featuring guest authors; crafting tips and projects; recipes from food editor and sleuthing sidekick Cloris McWerther; and decorating, travel, fashion, health, beauty, and finance tips from the rest of the American Woman editors.

Monday, August 25, 2014


Paty Jager is an award winning author who has been a member of RWA, EPPIE, COWG, and EOWG. She’s taught workshops at local and national level writer’s conferences and online. Her seventeen published novels, two anthologies, and five novellas have Western or Native American elements in them, along with hints of humor and engaging characters. Her penchant for research takes her on side trips that eventually turn into yet another story. Today Paty joins us to talk about Dream Catchers. Learn more about her and her books at her blog and website.

Native American Dream Catchers
How many of you have shot up out of bed after a bad dream and wished you’d never had that dream? I think many of us can raise our hands at that.

The Native Americans have a craft they make that is believed to catch bad dreams and only filter good dreams down to the sleeping person. This spiritual sieve or strainer is surrounded by the hoop. Several of the North American tribes believe the hoop or circle symbolizes strength and unity. The best material for this hoop is a willow twig or any other flexible twig that can be bent into a circle and dried. Sinew or stringy stalked plants would be used for the weaving of the web. One semi-precious stone is added to each web, because there is only one creator. Or in some tribes it is the spider who is given credit for weaving a web that can catch bad things. And natural feathers found in nature are hung from the circle to allow the good dreams to filter down to the sleeping individual.

Dream Catchers were made by grandparents for newborn children. When they were still in the cradleboards the dream catchers hung above the child to give them pleasant dreams. The dream catchers are to hang and move freely so they may better catch the good and bad dreams. Good dreams slip through the center hole and slide down the feathers, softly dropping onto the sleeping person. The bad dreams are caught in the webbing and dissolve at daybreak.

The tradition of putting a feather in the middle of the dream catcher is to give breath or air, an ingredient essential for life. A baby watching air move the feather on the dream catcher above is entertained and taught how important good air can be. Children’s dream catchers have feathers; adults do not. On a child’s dream catcher an owl feather may be used for a girl. This means wisdom. For a boy an eagle feather, symbolizing courage.

In my trilogy of books set among the Nez Perce Indians, Spirit of the Mountain, Spirit of the Lake, and Spirit of the Sky, I found many interesting bits and pieces of information about the Nez Perce culture and their daily lives that I incorporated into the three books.

I have always been fascinated by dream catchers and thought it would be a fun thing to share with you.

How to Make a Dream Catcher

1. Using 2-6 ft. of soaked willow (or grapevine), carefully bend the vine around to form a circle with a 3”-8” diameter. You decide on the diameter, but traditionally dream catchers are no larger than 8”.

2. Twist the piece you are bending, around the circle you have made to strengthen the vine hoop.

3. Use 4-16 ft. of strong but thin string (the length is determined by the diameter of the hoop.) Knot a loop in one end from which you will hang your dream catcher when it is done.

4. Tie the hanging loop around the top of your dream catcher (or at the weakest point of your hoop.)

5. The dream catcher repeats the same stitch from start to finish. To start, hold the string and place it loosely over the top of the hoop. Move the string around to the back of the hoop (forming a hole) and pull the string back through the hole you just made.

6. Pull each stitch taut but not too tight or it will warp the hoop of the dream catcher and it will not lay flat when it is done.

7. Continue the same stitch for the first round around the hoop of the dream catcher. Space the stitches evenly, about 1-1/2”-2” apart (making 7 to 13 stitches around the hoop.)

8. The last stitch of the first round should be placed about a half inch away from the hanging loop.

9. On the second and subsequent stitching rounds, place the string around the center of each stitch from the previous round (rather than around the hoop.)

10. As you pull each stitch tight, the string from the previous round should bend towards the center of the hoop slightly, forming a diamond shape. You should see the spider web beginning to form.

