Antartica in Hobart

Marion Wheatland emailed us:
Hi everyone!

I have just returned from Hobart and the opening of the Mawson’s Huts replica museum. What a great experience, to be there for the opening and to rub shoulders with more Antarctic people. As you know, my other passion is Antarctica, the first being wool/fibre/spinning and what a joy it is to be able to combine both of these things while doing something historical and important for others. 

Without hesitation, Louise Whittaker from Coles supermarket, Sandy Bay saw the value of my project and made a generous donation of 6 broccoli boxes full of crushed ice for me to spin on. I made it last as long as I could from 8:30 am till 1:30 pm. It caused quite a stir – people kept coming up and being surprised that it was real snow instead of replica snow.
Carolyn’s little felted penguin also made an impression, as did the husky fibre I turned into yarn (which will return to the hut as a garment: perhaps a moebius scarf.
So now I am the only person in the world to spin yarn at Mawson’s Hut in Antarctica and at the replica hut in Hobart. Waiting for me when I returned home was a quick, hand written congratulations from the Governor-General. Wow.

Silkworms Fed Dyed Mulberry Leaves To Produce Coloured Silk

Fact: Snails fed coloured paper will poop coloured squiggles. Now, silkworms are getting in on the technicolor action: a recent report shows that, after eating mulberry leaves treated with fabric dye, regular larvae will produce fairy-floss-tinted fibres. They’re like biological 3D printers for producing coloured silk.
The findings, published in the ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering journal, point to an effort to find a more sustainable solution to traditional dyeing methods.
Generally, these require lots and lots of water that, in the end, becomes a chemically contaminated toxic hazard, but applying the pigment before consumption requires way less H2O. Out of seven azo dyes tried, Direct Acid fast red gave the most brilliant result — strong enough to give the wiggly little thangs themselves a rosy blush.
It’s pretty crazy to think of silkworm farms turned into terrestrial rainbows, with both coloured leaves (before) and coloured cocoons (after). Perhaps, with enough training, these little living looms can simply weave coloured scarves and clothing for you.

Silkworms Fed Dyed Mulberry Leaves To Produce Coloured SilkGizmodo

Crafting Christmas

As craftswomen and men we are in the unique position of being able to create original and unique items. If you are like me, you have probably inundated your family and friends with all manner of handmade gifts over the years. If you are looking for new victims you might like to think about organisations both here and abroad that welcome handmade items either as donations for people who need clothing or toys or as items for fund raising.

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October Guest Speaker: Flora Friedmann

A few years ago Flora read Jed Pearl’s article The Artesinal Urge in American Craft and found the suitable name for her fibre affliction. She has had the desire/need/drive to make things since she was a little girl. The magic of art is in the making.
What is a basket? – a container, woven, with a handle and/or lid. They were utilitarian but recently basketry has changed. Ancient techniques are used with non traditional materials like plastic bags. Some baskets are purely sculptural pieces. Baskets can start with vine, cane, leaves to make a 3 dimensional shape. No two will be the same unlike mass produced merchandise. Uniqueness creates anxiety in some people. Creative spirits cannot make a mark on the world unless they have made a mark on their materials. It has taken a while for basketry to be accepted as Art and to loose the occupational therapy and utilitarian flavour.

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Norway broadcaster NRK to show 12 hours of knitting, sheep-shearing in ‘slow TV’ broadcast

Hoping to take slow TV to a new level, Norway’s public broadcaster will air 12 hours of knitting from Friday night, complete with needle tips and a how-to on knitting a cover for a Harley Davidson motorbike.
Broadcaster NRK, a veteran in quirky programming, will also feature an attempt to break a world sheep-shearing record currently held by an Australian shearing group…

…Then from midnight, a team of eight will attempt to break the world record for shearing a sheep and making a sweater from its wool.
The current record for the back to back challenge — from the back of a sheep to the back of a person – stands at four hours and 51 minutes, held by the Merriwa Jumbucks from New South Wales.

