Saturday, December 20, 2014

Norah's mittens

[Photo: Liz H-K] A brisk November morning
with 12 volunteer happy hot hands for a photoshoot
I have been assisting my friend Norah Curtis of Norah Curtis Designs, with getting her hand made sweaters and mittens finished and ready for two big sale events, one in Calgary and the OneofaKind (that's how they spell it, really) annual show in Toronto.  Norah has won numerous craft awards for her work over the years.  She has studied craft in Iceland, Japan and Canada that I know about but she's probably studied everywhere she goes and she goes to a lot of places.

Norah doesn't do anything half heart-ed and I mean anything  (cooking, gardening, biking, etc.)!  Take her sweaters, she doesn't just design the sweaters, she designs the very fabric, then makes the fabric (she makes knitted fabric which looks like woven), fulls the fabric, designs the sweater, designs the trim, sews it together, designs and makes the buttons! Then uses the fabric remains to make matching mittens. And then attends only juried craft shows and sells them and boy  do they sell!

[Photo: Liz H-K] A pile of sweaters ready for steaming.
 My job? Chief steamer.  That's like ironing but, err, more professional.

[edited to I forgot to post this on my blog (it did get on Facebook ) until after the craft shows. Norah sold every last mitten and most of her sweaters.]
[Photo: Liz H-K] And a pile of 
freshly steamed vests.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Mountain Goat

[Photo by Mark Kaarremaa]
Look what turned up on my step! A mountain goat head. Even Fergie is fascinated with the old goat. The goat had been hunted by a friends' grandfather many years ago and was destined for the dump until I mentioned I was looking for mtn. goat wool. So the old goat ended up coming for dinner and what was going to be a shaving party but before I could put razors in everyone's hands, one of the guests protested. Claiming she could find someone who would want the old goat, someone who might be able to find goat wool naturally shed from a goat or two up in the mountains. Okay, razors down for now. This old goat can remain fully bearded for awhile longer. In the meantime, if anyone has goat wool they would like to swap for this head, let me know.
[Photo Chilcat yarn - mtn goat wool around
cedar.  Photo by Mark Kaarremaa]

Mtn. goat Oreamnos americanus is actually in the antelope family, not in the goat family. First Nations such as the Chilkat Tlingit people  used the wool to make their famous Chilkat blankets. They spun mtn goat wool around thin strips of cedar.  

[Photo by Liz H-K, Chilcat Blanket
made from 
 mtn goat wool. CMC]
The Coast Salish used the goat wool in blankets and regalia. The goat wool is easily seen in the plain white blankets woven in a twill pattern although the wool was also used in twined or hybrid blankets.   

Wool was collected in the wild where the goats shed the fur in late spring. Alternatively, the goats were hunted and the pelts were moistened, then rolled up with the fur inside for a few days before unrolling and pulling the fur out of the hide. 

[Photo by Liz H-K, Coast Salish Blanket made from
 mtn goat wool CMC#VIG250]
Mtn goat has two types of hair/fur/wool, a kemp-like wiry hair and a very soft underdown wool.  Very fine blankets had much of the hair removed before spinning the soft down wool but a few hairs always remain and are useful for identifying the wool as coming from mtn goat.  

[Photo -Mtn goat near Banff. You can see his
wool starting to moult. Photo by Mark Kaarremaa]
Interestingly mtn goats are only found on the mainland not on Vancouver island, yet the Cowichan have an origin story that includes mtn goats on the island. In the last decade or so, mtn goat bones were found in a cave on northern Vancouver Island and carbon dated to 12,000 years old. So although now extinct on the island, they once lived here just as the origin story says.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

This blog lives

[photo by Liz H-K] HOORAY!
This shot was taken on/at a reef party in Nanaimo Harbour.
The reef is only visible at extreme low tides,usually in July.

It has been one year since my last blog post. The year long pause was due to a variety of factors starting with a switch to a tablet which only encourages browsing and not writing, or as some one described it, consuming not creating. Then life happened. Long story not designed for public blogs, but here I am with a new computer one year later and with more time. So the blog lives on!