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Te Matapihi Ki Te Ao Nui

Teen Blog

Reading, Wellington, and whatever else – teenblog@wcl.govt.nz

Category: Maiph

Looms, flags, and a lot of (queer) yarn

If you’ve visited Johnsonville Library recently then hopefully you’ll know that we have a space downstairs that’s packed with all kinds of exciting stuff. It’s called Tūhura/The HIVE, and it’s a makerspace full of tech and toys, lasers and Lego, robots and recording equipment, and, most excitingly (or so I think, but I may be biased), a loom!

Since we opened the new Johnsonville Library we’ve tried to keep the loom warped up so anyone can come in and try their hand at weaving a few rows. We’ve had almost everyone, local Johnsonvillians, a Paralympian, even the WCC Chief Executive, come in and have a go. And just last week I took the latest scarf off the loom and tied up the ends in tassels.A newly finished scarf lies folded on the small loom in the Johnsonville makerspace. The stripes on the scarf go (from left to right) blue, pink, white, pink, blue.

Isn’t it beautiful? Admittedly, we did strategically fold it to only show the neatest end of the weaving, but it’s still beautiful when unfolded and laid out. Look at those warped stripes! The lovely colours! Wait a minute, those colours look familiar. Could that be the Transgender Pride Flag?

Why yes, yes it is!

Claude, a grey, green, and yellow caterpillar is sitting on a cushion crocheting the last row of a scarf. The stripes of the scarf are, in order, yellow, white, purple, and the last one is black.

And that’s not all! Claude, our favourite crocheted caterpillar, was so inspired after seeing this scarf come off the loom that they decided to crochet a creative scarf of their own. Is that colourful close-to-completed scarf there another Pride Flag? Of course! It’s the Non-binary Pride Flag.

But I digress.

When we warp up the loom (attach the vertical threads to the loom. There are two yarn components you use when weaving. The warp goes up and down. The weft goes from the weft to the wight. Yes, I know that’s bad), we get to choose what pattern we put on. And if we want to show our support for trans people then we will damn well do that! And write a blog post about it too.

Now, I hope that this particularly excellent scarf shows you that knitting, weaving, crocheting – fibrecraft in general – is pretty cool. And there are so many cool things you can do! There are more things to create than these (undeniably amazing) scarves. Crochet your own Claude! Knit a political hat! There are so many free patterns available online, not to mention the books available through your local library. You could try your hand at some Subversive Cross Stitch, or create yourself some Literary Knits. Literary crocheting is also available.

OR you could get into something a bit bigger and a bit more public. Have you ever heard of yarn bombing? If you haven’t, then you are in for a treat! Yarn bombing, guerrilla knitting, knitted graffiti, whatever you want to call it, is when you create a carefully crafted cover for something out in public. It could be for a pipe, a tree, a statue, or whatever you feel would benefit from a bit of beautification. We’ve got a few books about yarn bombing, or you could just wander around Wellington and keep an eye out for artfully decorated bollards and poles.

A picture taken looking down the street towards the Tawa Community Centre entrance. It is a sunny day. Lining up with the left side of the picture is a pipe attached to the building, that has is wearing a rainbow cover.There’s a particularly fine example of yarn-bombing outside the Tawa Community Centre, just around the corner from the Mervyn Kemp (Tawa) Library. Yes it’s a rainbow. Did you really think I would let go of the queer thread weaving this post together?

Speaking of queer threads, that wonderfully proud scarf that you may remember is now on display in the HIVE at Johnsonville Library. And speaking of the HIVE, I can highly recommend dropping in there on a Friday evening for our fibrecraft HIVE 101. If you ever feel like learning a bit more about weaving, talking to someone about knitting, or just settling down for an evening with some crochet, come on by!

What do you say?/Was sagst du?/He aha tō whakaaro?

You’re back at school now, you might be learning a language, you might not be learning a language, you might want to learn a language… Well! For any of you interested in starting, or brushing up on a language you started a while ago, or trying to launch yourself to the top of the class, we’ve got some tools to help you with that! And these online tools that we offer do not come with a threatening and eerie owl that accosts and harangues you until you meet your language goals (even though ominous owls are something I’m particularly interested in, it’s best to be safe in these circumstances).

Anyway. The two resources I’m writing about are LanguageNut and Mango Languages, which can be found on our language resources page. Both are free for you to use, all you have to do is plug in your library card number and your pin and you’re away.

Mango Languages has many languages for you to choose, from Greek (Ancient) to Greek (Modern), from Bengali to Yiddish, from Irish to Tamil, there’ll be something to interest you. You can even learn to talk like a pirate, or insult someone the way Shakespeare would have!

A screenshot taken from Unit 1, Chapter 1, Lesson 2 of the Pirate language course. The phrase in English is "Stop your messing around and quickly align the ship with the wind!". In Pirate the phrase is "Belay yer carousin' and haul wind smartly!" A screenshot taken from Unit 1, Chapter 1, Lesson 8 of the English (Shakespearean) language course. The phrase in English is "No, as they dare. I will give them the finger; which is an insult, if they take it.". In English (Shakespearean) the phrase is "Nay, as they dare. I will bite my thumb at them; which is a disgrace, if they bear it."

LanguageNut has fewer languages, but they’ve got a fun selection of games and activities to help you revise before you test yourself. And they’ve got a good selection of Pasifika languages, including Māori!

So what language will you choose? You could learn Spanish, German, Japanese, and Hebrew to catch up with Natalie Portman, or Greek, Spanish, and French to catch up with Tom Hiddleston. Seriously. Some friends of mine started teaching themselves German in high school because of a German pop rock band. And they still remember some of the language that they managed to teach themselves in that eight month period! What have you got to lose?

And we’d love to hear from you, in whatever language you’d like to use. Get in touch with us on FacebookTwitter or Instagram and give us your best Shakespearean insult, your most carousin’ piratical expression, or just let us know what you’ve been up to during the lockdown!

 

Who Are We Really?

Dear readers, none have asked, but some may have wondered: who are the strange and wonderful people who write for this illustrious publication? Look no further. We’ve delved deep underground, into the very lairs of these mysterious bloggers, and we’ve brought forth poetic riches the likes of which have never been seen. That’s right, I forced them all to write haiku about themselves to introduce themselves to you! In alphabetical order, no less. Here goes.

First we have the ever-wise B. Spinach. When she’s not tirelessly working the fields to bring more of that herbaceous delight into her house and onto her plate, she can be found somewhere in the pages of Louis Sachar’s The Cardturner:

Aspires to paint a
mural, but so far just makes
tiny paper planes.

Next is the indomitable Catherine, whose book-treat of choice is Margaret Mahy’s The Tricksters:

I had to write a
haiku; this is the result.
Let’s all blame Stephen.

Truly moving. Next up is the enigmatic Maiph. Purveyor of knitted goods and slayer of the leviathan, their literary musings chiefly concern the excellent The Owl Service by Alan Garner, and their inscrutable poetic waxings and wanings are represented below:

Inscrutable, yet
easily scruted when I
am tangled in yarn.

Finally, it is I, Stephen, your humble administrator. The title that sparks the most joy for me currently is Benjamin Alire Saenz’s Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe:

Moonlight falls softly
upon a nerd; He sleeps, eats,
but mostly he sleeps.

You, too, can write a haiku. Or a novel. Join us over at our online creative writing group at the NaNoWriMo Young Writers’ Programme (classroom code is CWRNJDZH), and don’t forget to join our Discord once you get in!