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The Knitting Pilgrim

And the Golden Knitting Needles go to...

And the Golden Knitting Needles go to...

A Knitting-Themed Oscar Quiz in honour of the 91st Academy Awards on Feb 24, 2019

A Knitting-Themed Oscar Quiz in honour of the 91st Academy Awards on Feb 24, 2019

(see below for answers…)

 

  1. Which legendary actress (and great knitter) has been nominated for the most Academy Awards (21), has won three Oscars, and was nominated for 18 more? Hint: She recently played a role in “Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again.”

  2. This kind, funny, down-to-earth actor who is also a knitter won the 1988 Best Supporting Actor Oscar for “Good Will Hunting” (which by the way was shot in Toronto, my home town).

  3. Which one of the two Ryans (and btw they are both Canadian, like me) is also a knitter? This Ryan has been nominated for two Oscars, and has had roles in “La La Land,” “The Notebook,” and “Crazy, Stupid, Love.”

  4. Which actor/knitter won an Oscar for his role in “Gladiator” in 2001, and was nominated for his roles in “A Beautiful Mind” and “The Insider?”

  5. This iconic actress and two-time Oscar winner was seen knitting between takes on the set of “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.” Who is it?

  6. This American actor, film director, producer, screenwriter, fashion designer, and professional wrestler learned to knit from his grandmother. He has never been nominated for an Oscar, but his sister Patricia has been. Who is it?

  7. Which actress, known for her roles in “Eat Pray Love,” “Ocean’s Eleven,” and “Notting Hill,” knits so much on set that she taught co-star Tom Hanks to knit too?

  8. Okay, so this actress hasn’t won an Oscar, but she did win a 2007 Emmy for her role in “Grey’s Anatomy” and loves knitting so much, she contemplated opening up a knitting shop. Who is it?

  9. Getting her big break as Rey from “Star Wars Episode VII - The Force Awakens,” this actress, who is a self-professed knitting extraordinaire, has worked with Academy Award-nominated director Kenneth Branagh in “Murder on the Orient Express.”

  10. Which star of MARVEL’s “Jessica Jones” co-starred with Oscar-nominee Bryan Cranston in “Breaking Bad”, and has also been interviewed by Interweave, Mollie Makes, and Vogue Knitting?

  11. Bonus Question: Which Canadian actor played an 8-ft tall green dragon in “The Adventures of Dudley the Dragon”; was featured in the short film “The Mario Lanza Story”, which screened at the 1989 Cannes Film Festival; and hand-knitted three 9 ft x 5.5 ft tapestries called “Stitched Glass” that took him 15 years to complete? (Oh, and no, he hasn’t won an Oscar - but he will be seen in the one-man play about the tapestries called The Knitting Pilgrim, and he did write this Oscar knitter quiz…)

 

Answers

  1. Meryl Streep

  2. Robin Williams

  3. Ryan Gosling

  4. Russell Crowe

  5. Audrey Hepburn

  6. David Arquette

  7. Julia Roberts

  8. Katherine Heigl

  9. Daisy Ridley

  10. Krysten Ritter

  11. Kirk Dunn (hey, that’s me!)

To All the Yarn Makers Out There: Thank You

To All the Yarn Makers Out There: Thank You

Not long after I started knitting Stitched Glass, and the number of yarn balls on our living room floor grew exponentially, my wife Claire started saving the discarded yarn labels. She stuffed them in a clear plastic bag, and put the bag in a chest, and kept them. I remember asking her what she planned to do with them. She shrugged. “I dunno,” she said, “but I’m not going to throw them out until I’m sure we won’t miss them.”

The number of yarn labels grew, of course, because Stitched Glass is such a giant project. You can collect a lot of yarn over 15 years – and believe me, I did. I bought yarn in Canada, France, the UK, the United States, Thailand, Switzerland, and Italy. I don’t have labels for some of the wonderful stores where yarn was sold by weight. But this photo gives you a sense of how many labels we accumulated for Stitched Glass alone.

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 It makes me marvel. And mostly, it makes me want to thank all the wonderful people out there making yarn so people like me can enjoy it.

 And enjoy it I have.

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 Thank you, yarn makers of the world. You make knitters like me very happy.

