies of weaving the count with various weft selections. Twill weaving is not for beginners. Students must be able to warp their looms independently prior to the first class. They must be able to manipulate the comb and batten. You will use additional heddle rods, and you should have at least four available at the first session.
Nikyle Begay: About Your Instructor
#sheepislife is the culture of my people. As children, we are eager to help tend our grandmother’s flocks of sheep. We attribute this to when we were newborns, our umbilical cords dried and detached from our belly buttons and our grandmothers took them to the heart of their sheep corral and placed it there with a prayer. They pray for goodness as we grow. We’re taught that when we care for the sheep, they’ll care for us, providing sustenance, warmth, and life lessons… My name is Nikyle Begay, them/they/their. I am a shepherd and I am a weaver.
As a child, spring meant newborn lambs and shearing. Summer was full of processing wool into yarn. The end of summer and beginning of fall meant collecting plants to dye the yarn and marketing the grown lambs. Although weaving was done year-round, most of it was done next to the cozy fireplace during the winter. It was during those formative years, I became my paternal grandmother’s tail. I’d observe how she worked the sheep, how she’d stretch the carded wool as she spun, how she made intricate designs in her weavings. She never sat me down and gave me instruction, she just encouraged me to continue my observations. At 13, I started my own flock of Navajo-Churro Sheep. By 16, I took weaving seriously. I am still tending the sheep and I am still weaving. I’ve just begun sharing my culture and weaving with the world.
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