Churro, Downs, and Dyestuffs: Meet 4 SOAR Instructors Focused on Materials

These instructors make beautiful use of materials with histories that become integral to the finished textiles. Join these makers at SOAR 2023 to learn about their process from the ground up!

Kate Larson Mar 17, 2023 - 5 min read

Churro, Downs, and Dyestuffs: Meet 4 SOAR Instructors Focused on Materials Primary Image

Fleece from TahNibaa’s flock of Navajo Churros is shown with a traditional Navajo lap spindle. Courtesy of Kate Larson (left) and TahNibaa Naataanii (right)

Here at Spin Off, we have been busily preparing for SOAR (Spin Off Autumn Retreat) 2023. This event is close to my heart, and over the years, I’ve joined SOAR as a scholarship recipient, an attendee, and an instructor.

SOAR 2023 will be held in Loveland, Colorado, from October 29 to November 3. Registration is now open, and the full list of workshops is available at I’d like to introduce you to just a few of the fantastic instructors that will be joining us this year!

The four instructors profiled here create very different textiles, but all of them have a deep connection with the raw materials that form the basis of their textiles. I’m delighted they will join us this year in Loveland to share stories, techniques, and inspiration.

Is it October yet?!

—Kate Larson, Spin Off editor

Meet TahNibaa Naataanii

(Shown at the top of the page.) As a fifth-generation Navajo weaver, TahNibaa Naataanii creates as her ancestors did, using a traditional vertical Navajo loom. As a young girl, she was given the Navajo name of TahNibaa Atlo'iigii, which means “TahNibaa the Weaver.” Her mother, Sarah Natani, is a past SOAR instructor. TahNibaa has been weaving since the age of seven, apart from a tour of duty in the United States Navy. Her weavings are made from a combination of handspun wool from her flock of Navajo Churro sheep, millspun wool, and sometimes other fibers, such as silk, Merino, feathers, leather, and hemp. She says, “I am influenced by my surroundings, by the sunrise, the landscapes, my dreams, my community, and my family heritage of weavers. When I weave, I feel the presence of my grandmothers.” Learn more at

Meet Kris Paige

Left: Kris knitted this shawl from the fur of three wolf hybrids that she spun for her local wolf sanctuary. Right: Kris during her volunteer work at the wolf sanctuary. Photos courtesy of Kris Paige

Kris Paige has been spinning for nearly 40 years since she discovered it soothed the chaos from yet another move. Her personal discovery that wolf fur was spinnable struck when she was working as a vet tech in 2006 and was brushing off her scrubs. Since then, she’s spun, knitted, and woven a variety of things, all to help her local wolf sanctuary raise funds to continue their work. The fur she works with is from domestic wolf-dog hybrids (so no worries about the Endangered Species Act). Kris discovered early on that this fur is unlike spinning her beloved canines’ fur and that it’s even warmer than that of the llamas in the backyard. You can find Kris on Etsy.

Meet Maki Teshima

Maki works with Japanese indigo dye, Bengara mud-mineral dye, and Kakishibu-Persimmon dye, among others. Photos courtesy of Maki Teshima

Maki Teshima is a botanical-dye fiber artist. Born and raised in Japan, she studied botanical drawing, painting, and printmaking at Corcoran College of Art in Washington, D.C. She learned natural dyeing techniques at the Fashion Institute of Technology, the Textile Art Center, and private studios in Kyoto, Japan. In early 2021, Maki relocated to Denver, Colorado, after living in New York City for 15 years, where she worked as a textile surface designer for various fashion companies. She actively organizes natural dyeing workshops and teaches at various places, such as the Denver Art Museum and Denver Botanic Gardens. Learn more at

Meet Galina Khmeleva

Galina has spent years sharing and teaching Orenburg lace. Fine goat-down fibers spun on one-piece spindles are the basis for Galina’s sumptuous knitted lace. Courtesy of Galina Khmeleva (left) and Long Thread Media (right)

Galina Khmeleva is the owner of Skaska Designs and the author of two books, several videos, and many articles about the history and techniques of Orenburg lace shawls. A former clothing and costume designer who worked with the aristocracy of St. Petersburg’s music and theater society, Galina has championed the work of Orenburg’s textile artisans for decades. Fine goat-down fibers spun on one-piece spindles are the basis for Galina’s sumptuous knitted lace. Learn more at

Please visit our website for more about this year’s SOAR event and all our instructors,

Kate Larson is the editor of Spin Off and spends as many hours as life allows in the barn with her beloved flock of Border Leicesters.