Chimayo Weave Traditions


Blanket weaving has been a Chimayo tradition for over four centuries. The practice has been perfected and passed down from generation to generation, and the unique patterns created by the weavers are recognized all over the world.

In fact, they’ve become so popular that visitors from all over flock to Chimayo to obtain beautifully woven blankets, rugs, pillows, and garments.



In 1540, five thousand churro sheep accompanied Coronado and his men during his famous expedition. These sheep were so valued for their wool, the Chimayo settlers used them as their flocks to weave their blankets when they reached New Mexico.

By 1840, blankets were in high demand, with records showing tens of thousands of wool blankets were shipped around the world from New Mexico.



Although the Chimayo design is the most recognised nowadays, The Rio Grande blanket was the original, earning many Chimayo weavers well-deserved recognition and respect for their creativity.

After 40 years of booming success, the mill-woven blanket industry posed a major threat to many Chimayo weavers, new breeds of sheep produced inferior wool and the blankets plummet in value.

Eventually, the weavers and their creations fell off the map.



In the early 1900s, weavers from Santa Fe started a new blanket style that consisted of two simple stripes and a centre design. This became known as the “Chimayo Design,” and it began a brand new industry for the weavers.



After World War II, the weaves from the Ortega family hired other families to help keep up with the demand. They started to make coats, vests, purses and other apparel out of their weavings. The general store was a thing of the past and the Ortega's Weaving Shop became the icon it is today.

Four main woven designs that can be found today, which shouldn't be confused about being just the "Chimayo" design. These are as follows:

Chimayo Design



The Chimayo style is basically two stripes and a centre design. The stripes were derived from the Rio Grande blanket, and the centre design was a homage to the Saltillo tapestry techniques. 


Rio Grande Design



Although today "Rio Grande" encompasses the entire weaving tradition of Hispanic New Mexico, it is described as a weft-faced, striped, blanket, longer than it is wide, sometimes incorporating elements drawn from the Saltillo style within its stripes. 


Saltillo Design



These pieces have their design roots in the Classic Saltillos of eighteenth and nineteenth-century Mexico. Saltillos here are much simpler and coarser, the style was a bordered rectangle with a serrate diamond in the centre.


Vallero Design



The Vallero style added an eight-pointed star element to the Saltillo's vertical border and central diamond motif. The Trampas Vallero, the most common variation, has one star in the centre and stars in each of the four corners.