Trip To The Southwest

Last month my youngest child, now a grown man of 27, was ordained a Catholic priest!  It marked an ending for my husband, Mike, and me….7 children all grown and all off on their own.  Even though we’ve had a few years of quiet, it seemed this event somehow needed to be marked as an end to this chapter in our lives.

Mike and I had a nephews wedding to attend in southern Colorado, so we decided to just keep driving afterward and take a few days off, just for us.  Of course…. I never stop working so we did a little mill business along the way. 

Our first stop was to Tierra Wools in northern New Mexico.  Molly and Antonio Manzaneres own Shepherds Wool.  They raise sheep and are the owners of Tierra Wool

This visit started a journey I had not anticipated.

How interesting it is to look back and see how truly our lives are directed down a path we are not able to see at the time.  Mike and I enjoyed two visits to special places that I had visited alone 16 years ago, prior to starting Mountain Meadow Wool mill; now it has all gone full circle.

When I turned 50 there were two things I really wanted to do.  One was taking the weaving class at Tierra Wool; I had seen an article about Tierra Wool in a magazine and cut it out years earlier.  I wanted to do the class and weave a rug. 

The second was to visit the Christ in the Desert Monastery and take a couple of days to just be quiet and prayerful stepping away from the outside world.  I made all the arrangements and headed to New Mexico.

At this time Mountain Meadow Wool was a very small company that had just started, in fact it was basically run from my kitchen table.  My business partner and I had embarked on some grant writing adventures and we were doing research on this mill endeavor.  More about that in a future blog😊. In some ways the trip was part of my “research”.

My experience of that week was wonderful and full of stories.  At Tierra Wool I wove a beautiful rug, which still marks my front entry, and I enjoyed the little town of Los Ojos.  I fell more in love with the experience of wool and yarn and color and the creating of fiber.  At the monastery I experienced reverence, quiet, and awe and wonder.  It grounded me in my spirit filled life going forward.

Fast forward sixteen years and here I was doing this route again with Mike. 

When we stopped at Chama, NM to go to Tierra Wool, I loved seeing their new

location and shop!  A truly beautiful place, a great stop for anyone.  The store is inviting and warm and full of color, wool, rugs and yarn!  The building also houses the weaving workshop, and the students were working on their creations, it looked so inviting.  It was made extra special by our tour with Mary.  Molly was not able to be there unfortunately, but Mary was wonderful.  We delivered 5 huge boxes of yarn that we made for them out of their wool and now it will be dyed and sold or made into the exquisite rugs displayed in the shop. 

How did it happen that 16 years ago I visited as a student and now I was delivering the yarn made by my mill for this lovely store that I have had a connection with for so long…how can we ever foresee what can happen?

Our next stop we headed out to Christ in the Desert.  This is one of the most remote monasteries in the United States, in the strikingly beautiful Chama Canyon wilderness in northwestern New Mexico.  It is run by Benedictine monks, and they are open to visitors for the day or overnight.  We were just going to be there for the day this time and my husband was very excited to make the journey. 

The road goes through the Santa Fe National Forest, it’s long and rough…about 13 miles into the high desert.  The monastery sits very near the Chama River and is surrounded by the beautiful stark rocks of the desert.  We had made prior arrangements to visit with someone to talk about processing the wool of their churro sheep.  Father Columba met us and took us on a little tour of his sheep, orchard, and garden. 

Again, a visit to a place that I made a connection with many years ago.  This time it was more peaceful, less conflicted, and definitely a grace. 

We are excited to be able to have the opportunity to work with the monks helping them be self-sustaining with products they grow, raise, and create.  We

spent time joining the monks in prayer and shared a delicious simple meal with them and the few other guests who were visiting.

The Benedictine way of life and work is very appealing and in the mill, we have tried to incorporate some of the basic principles into our days. 

  • Pay attention! do every task with intention, treat everything with respect and care
  • Order and Beauty! beauty and order are contagious, so are ugliness and disorder.
  • Beginnings and Endings! Begin and end your day well

All in all, it was a great week and very satisfying to see how this journey has unfolded.  It is so much easier to look back and make sense of our path going forward, trusting in Divine Providence without worry!  You never know where your journey will take you!

 In the weeks to come I will be updating all of you on our yarn for the monks and continuing to share this crazy adventure which is Mountain Meadow Wool.


39 comments


  • Penny Barkan

    What a lovely article and, Seth, must be your son. The Catholic community is truly blessed to have him in our church family. The southwest seems stark to many of us, but can be bountiful as you pointed out. Thanks for your thoughtful comments/reminders that each of us can live a more purposeful life. I find knitting to be an activity which slows my pace and calms my mind.


  • Tim Burr

    Thank you for including me! I enjoyed visiting and touring your plant during my trek from Boston to LA. A great take in Karen – and I appreciate the time you spent with us! Best, Tim


  • Janet Coyle

    Beautiful blog!! I loved every minute of it and could relate to so much, having been a weaver, tried spinning, dyed wool, and now at age 88 I just knit most of the time but I did invest in a very small loom last year and enjoy that mostly in the winter when there’s no garden work calling. Thank you for giving me this moment of pleasure. I will look forward to the next one.


  • Vivian Brown

    Your story made MD think back to our family vacation to the Grand Canyon. It was like a trip down memory lane.


  • Mary Lepley

    Such a nice blog. Thank you for sharing it with us!


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