Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Textile Museum of Canada

Yesterday, Elaine, Maureen (Mo) and I went into The Big City to see the Orenburg shawl exhibit at the Textile Museum of Canada at 55 Center St. - one block east on Dundas St. from University Ave.

There were several large woven pieces by Lia Cook. She uses an electronic Jacquard hand loom to weave faces that dissolve into continuously changing maze-like patterns.

Close up, it really does look like a series of mazes. I thought it looked a lot like mosaic knitting.

David R. Harper embroiders on animal skins. This life size horse is constructed of polyurethane, cow hide, embroidery floss, ceramic epoxy, glass, synthetic hair and nylon. It is called "The Last to Win".

"The Gathering" is also his work.

There were also these one and a half life-sized sculptures by Stephen Schofield.

Living in Canada, I can identify with this sentiment. (But I still believe there IS bad weather).

First, we saw a couple of Orenburg shawls that were knit fairly recently.
They weren't displayed very well. They were in a glass case. They were knit by Olga Alexandrovna Fedorova (1935 - 2008) probably in the 1980s.
She belonged to a cooperative that at various times employed between 2,000 and 10,000 knitters who produced 1,000,000 shawls a year, either knitted by hand or on Jacquard looms.

This particular Orenburg shawl below is possibly the oldest known to be in existence and dates from the late 19th or early 20th century. These shawls are knit from cobweb weight 2-ply Orenburg goat down yarn. This particular species of goat is only found in this region in southern Russia. The yarn is very similar to cashmere. Orenburg is a region just south of the Ural Mountains in Russia. Women of this region usually had two shawls: an everyday one (often spun with silk for strength) and the other for holidays.
There is also a small display about knitting with a couple of pairs of hand-knitted socks dating from 1947,
an example of intarsia knitting
and a sample of the Fair Isle method of knitting.
There was a collection of 200 'molas' from the San Blas Islands - now called Kuna Yala - off the coast of Panama. Molas are blouses with panels of reverse appliqué and embroidery. There were dozens of these panels on display. Each one measures approximately 24" x 18" and depict everything the Kuna see around them, from ancient plant and animal spirits to reimagined television news and Disney characters.

The story of Adam and Eve.
Here you can see the minuscule embroidered chain stitches.
This hooked rug was striking. It was made of all natural colours of wool and was textured. The sheep's wool was longer and stood out from the background. It was created in the early 20th century in the St. Lawrence Valley, Québec.
The first Jacquard coverlet was woven in Ontario in 1834. This one comes from Petersburg in Waterloo County and dates from the late 19th Century or early 20th Century.
This woven and embroidered silk coat was beautiful. Unfortunately, I don't remember where it is from - possibly Thailand.
We then went for Thai lunch and a quick visit to Romni Wools on Queen St. I bought a 100g skein of sock yarn for $7.50 (Nova). Mo bought a drop spindle and some Corriedale roving that had been dyed a beautiful deep blue. She also bought a book on Handspinning. She thought it would be fun for me to teacher her how to use the drop spindle on the way home on the GO train.
The people sitting across from us were quite intrigued.

On the way back to the car, I noticed a tall young man walking up the stairs who appeared to have a purple body stocking on. On closer inspection, it appeared that he was actually dyed purple from head to foot - dark purple - University of Western Ontario purple. I'm guessing it was the result of some hazing activity for university. Is that even permitted any more?
Today at Kniterary we opined that it may have been a first year engineering prank. Does anyone else have a better explanation?

1 comment:

  1. I really enjoyed those pics Geri...than you! Those shawls are stunning! There will be a pygora lady at the Fair and she will be selling Type B and C pygora roving...almost like cashmere. I have already got my order in.
    Just thought I'd send this link to our Lang Pioneer Village...they have a very old Jaquard Loom..only one of it's kind I believe in Canada.