When I first moved to New Mexico, the first time, I was delighted to discover skeletons lurking in just about every New Mexican themed shop and throughout the art in the weekly farmers market. By skeletons, I don’t mean deep dark secrets. I mean actual art of skeletons dancing, playing instruments, and generally not letting their appearance stop them from having a grand old time.
Almost every little shop in the tiny square of nearby Old Mesilla, a little Spanish Colonial village, had at least one shelf of skeletons. They ranged from small, simple plaster figures to elegant ceramic Catrinas, with massive hats and elaborately-decorated sugar skulls. Generic skeletons sat side-by-side with Frida Kahlo and Elvis skeletons.
Skeletons were not scary, nor were they relegated to Halloween or Dia de los Muertos. The skeletons happily decorated shops and homes all year long and are an important part of the culture.
In fact, when my husband and I were married, our wedding (cheese)cake was adorned with a skeleton bride and groom (purchased, of course, from our favorite shop in Mesilla).
Moving from southern New Mexico to northern Colorado a few years later gave me a bit of culture shock, and I felt homesick for New Mexico. Working for Handwoven helped me to assuage that feeling. Weaving is such a large part of New Mexico’s artistic culture and heritage, from the beautiful Diné blankets to the distinctive Taos and Chimayo style rugs. Soon, I found a new community among weavers, learned a new language, and found myself at home sitting at the loom.
Weaving a Scarf for Dia de Los Muertos
In 2013 my love of Handwoven and New Mexico combined when we received Nancy Peterson’s wonderful Hearts & Bones scarf. The scarf featured the cheerful skeletons I remembered from New Mexico. Some wear jaunty hats and some wear delightful red boots. A row of sweet little red hearts frames both sets of skeletons. Nancy, inspired by a trip to the Mercado in San Antonio, Texas, decided to try weaving a scarf in honor of Dia de los Muertos.
The scarf and the story behind it immediately took me back to the hours spent in Old Mesilla, wandering through shops and visiting the shrines at the annual Dia de los Muertos fiesta. It wasn’t the first time a piece of cloth had inspired such strong memories in me. It was the first to invoke that particular bit of New Mexico life, however.
When I found out we were going to offer this lovely scarf as a kit, I was delighted. Even for those without the strong connection to skeletons, the scarf is a fun 8-shaft project in twill and rosepath.
The wee little skeletons are so happy with their hearts and fancy boots and hats; it would make a great accessory long past Halloween. And this once-again resident of New Mexico is happy to say it’s woven in Tencel, Rayon, and bamboo, making it light enough to wear during the mild southern New Mexican winters. Get the kit here, and try weaving a scarf up before Halloween!
P.S. What do you think of this scarf? Super cute, or a bit too macabre? Let us know in the comments!