Norway broadcaster NRK to show 12 hours of knitting, sheep-shearing in ‘slow TV’ broadcastABC News

‘Noisy’ Cramlington library knitters no longer welcome

A knitting group said it was no longer allowed to meet at a library because its needles are “dangerous” and its members are too noisy.
The Knit ‘n’ Natter group met at the library in Cramlington, Northumberland once a week to knit replica anatomical parts for training NHS midwives.
But now the library has moved and the knitters said Northumberland County Council had barred them.
The council said there was not enough room for the large group.
But a spokesman said the women were still welcome if they split into smaller groups.
Since the group began three years ago its 20 to 30 members have knitted thousands of garments for premature and sick babies.
They have also made 1,500 pairs of knitted breasts and are currently knitting wombs for midwives.

‘Noisy’ Cramlington library knitters no longer welcomeBBC News

Bringing an ancient craft into a modern context

An exhibition of 13 felt artists will be on show in the FCA Gallery from 14 August to 12 September 2013. Curated by Anita Larkin, the exhibition explores how felt can be used as an insulation material, allowing the transference or interference, of objects, materials, sound, warmth and of spirit.

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There’s a maximum-security prison in Brazil where male inmates are expert knitters

Brazil’s Arisvaldo de Campos Pires is like any other maximum security penitentiary — inmates’ crimes range from armed robbery to murder, and armed guards patrol almost every inch of the prison. Except there’s one small quirk: many of the facility’s prisoners are becoming professional knitters.
As part of a prison-wide program called the Lotus Flower project, inmates are crocheting high-end clothing in exchange for a modest salary and — the real kicker — reduced prison sentences. The program, which began in 2009 after Brazilian fashion designer Raquel Guimaraes realized she was going to need help scaling up to meet demand for her Doiselles brand, has been wildly successful; over 100 inmates have now participated. And unlikely as it may seem, it’s been a male-only affair. While Guimaraes originally approached the penitentiary with a proposal to train female prisoners to produce clothing, they decided to work the men instead.
The incentives are so good that inmates aren’t merely willing, but are eager to start knitting. For every three days spent knitting, male inmates earn a full-day reduction in their sentences. And they get paid a salary — albeit a modest one — too: the workers earn 75% of minimum wage, a quarter of which is put aside and handed over upon their release.

There’s a maximum-security prison in Brazil where male inmates are expert knittersQuartz

Nanny and Ewe Camp

This camp aims to provide information and create inspiration.
A fully catered, accommodation included, fibre related get-away weekend, where you can retreat, relax, learn, share and re-charge.
The camp will offer informative and interesting workshops. You can attend one, all or none of them it’s up to you! Maybe you just want to relax, spin, knit or crochet, have a chat with a new friend and just get away for a while… sounds blissful.
Friday night
There will be a Fibre bazaar on Friday night starting 5 pm followed by dinner and the introduction by tutors. Workshops run on Saturday morning and afternoon and Sunday morning:

  • Crochet scrumbling with Kaye Adolphson
  • Sock knitting with Bernadette Marriner
  • Spinning Worsted and Woolen with Carmel Hannah
  • Leaf Litter dyeing with Heather Dunn

Saturday night
What colour is you! will be a chat about the colours that suit you best and how to get more compliments – with Janet and Mandie. Bring your finished items and share the hows and whys of your creative work.
At Sunday Lunch we will thank the tutors, and give hugs and kisses goodbye. Tissues will be provided.
When: 27-29 September
Where: Mt Morton Camp and Conference Centre, Belgrave
Cost: $380, all inclusive

Dress to kill in this synthetic spider silk outfit

Spider silk is about four or five times stronger than steel, but it is remarkably lightweight. So, what would it feel like to walk around in a suit woven of the stuff?
Spiber, a startup in northern Japan, is showing off a dress made from synthetic spider silk. The firm is one of several groups looking into how to make and use artificial spider silk, a task that has proven to be very challenging for scientists.
The electric-blue dress was created from a material Spiber calls Qmonos (from kumonosu, or spider web, in Japanese). The material is extremely strong and more flexible than nylon.
The high-collared cocktail dress, on display at the Roppongi Hills complex in Tokyo, was created to demonstrate the technology behind Qmonos.
The territorial nature of spiders makes them difficult to farm like silkworms. So instead, Spiber developed a technology that uses synthesized genes and coaxes bacteria to produce fibroin, the structural protein in spider silk. Spiber then uses technology it developed to culture the microbes efficiently and weave the fibroin into fabric.
Apart from clothing, Qmonos could potentially be be used to make film, gels, sponges, artificial blood vessels, and nanofibers.

Dress to kill in this synthetic spider silk outfitc|net