What's in a Name? - Red Mesa Heritage Blend Yarn April 18 2015
We've talked about the wool that went into our Red Mesa Heritage Blend Yarn, a 50/50 mix of Colorado-grown Corriedale and Tunis, but we haven't explained why we call it Red Mesa Heritage Blend. Well, there's a story there; it's a story of location and community. Red Mesa is a town just south of the main Dyers Wool farm, but it's also the name for the general area and surrounding community. The town is not what it used to be - it used to be a thriving dryland farming hub, but now it doesn't even have a post office. Yet there's something about the people here that makes it special. It's not the easiest place to live, as it's called the "Dryside" for the lack of abundant water, but somehow I think that makes the people stronger and kinder. They are good people, good neighbors, and good friends.
An old, abandoned beanery north of Red Mesa is a testament to the former thriving agriculture in the area.
We didn't just name the yarn after the area we farm. The name Red Mesa also invokes the flavor of our region. We are lucky to live and farm between the Colorado mountains to the north, and the Southwest desert to the south, and we enjoy visiting both places. In just a few hours drive, we can visit Chaco Culture National Historic Park in New Mexico, Cedar Mesa in Utah, or Monument Valley in Arizona/Utah. The canyons draw us, for both their beauty and the treasures they hold. My husband, Trent, and I are both archaeologists by training, and our love for our region's history takes us, and the family, on wandering adventures in remote canyons.
Chaco Canyon is one of our favorite places to visit in the winter.
The canyons and the desert vistas are so inspirational in their myriad colors. A desert sunset is a vibrant, awesome event, and we're blessed with more such vistas than we stop to appreciate. Desert dawn is one of my favorite times, and a summer monsoon storm drastically changes the desert landscape's colors and scents. Plants in the desert are wise, hardy creatures whose beauty is most visible in their ability to endure, yet when the conditions are right and the rains have come, they'll burst into bloom and amaze us with their vibrancy.
Our rainbow of desert-inspired colors.
There is inspiration also in the knowledge that our feet are not the first to walk these paths, and you can feel the echos of the past when you spot a broken pottery sherd alongside the trail, or your eye catches the faint outline of a pecked symbol in the cliff-face. There is history in this area, and deep mysteries. It is humbling.
Hand prints in Cedar Mesa. Could any of these hands be those of ancient spinners and weavers?
There's another story to our yarn - it was made possible by the support of our community of friends. The heritage Tunis wool is raised by our friend, John, who lives just up the road from the main Dyers Wool farm. Actually, he's more than just a friend - he's my former Wildland Fire Captain, from when I volunteered for the local fire department. This man exemplifies what I was talking about when I said the people in the Red Mesa area are amazing. I developed immense respect for him when serving with him on the fire department, and literally trust him with my life. I know if I ever needed help with ANYTHING at all, he would be there. He also has a great sense of humor.
The Corriedale wool came from our friend and fellow spinning guild member, Pam (there are too many Pams in the area that work with wool!), who lives on the eastern edge of our county. Her sheep enjoy lush pastures and great health at the base of the gorgeous HD Mountains. The fiber she produces is amazing - she is a former operator of a fiber mill, so she KNOWS her fiber!
Then there are a few other members of the local spinning guild who have really contributed to this yarn. Branding this yarn, from blend name to label to colorway names, would not have been possible without the copious advice and feedback from our wonderful French-bulldog-loving friend, Sheila (credit for the "Red Mesa" brand name goes to her husband). Thanks again, Sheila!
There were many renditions of the labels, with EXCELLENT feed back from Sheila, before we settled on these.
Lastly (but not least), are our friends who, when the yarn came back from the mill, we gave a skein of the new yarn to try out and play with. We needed feedback and they jumped into projects with the yarn almost immediately. They gave us great, and honest, responses, which helped us improve packaging and figure out the labeling, description, and advertising of the yarn. Most amazingly to me, two of them knit up their yarn into projects that they then GAVE back to us to be used as display pieces - thank you Susan and Carole!
Susan's gorgeous shawl in our Desert Rose sport weight yarn.
Carole's super fun Dr. Who-themed hat. (The Tardis is easily seen on the side, but there are also Daleks on the top!)
We really are blessed with an amazing community of neighbors, wool-growers, fellow fiber-artists, and friends. That is why the name of our community as the brand name of the yarn was so fitting. We see ourselves as more than just a retail fiber shop - we try to provide unique products with important stories of friendship, community, sustainability, and history, and encourage or support other fiber-producers however we can. I hope the inspiration we find in our community and the desert southwest inspires you in turn.
Thanks for reading and happy spring!