Exhibit: Cody Wyoming Western Design Conference
The road to fine wearable Navajo Shawls was a slow process. Steve Getzwiller in the 1990s began working with the Marianito family and coaxed them along the path to weave finer and finer blankets.
He would bring historic textiles from before the turn of the century for them to examine. Kathy Marianito and her sister-in-laws would study them and figure out how the wool was warped and the weft was laid into the weaving to build a supple blanket. Starting to work with Churro wool which was very fine, however it was a little rough next to a woman’s soft skin to wear as a garment.
Then, always pushing the envelope, Steve brought silk fiber for them to weave with (all natural dyed of course). Though it birthed a beautiful soft textile, it was heavy and very difficult to work with on the Navajo loom. You see the Navajo way of weaving uses the hands alone to break the wool threads and the silk threads were so strong that the weaver’s hands could not break them. The silk was irritating to their hands as well.
Gail insisted that the wearing garment for today’s society would have to be woven thinner and softer for comfort. However making it light weight was only part of it, it would have to be woven much narrower, much wider than high, to be comfortable to wear. So Steve worked to develop very skinny yarns that were a blend of wools and silk to make the softest textile, sometimes mistaken for cashmere.
By 2005 the shawls had been perfected in size, weight, and softness to be worn as fashion and were being displayed at the Cody Wyoming Western Design Conference and later the Jackson Wyoming Western Design Conference and a major hit in the Fashion-Couture Shows.
The Fashion Show images here are from the 2006 Cody Wyoming Western Design Conference. What a special time that was – Great Fun and Great People!!!