Moffat County girls win national honors for woolen handiwork
November 21, 2015
Craig — Samantha Pearce and Maya Nava may be young, but the two Moffat County natives are carrying on one of the region's oldest traditions: creating handmade products with wool.
Their handiwork has received accolades across the nation, most recently with 12-year-old Nava taking home the Youth Homegrown Fiber to Fabric Grand Prize from Taos Wool Festival in New Mexico last month for her hand-knit scarf.
Nava did more than just knit the scarf herself, though; she raised her own sheep, sheared it, washed and processed the raw wool into roping with the help of Lewis and Lorrae Moon of Yampa Valley Fiberworks and fiber arts teacher Susan Domer, and finally spun the yarn on her own spinning wheel.
"A lot of people and kids, they don't think they can do it, but anyone can do it, it's not that hard," Nava said. "When you finish it, you feel so great, like you accomplished something."
Seventeen-year-old Pearce is also no stranger to grand prizes for her woolen creations, having twice won Grand Champion Overall in the Moffat County and Colorado State Fair competitions, and even placing reserve in the National Western Round-up held during the National Western Stock Show.
"For me, when I think of wool, I think of heavy wool jackets," Pearce said. "My goal was to make wool a high-end fashion and promote it on an every-day level."
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Pearce will compete today in the state "Make It With Wool" contest north of Denver with her hand-sewn dress made of fine wool gauze. Taking a somewhat different tack than Nava, she has focused her efforts on creating elegant, boutique-ready dresses from wool to show off the fiber's versatility.
"It's rewarding to make something yourself from beginning to end," Pearce said. "I don't think a lot of people realize what goes into making a product like this."
Both girls have drawn on the expertise and experiences of their grandparents in their endeavors. Nava's grandfather raises sheep and got her started on her own herd, now numbering 13, when she was a young girl, while Pearce's grandmother is an expert seamstress who has also entered and placed in the "Make It With Wool" contest. The young women take pride in joining the lineage of wool producers and fiber artists of the region.
"They've done great representing Moffat County and we're proud of them," Domer said, who has mentored and supported both the young women in creating their wool products and competing with them. "They've gone out, they've promoted the wool industry and they've put Moffat County on the map."
Both 4-H participants, the two were also recognized for their successes at the 4-H achievement night Wednesday.
Nava is just getting started, having only learned how to knit at the beginning of the year. With the gift of a Corriedale sheep from the Wellman family — because they were impressed with her wool creation — Nava plans to build on her experiences.
"I think that's the funnest part of it is making the product. … Raising the sheep is also a lot of fun," Nava said. "(Taos) gave me a lot of perspective on what else you can do with wool."
Contact Lauren Blair at 970-875-1794 or lblair@CraigDailyPress.com.