In the northwest region of New Mexico, a scant 13 miles south of Chama, and 150 miles north of Albuquerque, is the sleepy little town of Los Ojos. Here you will find the world famous Tierra Wools where the deep traditions of weaving are still taught, and people from all across the country come to learn the steps of dyeing and weaving that are done “the old way.”
We learned about them while talking with long-time Four Corners friends. We mentioned that we were headed out for another road trip to Santa Fe when they started talking about this wonderful studio, store and workshop on our route that’s “been around forever.”
Now honestly, there is not much to the town and it is considered ‘off the beaten path’, but it is well worth the stop to see this amazing place in a century-old mercantile building, with huge floor looms in the work space.
Briefly about the wool … the first Churro sheep arrived from Spain in the 16th century. Churros were well-suited to Northern New Mexico’s dry climate and rugged mountain terrain. The herding tradition was taken up by the Navajo, and today the breed is called “Navajo-Churros,” a name coined in 1986 to honor the two cultures involved with the breed.
Most of the wool comes from locally-raised sheep. At Tierra Wool it is carded and washed, then sent off to be spun. The spun wool is returned to Tierra Wools for dying. While they use some commercial dyes, most are plant-based that are hand gathered. The wool is dyed on site, adjacent to the weaving room, and hand-dipped in vats over fires fueled by local cedar and piñon wood.
You are more than welcome to visit and browse the fully stocked gallery and shop with intricate weavings and virtually any color of yarn your heart may desire (the newly dyed lavender was gorgeous) as well as tour the production areas. You can also learn the age-old traditions of spinning, hand dyeing & weaving of the Hispanic ancestry. In the 30-year-old workshop, it’s fascinating to talk with the weavers as they work the huge Rio Grande Walking looms.
Tierra Wools offers two-day, three-day, and week-long classes for four to eight students and allows you to share the skills of their master weavers to create yarns and one-of-a-kind artworks that become precious family heirlooms.
We seek out side roads and off the beaten path finds, and love to meet new friends who are passionate about their Southwestern lifestyles and art forms. Tierra Wools is the real deal, and whether you’re interested in stopping in for a tour or to shop, or an extended stay to take a workshop, this is a place to treasure and appreciate the people who carry on this centuries old tradition.
Wishing you Happy Discoveries!
Amy & Mr.D