Vacating ….

I’m sure to be knitting, making, thinking, and so on … but from places of silence and repose near and far.   To be certain, there will be plenty to share after the summer holidays.

Here’s hoping your summer is as productive as I’m hoping mine will be.

Unnatural Museum

Take a tour of Elaine Bradford‘s Museum of Unnatural History, where taxidermy and crochet are taken to unnatural extremes …

For Museum of Unnatural History, Houston-based artist Elaine Bradford has created a faux natural history museum filled with a variety of animals and specimens “discovered” by the fictitious fringe scientist Dr. Thomas Harrigan during his explorations into a dimension known as “The Sidereal”. According to the museum’s pseudo-scientific text, The Sidereal is “in many ways a mirror image of our world [that] has produced a variety of species possessing adaptations wildly divergent from those we see on earth.” A visitor to Museum of Natural History will view creatures that include the Pushmi-pullyu (Tragus januali), a lichen eating two headed sheep; the longcat (Lynx metamorpha), a blue mite covered feline whose powerful limbs and body can expand up to ten times their at-rest length; and the Procyon besheret, fondly known as the “pair-bears” due to the permanent fusing of tails during a secret mating ritual. The animals on view are constructed from taxidermy animals, sometimes in their original state, other times cut in half or fused with the bodies of others, which are then sheathed in outfits which Bradford carefully crochets, an art taught to her by her grandmother, when the artist was a child growing up in Alice, Texas. Elaine did not really appreciate the calming, repetitive act of crochet, nor did she take it seriously as an art, until she was in graduate school at the California Institute of the Arts. Here Bradford developed a project in which she crocheted individual sweaters for everything in her refrigerator, including all the baby carrots. “I was really interested in the connotations that came along with crochet for me, ideas of comfort, warmth, and family; the absurd act of making labor intensive objects for things that have no need for them always makes me chuckle.”

Monsters and horror night at the aknitmation festival!

Japanese filmmaker Mai Tominaga combined live action, animation and knitted puppetry in his  award-winning animé fantasy, “WOOL 100%.”

And to take it into the wee hours, a few more suggestions:  Attack of the Killer Crochet Hook, Killer Crochet, and Yarn Monster Walk.

Perhaps its time for a bit of “high culture”, and crochet.  The next feature in this aknitmation festival mixes needlework techniques and literature: “Poetree”, by Castlegardner, in which the crocheted and knitted puppet was made by Ceri Watling, and Don Carlson declaimed “The Raven” by Edgar Allen Poe.

My fingers are twitching.

And what about aknitmated music and drama?  Here is a music video by Max Alexander for the tune ‘I am Ahab’ by Not-Too-Distant-Future.  As described by the maker:

After a fight with his girlfriend Ahab becomes overcome with madness and takes drastic action to change himself. But things only get worse when he encounters a blood hungry rat monster. Ahab’s quest takes him across turbulent seas and through strange watery worlds on his hunt for a better life. Will he find what he’s looking for or will the monsters get the better of him?

And another:  “the wool” (2003), by German animator Ali Soozandeh:

Partners beware!

If the nostalgic “Ball of Wool” was sweet, and the activist “Don’t Let it All Unravel” savory, then perhaps it’s time for something spicier. Here’s an example of the art of intimate communication by redknittingannie.

Perhaps we might call it “in-knit-imacy”?

Serebryakov’s “Ball of Wool” was a thrilling example of an early effort to animate needlework.   The magical knitted environment so affectionately created was unravelled by uncontrolled exploitation of its special resource: it’s paschal “ball of wool”.

The second feature in this miniature animation festival also concerns environment and its loss, but with a distinctly modern twist. “Don’t Let it All Unravel” by Sarah Cox, was recently presented at the Encounters Film Festival (Bristol, England):

This one really makes clear how powerfully fiber can speak to us.

Recently, research for a special knitting project (still under wraps) has uncovered all sorts of spectacular finds, including some fiber-related short films and animations, some of which must be shared.  I’ve already posted about animated shorts most of us are familiar with by now: “The Last Knit” (Spring Fever: knitting addiction), and Tricot Machine’s knitted music video (Knitting Machine). Thanks to the generosity of those who have shared their work online, it will be possible – as my needles click away during the next few weeks, to bring many others I’ve found together in a miniature  fiber film & animation “festival”!

First on the program: “Ball of Wool” (1968), an animated short film made in 1968 by Russian artist and filmmaker Nikolai Serebryakov (1928-2005) (more information about this remarkable animator is available from this obituary).  “Ball of Wool” is a knitted fable, rather like “The Goose that Laid the Golden Egg”.

