About Blog Title...

As a child, it was one of my greatest delights to visit my grandparents in the spring when the whip-poor-wills began to call. Grandma and Grandpa lived in a remote valley of the Ozark Mountains where there were trees a plenty, and, seemingly, a whip-poor-will, or two, in each one.
My grandmother insisted that a whip-poor-will's call was not "whip-poor-will," but instead, "chip-butter-white-oak." I would listen really hard trying to hear it exactly as she said it was, but all I could hear was "whip-poor-will, whip-poor-will,..." But, I never let on to her.
I remember my grandpa watching and listening, with an amused look on his face, to one of these listening sessions. Shortly after that he began to call me, just for fun, "Chip Butter." It is a name I am proud to wear for I still love to hear that long, lonesome call on a warm summer's eve. And, sometimes, when I listen really, really hard, it seems I can hear quite clearly, "chip-butter-white-oak, chip-butter-white-oak..."

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Wrapped in blankets...

These little people, who are just stitched on cloth, should be happy to be dressed so well.  The woven wool blankets in which they are wrapped could well be original Indian trade blankets imported by the Hudson's Bay Company from English woolen mills.  From 1780 to 1890 the multi-striped point blanket was a staple in every fur trader's inventory and thousands upon thousands found their way into indigenous hands.

Or the blankets these people are wearing could be Navajo blankets. In the 1700's the Navajo tribe of the American Southwest wove sheep's wool into classic wearing blankets that became coveted trade items.

However, when the Indian Wars ended in 1890 and the reservation system began, federally licensed Indian trading posts were established and began selling machine-made blankets to the Indians.  The Navajo ceased making wearing blankets and began to weave the Navajo rug, which was a much heavier textile than the traditional Navajo wearing blanket.  These rugs were designed specifically for the floors of non-Indian homes.  The result was "Indians selling rugs to whites and whites selling Indian blankets to Native Americans - a practice that continues to this day.  For over a hundred and ten years Indian blankets has been made for Indians, not by them." (Barry Friedman)

Mary Dwyer McAboy (1876 - 1961) of Missoula, Montana also knew how to dress a doll, that is, an American Indian doll. Each one was wrapped in an Indian-style folded blanket so that it looked like they had folded arms.  Her Skookum dolls were first made in 1913 and were produced into the 1960's.  The wonderful old Skookum dolls pictured below are some of my favorites from my own collection.



  1. Very pretty stitchery and of course you know I love the Skookum dolls! You should get in touch with Augustina Peach about the Indians in her new book, and how they would be dressed.

  2. These old Skookum dolls are beautiful. Nice collection.
    The history of Indian blankets you quote is a paradox often repeated in many places.

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  4. Wonderful stitching on your Indians. You bring them to life. I like your Skookum dolls too. As a child my mother always told me she got me from the Indians. It always made me smile. The last gift I received from her before she passed away was a mother Indian porcelain doll with a little girl Indian doll. I never knew the reason why she told me this; but I will treasure the dolls and I have them where I can see them daily. They make me happy.

  5. the blankets on the stitched dolls are so pretty. Your indian doll collection is very nice too. I love to see the indian dolls.

  6. Your skookum dolls are so cute and their expressions are so plaintive. I want to know what they are thinking. I had to read about Mary McAboy first and exactly what a skookum doll was. How interesting. The only dolls I have is a set of dancing Korean dolls that my father got when he was station there and my barbies. Both look the worst for wear!

  7. Beautifully stitched blankets Mary. I love the expressions on the Skookum dolls. You mentioned them in a prior post so I studied up on them. They are very stunning dolls and VERY collectible!!

  8. I actually took a different scarf I made to New York. I did enjoy spending time with my daughter, we had a good time, but she's trendy and loves to shop so.... I was completely worn out. My idea of shopping is making a list, getting what I need & going home as fast as I can. If it's on sale, that's even better. That's my third trip to New York and it does have great food, museums etc., but I really am not a city girl. Pedestrian walking is not for the weak of heart, I prefer my country walks. The city has too many people, too much traffic, too much noise, it stinks & prices are ridiculously too high. I'm just glad all those people live there and not in my neck of the woods!

  9. Beautiful woven trade blankets and I love the features on the Skookum dolls. You have such interesting facts and collections!