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Hay River women learn to make traditional gloves

Paul Bickford
Northern News Services
Published Monday, October 22, 2007

HAY RIVER - Kathy Mouse knows from experience that cutting moose hide is a very important first step when making traditional gloves.

When she made her first pair of gloves in 1988, she cut the hide for two left-handed gloves.

NNSL Photo/Graphic

Tigger McCullough displays moose hide that she cut into the shape of gloves. - Paul Bickford/NNSL photo

That's why she was watching closely on Oct. 17 as a group of Hay River women began making gloves at a class at Growing Together, which offers programs for children and families.

Everyone came through with gloves for two hands.

The traditional craft is very popular, Mouse said. "Everybody wants these types of gloves."

Orlanda Carlson, who works at Growing Together, is one of 10 women in the class, which will continue each Wednesday for a month or more.

Carlson is making gloves as a Christmas gift for her husband, which she admits won't be much of a surprise.

No men showed up to learn how to make the gloves. "But a lot of men are getting them," she said

The gloves, also known as gauntlets, cover the arm to about halfway between the wrist and elbow. They include a beaver fur trim.

While Mouse helps with the basics, each woman is using a different beading design to personalize the gloves.

"Everybody has got their own beading patterns," Carlson said.

The gloves she is making will be for everyday use, although she said they will likely most often be worn for special occasions. "I can't see them shovelling snow or changing oil," she said.

Shirley Sloat, one of a couple of people making mitts instead of gloves, said beading is the most difficult part.

"Beading takes forever," she said.

Sloat is going to use a flower design she found in a book, while other women have created their own designs.

As for why she chose to make mitts instead of gloves, Sloat explained, "I don't like wearing gloves. I like mitts. I have to be different, I guess."

She said the main difference is mitts keep a person's hands warmer.

Sloat said she enjoys the social aspect of getting together with a group of people to make the craft.

"We just left our kids at home with our husbands," added Tigger McCullough.

Anya Van Zyll, a volunteer from Holland at Diamond Jenness Secondary school, also enjoys sharing the experience of making the gloves.

"You've got to make them with love and humour," she said.

Van Zyll said it is interesting to learn a traditional craft, adding she has previously learned how to make traditional mitts and slippers at Growing Together. "I'll be fully dressed when I go back home," she said.