So I’m thinking, if animation is “the rapid display of a sequence of images of 2-D or 3-D artwork or model positions in order to create an illusion of movement. It is an optical illusion of motion due to the phenomenon of persistence of vision” (source), then mightn’t the use of fiber and related fiber arts (knitting, crochet, weaving, etc) to create the illusion be called a(k)ni(t)mation.

More aknitmation tomorrow!

“And so sometimes I think that if you just put the mothers in charge for a while, that things would get resolved” – Barack Obama

Recently I contributed six pink and green knitted squares to the thousands collected for the White House fence cozy that Code Pink used in its 2009 Mothers’ Day vigil for peace.  This was Code Pink’s second 24-hour vigil in front of the White House in honor of all mothers and women living under occupation and war zones,  for whom the price of war is the safety and lives of  loved ones, their homes, and their future. With roses lifted and giant cozy unfurled, hundreds called for the return of US troops from Afghanistan and Iraq, so that no more mothers will grieve the loss of children in these wars.

Additional still images of Code Pink’s White Cozy project, the process of assembling the giant cozy in D.C., and the vigil, are available here).  But theRealNews televised report, “Roses and Guns for Mother’s Day”, helped me to feel a part of the action in spite of the distance –

Code Pink’s work includes support for peace in Gaza as well.  They are also sponsoring a fund-raising compaign for the children of Gaza –

  • $10 will enable us to buy a backpack full of schools supplies for a child.
  • $50 will enable 5 children to have the tools they need for the school year.
  • $100 will help build an International Friendship Playground at one of the schools destroyed during the invasion.

Perhaps you could put down your knitting needles or crochet hook long enough to make a contribution

Yes, some days are bitter cold.  Or wet and bitter cold.  But others are mild, a bit steamy.  The afternoon sun is warm on our shoulders as we do weekend errands.  So it’s been time to pull out the unfinished winter projects – the last pair of mittens for the nieces, the remaining hats – for me, and one to send off to the Sioux elders.

Wanting to study twined knitting this year, I’ve been working on a couple of pairs of mittens that draw on a variety of twining and colorwork techniques.  I finally finished a pair of mittens for the youngest niece-let (finally, because I seemed to have been knitting on fumes after the winter holiday rush to finish so many gloves and mitts).  No pattern for these little dainties (but guided by those shared by other generous knitters here and here), some skeins of Araucania pink and magenta, US 3 (3.25 mm) dpns, and online discussion of twined knitting techniques.  Somehow, I managed to include most of the technical elements I’d set out to study:  multi-color casting-on (3-strand braided cast-on) and corrugated ribbing (on the cuffs), bands of twined “crook” or chain stitches (above the wrists).  This project was a delight to research: twined knitting resources abound on the net (here and here, for instance), and it’s easy to find powerful inspiration from amazing twiners like Anna-Maj’s and Asplund.

A pair of multi-color
Wintergreen mittens (pattern by Kate Gilbert) finally came off the needles, a bit later than planned.  Worked in a niece’s favorite earthy colors (Araucania Nature Wool Multi, US 2 / 2.75 mm – would go up a size next time around), these were a challenging treat to execute.
  1. Recharted the leaves, to turn them so that they point towards the fingers now;
  2. revised some of the twists so that they lay flatter, using decreases and increases instead of 3 st twists; and
  3. worked a thumb gusset at side instead of inset thumb on palm. Wish I’d gone up a size on the needles, but soldiered on, having frogged the cuffs once.

detail of the surface – compare twisted sts with dec and increase techniques

Vertigo hat by Kerstin Michler, just in time for the vernal equinox. A straightforward little pattern, which made a wonderful hat with the colors I anticipate from spring.  Noro Silk Garden and US 6 (4.0 mm) needles (16″ circulars and dpns).  Worked with 40 sts (instead of 45) for woman’s hat. Used just over 1 skein of yarn to knit the 11 sections required.

KOB Ying Yang Beret IV,

Ying Yang Beret by Nancy Marchant
Noro Silk Garden, US 4 (3.5 mm) needles
Just because I love this pattern. Just because I want to try KOB instead of brioche. Just because I love Silk Garden yarns. Just because I could use a Noro hat to match my scarf. Just because my US 4/3.5 mm dpns are empty. Just because I could manage another rehearsal project.Nb. substituting KOB for brioche worked just fine. Made double increases in similar manner (k1, yo, k1 in same st), and decreases also work similarly. But, on next round, I worked sl1, k1 (to make only 1 yo in back instead of 2) in preparation for the decrease (next row), and then kkob to k2tog. Helped to place both strands on the needle before knitting. And, did a double braid at edge (I like it firmer). Otherwise, the beret seems indistinguishable from its traditional “brioche” twin.
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