Sunday, March 28, 2010

Yarn Program

by John Aldrich

Although providing food is the most important thing the Adopt-A-Native-Elder Program does to sustain our Elders, we help in a variety of other ways as well. The yarn program is one such way we support weavers in the Program and assist them in maintaining their traditional lifestyle.

Many of the Navajo Elders in our program are weavers, and many of these weavers depend on their weaving sales to sustain themselves and their families. We try to facilitate a market for as many of their rugs as possible. This happens through the annual rug show, other smaller shows, online rug sales, as well as direct sales to volunteers at food runs. But in addition to this we also provide wool and warp to our weavers so that they can continue to weave. We support more than seventy weavers on the reservation, and providing them yarn is an important way we help them to keep weaving.

A majority of present-day weavers use commercial yarn, and one of their favorites comes from the Brown Sheep Yarn Co. in Mitchell, Nebraska. Brown Sheep is willing to provide yarn to us at wholesale prices and we place two large orders with them each year prior to the food runs in the spring and fall. Each order involves over 1200 skeins of yarn in a variety of colors which are then combined into bundles of six skeins in a variety of color combinations. Each of these bundles provides enough wool to weave a rug approximately 2'x3' in size. These bundles are then given to weavers at each of the food runs.

We also order Brown Sheep wool throughout the year to replenish the stock of yarn bundles which are sold as donations to sponsors who wish to give wool directly to specific weavers. These bundles come in a variety of popular color combinations  which can be seen here on our web site.

At the annual rug show attendees can purchase bundles of wool and then present them directly to a weaver at the show. Much of this wool comes from the Burnham Trading Post in Sanders, Arizona, where Bruce Burnham carries a line of yarn which is also very popular with Navajo weavers.


  1. Thanks for the information. I've wanted to know more about the yarn. Fantastic photos of the yarn too. The photo of the Elder in the burgandy shirt is great. She looks ecstatic with her bundle! The tranformation of yarn looking like this to beautiful rugs is amazing!

  2. ANE, thank you for all that your doing for my people. I feel so happy knowing that you are bringing a smile to my relatives and they have something to look forward to. My grandparents live in Wheatfields and Tsaile and I know that they look forward to your presence...