Watch Mary Louise Gould spin wool from her sheep, inch by inch, and you get a visceral idea of the patience and care and sheer time required to create a fine Navajo rug. No, really! Just click HERE and take a couple of minutes to see a real Navajo master weaver make her yarn. Actually, for Mary Louise, the process started long before the spinning begins: she has carefully bred her sheep over generations to get just the colors she wants.
Mary Louise is 88 years old. She grew up in a family known for its masterful Two Grey Hills-style rugs, and she followed that tradition for many, many years, with great success. But at some point, and she was an old lady by the time this happened, she decided she wanted to weave a different kind of design. Very different. She was met with shock and discouragement from the trader who usually bought her rugs, and almost gave it up. But as a woman who wore sneakers with her traditional velvets as a young woman, and who as an adult poses pink lawn flamingos next to her traditional outdoor bread oven, and who bargained an especially fine rug for a brand-new pickup truck, Mary Louise persisted.
You can read more of her story, and that of a score more of interesting, dedicated, persistent weavers, as told by her nieces, Lynda Teller Pete and Barbara Teller Ornelas, in Spider Woman’s Children: Navajo Weavers Today. You can read their stories, and you can read even more between the lines. And did I mention? You can watch Mary Louise spinning right here. That’s not something you see every day.