The art of Navajo weaving

Navajo women do three basic types of weavings: regular (in which the warp, or vertical threads, usually completely conceal the weft, or horizontal yarn; double (or twilled), used for saddle blankets because the thickness is almost double that of regular weave; and the extremely complex, two-faced weaving, with unrelated designs on opposite sides (a type highly prized by collectors.) Natural, vegetal, and aniline dyes make up the three basic colorings. The natural colors come in gradations of white, black, brown, and gray, the latter produced by carding black and white wool together.

For the vegetal dyes, the women glean a vast variety of plants, roots, and bark from their land. From these, they make their own brews creating a myriad of pastel hues. Aniline dyes, bought at trading posts and nearby towns, go into many of today's rugs. Brighter and harsher, these colors create the splash frequently sought in the current commercial market. They're also time-savers for the weaver.

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