Taos Fiber Arts

Taos in the New Mexico magazine

The New Mexico magazine has been kicking around the corners of my life for a long time. It seems there is always something about Tony Hillerman, Christmas chili (red or green?), and the little column at the back called "One of our 50 is missing" (yes, New Mexico is a US state and has been since 1912). Once in college in Wisconsin I remember buying a sweatshirt that said ALASKA on it at a department store and after looking at my drivers license, the clerk asked me what it was like going to college in another country. I refrained from asking her where she was in fifth grade geography class, though come to think of it, perhaps NM wasn't a state when she was in fifth grade.

The new house in Santa Fe isn't ready yet and I am squatting wherever I can while I start my new job. Last week I stayed at an extended stay hotel and found the March 2013 issue of the magazine stuck between the Gideon's and the HBO guide.
The feature article was "25 reasons to love Taos". I can think of many reasons to love Taos, and quite frankly if Emily and I could find jobs there, we'd be moving to Taos instead of Santa Fe. It is a great little town with some fantastic hiking, a whole lot of old hippies, some new hippies, a great bookstore, and a bunch of fiber.
Reason number 14 was "High Fiber Content" and featured Taos Fiber Arts which I have blogged about HERE before. And in THIS post which has photos of the amazing replica standing loom they have in the gallery. Ashley and Julie Cloutman, a mother-daughter team who have been around Taos for a long time, run a very high fiber content store. I love what they do. I love their enthusiasm. I love Ashley's nuno felted scarves and her youthful approach to fiber, and I love the replica loom and the beautiful textiles Julie weaves. I haven't visited in a few months, but I think they are now carrying Fred Black's rugs also--always a treat.
I was so tickled to find their feature in New Mexico magazine.

As Julie and Ashley would say, Art On!

Cherry Lake

Here is the little tapestry I just finished. I referred to it earlier and showed you a picture of the back while it was still on the loom in this post. I love that these smaller works take me less time to actually weave, but the finishing and mounting seems to take so much longer. Perhaps it was all the complications caused by the pick and pick and the constant color changes... though I ended up liking the effect a great deal and will do something along the same lines again soon!

Here are a couple details.

This piece was inspired by a hike Emily and I took to Cherry Lake in the Sangre de Cristo mountains just north of Crestone, CO in early September. The aspens were changing all the way up the mountain and the range of color was phenomenal. I wanted the shape of the pick-and-pick form to mirror the beauty of the mountains as well as the beautiful colors of the trees.

And here is the actual Cherry Lake.

I just had to show you what I used to mount this piece. I had a disappointing trip to the hardware store on Sunday to get parts for this project. I needed some thin, uniform wood to mount the tapestry to and our small hardware store just didn't have anything I thought I could use. I went to MalWart WalMart and ended up getting two school rulers, but they were about half an inch shorter than I wanted them to be. As I was rummaging through my pile of weaving "sticks" at home hoping that I would find something I could use, I spotted the yardstick that my friends at Taos Fiber Arts gave me recently. I was sorry to cut it up, but it was perfect!

The aspen leaves have all fallen now. I am still hiking as the snow has only flown in small amounts up high thus far. But the end of my high altitude hiking season is fast approaching. I might be able to squeeze another month with my snowshoes if I'm lucky.
San Luis Valley far below. Look carefully to see the center pivot farms on the valley floor 4,000 feet below and the San Juans in the distance.

Taos Wool Festival 2012

What would the first weekend in October be without the Taos Wool Festival? I currently live about 90 minutes from Taos, IF the gorge bridge is not closed for painting, repaving, random un-explainable reasons, or because someone jumped AND if San Antonio mountain's weather allows us to pass (sometimes it is a Lord-of-the-Rings-like scene with wizard-created blizzards, struggling hobbits, massive snow drifts, and avalanches--okay, San Antonio isn't really avalanche territory. The mountain hasn't killed me yet, but it has come close twice).

I did some great finishing work on the way down... (Thanks to dear Emily who agreed to drive. This is a great blessing for a knitter.)
 I should have known it was going to be a wildlife sort of day today. I saw a great blue heron on my short dog walk this morning and on the way to Taos, we saw a lot of tarantulas crossing the highway...

They migrate this time of year... or more specifically the males migrate when they look for a mate. Some quick internet research also indicates that they perish soon after. It makes me feel a little better about the one we saw too late.

Other wildlife included the alpaca (always so adorable), llamas, pygora goats, angora bunnies, and churro sheep.

And some of the greatest wildlife I saw was in Ellen Sibelius's booth. The creativity of fiber people never ceases to amaze me. Here is a Ravelry link to Ellen's creations. They are really quite astounding. This is a dragon in green and a baby dragon coming out of an egg in the middle. She had your basic farm animals (cow, sheep) and then all kinds of other creations (a wooly mammoth!, a biplane, whales, elephants, buffalos). I think this woman laughs a lot on a daily basis. 

