Really DIGGING This Archaeology Knit Fest *wink wink

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The British Museum Group with their knitted archaeology.

The British Museum Group with their knitted archaeology.

As with everything in life, if you want to be good at something it all boils down to time and practise. Although our group has made some pretty unique things, when we first started learning we relied on books and hours of Youtube video tutorials to get us through all the stitch types out there. And while it’s no dirty little secret that newbies need patterns to read, one group of knitters have found some pretty original sources for their crochet pieces: the British Museum collection!

Drawing from thousands of years and spanning every region of the globe, a group of museum ladies are replicating certain pieces and archaeology themes as part of an archaeology festival. Launched by The Council for British Archaeology (CBA) the Festival of Archaeology offers over 1,000 events across England and Wales to encourage families to “get hands on with history”. Some pieces purled from the past include a “sewn henge”, a Sutton Hoo tea cozy, and Roman soldier – all available to see through the event Pinterest page.

British Museum Sock

From the British Museums collection, the left foot wool sock of a child found in Antinoupolis and dating from the Late Antique Roman Period (200-400).

Competing to find the best knitted archaeological item isn’t limited to just the British Museum Group though. The event is open to the general public who can move through the museums digitized collection, replicate their favourite items from history, and enter for a chance to win some museumy prizes including: books, knit packs, and memberships.

I’m looking forward to seeing who is crowned the winner and which historical moment is captured in yarn.
The festival  runs from  July 13-28 so there is still time for all your speed demons out there interested in joining.

New Kids on the Block

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distillery show

Local Torontonians are probably familiar with the cities Distillery District, a national Historic Site where
the Gooderham and Worts Distillery once operated and where you can find the largest and best preserved
collection of Victorian Industrial Architecture in North America.

This part of town drew a different kind of crowd last weekend when Street Art Showcase took over for their inaugural Urban Art Festival. The entire day was dedicated to graffiti artists, painters, stencilled and of course YARN BOMBING!

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Bissell volunteers wrapping up the street lamps with some crochet cozies.

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All set and waiting for the show to start!

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Our first group of visitors adding their mark to the street with chalk drawings.

The group had been approached a few months ago to think up some ideas for the space. The culturally preserved buildings and cobbled streets make the area such a beautiful place to stroll, not to mention the cute cafes and unique shops around every corner. The group was absolutely thrilled to be a part of the event, especially since it gave us the much needed kick in the pants to really get out there and display something outdoors. earlier in our groups career we had been a bit hesitant to really get out on the streets since the summer had already experienced some pretty big weather mood swings (and our worries were before #stormTO had happened! Eep!) Members dedicate a lot of time and love into producing pieces, and a teeny-tiny selfish part of us want the works to stay clean and colourful for as long as possible. Bleached, and soaked through yarn tends to look a little drab, the opposite of how we want people to feel when they stumble across the yarn bombs.

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Although the morning was a bit cloudy, it was incredible to hear and see the reactions from those passing by.
Once we had all the lamp posts, barrels and even the clock covered with our crochet interventions,
it was time to pop on stage for a little demo.

Throughout the festival, artists working in different mediums were invited to show off their skills and produce a
brand new piece in front of a live audience. Since the Bissell Bombers are all about community and collaboration we
decided to get the audience to help us make even more yarn bombs to decorate the district. Armed with a much yarn in
as many colour imaginable, visitors of all ages got on stage with our Bissell leader and learned how they could make
some fuzzy Pom Poms. Even the event’s MC got in on the action and found himself with a
pure crochet flower festooning his hat!

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The live stage demo was so amazing to run, and seeing families and couples wanting to learn a new craft and ask
questions about yarn bombing was really inspiring. All the Bissell members and installation volunteers could really
feel all the love that went into planning the first ever urban art feat for the district, and were so honoured to have
been able to share what we do. It was such a great day and we owe a lot of thanks to those who organized
the festival and those came out to celebrate local arts and crafts!

Yarnbombing is for everyone

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Warhol bridge

It’s been quite the week for large projects to be revealed.
Moving from Mammoths to modern artists, we have the eventual covering of
the Andy Warhol bridge in Pittsburgh!

Mark your calendars folks, because between August 10 to September 7th you’ll be able to see
the softer  side of city infrastructure when the group Knit The Bridge drapes their
community donated designs over this well known bridge.

And why are they doing this?

To celebrate the history of Pittsburgh as a city of bridges and steel as well
as celebrate the region’s thriving, contemporary
 arts scene. As accessible craft forms,
these community-engaged fiberart traditions will knit
 together strong, healthy, creative communities.

And also, because why the frak not?!
This is gonna look soooo cool!

I’m really stoked for this because collaborative projects between citizens and their
city are awesome reminders of how the world craves creativity.

It’s also gonna be massive.
Like really big.
Big, big.

Now this isn’t the first time that a group of people have helped transform the
steel and concrete connecting two piece of land. Back in 2010 my dear ol’
neighbour Cambridge, Ontario had some work done by KNIT CamBRIDGE (*tee hee cute pun guys)
They actually did the entire main street leading to the bridge as well.

Makes sense since the
city used to be a major textile production hub.

bridge

And peoples love of doing things with bridges goes well beyond North America.
Germany has done it.
France has done it.
And the UK went all out during the Queen’s Diamon Jubilee.

This Pittsburgh project will be the largest of them all however, and that
means some creativity beyond the balls of wool. They’ve got some
neat little incentives to drive charitable giving, and a whole Indigogo campaign.
Anyone interested in lending a hand, either through donations, physical labour, or
fundraising for the project should be sure to check out their website.

