Heavenly knits

My last post ran a Little Long, so I decided to split it, and compile the knits I felt related to the Met Gala theme, “Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the catholic Imagination.”

 

photo source: Ravelry.com

Above is Audry Nicklin’s fabulous and accurate star map Celestarium Shawl, second row from left Ryan Hollist’s crocheted Sun Burst Shawl, Starry Nights by Sam Godden and Stephen West’s Outer Space.

And Outer Space got me thinking about space travel and then I ran into this

 

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Space Helmet by Shiri Mor

 

Space Helmet by Shiri Mor on the cover of knit.1 back in 2007 (No, really!)

And made me think of something I saw a week or two ago. Balaclavas.

 

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Fall 2018 Gucci / Vogue.com

 

Vogue and the The Guardian are saying that we’re going to be wearing balaclavas this coming winter. Really?

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Wedding knits

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So knits for weddings? Apparently it’s a Thing.

So, in honour of Ms. Meghan Markle’s wedding to HRH Henry Prince of Wales, I thought we’d take a look at wedding knits.

Handcrafted wedding Dresses have been around for as long as there has been handcrafting.

 

Shirley Paden’s Lace Dress and the crocheted Chrysanthemum Gown by Chi Krneta (on a slight side note: Shirley Paden is an amazing designer – a designer’s designer. And her book Knitwear Design Workshop is a true knitter’ resource).

These days there are also wedding veils, wedding shawls, capes, capelets, boleros and shrugs, wristlets and the list goes on. (To illustrate, I’ve chosen clockwise from top left: Nicole Markley’s I Thee Wed fingerless gloves, Carol Feller’s Summer Affair, Louise Fitzpatrick’s Summer Rose capelet and Alison Reilly’s Wedding Canopy Chuppah) Often done in fingering or laceweight yarns, these pieces can and do become hierlooms for the families lucky enough to have such a  dedicated crafter in their midst.

Technically, anyone can knit a wedding item: ‘all’ that is required is time, patience, ability to follow a pattern and willingness to frog to correct any errors.  Would you knit for your or a loved one’s wedding? Or have you?

I hope you enjoy the royal wedding. I know I will. I’m inviting friends over for a viewing with champagne and finger sandwiches! And maybe some knitting…

 

 

Met Gala: Heavenly Bodies

I look at the Met Gala fashions first and foremost because it’s fun. Tom and Lorenzo always has a great look-through at the Met Exhibition: “Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination” and the Gala guests. And because as Amanda Heath (née Hallay) of Ultimate Fashion History says, “Fashion is not an Island, it’s a Response.” So I was really curious to see what Fashion was responding to Society.

 

(photo source: Tomandlorenzo.com)

Now while the catholic church has given way to an amazing outpouring of creative Imagination in the arts, it cannot be ignored that the church was a suppressive force in the sciences at one Point: Galileo Galilei, anyone? I thought for sure that the Italian astronomer would get a sartorial clapback on the red carpet. A sequined ‘Eppur si muove‘ to send sharp-eyed watchers to search out the meaning (Galileo challenged the geocentric world view of the time, and proved that the sun is the actual centre of the solar System). Almost 360 years later, he was vindicated in 1992.

So honourable mention to Kim Kardashian on left, for coming as the sun (although she may not have been aware of the Galileo Affair)!

I thought the connections or controversies between Religion and science (in particular astronomy)  would have been right there, because there are so many  hot topics in Society these days. Further honourable mention to Zendaya Coleman for channelling Joan of Arc, a teen girl who was hearing voices (and possibly also hallucinating). Because in the age of #metoo, who doesn’t need to find their inner warrior maiden?

 

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Joan of Arc, 1879, Jules Bastien-Lepage (French, 1848–1884)
Oil on canvas; 100 x 110 in. (254 x 279.4 cm)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Funnily enough, my favourite depiction of Joan hangs at the Metropolitan in New York, it actually portrays her as a real person, getting on with her life as a country girl when her visions hit – you can see her discarded spinning wheel on the ground there as she gets overwhelmed by her visions. Carol at watchmepaint goes into the fascinating detail about the painter, the painting and his subject.

At this year’s Met Gala, most of what I saw was opulence as distraction from all the Things we as a Society are going through. That’s why I have to give props to Solange Knowles for bring that weirdly fabulous sci-fi creation that at first glance calls out to space travel, androids, and the like. Yet it’s not as farfetched as one might think…

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Solange Knowles in Iris van Herpen

This dress, by Dutch designer Iris van Herpen is actually called ‘Cathedral Dress’ and was constructed using 3-D printing techniques. It’s from a van Herpen Collection called Hybrid Holism and was inspired by:

“…Hylozoism, the ancient belief that all matter is in some sense alive. van Herpen is intrigued by … possibilities for a future of fashion that might take on quite unimaginable shapes.
Fashion that might be partly alive and growing, and, therefore, existing partly independent from us, which in turn allows for a new treatment by humans: instead of discarding the fashion after use, we cherish, value, and maintain it in its abilities to change constantly.”

-source: www.irisvanherpen.com

This look is therefore talking about the future of imagination and fashion. I sure hope we get there…

 

May – the merry month

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May Day Hat by Shannon Okey

 

I like this Shannon’s May Day hat because it captures what May is about for me. The green and the flowers. However, there’s a darker side to May Day, the first of May. In the night (technically still the 30th of April), Young protesters in the big cities will go out in the night and basically trash other people’s property.

Along the Rhine valley, young men will go off into the woods in the night to cut a birch tree, climb up to stick it into the chimney of the house where their Sweethearts live. Very dangerous, yes, but that seems to have been the point. (A nice knit cap would be handy to have in either case!)

Some towns and cities also put up Maypoles(Maibäume) to mark the start of May and the Mayfestival period (Did I not tell you Germans love a good party?)

