This Silver City shop uses sustainable elements from New Mexico to create hand-dyed yarns.
AS A KID, HOSANA EILERT spent a lot of time daydreaming from the back seat of her family’s car about owning a weaving shop like the ones that dot northern New Mexico’s highways.
Those childhood images led her to Centinela Traditional Arts, in Chimayó, where she was immersed in the methods of master weavers Lisa and Irvin Trujillo. “When you leave, you have to really claim everything you’ve been taught,” says Eilert. “You jump off the edge and go for it.”
At Wild West Weaving, her shop in Silver City, Eilert sells weavings, skeins of hand-dyed yarn, and woven accessories created by way of processes she learned from the Trujillos and taught herself. She brews vibrant dyes with flower petals, leaves, crushed nuts, and other bits of nature—marigolds grown in her garden, black walnuts, Mexican hat flowers, and cota, a dainty yellow flower, foraged in the Gila National Forest, that makes a bright gold dye.
The 50-year-old mother of two harvests only what is sustainable and plentiful for her dyes, passing on the scarcer lichens and mushrooms. “Natural dyes are magical,” she says. “The outcome of the colors is so moving and motivating. I like the whole process; it’s like thanking Mother Nature for the gift that’s being provided. And it’s been done for centuries.”
Read More: Following the strands of New Mexico's staunch weaving traditions, from sheep to shop.
Cota/Navajo Tea Bright sunny yellow
Bathe the fibers in potassium aluminum sulfate (a mordant usually sold as “alum”) and water, then simmer with crushed flowers for approximately an hour. “If I pick it at the peak of the bloom, then I get a really nice dark gold color. If I dry it for later, then it’s a lot lighter. It smells good, kind of like carnations when you work with it.”
Purple Onion Skins Olive green
Bathe the fibers in alum and water, then add a heaping handful of skins to the pot and simmer.
Black Walnuts Brown, olive, and tan
Simmer water in a bucket filled with walnuts (crushed or whole) for 30 minutes before adding the yarn. “If I use them in July, when they’re green, they make an olive green. If I use them later in the fall, they make a deep brown color. I use the leaves and the walnuts.”
Mexican Hat Light lime green
Bathe the fibers in alum and water before adding flowers and stems to simmer for one hour.
Wild West Weaving
211D Texas St., Silver City