Black Panther: A study of Xenophobia

 

Black Panther Double Knit Square / lattesandllamas.com

 

It’s taken me a while to gather my thoughts on this film, because I had to continue with real life, while reflecting on what I had seen.

To be honest, I learned one thing and was reminded of another. I learned that filmmaker Ryan Coogler is not to be messed with. His newest film, Black Panther proves that he’s a talented director able to work on several conceptual levels, who is able to take what should be a ‘simple superhero film’ and turn it into something else altogether. Is there a category called ‘Superhero-Politthriller’?

Yes, it works as a superhero film that kids will have a blast watching. It even works as a faithful comic book adaptation. As a gorgeous love letter from the African Diaspora to the Motherland, it hits the ball out of the park (Well done Ruth E. Carter and the production team! Amazing job!)

 

It also works as a double-whammy political thriller. On one level, this afrofuturistic piece deep-dives onto the political intrigue following a change in government (head of state). On the other hand, it  is a thought-provoking piece, which very subtly compares the US (and parts of the Western world in the throes of wrestling with issues of identity and ultra-conservative xenophobia) to the proud nation of Wakanda. High tech force-shields do the same thing that Mexican Walls are supposed to do.

I will admit that I was lulled into the haze of I-have-to-accompany-my-child-to-the-cinema mixed with admiring the costumes and production design, until one phrase jerked me wide awake: “The Sun will never set on the Kingdom of Wakanda.” I won’t lie, even as a naturalized German, the chills ran down my spine (because 1933-1945). These folks are such an advanced nation, and they are xenophobic. For me, it is therefore disconcerting to see folks running around post-cinema experience beaming “Wakanda Forever!” (And the Daily Beast’s Ira Madison III thinks so too).
That the society within the film manages to tackle such a thorny problem that propels them to the brink of civil war is makes it no less compelling for theater-goers to ask themselves what type of society do we want to be. And to keep talking about it.
That was the reminder, that comic books are often not  just about fighting or solving problems with violence, there is a message, if you care to look.
And now, the handcrafts:
Basotho blankets on the big screen in 'Black Panther'.
Letitia Wright, Lupita N’yongo, Angela Bassett and Martin Freeman on set.                      Fotosource: Times of South Africa/ Marvel Studios 2018

 

 

The fabulous blankets, seen above, are made in Southern Africa, and are called Basotho Heritage Blankets. Notably, worn by the royal family and their guest (for the sake of accuracy, the border guards/tribe do wear a similar blanket which appears to be part of a uniform). Regular people like Nakia (played by Lupita N’yongo) seem or choose to make do with knits and crochets. 
This shawl-wrap was the only knit I spotted. It seems to be long, rectangular piece, done in stocking stitch with an occasional row of eyelets interspersed. While this knit is done in fairly sombre tones (at a fairly sombre point in the story) of her signature greens and blues of the River tribe, by the end of the film, she is in a lovely sparkly green crocheted pullover with a single cut out shoulder.
Honourable Mention: Latte&Llamas 2017 Geek-along

 

Advertisements

Art inspiring knits: Cherries

Amy Sherald in Studio 2017
Amy Sherald in her Studio fotosource: baltimoresun.com

I know, we were talking about Amy Sherald’s Portrait of Michelle Obama, but I also learned that she takes great care in choosing the clothes her subjects wear for their sittings.

Typically, Sherald …pairs her subjects with outfits carefully selected for a similar timeless feel, rendering them in comfortable stances against monochrome backgrounds, cut off at the knee, forthrightly regarding their Viewer.

Artnet News.

The Portrait, with the charming Name ‘Light is Easy to Love’,  in the Background of the photo above seems unfinished (a white picot edging was added to the collar). 

I couldn’t resist, because a cherry Pullover can sometimes be just the Thing for spring.

Fotosource: Ravelry

ClockWise from top left: Cherry on top Sweater by Sarah Kim, Paton UK’s Cherry Ripe (it IS the year of the Statement sleeve), Ryo’s Cherry Pullover (the little model on Ravelry is so cute), and Bestway’s Cherry Fair Isle Jumper (imagine it knit in that gorgeous deep blue with sky blue collar and waist trim).

 

 

Portraits and Pictures

Doreen St. Felix of the New Yorker breaks down why Amy Sherald’s Portrait of former First Lady Michelle Obama is so haunting.

 

There’s a funny thing about inspiration: While the Designer, Michelle Smith of Milly mentions to Vogue that her Inspiration was Mondrian,  Amy Sherald made the connection to the quilts of the women of Gee’s Bend.

