Dream Catcher Folklore

sunset_dreamcatcherLong ago when the world was young, an old Lakota spiritual leader was on a high mountain and had a vision. In his vision, Iktomi, the great trickster and teacher of wisdom, appeared in the form of a spider. Iktomi spoke to him in a sacred language that only the spiritual leaders of the Lakota could understand. As he spoke Iktomi, the spider, took the elder’s willow hoop which had feathers, horse hair, beads and offerings on it and began to spin a web. He spoke to the elder about the cycles of life…and how we begin our lives as infants and we move on to childhood, and then to adulthood. Finally, we go to old age where we must be taken care of as infants, completing the cycle. “But,” Iktomi said as he continued to spin his web, “in each time of life there are many forces some good and some bad. If you listen to the good forces, they will steer you in the right direction. But if you listen to the bad forces, they will hurt you and steer you in the wrong direction.” He continued, “There are many forces and different directions that can help or interfere with the harmony of nature, and also with the great spirit and all of his wonderful teachings.” All the while the spider spoke, he continued to weave his web starting from the outside and working towards the center. When Iktomi finished speaking, he gave the Lakota elder the web and said, “See, the web is a perfect circle, but there is a hole in the center of the circle.” He said, “Use the web to help yourself and your people to reach your goals and make good use of your people’s ideas, dreams and visions.” “If you believe in the great spirit, the web will catch your good ideas and the bad ones will go through the hole.” The Lakota elder passed on his vision to his people and now the Sioux Indians use the Dream catcher as the web of their life. It is hung above their beds or in their home to sift their dreams and visions. The good in their dreams are captured in the web of life and carried with them, but the evil in their dreams escapes through the hole in the center of the web and are no longer a part of them. They believe that the dream catcher holds the destiny of their future.

Ojibwe Dream Catcher History

Long ago in the ancient world of the Ojibwe Nation, the Clans were all located in one general area of that place known as Turtle Island. This is the way that the old Ojibwe storytellers say how Asibikaashi (Spider Woman) helped Wanabozhoo bring giizis (sun) back to the people. To this day, Asibikaashi will build her special lodge before dawn. If you are awake at dawn, as you should be, look for her lodge and you will see this miracle of how she captured the sunrise as the light sparkles on the dew which is gathered there.

Asibikaasi took care of her children, the people of the land, and she continues to do so to this day. When the Ojibwe Nation dispersed to the four corners of North America, to fill a prophecy, Asibikaashi had a difficult time making her journey to all those cradle boards, so the mothers, sisters, & Nokomis (grandmothers) took up the practice of weaving the magical webs for the new babies using willow hoops and sinew or cordage made from plants. It is in the shape of a circle to represent how giizis travels each day across the sky. The dream catcher will filter out all the bad bawedjigewin (dreams) & allow only good thoughts to enter into our minds when we are just abinooji. You will see a small hole in the center of each dream catcher where those good bawadjige may come through. With the first rays of sunlight, the bad dreams would perish. When we see little asibikaashi, we should not fear her, but instead respect and protect her. In honor of their origin, the number of points where the web connected to the hoop numbered 8 for Spider Woman’s eight legs or 7 for the Seven Prophecies.

It was traditional to put a feather in the center of the dream catcher; it means breath, or air. It is essential for life. A baby watching the air playing with the feather on her cradleboard was entertained while also being given a lesson on the importance of good air. This lesson comes forward in the way that the feather of the owl is kept for wisdom (a woman’s feather) & the eagle feather is kept for courage (a man’s feather). This is not to say that the use of each is restricted by gender, but that to use the feather each is aware of the gender properties she/he is invoking. (Indian people, in general, are very specific about gender roles and identity.) The use of gemstones, as we do in the ones we make for sale, is not something that was done by the old ones. Government laws have forbidden the sale of feathers from our sacred birds, so using four gemstones, to represent the four directions. The stones used by western nations, were substituted by us. The woven dream catchers of adults do not use feathers.

Dream catchers made of willow and sinew are for children, and they are not meant to last. Eventually the willow dries out and the tension of the sinew collapses the dream catcher. That’s supposed to happen. It belies the temporary-ness of youth. Adults should use dream catchers of woven fiber, which is made up to reflect their adult “dreams.” It is also customary in many parts of Canada and the Northeastern U.S. to have the dream catchers be a tear-drop/snow shoe shape.

 

 Resource
Advertisements

Letterpress Greeting Cards

cards horizontal

Get a set of 6 greeting cards featuring 3 original pieces of art. Each design is letterpressed onto high quality paper making each card a piece of fine art.

Available now only through my campaign Healing Souls on the Road!

Wedding Guest Dream Catcher

wedding dream catcherI love making dream catchers. They make fantastic time keepers, and are a great way to honor a special moment in your life.  This past weekend my sister got married, and instead of having a traditional guest book, I made her this unique dream catcher.

signature

All of the guests were asked to sign a ribbon that was then tied to the dream catcher.
Now my sister and her new husband can hang their dream catcher in their house, and always be reminded of the love and support that surrounds them as they chase after their dreams!

wedding catcherCustom wedding guest dream catchers can be ordered in the shop!

Weaving 101

A weaving is made up of two sets of threads, the warp and the weft.

The word warp (from the Old English word, weorpan), means “that which is thrown across” and refers to the set of lengthwise yarns that are held in tension on a frame or loom.

When choosing a warp yarn, consider the strength of the fibers.  Because the warp is held under tension throughout the process of weaving, warp yarn should be strong. Traditional yarn choices are wool, linen and silk, however, in more recent decades, cotton has also become a fine choice.
warped loom
WeavingThe word weft (from the Old English word, wefan), means “to weave” and refers to the yarn which is drawn through the warp yarns to create cloth.  This can be any yarn, fiber, ribbon, fabric, ANYTHING. Between the weft and the warp, the weft is typically the most visible of the two.
To weave, use a long needle to weave over, then under, over, then under each of the warp threads until you reach the other side. Pull the working weft yarn across the loom.

