Claremore sheep farm teaching art of Navajo weaving

CLAREMORE, Okla. — Shepherd’s Cross in Claremore is handing down the art of Navajo weaving.

As students learn how to weave a Navajo rug, they also learn the history behind it.

“We’re losing a lot of these older traditions. we’re losing a lot of our heritage and it needs to be preserved,” said Meghan Hunt, who is learning to weave.

From shearing the sheep to directing the weaving pattern, each step is done by hand. Students even built their own loom.

“Depending on the pattern you use and of course how big the rug is, it can take up to two to three years to make a rug sometimes,” said Dana Shouse, a wool mill worker at Shepherd’s Cross.

“Any way that we can honor our heritage I think is important and it’s a lot of fun too,” Hunt added.

The process of creating Navajo rugs is detailed and intentional.

One of the first steps is cleaning the wool in the tumbler before it’s sent off to make yarn.

They wash the wool with natural soap in 140 degrees water, handling it with precise care before it’s dried.

“If we don’t teach and share it then no one will know how to do it. They won’t remember and that would be a terrible thing to lose all of this because we are not teaching it,” Shouse said.

“It’s got so much technique to it. And it’s got just a philosophy behind it. That comes down from the Navajo techniques and the Navajo life,” Shouse said.