Michelle Obama, Amy Sherald (r) unveil portrait at National Portrait Gallery
Michelle Obama and Amy Sherald unveil Portrait/ fotosource: Olivier Douliery INSTARimages.com

So although Folks are getting all upset because the portrait isn’t photo-realistic, it is clear that Obama and Sherald had a great working relationship, and she loved Sherald’s work. She likes how Sherald portrayed her for perpetuity. This is Art. It makes you stop and take a long hard look. And gets you thinking (why grey?), why this artist, why this dress, filling in the blanks, and what not.

It shook me how much Mrs. Obama looks like her younger daughter. But also how the negative space on the skirt suggests a heart (until it doesn’t). Sherald only paints 10 – 12 portraits a year, seeking out subjects who project a timeless quality. She hit it out of the ballpark.

Amy Sherald in Studio 2017
Amy Sherald in her Studio 2017 fotosource: baltimoresun.com

 

What say you?

Winter impressions

This weekend, we took a short drive into the Black Forest, to go walking in the snow. Below a certain point, we just haven’t had much snow to call it a proper winter this year. My neighbours’ buttercups are blooming! At around 1100m above sea-level, it was cold enough for me to try putting my fingerless gloves OVER my gloves. That worked a treat.

Sometimes it gets so cold, foggy, and windy that any cabin serving hot coffee, cocoa and cake (bottom letft) is a treat. No matter how run down!

Sports and Knitting

(Fotosource: ravelry.com)

 

Winter Games 2018 Cowl by Tanis Gray,

… because sometimes we want something sporty (ie in our country colours) but not too cheesy. I would definitely knit this up in black, red and Gold. This takes the fuss out of wondering what to knit. All about keeping it simple.

I just watched the Opening ceremony of the Winter Olympic Games in Pyeong-Chang at lunchtime, and it was quite lovely: a mix of Tradition and high-tech.

The most moving moments were when the Iranian athlete came in, almost in tears (She almost made me cry too!).  And the Nigerian Bobsled ladies  and a lone Kenyan Skier*(how cool are they? #BlackGirlMagic). I got a lump in my throat, when I saw the two Koreas entering together as one Team. The German commentators were also moved, because we remember when Germany was two states.

I absolutely love that countries that are not traditionally winter countries, are now participating in the Winter Games. It not only speaks to how Migration has been shaping our lives, but also to the magical effect of Sports (in particular Olympic sports) on countries big and small.

But about the knits:

 

OL2018_Germany
Olympic Team Uniform 2018 Pyeong-Chang /Source: teamdeutschland.de

 

 

I may be biased, but I thought the German team had the cutest hats. Red with cable diamonds and a pom pom. (One thing all Germans can agree on, is that there will ALWAYS be someone who doesn’t like the team uniform – I’m just glad they didn’t show up in some dark colours because it is supposed to be a party/ celebration of sports!)

The cutest scarves were worn by the Japanese team. Alternative headwear prize goes to Nigeria (because glitter headwraps). And the chicest outfit goes to Iran. And best non-knit outfit goes to Tonga (I hope he doesn’t catch cold). I’ll try to come back and post photos or screenshots when I can**.

So wherever you are, whomever you’re rooting for, have fun watching and knitting…

 

By the way, Tanis’ pattern is a free download from her site or Ravelry. I found out too late, that Ravellers are once again knitting, crocheting, ripping and Spinning along with the Games in their Ravellenics. I don’t think I have time for that this year… but it is good fun. This cowl would fit in the ‘Cowl Curling’ Event, and be even be eligible for a Colorwork Laurel Award.

 

*The Kenyan Skier, Sabrina Simader got a shout out from the German commentators  because she grew up in Austria, and often gets a helping Hand from the Austrian and German Teams.

via Daily Prompt: Simplify

**Updated to add Screenshots.

Permit yourself a knitting break

I can’t read everything on the Internet the instant it comes out. And sometimes it takes me months to get back around to casting a glance on well-loved knitting-related sites and magazines. What with kids, work, keeping up with the news, politics, and life, things get hectic.

And I thought this New Year totally needs to also be about not stressing oneself about the knitting. Hobby-stress is not cool.

Lee Ann Dalton wrote about how to get your knitting mojo back in Twist Collective a while back. She suggests starting with something small, or moving on to another needlecraft til that loving feeling comes back.

I say why not just relabel it a pause. A break. A chance to regroup.

That’s the tack I’m taking. I plan to finish certain Things; but I also want to start new challenges: I want to knit a friend of mine a set of hats for when she starts chemotherapy.

