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Posts Tagged ‘knitting’

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Photo: Associated Press
If it’s a heavy metal knitting competition, it has to be Finland. Finland has the world’s most unusual contests.

I love stories about the unique contests the Finns come up with. Remember cellphone tossing, swamp soccer, and wife throwing? So glad the Huffington Post shared this July report from the Associated Press.

“Armed with needles and a yarn of wool, teams of avid knitters danced Thursday to the deafening sounds of drums beating and guitars slashing at the first-ever Heavy Metal Knitting World Championship in eastern Finland.

“With stage names such as Woolfumes, Bunny Bandit and 9″ Needles, the participants shared a simple goal: to showcase their knitting skills while dancing to heavy metal music in the most outlandish way possible. …

“The competition took place in a packed square in the small town of Joensuu close to the Russian border. An eclectic group of around 200 people watched the performances, from families with young children and elderly to the less conspicuous heavy metal fans donning leather-jackets and swirling their long hair to the fast-paced rhythm of the music.

“A niche musical genre in many countries, heavy metal is more mainstream in Finland, with several bands household names frequently played on the radio. Its popularity grew further in 2006 when the Finnish band Lordi won the Eurovision Song Contest dressed as monsters. …

” ‘In Finland it’s very dark in the wintertime, so maybe it’s in our roots. We’re a bit melancholic, like the rhythm,’ said Mark Pyykkonen, one of three people judging the competition. …

“Said Mari Karjalainen, one of the founders of the event, ‘[Winter] really gives us lots of time to plan for our short summers and come up with silly ideas.’

“Thursday’s competition saw participants from nine countries, including the United States, Japan, and Russia, put on inspired performances full of theatrics, passion and drama and the jury struggled to agree upon a winner.

“Finally, it was a Japanese performance by the five-person Giga Body Metal team that clinched the title with a show featuring crazy sumo wrestlers and a man dressed in a traditional Japanese kimono.

“ ‘It’s a great release,’ said Elise Schut, a 35-year-old nurse from Michigan who performed with her 71-year-old mother and 64-year-old family friend, Beth Everson, who added that ‘knitting is such a meditative activity but now it’s energetic and heart pumping.’ ”

More.

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16scarf-jumbo

Photo: Sara Weber
On the scarf that German citizen Claudia Weber knitted to record her train commute, gray represents within five minutes of the timetable, pink within half an hour; red means a severe delay. She sold the scarf on eBay to raise money for a German train charity.

I was a train commuter for many years, and although there were often delays, they weren’t usually as horrendous as those in the winter of 2015, when you could wait two hours on an outdoor platform for a train that was supposed to be close at hand.

Last year’s delays on a train route in Germany led to an enterprise I never would have thought of. It not only gave a commuter an outlet for her frustration, it ended up raising money for a good cause.

Palko Karasz has the story at the New York Times. “Claudia Weber is a seasoned commuter, and she loves to knit. Over the past year, as her train journey from a town in the Bavarian countryside to Munich was replaced with a bus service during track repairs, stretching to two hours or more from a scheduled 40 minutes, she had a novel way of working out her frustrations. …

“When she got home each evening, she simply added two rows of wool to a striped scarf she was knitting: gray for delays under five minutes, pink for up to 30 minutes and red for a delay of more than a half-hour or delays in both directions.

“The resulting four-foot ‘Bahn-Verspätungsschal,’ or ‘rail delay scarf,’ has become something of a social-media sensation. Put on eBay to raise money for a Germany charity that provides free assistance to people at train stations, it sold [in January] for 7,550 euros, or about $8,650, to an undisclosed buyer. …

“Ms. Weber, 55, an office clerk at a travel agency, said in a phone interview, … ‘I understand the problems they’re having. There’s more and more commuters every year, but on the other hand I spend a lot of time waiting.’