Tapestry was represented by the Sullivans and Fred Black. I didn't get a photo of Fred's beautiful rugs. Alex and Bettye Sullivan had a booth as usual. It looks like the Alex, Bettye, and Fred are all showing at Tierra Wools now (Los Ojos, NM--a great place to visit if you are near Chama!).

There was a lot of beautiful yarn there. I resisted some of this, though it was not easy. My brain kept telling me that I already had beautiful yarn at home and that I didn't need to take home this also. I just bought a blue silk blend at String Theory and until that was used up, I didn't really need any more. I made it all the way home without this yarn, but Emily may have to hide the car keys tomorrow to keep me from driving back to the festival to get some of this.
This is, of course, not weaving yarn. Tierra Wools had the most beautiful churro yarn for weaving.
But tapestry being what it is (a very time-intensive pursuit that doesn't lend itself to changing materials often at least in my practice), I left these hanging also.

Taos Fiber Arts was there with their great yarn and roving. And after visiting the festival we stopped by their shop on Ranchitos Road.
There is a yarnbombing going on in Taos at the moment and TFA has decorated their own portal with bikinis.

 And the big guns were behind the building in the courtyard. Whoa Nellie!

Julie and Ashley Cloutman (the mother/daughter team running TFA) were at the festival, but they had some great people holding down their store. They have a beautiful gallery room with replica blankets, examples of jerga, and this fantastic replica loom where this woman was weaving jerga. You can see many more photos of this gallery and loom in an earlier blog post I wrote about Taos Fiber Arts HERE.

Taos was packed today. The farmers market was going on and we had to circle a couple different parking lots to find a space to park. At one point we were driving very slowly behind a couple walking with big bags of stuff, hoping they wouldn't notice the dark blue Camry lurking 100 feet back. Alas, after stalking them following them for an eternity a few minutes, it was clear they were not leaving but just dumping off their loot and walking off to search for more. When we finally did find a place to park, this was parked right behind us. I knew we were in for a great day...

As Julie and Ashley say,

A trip to Taos and a few zombies...

Monday I made a quick trip to Taos for various reasons, but had time to stop by my friends Julie and Ashley Cloutman's shop, Taos Fiber Arts. They have just moved into a new location and the store is really coming together.  I am doing some reading up on Spanish weaving for the class I am teaching in June at Espanola Valley Fiber Arts Center, so I was particularly interested in their new gallery room.  Right now Julie is displaying some replica Rio Grande blankets she is weaving. They are really gorgeous. In fact, I think she should hook up with architects nation-wide as these beautiful blankets are perfect for a southwest-style house.
Here is the link to my last blog post about this mother/daughter power-fiber duo which is the hottest fiber happening in Taos at the moment: /rebeccamezoff/2011/09/of-bumblebees-and-taos-fiber-arts.html

They even let Cassy visit the shop, though frankly that may be because she was threatening to bark on their stoop until I left. I warned Julie about the dog hair! But in true Julie-style she just said she would spin it.

They have an amazing loom that is a replica of something long past (also note the jerga)... I love the pulleys especially.

It is important to check out all Ashley's felt creations including her zombies. Ashley also teaches a lot of felting classes and she is a great teacher!  Call her up and drop by for a class.

Ashley is also making some gorgeous yarn.

Taos Fiber Arts: 208 Ranchitos Rd, Suite C, Taos, NM (575) 758-8242

And the wild irises are out... San Luis Valley, Colorado.

There are still a few spots in the Symbols of the Southwest class I am teaching at EVFAC in June, so sign up if you want to come!  It is going to be great.  More details following in a blog post soon.

Taos Wool Festival 2011

Every year (if I possibly can), I go to the Taos Wool Festival.  Emily says this is because "that is where my peeps are."  I'm not sure if she is talking about the alpaca, the churro sheep, or the people (or maybe just the cinnamon almond vendor), but I do enjoy spending some time there every first weekend in October.

The Taos Wool Festival is run by the Mountain and Valley Wool Association and this was their 25th year.  Their mission is to promote Colorado, New Mexico, and Texas wool, animal fiber, and their products.  For more information, their website is HERE.

I usually buy a t-shirt... and I liked the logo a lot this year... but even though it was only Saturday afternoon, they were out of any shirts in my size in a color I liked, so I settled for this photograph.

Disclaimer: no animals were harmed in the making of this blog post... and there are some shots of a naked churro sheep so if that sort of thing makes you woozy, you might want to skip the rest.

There are lots of animals every year and I love seeing the angora bunnies.  This little girl settled in to get acquainted with this rabbit.

I think this one is giving me the bunny evil-eye.  Admittedly I was stalking him with my camera and I couldn't get him to hold still enough to get a clear shot that included his long shaggy ears which stood straight up.  The woman minding the bunny cages said he was an English angora (I could have that wrong, things were a little confusing at that point)... and his ears were a hoot!  He wasn't amenable to a photograph though.