Coming together in solidarity with Danforth Jewish Circle

I’ve been fortunate enough to attend The Danforth Jewish Circle twice in the last month – both prompted by the recent terrible anti-Semitic events in Pittsburgh on October 27. I can’t say that the reasons we came together are positive – but the act of coming together is positive unto itself. 

 

On Nov 2, the Danforth Jewish Circle held a “ring of peace” Solidarity Shabbat Service. While the service unfolded inside, the Danforth community, people of all faiths, surrounded the building in a ring of peace. It was profoundly moving.

 

In this time of polarized opinions about seemingly everything, not just religion, it is good to come together. To remember that we have the same wants and dreams: to live in peace and harmony. It sounds clichéd, but it’s only a cliché because it’s what we all think about and wish for.

 

On Nov 20, I attended a session at the DJC, which was a chance for reflection and discussion about what happened in Pittsburgh. To discuss our own connections to anti-Semitism, to understand how we feel in a world where this is still a problem, and what to do about it.

 

Even though I am not Jewish, it felt vital to participate in the conversation about this alarming problem. I am an ally. I am part of the solution. The coming together is part of that solution. Thanks to Olev, the Third Space committee and Rabbi Miriam for the event and their warm reception to me and Claire.

 

Coming together with friends from all walks – as well as Christians, Jews and Muslims – is the journey that Stitched Glass and The Knitting Pilgrim continue to take me on. I am grateful for that.

 

I keep thinking of the image of the dove of peace – a common symbol in all three Abrahamic faiths –and one that appears in each of the three tapestries of Stitched Glass:

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Dove of Shalom

Judaic Tapestry

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Dove of Peace

Christian Tapestry

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Dove of Salaam

Islamic Tapestry

Peace is the thing we all want. Where we fall down is how we try to achieve it. Those who try to achieve peace through violence will find it elusive. The best they can hope for is a victory resulting in a temporary cessation of hostilities. Real peace can only be achieved through justice, communication, patience, and compassion. Much more difficult work than violence.

Stitched Glass at the Toronto Knitters Guild

Stitched Glass at the Toronto Knitters Guild

On Wednesday, May 16, I had the pleasure of talking to the Toronto Knitters Guild at the University of Toronto’s Innis Town Hall about my installation of knitted tapestries, Stitched Glass.

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The last time I did a talk to the Knitters Guild about the installation, I think only the first Stitched Glass tapestry was complete. So that was a while ago.

 

Knitters Guild President Carol Mather Miles was kind enough to introduce me. 

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Other than talking about Stitched Glass and the play we’ll be touring with the installation, The Knitting Pilgrim, there were three things I really enjoyed about the evening.

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One – it was so great to be amongst so many knitters, everyone steadfastly knitting their projects, chatting about knitting (one of my favourite things, of course) and solving each other’s pattern or stitch problems. It made me realize how much I’ve knitted alone these past few years – okay, past lots of years – and how much fun it was to get out amongst my peers.

 

So the first thing I’ll be doing is renewing my membership. It’s been far too long with me knitting alone in my living room.

 

Two – it’s always fun to meet yarn suppliers I don’t know about. The evening’s supplier was Viola Yarns – they had beautiful skeins of hand-dyed wool on offer.

 

And three – I really enjoyed getting feedback from my fellow knitters about how to get Stitched Glass out into the world. People had great ideas and I so appreciate all of them.

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It’s great to feel part of a community. So I’m coming back as soon as I can, and when I do, I’ll have a much smaller project on hand to knit. Much smaller.

Knitting the Faiths Together

Knitting the Faiths Together

I was lucky enough to have Presbyterian Connection – the quarterly publication of The

Presbyterian Church in Canada – ask me to write an op ed piece about Stitched Glass, my

installation of three hand-knit tapestries in the shape of stained glass windows, looking at

the commonalities and differences of the Abrahamic faiths.

They asked me to do this because I am on my last segment of the project’s third and final

tapestry (pretty exciting stuff, because it’s taken me 15 years of knitting to get here), and

also because I am in the midst of preparing, with my wife Claire Ross Dunn and the

wonderful folk at Ergo Arts Theatre, to premiere a one-act play called The Knitting

Pilgrim that will accompany the Stitched Glass exhibition on tour. That will all be

happening soon.

So I’m sharing the Presbyterian Connection piece. Happy reading. And if you’re curious

about how to book the play and the exhibit of the textile work, please click here.

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