“Her daily journeys take her between Munich and her home in Moosburg, northeast of the city, along the Isar River. …

“The scarf resonated with a lot of commuters in Germany and around the world, who live with the frustration of daily delays. After Ms. Weber’s daughter Sara, a journalist in Munich, posted a picture of the scarf on Twitter, it soon drew 23,000 likes and nearly 400 comments, as well as interview requests from local and international news media. …

” ‘It has become somewhat of an urban myth that Germans are always on time and trains in Germany run on time, but it’s not always true,’ [Sara Weber] said, reflecting on why the post resonated with so many people. … Experts have been warning for years about aging infrastructure in Germany, and delays and cost overruns in giant projects have hurt the country’s reputation of efficiency. …

“For her part, Claudia Weber has taken the Munich-Moosburg train for 25 years and has no intention of stopping. She considered driving, she said, but calculated that it would save her neither time nor money.

“ ‘I know I was complaining, but I’m still grateful I have that service,’ she added.”

That’s exactly how I felt about my commuter train. It was invariably better than the alternatives.

More at the New York Times, here.

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Photo: NRK2
Need to calm down? There’s always “National Knitting Night” on “Slow TV” in Norway. How about the 7-hour train ride video or the 134-hour cruise? If you prefer, you can watch a video of salmon leaping endlessly or hours of logs burning.

Is the speed of modern life getting to be too much for you? Consider slowing the pace, maybe watching Norway’s soothing “Slow TV” for a few hours.

According to Seth Doane at CBS, “It’s television’s version of taking a deep breath … a very long, very slow, deep breath. It’s called ‘Slow TV,’ and it’s a surprising smash-hit in Norway.

“It began with the broadcast of a train journey from the coastal city of Bergen to the capital, Oslo. The formula was simple: put a few cameras on a train and watch the scenery go by — for seven hours. Rune Moklebust and Thomas Hellum are the brains behind the whole thing.

” ‘Did you know where this journey would lead, how successful it would be?’ asked Doane.

” ‘No idea at all,’ said Moklebust. ‘It’s normally one of those ideas you get late night after a couple of beers in the bar, and when you wake up the next day, Ahh, it’s not a good idea after all.’

“But much to their surprise, there was a green light from their bosses at Norway’s public broadcaster NRK2. …

“About a quarter of all Norwegians tuned in to watch some part of that train trip. … Since the train, in 2009, they’ve experimented with other slow ideas, and folks at all levels have taken notice. …

“A ‘National Knitting Night’ started, of course, with shearing the sheep; knitting the sweater came much later in the 13-hour broadcast. The shows, Doane noted, ‘get slower, and slower, and slower.’ …

The show titled ‘Salmon Swimming Upstream’ ran 18 hours — and afterward, the head of the station said it felt ‘too short.’ …

“Rune Moklebust thinks one image sums up their approach: ‘Once we passed a cow on one of our journeys, and we put a camera on it. And the camera just kept rolling, and we didn’t cut away. And then you keep it, and you keep it, and then you keep it, and then, suddenly a story evolves: What is this cow doing? Why is it walking there? Where is it heading? Why is the cow alone? So suddenly, there comes a story out of it, and you have to see what happens.’ ”

More at CBS, here. Check out the photos. I liked the one of cows watching a girl knitting in a field.

Hat tip: John sent the link to the story on CBS.

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Years ago, there was a nose-warmer knitting fad at Bryn Mawr College (even before my time, so you can imagine). Students knitted nose warmers for themselves, their relatives, their friends. They put nose warmers on statues of goddesses around the campus.

The one my mother bought me at a fund-raiser looked silly, and the fad died out.

Now medical science could bring the nose warmer back.

Adam Wernick writes at Public Radio International, “As it turns out, your immune system turns sluggish in the cold, and the cold virus grows better in the slightly chillier environment of your nose than at the body’s normal core temperature. That’s the conclusion of a mouse study published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“ ‘The optimal temperature for the cold virus to replicate is around 33 degrees Celsius (91.4 degrees Fahrenheit), which is found in the nose of most people living in normal conditions,’ says Akiko Iwasaki, a professor of immunology at Yale University and one of the authors on the paper.

“As temperatures drop outside, humans breathe in colder air that chills their upper airways just enough to allow cold viruses to flourish, says Ellen Foxman, Iwasaki’s colleague. The recent study suggests that if you can keep your nose warmer, the virus won’t replicate as easily.”

Ah-HA!

