Desert Churros Rovings Ranch Tour

Photos by Textile Arts LA member Pam Powers.

Katherine Tucker of Desert Churros Rovings Ranch hosted Textile Arts LA members this past Saturday, April 7th. We gathered for a home cooked meal at her beautiful house before visiting her studio and sheep. Katherine talked to us about her work, including the three floor looms she owns, spinning her own yarn, and the different natural dye techniques she uses. She showed us the roving made from her Navajo Churro's fleece (including roving from the sheeps' first shearings!). We made our way around the ranch, visiting the rams first and the ewes second. Members were allowed into the ewe pen to pet them (though the sheep were skeptical of our presence at first). Katherine also has three lovely dogs and a beautiful grey mare. After visiting the sheep, we gathered again inside for some home made lemon pies and coffee – what a perfect day in the country!

If you're interested in buying roving from Desert Churros Rovings Ranch, check out their Etsy page

MORE FROM LESLEY:   We really can't thank Katherine enough! She went out of her way to welcome us to the Ranch. We enjoyed a lunch of salmon, rice, and home made coleslaw - I'll post the link to her recipe when she sends it, since a few people asked her for it - yes, it was that good. She prepared beautifully: talked at length about natural dyeing, offered us handouts with recipes and photos for madder root, lichens, rabbit brush, onion skins, and more. We'll post some photos of rabbit brush experiments below. 

Carrie noted in her personal Instagram post that the brown lichen recipe requires soaking in ammonia . . . for a year. Yes, a year. One must have patience for this process! I'll post a few photos below of the yarns Katherine has dyed using local materials. The lichen yarn is the last one in the grid immediately below (I'm holding it in my palm).

Katherine also shared information on the Desert Churros sheep: an article in the New York Times from 2012 about Irene Bennalley of the Navajo Sheep Project and the Navajo-Churro Sheep Association, which supplies roving to fiber artists and promotes the well being of this special breed.

Books she recommends for more information include Harvesting Color by Rebecca Burgess and In Search of the Perfect Green - and Orange , too! A Natural Dye Book by Stefanie Isaacson.

Below are photos of a terrific color study from Amy Clark, showcasing a dye test she made with rabbit brush on cotton and wool, using various dye pots: aluminum, copper, and stainless. Even if this kind of careful documentation of process and outcome is your standard, you have to credit the effort and care that went into the work and the presentation. I loved it and wanted to acknowledge the effort!

To give you a bit more flavor of the day, we captured Carrie (right, who serendipitously met Katherine at last summer's WEFF event) and Lesley (me, left) in Katherine's weaving studio, and also a shot of the absolutely stunning grey mare that hangs out with the ewes and ate apples out of my hand. And we had to include a photo of the lemon pies, because it's truly not every day that you invite yourself and a dozen friends to a someone's home and are treated so well. #homemadepieisthebest #membershipfeesworthit