It's #nfpb2014 Wednesday. Thanks to Alison Beecher at http://www.kidlitfrenzy.com/ for getting it all started. Check out the links to discover many more irresistible information books.
Cowichan Sweaters are an historical icon of West Coast Canadian life. In this picture book we get a behind the scenes look at how they are created.
Yetsa and her mother spend Saturdays in May helping Grandma prepare the wool before it is ready to knit. They begin by cleaning the hay, prickles, twigs and even sheep poop out of the new fleece. The fleece is then boiled and washed in soap and water before it is rinsed and hung to dry. The next week the wool is teased, carded and spinning begins. By the following week, Grandma is finished spinning and has started a new sweater for Yetsa: a sweater with images that represent Yetsa's life.
The end of the book has two pages of additional information on the history of Cowichan sweaters. We learn that Yetsa, the author's granddaughter, is the sixth generation in a family of Coast Salish Knitters.
I love that this book shows First Nation children and families in an authentic and healthy perspective.
All the children I've read this book to this week (and their teachers) have been fascinated by this look into the process of how these sweaters were created.
I had a lot of fun Tuesday with a family grouping of kindergarten, grade one's and two's. I discovered that even a veteran teacher librarian like myself still has lots to learn. I brought in some samples of raw fleece, spun yarn and a finished sweater. The kids were vociferously disgusted by the smell of sheep in the raw fleece. Thankfully they were impressed by the finished sweater: although we all agreed it was itchy. Next time, I'll read the book and then share the materials, or show them and then read the book. I've promised them bread and blackberry jam next time I see them. That will be less disruptive I am certain. Well I hope so anyway.