Read all about it here,. The story was based on a PRI Science Friday interview with Ira Flatow.

Photo: Aunty Marty Made It (on Etsy)

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I do love creative stealth projects. This one is not quite stealth because, although the perpetrators act under cover of darkness, they are known — and willing to be interviewed.

Taryn Plumb writes for the Boston Globe about graffiti artists with knitting needles in Ashland, Mass. “Armed with clews of yarn, they transformed a series of utilitarian light posts into colorful, whimsical, eye-luring structures.

“It’s called ‘yarn bombing,’ ‘guerrilla knitting,’ or ‘graffiti knitting’ — wrapping and otherwise decorating everyday structures with yarn under the cover of night. …

“It is a worldwide movement — the first international ‘yarn bombing day’ was observed on June 11, 2011 — that has emerged in the last decade, with elaborate designs hitting bicycles, statues, trees, steps, parking meters, phone booths, and subway interiors, filling potholes, and even draping entire buses and military tanks in various countries.

“In its local application, though, Ashland Creative wasn’t completely rogue. Organizer Andrea Green sought approval from selectmen.”

Plumb explains that the group’s main motive is to help reenergize the downtown as other local community-building initiatives are doing.

“And the response? Curiosity from both adults and kids, the latter of which have named their favorites and been more than happy to explore their texture.

“ ‘People have just been delighted to see the way ordinary functional objects have been transformed into fun, interesting works of art,’ said Green …

“ ‘People often have the perception that art has to be seen in museums,’ Green said, ‘but amateur artists can create it, and it can still entertain.’ ”

More.

Update 2/10/14: Got to add another great yarn-bombing story here, courtesy of Mary Ann.

Photo: Ashland Creative
Ulie Nardone participated in Ashland’s recent Wrap-It Up Art Project.

Update: Beagling sends along this version of yarn bombing.

Photo at the NY Times: Olek
“Charging Bull,” near Wall Street, was covered in crochet by artist Olek in December 2010.

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I like stories about people who want to help others and then do it by sharing whatever skill they have.

Mary Wiltenburg writes in the Christian Science Monitor about a woman who conveys her love of knitting to men in prison. It took persistence to make it happen.

“The first warden Lynn Zwerling approached with her idea recoiled as if she might bite. The second wouldn’t meet with her. The third claimed to love the idea, then fell out of touch. Outrageous, said the fourth.

“The fifth, Margaret Chippendale, at a minimum-security men’s prison outside Baltimore, didn’t have much hope for Ms. Zwerling’s plan either.

” ‘She brought the program to me and told me: “Your inmates will get hooked. It will relax them, empower them,” ‘ remembers Ms. Chippendale, a 40-year veteran of Maryland’s Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services. ‘And my gut reaction is: “Lynn, I’m always looking for ways to do that, but I’m not sure I’m going to get a bunch of big, macho guys to sit around a table and knit.” ‘ …

“Now, nearly three years later, 254 felons have passed through the Knitting Behind Bars program. Its annual budget is $350, which Zwerling and fellow volunteers raise selling yarn-ball necklaces at the annual Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival. Other donations come through Ravelry.com, a social network for knitters. …

“Adam Hoover is working on an electric blue-and-black striped hat, a fresh pirate skeleton tattoo still raw on his pale forearm.

“The idea that participants give many of the knitted hats they make to local elementary school students appealed to Mr. Hoover. ‘I know how it feels to be out there in the winter sometimes,’ he says. …

“Hoover and [inmate] Harris say the group is a place where they can relax and let their guard down. As they say this, the group falls silent while a red-faced young man with a spider-web tattoo on his neck tells Zwerling about his little brother’s troubles in foster care.

“Nowhere else in the prison do guys share their personal struggles like this, whispers Hoover. ‘I think the ladies bring it out of you,’ says James Russell, working on a pale blue hat beside Hoover. ‘They just have an ease, like you can talk to them about anything. Like a mother would do.’ ”

Read more.

Photograph: Joanne Ciccarello/Christian Science Monitor
Lynn Zwerling, cofounder of Knitting Behind Bars, sits in front of the Jessup Pre-Release Unit in Jessup, Md., where she teaches inmates to knit.

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