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Book of the Week — Winter Count

1970 – Pumpkin patch: Tom & Anne – alternating stem stitch, variation on couching, double running or holbein stitch.

Winter Count
Anne Greenwood
Portland, Oregon: A. Greenwood, 2008
N7433.4 G744 W56 2008

Among several tribes on the Northern Plains the passage of time was marked by noting a single memorable event — recorded pictographically — on a buffalo or deer hide. It was called the winter count because the year ended when winter was over and new life began in the grasses and trees of the plains. Winter was the opportune time to look back over the year and record its history. Several winter counts might be in progress at any one time in the same tribe, each differing according to the personality of its keeper.

1973 – First grade – variation on couching, outline or stem stitch, variation on running stitch, satin stitch, double running or holbein stitch

1974 – North Dakota prairie, geese, crocus, spring – threaded running stitch, fly stitch, outline or stem stitch, satin stitch

A tribe historian is responsible for the winter count. When the hides deteriorate, the images are transferred over to new hides. The tribe historian is also responsible for learning all of the stories before him, as well as interpreting the drawings and history for anyone who asks about the record. The Big Missouri winter count began in 1796 and ended in 1926. It covered 131 years of events from one division of the Dakota nation along the Big Missouri River.

1984 – Puberty – double threaded running stitch, double running stitch, seed stitch, outline or stem stitch

1994 – Mauricio Rioseco – french knots, couching, cretan stitch, double running or holbein stitch

Anne Greenwood began her own winter count in January 2007, but instead of drawing images on buffalo hide, she stitched her winter count with embroidery and reclaimed linen. The images were pulled from ruminations in her life, titled with the year of origin and a short phrase to note the major event, place, state of mind, or primary activity of the year. The images were then transferred to letterpress, with colors and size closely matching those of the embroidered cloth. The names of the stitches are listed, in order from the border, to the background, to the central image. 

2003 – Handwork, double running or holbein stitch, chain stitch, russian chain, stem stitch

Winter Count was completed in the Spring of 2008 in Portland, Oregon. Text was set in Goudy Sans by Inge Bruggeman, who also helped in the design of the book. Thirty copies were letterpress printed on Fabriano Rosaspina at Textura Letterpress. Rare books copy is number 3.


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