Tuesday, February 20, 2007

More whales

We spent Monday afternoon wandering through the New Bedford Whaling Museum. This place is chock-full of things whale- and whaling-related, such as skeletons (blue whale, humpback whale, sperm whale, and parts of a right whale, all unfortunately accident victims, and all immense); objects made of whalebone; artwork created by whalers; tools of the trade; navigation equipment like sextants; models of whaling ships; and portraits, some garments, and furniture and household goods belonging to New Bedford residents from the whaling era.

I much prefer seeing whales alive and in the wild, but those skeletons were really interesting. I had assumed, based on pictures of sperm whales, that the skull of one would be about the size and shape of a van, but it looked more like a pterodactyl head--pointy, with a very narrow lower jaw, and giving no hint (to me, anyway) of the real size of the head.

The whalebone product collection includes several very elaborate yarn swifts. If you want to see photos of these, go to the museum website, click on “Collections Search” and “Search Object Collections”, and then click on “Browse” and type “swift” in the Browse Starting With field.

The artwork included intricate drawings done by sailors on sperm whale teeth and sailors’ valentines, which, from what I remember, involved a lot of small shells arranged in elaborate, symmetrical patterns, sometimes with a message written in yet more shells. Unfortunately I couldn’t find any photos of the valentines on the museum’s website, but there are photos of the tooth drawings--use the search function instead of browse, and type “sperm whale tooth” (no quotations) in the obj name field. Or, better yet, check out the museum if you have a chance.

In other news, here’s the status of my February UFO, with an angry cat presented for scale.

It’s the Moderne Baby Blanket from Mason Dixon Knitting, made using Knitpicks Swish Superwash yarn. I’m now halfway through side two of the border. I had some trouble with the execution of intarsia on the multi-colored blocks, but perhaps that can be interpreted as a personal touch?

And before anyone asks, it’s for someone else’s baby. We haven’t gotten to that point yet.


silverarrowknits said...

The blanket looks great!

Theresa said...

I'd always intended to go there, and never got around to it. Sounds fun, though. And thanks for reminding me how behind I am on my February UFO!

Rachel said...

The whaling museum sounds like a cool field trip. Can I safely assume that you can't buy a whale-bone yarn swift in the gift shop? Because that would be cool. Aside from the whale cruelty thing.

Your blanket is looking really great! I bet you'll be glad to have it finished at last.

Debby said...

The blanket looks great so far. Can I ask why your cat is angry? Is it because the blanket is not for him?