Sheep is Life on tap this week

By Cindy Yurth
Tséyi' Bureau

TSAILE, Ariz., June 19, 2014

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(Times photo – Ravonelle Yazzie)

TOP: Rebecca Sheppard felts Harold Curley’s hat using water and soap to interlock the fibers in Tsaile on Wednesday during the Sheep Is Life Celebration in Tsaile, Ariz.

MIDDLE: Rebecca Sheppard concentrates on molding one of her student’s hats on Wednesday in Tsaile.

BOTTOM: While molding the hat, teacher Rebecca Sheppard says that churro wool is best for felted hats during the Sheep Is Life Celebration on Wednesday.

The fire raging in the Chuskas, devouring sheep camps and pastures, is making sheep even more precious to Navajo families. The organizers of the annual Sheep is Life celebration at Diné College, at least, hope that is the case.

Turnout for the wool crafting classes — weaving and felting — looked a bit sparse on Wednesday, with only a handful of students enrolled in each. But the students, who had come a long way to learn the ancient fiber arts, were basking in individual attention.

"Since I was young, I've wanted to sit down with a Navajo elder and learn how to do this," beamed Tina Pinzotti of Cataldo, Idaho, one of two students in the rug weaving class. "Work and raising kids got in the way, but now I'm free to spend a week here. I guess you could call it my bucket list."

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