Fotosource: Ravelry.com

I’m particularly taken with these hat Patterns (ClockWise): Gudrun Johnston’s Isthmus, Sari Norlund’s Femte, and Fiona Ellis’ Rebe. Honourable mention to Margaret Miller’s Svartifoss, which is so beautiful, but I’m not ready for laceweight hats just yet.

Femte and Isthmus make me see, that I need to brush up on my provisional cast on.

Links:
2-Step Provisional Cast-On by Purl Soho
TECHknitting’s instructions with detailed illustration.

via Daily Prompt: Permit

Scifi and Avantgarde fashion

Comme des Garcons ss2018
Rei Kawakubo / Comme des Garcons SS2018

Looking at the work of Avantgarde Designers like Rei Kawakubo is a little bit like reading a science fiction book in one gulp. It’s not the same Thing as looking up what trend forecasters are saying or projecting for the next Season (or several Seasons in advance) – although that can be fun too.

My Book Club is looking at science fiction novels, and I had the distinct pleasure of reading prolific author Ray Bradbury’s ‘There will come Soft Rains‘ from “The Martian Chronicles” at our Christmas Party. It’s amazing how stories published in 1950s are still relevant and gripping today.

This month, we’re moving on from “Blade Runner” to Cixin Liu’s “The Three Body Problem.” It’s a challenge, to choose books for people who know nothing about science fiction and claim not to be interested in anything ‘Star Warsy’ (even though Star Wars is turning out to be more space opera/space fantasy than scifi, and that’s ok too).

Just as in science fiction, avantgarde fashion asks us ‘What if?’ In her Spring Summer Pret à Porter collection, I think Kawakubo is posing the question of what it would look like if we were to seriously recycle what we have, now that we are at peak stuff? Through the lense of clothes? One answer may very well be a profuse collage of textiles, colours and prints.

Which leads me to ask myself: what would it look like through the lense of knitting?

Knitting Superstar: Aspen Poole

Aspen Poole knitter

 

You can’t stifle kindness and creativity! I thought I’d share this story today.

Aspen Poole is a 19 year-old knitter at Vestal High School, who knits (at an amazing pace!) and crafts for charity. She learned to knit through touch at about age seven, as she was born blind.

Like many of us, she uses her knitting to stay focussed.

Several of Poole’s teachers, including her Participation in Government teacher, Brian Donlin, understand knitting helps Poole learn and allow her to knit in class.
Other teachers have also adapted to Poole’s unique way of focusing. She was cast as a townsperson who knits in “Beauty and the Beast” and will even knit onstage…
If she doesn’t need to use her hands or type on her BrailleNote, Poole keeps her hands busy by knitting.

 – USA Today

Yup, knitters come in all kinds of different packaging.

There are knitting and crochet books in Braille, and even Guidelines for transcribing Knitting and Crochet Patterns.

via Daily Prompt: Stifle

Long live stripes

I thought for sure, that stripes were over. I was pretty sure that stripes would settle back down in that corner where classics go to have a cocktail and catch their breaths, while Polka dots would have their Moment in the limelight. But there’s a saying in German:

“Totgesagte leben länger”

which basically means that there’s life in the old dog yet. And that means that I’m seeing those spots, alongside and stripes. But stripes of a different ilk.

Source: Vogue.com

Which makes me think of

Source: Ravelry.com

The Albers Pullover by Julia Farwell-Clay; Mitred Magic by Amy Polcyn; Liz Cardigan by Jesse Mozlan (a sweet pattern that’s currently free on Ravelry); and Bristol Ivy’s Arbus from her new book ‘Knitting Outside the Box.’

Spring/ Summer knitting

daniela gregis striped pullover 222018
Daniela Gregis ss2018 striped Pullover

 

Have you started your knitting for spring/ summer yet? Or are you still gathering Inspiration like me?

So far, the dominant trends seem to be pastels, especially lavender, brights and rainbows on the colour front.

Patterns: stripes, polka dots and florals. Silhouettes: easy-going forms alternate with statement sleeves.

photo source: Vogue.com

 

We still have a bit of time to flip through the glossies before we make up our minds and head out to the LYS.

Glamour Feb 2018 Tracee Ellis Ross in Jil Sander
Tracee Ellis Ross on the cover of February 2018 Glamour

Here’s how the Jil Sander two-piece looks on a real Person (well, although Tracee Ellis Ross is built like an amazon… Interesting that it’s styled with Jeans. Wouldn’t that be way too hot for summer?)

 

via Daily Prompt: Dominant