There was a pen of Navajo Churro sheep and we did get to see one shorn (turn back now if you don't want to see the naked sheep!).  Churro are the prize sheep of the Navajo.  I recently watched the movie "A Gift from Talking God: The Story of the Navajo-Churro" which you can find out more about HERE.  It is a wonderful documentary about how the churro sheep were almost wiped out and brought back to use in this region of the United States. They are highly prized for their double coat and their low-lanalin fleece as well as for their meat.

I don't know the name of this sheep shearer, but he was fast and I didn't see any sheep blood flying either.  It amazes me how the sheep just lay there.  About 6 years ago I saw a traditional shearer in El Rito using clippers shear a sheep almost as fast as this man did with his electric set-up.  When the sheep is turned upside down, they just go limp.  Robert, the El Rito shearer, told me that it was hard-wired into their brain because they are prey animals and when they are flipped over they are most likely going to be killed, so their brains just shut off. 
The whole thing only took a couple minutes.

Here he is after being let back into the churro pen.  I'm pretty sure at this point he was thinking, "Whoa, something is radically different..."

There were alpaca, which are my favorite.  This one was crying and the handler said they make the whimpering noise when they are distressed.  By Saturday afternoon he had probably had too many people taking photos of him.  Sorry dude.


And there were dogs everywhere.

And of course we can't forget the actual fiber booths.  There were marvelous tapestries and rugs by Fred BlackBettye Sullivan, and Alex George Sullivan.  When I got to the Sullivan's booth, the person wearing Bettye Sullivan's name tag was definitely not Bettye (and I had NOT had a margarita yet).  It was Julie Cloutman of Taos Fiber Arts who was running the booth for the Sullivans that day.  Julie was sporting a fantastic pair of knitted (or they could have been crocheted, the artist is multi-talented) earrings.  The artist was the offspring of the people running the felting booth next door.  Here are the earrings and Julie with the artist himself.  I regret that I do not know his name, so if anyone does, please comment and I'll credit him!  He did win a ribbon in the youth competition for a rather conceptual piece of crocheting which was a long chain with loops--aptly titled "Scarf".

10/9/11: And Martie of Taos Sunflower  just told me that the young artist is Chakotay Mitchell, son of Merce Mitchell of Pure Felt.  Thanks for the information Martie (your yarn shop was my very very favorite for so long, but I sure understand the need to do other things!) and to Chakotay for his great fiber art!

There were marvelous signs, and of course fantastic amounts of fiber.

I'm kind of sorry it is over for the year.  I didn't buy any yarn.

Of bumblebees and Taos Fiber Arts

I went to a needle felting class yesterday at Taos Fiber Arts.  Julie and Ashley Cloutman (a mother-daughter team) are a great combination--and they are a lot of fun.  I know Julie because she has sold a whole whack of my tapestries at Weaving Southwest... and anyone who has that much good to say about me must be one fantastic lady. 

Ashley spent a couple hours teaching me the fine art of 3D needle felting--and repeatedly reminding me how not to stab myself.  She was really good at this.  I think she has been stabbed a few times (sharp needles with barbs!).  I only caused myself to bleed once in two hours which I thought was pretty good considering my unfamiliarity with the techniques and my general clumsiness.  Her set-by-set approach and excellent creativity (not to mention humor) makes her a very fun teacher.  (She also has a great line of zombie attire and felted objects. I suspect with the right marketing these could become a craze which would support Ashley for a very long time.)

Julie and Ashley Cloutman of Taos Fiber Arts.

 SHARP needles!

My project started out looking like this (and though it looks simple, it was not easy to get a head and body to the shape I wanted!):
And within a couple hours, had become this funky sort of bee dude:
Notice his little stinger... and purple shoes... and long purple hair...
Ashley started this great Frankenstein figure.  I love the neck bolts... not really sure how she did that.

Taos Fiber Arts has beautiful fiber like this detail of a felted shawl with yarn trapped between the layers (made by Ashley).  They have hand-dyed yarn, roving, clothing, felted scarves, weaving, and will teach you many fiber techniques (including multiple felting techniques--I'm going back for a nuno class sometime and maybe another needle felting class.  Julie also teaches weaving!).

They also have a great collection of old signs (many from Taos Ski Valley) and other fun elements.

Go visit them. 
(P.S. They are fairly easy to find behind the plaza and... they have parking!)

Oh, by the way, the inspiration for the bee I made was this baby sock I knitted this weekend.  Now I just have to knit the other one!  ...unless someone is having a one-legged baby... which might give me some occupational therapy business, but overall would not be desirable to the parents, I'm sure.

I hesitate to give the pattern (because I don't want my ultra knitting-talented relatives to steal my very cute knitting patterns before my niece or nephew is born), but will do so in the interest of not being accused of copyright infringement... because I am not a talented enough knitter to come up with this by myself.  I leave the creative coming-up-with-it-ism to tapestry design.  It is Bumblebee Socks from Knit Baby Head and Toes (ed Gwen Steege).  The pattern is by Barbara Telford.