Wear a garment made by Teresa Schneider and you'll not soon forget it.
The fibers are soft but strong, the weave tight, and the colors range from earthy to bright and vivid.
They have a home-made look and feel to them, and each unique piece is well-constructed.
Schneider, the proprietor of Peacock Weaving, LLC, has lived most of her life in Paonia. Five years ago, she began learning how to weave, making scarves, hats, placemats and more. She also learned how to spin her own yarns, using materials from local sources, including llama, sheep, and even dog hair. The results are impressive, and each item can take several hours to create. To spin a skein of yarn takes one or two hours, sometimes longer depending on the material.
But time is something Teresa has, something she's grateful for, and something she doesn't take for granted. More than 30 years ago, she lost a lot of time.
Teresa and her parents, Joe and Donna Sanders, came to Paonia when she was 6. She spent three years in Delta, where her dad was able to find work, and the family eventually returned to Paonia. She graduated
from Paonia High School in 1973, and was dating a classmate, Tim Schneider, whom she'd known since first grade.
When she was 22, she was studying to become a veterinarian. Her dad had opened a tire shop in downtown Paonia. She and Tim were engaged. With their wedding fast approaching, her parents suggested they take one last family vacation.
While driving Highway 50 between Delta and Grand Junction, they were in an accident. The crash killed both of her parents. Teresa went through the windshield, suffering numerous broken bones and a punctured lung. She was in a coma for nearly a month, and when she woke up, she had no memory of her 22 years of life.
"Everything was gone," said Teresa, speaking slowly and deliberately, concentrating on each word. "I remembered faces, and I remembered 1, 2, 3."
She had to start over, learn how to speak and read and walk, and learn that she was engaged to Tim. Despite all that had happened, "Tim still wanted to marry me."
Teresa wanted to wait until she was able to speak again, and one year later they were married. They raised two children, Joseph and Julia.
About 5 years ago, Teresa said she was walking in downtown Paonia, and a word came to her: Weaving. She decided to listen. "This is it," she said, "I want to weave."
"I had no idea where to start," she said. She joined the San Juan Weavers Guild, and Jim and Linda Link at Paonia Farm & Home Supply, where Tim works, referred her to a weaving instructor in Crawford, Pennie Alexander.
"Teresa was a challenge," said Alexander, who teaches weaving and gourd carving through Alexander Ridge Studio. "If you know about weaving, you know you need both hands," she said. Because Teresa lost use of her right arm in the accident, Alexander said she didn't know if she could do it. "But she never gives up. She has got the will."
Alexander said that Teresa set out to do it her own way, "And you know what? She did," she said. "She's an inspiration."
As an outlet for her new art form, Teresa established Peacock Weaving.
Why the name? "Because we have peacocks," she said. "I've had them since I was 8."
Her weaving room, overlooking the North Fork Valley from Lamborn Mesa, is a small maze of looms and materials. A tall wooden rack is adorned with long scarves and tightly-woven place mats. Next to her spinning wheel is a large box filled with chestnut brown llama hair, which she slowly spins into yarn for a custom poncho.
When asked about her first project, she pulls a scarf, made of store-bought yarn, from a bag and shows it off.
She often incorporates manufactured yarns into her work, but prefers to spin her own. She creates yarns in small batches from a variety of materials, including sheep wool, llama and dog hair. Shorter fibers, like dog or goat hair, are woven with longer fibers, such as llama hair or sheep wool to give them strength and support.
Working with her left hand, she pulls tufts of hair from the box, guiding them as they bind into long strands of yarn until she has enough to form a skein. She tosses the baseball-sized skeins into a bucket.
Because the spinning process is slow — a single skein can take up to two hours to spin, she often weaves her yarns in with manufactured ones. Some of her most recent scarves contain Great Pyrenees hair, which has the softness and feel of angora. Sometimes she spins with a particular product in mind, while other times she spins, then decides what to make. Once the product is complete, she washes it to shrink and tighten the weave. She recommends hand-washing for most of her products.
Since production is limited, she's hoping to attract a clientele that wants custom products, rather than trying to supply stores with inventory. She tried working craft shows, but, she said, she struggled with the crowds. And for all her effort, she barely sold a thing.
She doesn't have a website for her budding cottage industry. She jokes that she doesn't even own a cell phone. Too complicated, she says. But business is growing, and she's considering all of her marketing options. For now, she runs ads in local papers, and can be reached by phone at 527-3686.
Teresa said she's willing to try spinning most any fiber, and welcomes donations of all materials. They don't need to be washed. She's expecting chinchilla hair in the spring — something she's never worked with but is anxious to try because of its reputation for softness. She was recently given some goat hair, which she is anxious to try, and just last week someone brought her some hair from the mane and tail of a horse. She said she doesn't know what she'll do with it yet, but she's got some ideas.
Her prices are high, and begin at about $5. A scarf can run from $25-$125 or higher. "I realize it's expensive,," she said, "but I love to do it."blog comments powered by Disqus