Wednesday, September 29, 2010

What's in the freezer?

Trudy's freezer
I have a long term book project, which has a working title "What's in the freezer?' It would be a work of non-fiction stories based on what's in the freezers of a few friends. Each chapter would have a picture of the freezers prize possession, along with a story behind the frozen object. 

I have one chapter (and pictures) on wolf droppings in the freezer (fuelled by propane) in a Park Wardens floating cabin in the Broken Group Islands on the west coast. That chapter tells about the arrival of wolves on the islands, and their DNA, the poop on DNA or the DNA of the poop, so to speak. Another chapter is on bullfrogs -- freezers are part of the killed-with-kindness process which starts with a tub full of ice and ends in the frezer but you'll have to wait for the book. Then there was the rare bat in my freezer. Of course, I didn't know at the time there was a rare and endangered dead bat (if it is dead, does that means it is no longer endangered?) in the freezer until after I cleaned up the bat blood off the floor and exposed myself to potential rabies. The Health Agency couriered the bat for testing halfway across the country within hours of my innocent inquiry and you'll be happy to hear that the tests were negative. But, that isn't today's story either.  Nor is the frozen cougar head, which is a good story too, with a surprise explosion in a microwave (do not try to thaw a frozen cougar head by nuking it), but no, today's story is so much simpler.

Swainson's Thrush next to Camus seeds
Tonight I took a couple of pictures of Trudy's freezer. There was no reason to. It was like a surprise bed check but in this case a surprise freezer check as I just happened to be there and remembered my freezer quest. Besides, you never know what you'll find in Trudy's freezer.

There were three items of interest (aside from the Vanilla Ice Cream): a Swainson's Thrush (the Thrush is usually in the bag but for the photo, I exposed him somewhat) , Camus seeds (associated with the rare and endangered Gary Oak ecosystem of BC) and a 35 year old handspun Cowichan-style sweater along with a few, not rare, not endangered, but hopefully dead, moths, which was the whole purpose of the sweater-in-the-freezer.

The yarn in the sweater was spun (with integrity I might add - see the Integrity post) by Trudy and one of her friends and knit by a another friend. There is a wolf pattern on the front and a frog on the back. Last night the then moth-eaten holey sweater arrived at my door with Trudy looking for some handspun in natural colours to match the sweater colours. After returning home with some new yarns, Trudy had darned the sweater and, for good measure, stuck it into her freezer. By coincidence, I happened to ask what was in her freezer and lo and behold, the sweater, being prepared for another 35 years of wear.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Knitting Music Video

Here's an interesting music video. Done entirely using knit animation. Over 700 unique knitted pieces were created for the video by designer Lysanne Latulippe of the fashion label Majolie..

PS  For locals, don't forget the knit and spin-in at VIU on Thursday.  See the blog below.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Doily bombed

It has happened again. Only this time, the campus has not been yarn bombed, it has been doily bombed! I am not sure if this is more serious than yarn bombing or if one reads a lighter sense of play into this format.  
As you can see, the lampposts along the walkway have all been 'doilied'. Note the yellow 'comment' card that has been attached to each doily bomb, along with a pencil to capture your thoughts.
I Googled doily bombing and was surprised to find other locations where this deed has taken place. This picture of a doilied tree shows a beautiful collection of vintage doilies gracing the tree like a lace glove.
Further Googling brought up a BBC new segment which may provide a hint of how yarn bombing came to Canada. At around the 1minute 40 mark, two seemingly innocent looking women from Vancouver are interviewed and state that they will take this new knitting trend back to the west coast of Canada. Have we found the guilty importers referred to in my earlier post?

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Knitting geeks, a hobby for hackers.

Cover of Nature Genetics,
January 2002, Vol 30 Issue 1.
Knitted by Emily Poe based
on a double helix pattern
by  June Oshiro
Apparently knitting and spinning have become a geeky craft, or should I say a craft for geeks. This probably bodes well for a spin-in and kit-in to be held on campus. Listen-up locals ... 
Spin and Knit in to be held at 
Vancouver Island University
Thursday, Sept 30th.
Location: sunshine = the quad (in front of the library) rain = the Welcome Centre. Bring what's on your needles or spindles and your fibre friends.

There was a recent article in The Chronicle of Higher Education, String Theory: Reflections on Knitting as a Hobby for Hacker Types which talks about why people at universities should knot, but a lot of what she says applies to everyone. In addition to convincing you to knit she has a lot of interesting links embedded in the article. Enjoy.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Canadian Tenors

Tonight, I treated myself to a live show of the Canadian Tenors who were in town for one night only. I don't really know much about them and have only seen and heard them from one youtube video embedded below for your pleasure. By the time I heard they were in town, most tickets had been sold. I got online to buy tickets and set the number of tickets to two and clicked the button Find me the best available seats. The only seats left were in the very back row. So I re-set the number of tickets to one and clicked the button Find me the best available seats and this time there was one in the sixth row! I asked my husband if he wanted to got o the show. "No" he said in a firm voice. "Yes" I said with jubilation and ran back to the computer and pressed the buy button. And am I ever glad I did. Watch the video and you'll agree. The video was shot in February when they were performing Leonard Cohen's Hallalujah on the Oprah Show. The guest singer was a complete surprise to them as you will see....