11. On the third or fourth round add a bead to represent the spider or creator in the web. Simply place the bead on your string and continue stitching as usual.

12. Continue stitching towards the center of the hoop. Eventually, the stitches become so small that it is difficult to pass the string through. Make sure you leave a hole in the center of the dream catcher.

13. Stop stitching at the bottom of the hole in the center of the dream catcher. End by stitching twice in the same place, forming a knot, and pull tight.

14. You should have 6”-8” of string to tie 2 or 3 feathers which dangle from the center of the dream catcher. Tie on 2 or 3 feathers and knot.

15. Wrap a 1” square of felt around the knot of string and over the base of the feathers. Tie two 4” pieces of string around the wrapped felt. (Your dream catcher is now complete)

These are the websites I used while researching this topic.

Spirit of the Mountain
Evil spirits, star-crossed lovers, and duty…which will prevail?

Wren, the daughter of a Nimiipuu chief, loves the mountain and her people—the Lake Nimmipuu.  When a warrior from the enemy Blackleg tribe asks for her hand in marriage to bring peace between the tribes, she knows it is how she must fulfill her vision quest. But she is torn between duty and her breaking heart.

Himiin, as spirit of the mountain, watches over all the creatures on his mountain, including the Nimiipuu. When Wren shows no fear of him as a white wolf, he listens to her secret fears and loses his heart to the mortal maiden. Respecting her people’s beliefs, he must watch her leave the mountain with the Blackleg warrior.

When an evil spirit threatens Wren’s life, Himiin rushes to save her. But to leave the mountain means he’ll turn to smoke…

Buy Links


PJ Sharon said...

Thanks for the step by step instructions, Paty. great project for kids and a beautiful tradition. best of luck with your books!

Paty Jager said...

PJ, Thank you. Dream catchers are a wonderful tradition and a fun craft.

Bobbi A. Chukran, Author said...

Great interview, Paty! I've always heard about dream catchers, but never knew much about them. Fascinating! Good luck with your books.

Kathye Quick said...

Since my son went to college in Arizona, it is no small coincidence that I am in love with Native American culture. Love the dream catcher traditions.

I know I would not do justice to trying to write a book that contains Native American history and culture, so I'll simply have to buy yours!

Adele Downs said...

I enjoyed learning about the dreamcatcher. Thanks for the interesting post!


Judy Baker said...

I enjoyed your information on Dream Catchers. I love the Native American culture and Dream Catchers have always fascinated me. Thanks for sharing.

Paty Jager said...

Hi Bobbi!
Thank you. Dream catchers are fascinating. I love the idea of sifting the bad dreams out.

Paty Jager said...

Hi Kathye,
Thank you! I hope you enjoy the books.

Paty Jager said...

Thank you for stopping in and commenting, Adele.

Melissa Keir said...

Dreamcatchers are so important to have in your home. I have one in my bedroom, hanging from the lamp. I also have worn them as jewelry.

Thank you for sharing one of my favorite traditions with your readers. :)

Christine Young said...

HI, thanks for the directions. I love dream catchers and have always made sure the kids had one in their rooms.

Angela Adams said...

These are awesome...and, Paty, I love your book cover!

E. Ayers said...

Guess who has a whole pile of wild grape vine? Thanks, Paty.

Paty Jager said...

Judy, Thanks for stopping in and commenting. I'm glad I had a topic that people were interested in.

Paty Jager said...

Hi Melissa! I have two pair of dream catcher earrings and several dream catchers that were hanging in my home. They will be again when we get the house built. ;) Thanks for stopping in.

Paty Jager said...

Hi Christine! I think it's not only the legend behind the but they look inviting to me. Thanks for stopping in.

Paty Jager said...

Hi Angela,

Thank you! My cover was designed by my daughter.:)

Paty Jager said...

E.Ayers, Howdy! Oh, you now have a great use for them. You can make Christmas presents and share the good qualities of the dream catcher with family and friends. Thanks for stopping in.