A weavers comb is a useful tool to help make the weft tight.

weaving combWhen pulling the weft tight, be mindful of the tension.  If pulled too tightly, it will cause the warp to pull in on the edges. The ends should remain slightly loose allowing the warp to lay flat without distorting the sides.
tension
To begin a new yarn, weave the working yarn through half of the warp threads.  Then, with the new yarn, begin where the previous yarn ended.  Push any loose ends to the underside of the weaving.

changing colors

FinishingHow to remove the weaving from the  loom will depend on the type of loom being used.  For this type loom, simply pull the weaving up over the nail heads.

Once free from the loom, it is ready for finishing.  There are a number of ways to finish the ends.  One way is to whip stitch around the warp threads.  To do this, lay the warp horizontally across the top of the weaving, folding the warp toward the center.  Then, use a yarn needle to whip stitch over these threads.  Once half-way across the top, begin folding the warp the opposite direction so that all of the ends are facing the center of the weaving.  Do the same thing to the other end of the weaving, and it is ready to be displayed.

[] :: [] :: [] :: [] :: [] :: [] :: [] :: [] ::  [] :: [] :: []

The loom used in this tutorial is a great little loom that is easily disassembled for travel.  It is made from reclaimed exotic hardwoods, and is available in the shop!

Yak Milk Soap

011510_M__06835.1353287610.1280.1280  Yak milk is high in fat which is needed for survival through the harsh Himalayan winters.  It is this yak milk that is used to make Yak Butter tea, and is a staple to the Tibetans’ diet.

Some of our friends on the Tibetan plateau have started using this fatty milk, along with local herbs and minerals to make handmade soap!  The result is a rich, and moisturizing bar of soap.  No synthetic ingredients are used in the production of the soap, making it a true natural soap that can be used for washing wool.

The Tibetan cooperative makes the soap in small batches using the cold process method.  Once ready, each bar is cut by hand and packaged for sale.

You can purchase some in the shop!

To learn about AmdoCraft watch the video below and visit their website.

 

Yak Milk Soap

011510_M__06835.1353287610.1280.1280  Yak milk is high in fat which is needed for survival through the harsh Himalayan winters.  It is this yak milk that is used to make Yak Butter tea, and is a staple to the Tibetans’ diet.
Some of our friends on the Tibetan plateau have started using this fatty milk, along with local herbs and minerals to make handmade soap!  The result is a rich, and moisturizing bar of soap.  No synthetic ingredients are used in the production of the soap, making it a true natural soap that can be used for washing wool.

The Tibetan cooperative makes the soap in small batches using the cold process method.  Once ready, each bar is cut by hand and packaged for sale.

You can purchase some in the shop!

To learn about AmdoCraft watch the video below and visit their website.

 

Tibetan Jewel Dream Catcher

Tibetan Jewel CollageThe lands of Tibet hold a special place in my heart, that inspire much of my work. This dream catcher is no exception. The silks remind me of the prayer flags found among the Himalayan foothills, and the metal bangle and amber bead reminds me of the traditional adornments the Tibetan women wear to the horse festivals.

For those who are interested, this dream catcher is available in my shop!

Wisteria & Lilacs

wisteria-lilac ouside collage

Dream catchers are something new for me that I am really enjoying making. What I love most about them, is the combination of textures, fibers, and nature.  I love the process of gathering together all the bits and pieces of what I find inspiring at the moment, and using them to create a piece of art.  I made this 6″ dream catcher over the weekend.  It is inspired by the month of May, the scent of lilacs in the air, and blooming wisteria.

Wisteria-lilac

If you are interested, it is available in my shop!

Blackstone Tweed

When it comes to yarn, I admit that I am the biggest snob around.

pakuchogroup400I avoid synthetic fibers like the plague.  I appreciate wool, but only for certain types of projects.  Cotton, also has it’s place, but I prefer to use linen.  I find fibers such as banana silknettle and flax, intriguing to work with. These fibers can add a lot of texture in a fiber art piece.  I enjoy working with silk.  It has great strength, is soft, and I like how it looks.  It has a nice drape, and is comfortable to wear in warmer weather.  Yarns like angora, and cashmere are extremely soft, but I find them to be lacking in strength and durability.

For most of my projects, I reach for my hand spun yak down.  I still think it is the best yarn around ( but, I may have a biased opinion).

Brookstone TweedHowever, another yarn that I have enjoyed using a lot is this Blackstone Tweed by Berroco. It is made of 65% wool, 25% mohair 10% angora, so it is quite soft, and durable.

I knit my daughter a ballet sweater with matching leg warmers when she was 4.  It was fabulous.

I also worked for years on a sweater that I called my anniversary sweater.  I had only worked on it while my husband and I were away celebrating our anniversary.  It was the only time I could relax and concentrate enough to follow the color charts without interruption from my little ones.  Once, I got the sweater to a place where I could try it on, I discovered that I had made it WAY to large.  Over those years I had been knitting the sweater, I also lost a lot of weight.  I should rip it apart and start again, now that my children have grown more and I can easily follow a color chart at home.

Do you have a “go-to” yarn that you reach for time and time again? What is it?

Winter Weaving

Winter WeavingI did a little winter weaving on my portable loom. It felt good to sit down on a cold, snowy day & play with some of my stash yarns.  This little weaving was inspired by the fresh fallen snow & the Magnolia tree in our backyard.

Winter Pussy Willow

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

This weaving loom can be found in my Etsy shop