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The Wool Wire | July 10, 2024

Honoring the Churro sheep and its role in Diné tradition, celebrating a very cool Diné collaboration with with Ralph Lauren, and oohing and aahing at new PFAS-free firefighters' protective clothing crafted from wool

Clara Parkes
Clara Parkes
3 min read
The Wool Wire | July 10, 2024
The stunning landscape of Monument Valley, home to countless flocks of Navajo Churro sheep. // Photo by Mar Bocatcat / Unsplash

News snippets from the wool world

Hello, my wool friends!

I may be coming to you from Maine, but this week's newsletter begins in a very different place: the Four Corners region, which encompasses New Mexico, Colorado, Arizona, and Utah. It's here that America's "first" sheep were introduced by Spanish Conquistadors more than 400 years ago. Those hardy Iberian newcomers are today's Navajo Churro sheep, a prized part of Navajo, or Diné, tradition.

Last Sunday, NPR's Weekend Edition picked up a piece from Southwest Colorado's KSJD about the Diné weaving and shepherding legacy in the Four Corners region. It's short but packed with a lot of history–and it offers a glimpse of how this weaving legacy is being passed to the next generation.

Navajo weavers and herders come together to celebrate Churro sheep, a breed once believed extinct
The Navajo-Churro are treasured by Navajo Nation herders and weavers who host community celebrations of the breed in Southwest Colorado to showcase the textiles they create from the sheep’s wool.

A very cool collab

Still in the Four Corners region, we head into the Navajo Nation to meet seventh-generation Diné weaver and textile designer Naiomi Glasses. She was tapped by Polo Ralph Lauren to be their first Artist in Residence, a program intended to highlight heritage craft and the artisans who still practice it.

Diné Weaver Naiomi Glasses Is Back With a “Deadly” Polo Ralph Lauren Collab
“I felt like this was a good chance to show another facet of my life.”

As part of the collaboration, Polo Ralph Lauren made a two-part mini-docuseries in which Glasses shares her story—and it's absolutely gorgeous.

You can hop right over to part 1, where she shares more of her background and family weaving legacy...

And then be sure to watch part 2, where Glasses brings up her other passion: skateboarding!

Protecting our firefighters from more than flames

Summer means wildfire season in the Southwest. This brings me to the subject of firefighters and the gear that they wear.

For years, they've been campaigning against the use of PFAS, or Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances, in their gear. And the more we learn about how potentially toxic this exposure is, the harder they campaign.

Now, there's good news. Armadillo Merino USA has released a new collection of PFAS-free firefighting gear that contains no heavy metals or known toxins. Instead, the shirts, pants, socks, balaclavas, and neck gaiters in its SABER collection are made from 100% Merino.

This innovative lineup, crafted entirely from Merino wool, marks a pivotal shift in the firefighting industry, aiming to mitigate health risks associated with hazardous substances.
How safe is PFAS-free firefighting equipment?
After years of firefighters campaigning against the use of PFAS in their protective clothing, Armadillo Merino USA has recently unveiled a pioneering collection of station wear and personal protect…

Wool keeps a cultural legacy and firefighters alive. Again, is there anything wool can't do?

And on that note, I'll let you go.

Thanks, as always, for your readership and your support.

Until next time,



Clara Parkes

Wool is life. I make The Wool Channel go.


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