Even though the work will only be up for a short period of time,
the group has made it pretty clear that once the pieces come down, they
will be washed and repurposed for a whole host of charitable organizations
including homeless shelters, nursing homes and animal shelters.

That sounds like a win-win-win-win to me! :)

Grad Life Part Two: The Employment

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It’s only been a few weeks since convocation, but already there have been a few big updates
from the class of ’13 making their way to Bissell Bomber ears.
SOME OF US HAVE BEEN EMPLOYED! And in the museum world no less!
This is pretty huge.
So a round of applause goes to all those persistent project managers, and
encouraged exhibition designers.Also happening in this wonderful overlap between yarnbombing and museums,
a recent MMsT grad let us know about some awesome corchet projects
happening that in her new home town.The Cincinnati Museum Centre
(which is now hosting the Ultimate Dino exhibition the ROM had available last summer)
has partnered up with the Cincinnati Bombshells to create a cozy display… with MAMMOTHS!
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Called Operation Prehistoric: First in Flight, the group took over the sculptural herd found on Gest street.
I might not have been a huge fan of Disney’s Dumbo, but even I think the little dude
with the big floppy ears and yellow hat is beyond adorable. The mini-monkey was a sweet touch too.
This is not the first time these ladies have worked with museums, back in 2012 they did an
amazing installation for Truly Newly (fiber) Chihuly for the Cincinnati Art Museum’s Great Hall.
It’s pretty incredible to see what they have been doing, and I’m glad they continue to be supported
by their community and cultural hubs.
Can’t wait to see what else they have in store for the year!
dumbo
For a full interview with these craft ladies, be sure to check out their The List Show interview with Jenell Walton.

You’ll be Humming to Vitamin C All Day Long

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Convocation walk

Well folks, it’s finally here. Two years full of countless papers, group meetings and
exhibitions later – the iSchool class of 2011/13 is going to get their convocation on today!

As one of our beloved instructors would say, “Woot! Woot!”

This also means I get to listen to this little ditty and feel all nostalgic and such.

But fear not! Just because the Bissell Bombers will no longer be attending classes in the Bissell Building
and many of us will be traveling all over the world in search of paying museum jobs *hint hint
(or amazing opportunity-filled internships *wink wink) doesn’t mean the group will have
disbanded – or I guess in knit pun terms unraveled ha…ha….ha…

Currently we’ve been setting up to do a nice street side installation for July
(mystery location to be revealed soon), and this Saturday visitors at the Museum of Inuit Art can
check out some cozified podiums as part of the MIA’s Worldwide Knit in Public Day (WWKiP)
programming. We’ve also installed some of our bright and colourful pieces in a
special public exhibition case designed to showcase the talented knit creations
community members have created.

So as iSchool faculty and students gather at University College this afternoon, patting one another
on the back in congratulations (or fist pumping if you’re bros) I too want to extend an
enormous “WE DID IT!” to fellow classmates and instructors.

There were so many people who went above and beyond their defined roles and responsibilities.
Countless time I’ve stepped back  in order to reflect on what the heck has been accomplished
in such a relatively short period of time, and it blows me away everytime.

Never in a million years would I have thought that so many people would be interested
in the dorky things I write about let alone ask to be a part of it. And none of this would have been
possible without the continuous encouragement from those around me.

So a heartfelt, Thank for supporting my crazy ramblings and bizarre projects!
I sincerely couldn’t have done it without you!

Crochet graduation cap.

World Domination! (or at the very least ‘Street level Shenanigans’)

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Before becoming obsessed with the quirky world of yarnbombing, most members
of the group had dabbled in other kinds of crafts and hobbies.

Some sketched, other painted, a few even made their own clothes.

So when I came across Keri Smith‘s book called ‘The Guerilla Art Kit‘ I knew it would
have something for each of us.

After realizing how much of the world was going unnoticed as people tried to block out
the overwhelming advertising and mass media surrounding people on a  daily
basis, Keri compiled a series of activities geared at getting you to take a long
hard stare in the spaces you inhabit.

The activities range across material types and skill levels but before even opening the cover
I decided that I was going to make allllllll of them.

I’m currently experiencing an art-high and actually took a pause in writing
this incredibly short blog in order to jot down some
of my own ideas that have a knitted twist.

Now that the school term is winding down for a lot of people, and we’re supposedly
going to get some warm sun in this city any day now, there should be lots of
opportunities to really get out there and enjoy those public
spaces that – ya know are supposed to be for the public.

Bawdy Works

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Crochet skeleton
Brains! Brains! BRAAAIIIINSSS!
(is what everyone was wishing I had more of this past week)

Whoa! One simple little cold has really set me back.
Here’s a fun health fact!
Did you know the makers of Neocitran are under investigation for not passing inspections?
Know when I found that out? While plowing through a box and trying to buy some more
at the good ol’ local pharmaceutical supply store. GREAT TIMING!

But I digress.
If being sick has taught me anything, it’s never touch anything on the subway. EVER!
And also, that friends are wonderful people who send you wonderful things like this little skeleton.

To keep me from freaking out about all the potential toxins I had ingested on my
misguided journey back to Healthy-Immune-System Land, a friend told me about Shanell Papp.

Back in 2005 she created the above pictured crochet skeleton as part of an examination
of her own health and mortality. The 6 month long Frankenstein project has since toured
around the country quite a few times, including a stop at Toronto’s 2009 City of Craft.
Hurray T.Dot! *clap clap clap*

Now she’s putting together a book project, but is looking for some funding.
If you feel like contributing to the publishing industry, or just curious to see
what kind of “something eyeball shaped” crochet reward you’ll be sent,
you should check out her Indiegogo a nownow.

And remember to always wash those hands folks!