And I have to include a video of the master himself, Leonard Cohen whom I saw last year in Ottawa.

PS I didn't take my spinning either time.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Noodle Knitting

I had to share this video. It inspires one to try it but perhaps a bigger project, say a lunch bib? Or something Italia-style? I suppose crocheting would work just as well, although it is hard to find chopsticks with a built-in hook.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Kent Monkman - The Triumph of Mischief

Detail of Artist and Model
I am writing this away from the prying eyes of Priscilla-the-fleeceless-sheep-that-rules-the-guestroom-and-Lords-over-my-wool-stash. I am not sure she would appreciate the explicit language and pictures of this particular post. She is a bit of a prude. So I will be quick to get it up before she has an inkling of the sexually explicit (and I won't even show you all the details, but use a magnifying glass on the picture to the left) work of this artist and his alter ego.

Monkman's Cher-inspired seance outfit.
I went to a thought-provoking art exhibit by Cree artist Kent Monkman at the Victoria Art Gallery. Monkman has, a wicked sense of humour and of injustice, a subversive wit and his work playing on role reversals, forces us to re-think, re-image, some of our underlying assumptions, stereotypes and visions of reality about the imaginary indian, painted by the noble whiteman.  

They say a picture is worth 1,000 words. In Monkman's paintings a picture is worth 10,0000 words, layers of meanings on top of layers. He is also a performance artist, check out his seance held at the ROM calling on the spirits of explorer-artists Paul Kane, George Caitlin and French romantic painter Delacroix, while dressed in a, reportedly, Cher-inspired drag queen attire, also in the exhibit. Click here to listen to the dance music of MissChief. The seance was in response to one of his paintings being censored from the First People's Gallery at the ROM. As Monday Magazine explains it:
“They gave us the opportunity to go into the museum, look at the collections and then create work as a response. I went straight to the First People’s Gallery and there you have all these paintings by Paul Kane, this voice of authority. It’s like, ‘What are his paintings doing in the First People’s Gallery?’ Yes, the first people were his subjects, but . . . I thought, ‘I’ll do a painting in response to one of his paintings,’” says Monkman. “I wanted to draw attention to that and hang my painting in there with his painting. So the curator of the First People’s Gallery said, ‘No, we can not allow Kent to show in the First People’s Gallery. We can not allow him to challenge the work of Paul Kane.’”
The Academy
which brought on the seance performance and brought about the ROMs re-thinking of just what should be allowed in the First Nation's Gallery.
In this exhibit, the star of this show is Monkman's alter ego Miss Chief Eagle Testicle -- say this fast enough and you have Mischief Egotistical Did I say that Monkman is a master of punning? In the painting titled "The Artist and Model" above, Monkman has painted his alter ego right into the painting. Miss Chief Eagle Testicle (aka Mischief), wearing six-inch heels, a scanty breech, a Chiefs head dress and little else, is the artist painting the naked (penis erect) cowboy. However, Mischief's easel holds a pictograph of her idea of what the white man looks like. See what I mean about layers upon layers of words and meanings.
The picture "The Academy" reminded me of Paul Kane's picture "Clallum Woman Weaving a Blanket". I am not sure that Monkman's Academy was meant to be a reVisionist view of Kane's painting, but there are some similarities, the wool dog in the foreground (see my earlier blog on this painting), the scene in the long house, the viewing of artists creating their works.
In any event, Monkman's imagery will remain with me for a long time.
This post seems to be very popular, so I have edited to add a book if you like Kent Monkman's sense of humour as well as his art, then you would probably enjoy this book. It is written by one of my favorite authors, Thomas King who also has a wicked sense of humour and of injustice. Okay, you need to know it is written for children, but hey, read it for your inner child.

"A Woman Weaving a Blanket," Songhees/Saanich (Central Coast Salish)

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Victoria Spindles - Signs of the Lekwungen

Spindle whorl marking
 llqemasan (Camosun)
A few years ago the City of Victoria worked with the Esquimalt and Songhees First Nations, to create and place seven larger-than-life spindles and whorls marking seven important Lekwungen locations around the city.  This picture was taken at what was a Hudson's Bay Fort, Fort Camosun, later known as Fort Victoria.  It marks the two worlds meeting.
“ I remember my grandma using a spindle whorl. She didn’t speak much English, and I didn’t speak much Coast Salish, but I understood that the spindle whorl is the foundation of any family – it can weave a tapestry of information.”  Butch Dick, Songhees artist and designer of the spindle whorls
The second spindle is at the highest point in Beacon Hill Park, 'Meqen' (which means warmed by the sun) overlooking the Salish Sea, and on the far shore, the Olympic Peninsula.  On the hillside, 'Coqwialls' a game similar to field hockey was played and lower down a village once stood until about 300 years ago.  Camus, a wildflower and bulb that provided a sweet carbohydrate is found in abundance in this area.  Just off shore, fish were caught using reef-net fishing techniques.
Beacon Hill Park, just below the spindle whorl