Finished up: MoMA’s Fashion as Design

knit vest alternate materials
Moma – is Fashion modern?

 

It’s been a while since I finished the MoMA’s online course collaboration with Coursera, “Fashion as Design” which run more or less parallel to their Exhibition “Items: Is Fashion Modern.”

We looked at various items, we looked at production, inspirational heroes, silhouettes, lifecycles, modesty and expression. There were some tricky quizzes at the end of each week, but all in all, I managed to pull myself together to get it done.

I learned some new things about fashion in the late 19th and 20th centuries. But I won’t lie, it got a bit tedious at times, because I was constantly looking at the course material through the eyes of a knitter.

And there is no easy answer to the question, ‘Is fashion modern?’ because people are doing so many different things with the clothes that they put on their/our backs. Recycling, upcycling or even restyling garments of a bygone decade may feel less than modern, but the actual idea that this should be important to us is a fairly new one.

Or that making (and in particular knitting and crochet) is not old-fashioned or quaint, but a growing niche of forward-thinking activism (where supporting shepherds producing wool locally can help with anti-desertification around the world)…

 

Of note: Coursera blog’s conversation with Curator Paola Antonelli.

 

 

Woolfest haul

 

There were about 26 vendors at Wollandia, but it seemed like more.

Even though sock yarn (ie fingering weight) is extremely popular here in Germany, I now get the feeling that the new trend (on top of Hand dyed and naturally dyed yarns) is socks with glitter?

I told Sandra from Farbenpracht, that you just can’t have enough glitter in your life. There is no way I would want to hide that in shoes! She even suggested the lovely Moonrise shawl pattern from Olga Buraya-Kefelian.

I found my Ultraviolet (every time I look at these skeins, I feel it in my Ajna!): The skeins from Filzlinge were by far and away the most Vibrant colours on Show. I realized that the yarns are single handspun, but the colours are so gorgeous, I figured that the Internet would teach me how to make it work: Charles at Knitmuch’s tips for knitting with fuzzy yarn.

 

Honourable Mention:

Lütt Wollhus on Facebook

How to visit a woolfest

 

So, I went to my first fibre Festival this Weekend: Wollandia. And it was awesome. It was an intimate (less than 100 exhibitors) gathering of independent dyers, Spinners and purveyors of other sheep-related goodness.  It was Wollandia’s first time too, so we had that in common! The organizer Erica Carnevale did an amazing job.

 

If this is going to be a yearly event, then I can definitely recommend stopping by if you’re in the Pforzheim area (any good sat-nav will get you there). There were independent dyers (whose names I only know from Ravelry and browsing Etsy or its German pendant Dawanda). And of course it’s great to be able to take the yarn into your hands before buying.

Tips for visiting yarn festivals:

  • Wear layers
  • Wear walking shoes
  • Take a friend – or make friends there -complimenting dyers’ work, collecting cards and having a chat always goes down a treat.
  • Beforehand – look at the exhibitor list and develop a strategy.
    • Do a full circle and have a good look at everything before starting to buy. Unless you plan to visit a specific vendor.
    • plan for emergencies: Enough cash on hand? the location of the next closest cash machine may be good to know.
    • have a plan for how to actually use those speckled or otherwise multicoloured skeins of yarn. (Skeinyarn’s tips on knitting with variegated yarns; Dana at Yards of Happiness is my inspiration to get more colour in my knitting life)
    • What’s the minimum amount of yarn that I should purchase? if I don’t have a project in mind?
  • Have a budget – look up what things cost in real life, so that you can recognize a deal on equipment if you see one.
  • Plan some breaks: At German events like this, there is ALWAYS food – cakes, waffles, sandwiches, even Flammkuchen.

Interweave’s Tips on how to shop at Yarn and Wool festivals.

A Few Quick Updates

Black Panther film

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Walt Disney Pictures, Marvel Entertainment

 

 

 

 

I love to give credit where it is due. The designer of Nakia’s Shawl in the Black Panther film has been identified (after a concerted group effort), and has released a FREE pattern on Ravelry. So knitters of Ravelry, well done. And well done Jeff Gillies.

 

 

My knitting:

I’ve had to pause and restart some knitting. Since I last talked about my own knitting, I’ve picked up stitches on my Slow Knitting hat Sheep Sorrel by Pam Allen. I’ve also cast on for my Twisted Stirrup Socks and I visited my first wool festival.

Hope all is well in your world,

M

Reverse Engineering Film Knits

One reason I cherish the day I stumbled upon Ravelry, is the community. Thousands of people who love handcrafts just like me. A place where it’s ok to geek out about yarn or the knits seen in a film.

Knitters actually left the movie theaters after watching Black Panther and got on Ravelry to find out more about that knit shawl/wrap.

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Some knitters were wondering about the yarns used, while others wanted to know about the designer, if there is an official pattern out, and still others just want a good look at the piece, to see if they can reconstruct it.

So threads popped up on Ravelry, and sure enough fellow knitters posted pictures of the shawl within days. The shawl is on show in Los Angeles.

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There’s been an impressive amount of detective work going on,

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Screenshot Ravelry.com
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Screenshot Ravelry.com

 

While some are waiting patiently, there is a very subtle convo taking place where folks want to make this piece but have to refrain from Reverse engineering it too closely or putting out patterns using the names of Black Panther or its characters, which are of course protected by Marvel copyright. No one wants to get caught in that trap!

What has impressed me though, is a new group that has popped up on Ravelry, which seeks to inspire knitters to take the Black Panther knit as creative inspiration.

 

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Screenshot Ravelry.com

That to me embodies the spirit of afrofuturism, where such a small thing like a handknit shawl in a movie can inspire the ongoing creativity of so many knitters and crocheters around the world.

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