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Dream Catcher

History of the Dream Catcher

History shows us that Dream Catchers originated in the Anishinabe/Ojibwe/Chippewa Nation. All 3 of these names are for the same Nation. Anishinabe means "Original Person" and is what they call themselves, never having recognized the American version of their name; Chippewa. Ojibwe is the French Canadian version of the name.

One Legend has it the Anishinabe or Ojibwe people were experiencing bad nightmares and a vision of a web around a hoop. They then experimented with bending red willow for the hoop and making a web with a hole in the middle. A feather was tied to the hole to allow the bad dreams to flow through, and the good dreams were caught in the web.

Another story is that the Asibikaashi (Spider Woman) brought the missing sun back to the people. When the Anishinabe/Ojibwe people migrated they then made circular hoops (representing the circular motion of the sun) from Willow trees, and used sinew or cordage made from plants to make the web. These were hung on babies cradle boards to get rid of the bad dreams and only allow good ones to pass through the center of the web. The bad dreams would be destroyed by the first rays of the sun.

Today Dream Catchers are made by many different Nations, and non Indians alike. The Contemporary Dream Catcher is not made of Willow, but of a metal hoop, and is basically just an Art Decoration to many people.

How to make a Dream Catcher

Articel by Gail, the Artist woman

We decided to try and make Dreamcatchers yesterday...a simple star design and then a more advanced one that proved a little tricky.

We'll start with the simple one.

Materials Required:

  • yarn
  • a yogurt or margarine lid
  • a few beads
  • scissors
  • a few feathers
  • string

Take your plastic lids, punch a little hole to get you started with the scissors and then cut out the inside. You want to leave at least 1/4 inch of the lid...they usually have a raised edge to show you where to cut to.

Our lids were about 5 inches in diameter. You don't want to go with a really large lid as it won't be stable when you cut out the middle.

Take your yarn and cut off a piece that when formed in a ball will fit in your palm....that should be enough.

You may have trouble when winding the yarn around the ring....so if you make a simple shuttle it will stem the frustration and the tangles.

I took a toilet paper roll and squished it. You can use a piece of cardboard. You could even wind the wool around a glue stick....use what you have, it's only temporary.

Start your wool by laying it lengthwise on the cardboard and then wind around it width wise.

Start winding the ring with wool or yarn. When you come around catch the loose end.

When you get to the end tie off the yarn with a knot and clip the end.

Now you are going to make the web. Cut a length of string. For the simple star pattern you only need to cut a string about 24 inches.

Start weaving your web...follow the #'s on the pattern...make sure you wrap the string around the ring at least once at every point of the star...otherwise the string will just slide off your catcher.

Place a bead in your Dreamcatcher to be the spider or the spirit bead.

Tie off the string when you have finished the design.

If you want you can make a double star at this point.

Start at #1 and then continue...at #6 slide on your bead. #7 is where you tie off.

When finished add a loop for hanging at position #3...that will keep your bead in the center of your star.

Cut a length of yarn or wool about 14 inches long and tie onto the bottom of the catcher.

String on 3 beads on each end and then make a knot.

I like to have them at different lengths so trim your yarn to your liking.

To add feathers just slide them into the bead holes. The beads will hold them into place.

That's it. You can now hang it above your bead. You can make a double star if you want for a more substantial web or you can try the advanced version.

The hardest part I found with the advanced version is keeping the same amount of slack between the loops. It's not till you are weaving the 3rd or 4th round that you realize you may have a bit of a hole.

I still enjoyed making them though so its worth a try.

I found it easier to make my loop before we started to loop around the ring.

Here is the first round of weaving.

Here we are at the 3rd.

Here at the fourth there is a bit of a hole at the top...we tried to ease the string over and it looked much better.

Add your tails with the beads and feathers and you're done.