Yvette Towersap shows participants the newest rabbit skin blanket she finished.
By ROSELYNN YAZZIE
BOISE — A Rabbit Skin Blanket Making Workshop was hosted at the Return of the Boise Valley People event on Saturday, June 11.
The workshop was put on by the instruction of Yvette Towersap and had a total of 14 participants who were supplied with a PVC pipe frame, twine, a needle and thread, and seven precut strips of rabbit skins.
Due to the shortage of rabbits, the rabbit fur was ordered online. She cautioned the participants to be aware the fur gets everywhere and is easy to breathe in, therefore, masks were recommended.
Towersap held up a large blanket she made as an example and said a blanket of that size had about 50-60 rabbits and took about a month to complete. The materials can be expensive to get as well as the time put into making them. She’s also taught her daughters how to make them, her daughter Josie assisted her with instructing the class.
Yvette Towersap shows how to weave the blanket ends.
Towersap learned to make rabbit blankets by doing research, along with her aunt Daisy Dixey. They looked at old photos, did site visits to a couple museums and figured out a process that worked for them because there are lots of different ways people have of making them.
The rabbit skin blanket process is made by wrapping the rabbit skin carefully around the twine, which is tied to the frame and weaving all the pieces together into one flat.
At home she uses a 6-foot rebar on top and bottom to do a blanket. The large frame makes it easier for her to stand up while doing it, which helps not strain her back.
So far, Towersap has made six blankets, many of them have been given away as gifts.
She was glad to see so many people who wanted to learn.
Rosie Tom wraps her rabbit furs around twice.
“I think a lot of people came here for this. I had a lot of interest over here,” she said. “So I guess this is kind of the Fort Hall way of making them, because I hear them talking about their own ways.”
She said these are our traditional ways that we used on a daily basis.
“We’re so contemporary, we rely on electric blankets and fake blankets, but these are so warm. Even though we don’t have real rabbits very much, at least by doing this we can still remember how hard it was and appreciate the hard times our people had a long time ago,” said Towersap.
Participant at the Rabbit Skin Making Class.
The blankets can also be family heirlooms, which are not often seen because many families used them to bury with their loved ones.