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Sunday, April 14, 2019

Qaspeq/Kuspuk Coloring Pages

Kuspuk Qaspeq coloring page- blank available

A friend of mine up here who teaches school and has been making traditional qaspeqs for years is planning to teach her students to make them. That inspired these coloring pages. They can be used to experiment with color combinations and trim ideas.

(learn more about qaspeqs HERE

The stars in the upper left quarter are the stars that are on the Alaska state flag. The flowers on the right are fireweed- we use the blossoms for jelly, the leaves for tea and we eat young shoots. Another traditional way to eat them is to split more mature ones, sprinkle them with sugar and scrape them out with your teeth and use what's left to make cordage. Lower left hand quarter is Alaska's state flower- forget-me-not.

Click on the images below for larger versions to print.

Shortie/Boy's style qaspeqs:

Small jpg version:
shortie boy's style qaspeq or kuspuk to print and color- available in jpg and transparent png formats

Large transparent png version:
shortie boy's style qaspeq or kuspuk to print and color- available in jpg and transparent png formats

Girl's style skirted qaspeq-

Small jpg version:
Skirted girl's style qaspeq or kuspuk to print and color- available in jpg and transparent png formats

Large transparent png version:
Skirted girl's style qaspeq or kuspuk to print and color- available in jpg and transparent png formats




Friday, April 12, 2019

TG and I took a kuspuk sewing class together

Kuspuk qaspeq sewing class

Recently I wrote about a drum making class that I took with William and TG. The class is part of a series for Alaskan Natives/Native Americans that are meant to build wellness and community.

Today and yesterday, TG and I went to a kuspuk/qaspeq making class. Kuspuks are not part of our tradition. They are Yupik traditionally. The original version was made of skin and meant to cover and protect fur clothing. The advent of flour sack fabrics and calicos led to brightly colored, gorgeous fabric variations.

In Alaska, they are more ubiquitous than parkas. They are a uniquely Alaskan, super functional garment. They can be adapted easily. You may have seen photos of our Senator Murkowski wearing one, and in our state legislature, Qaspeq Friday is a regular occurrence.

The teacher of the class is planning to put up youtube video how tos and I'm absolutely going to give you all the link when it happens. I gave her my e-mail address so she could let me know when they were available. Angel Oliveira is a fantastic teacher and has taught a lot of people to make them.

TG generally sleeps until 8:30 am. I told her "Classes start at 8 you know." We agreed to go early and have breakfast first.

We got there, and oh my goodness! All the fabric choices! After careful consideration and a lot of back and forth, I settled on just a blueberry fabric. I was strongly tempted to add in a bright orange with it. They can be made with different fabrics all together in one garment and look gorgeous that way. TG chose a gold and blue fabric. We opted for the same trim.


TG is generally a hand sewer- and in fact, plans to hand sew one for her brother. For the class, we used sewing machines.


It was a lot of fun. After the first day, we had our hoods, cuffs and pocket done.


Today, we finished putting them together, I opted for a more traditional skirted kuspuk. Something that I can wear out berry picking on slightly chilly fall days. It will go great with jeans or leggings! Here I'm wearing it with a dress it completely covers.


There was one lady there who was super enthused over every lesson she learned and that was a blessing. It's good to see people happy about learning. TG's sense of pride in her finished kuspuk was wonderful too. 

Angel asked the class why we took it. TG said "Because I want to learn to make kuspuks and it was something I could do with my mom." and everyone, including me, was very "AWWW!!" 

Stand out moments for me, less about sewing than about life lessons and experiences. 

Angel and another teacher were talking about how they wanted to teach, so that the people they taught could go on and share it, could teach others. The lady she was talking to was speaking specifically of a salve class. That the class was filled to capacity, but she believed that people who were in the class would go on to teach their new found skills to other people. That's one of those things that's super important to me. It's not enough to learn, but at some point, you have to teach. Teaching helps you think of things differently, it helps you to verbalize exactly why some things work and others don't, it helps you learn what more you can learn. We all have things to teach and learn. 

It's the single candle thing, but in this case, that candle is culture and community. It's belonging. 

There was a mass casualty exercise in the building. We weren't really affected by it in the classroom, but you could hear the shouting. I'm glad for the exercise, for the fact that my family's care providers were making sure they were as prepared as possible, but it's a lot to think about it and I'm not quite done thinking about that yet. 

Once a month, Traditional Healing does a cleansing and blessing on their offices. We happened to be there while they were doing it. That was amazing and wonderful. I was wearing my reading glasses so I didn't recognize my healer until she was walking out but I did point her out to TG. Buz, who is a manager there, has a wonderful singing voice. There was prayer, songs, dancing and drumming. It was good. 

After leaving class, we stopped to say hello to a friend and people complimented my blueberry kuspuk and asked if I made it. I said "YES! Just finished it!"

And now for my FAVORITE photo of the day. 

This is Angel, our teacher, showing TG on a 50 year old kuspuk that belonged to my mother, how to make a pattern for one for her brother. This kuspuk has a full zipper, and plain sleeves instead of cuffs, with a separated pocket. When TG found it in her grandmother's things, it had a long rip down one sleeve. TG bought thread to match, and very carefully hand stitched it back together. It's very precious to her, and it brings me joy to see her wear her grandmother's kuspuk. That she learned from that one how to make one for her brother is such perfect balance.