On my last evening in Ulukhaktok Suzie and Julia took me to the old town where they all used to live before the community needed more space. Every once and a while I'd turn my back to the wind to keep my face from freezing off. But I stuck to the plan, braved the cold and we had a tea party in a blizzard. The next morning they told me that they thought that maybe I was turning around in longing for my warm home. hehe.
This is us (less Cora and Diane) right before I left for my flight on the last day. I'm wearing my atikaluk (a-tee-ka-look), a gift Mary made me, and the quiviuk hat the ladies made me on the knitting machine. Some of the ladies in the picture are wearing the hats I made them for the awards ceremony we had had the day before. Ada (far left) was the program coordinator. She often picked me up in the mornings and took me to work on her snow mobile. Even though it was only two blocks away, I was very thankful, especially on cold windy mornings. Sometimes it was as cold as -45 with the wind chill, brrrrrr.
This picture is of me wearing a polar bear head purse in an Inuvik art store, it has the actual bear nose partially still intact. Can you believe it? This is a rare find even in the Arctic. Although I didn't see any polar bears while I was there, a grolar bear (polar grizzly hybrid) was killed the week before I arrived in Ulukhaktok. It had been going through abandoned houses and was destroying things, so it was definitely a threat to the community. Read about it here and here. Below is a pic of that very grolar bear (taxidermed), in the Ulukhaktok Community Center.
When I instructed Mable to knit 110 rows she stood up, took a firm grasp on the knitting machine carriage and went at it. Take note at how far away the machine ends up being from the table. She's the best!
It's already been three weeks since I left Ulukhaktok! Now that I'm all settled into vacation mode and I've had a chance to think about what I just did, I'm really proud of myself and so thankful to the wonderful people who made this opportunity happen for me. Also I'm missing my students badly! I gained eleven grandmas and aunts in Ulu, and it's sad to realize that I won't be seeing them again any time soon.
Above are photos of some of the products on display at the open house. I was constantly being impressed with their work ethic but was still blown away when I counted over over 50 hats on display.
I still have a few Ulu moments that I'd like to share once I get my pictures off my camera. Stay tuned. Also, here is the website I made for the program where you can see photos and details of the full fifteen week program.
The ladies had a blast learning how to machine knit and worked like machines themselves. Soon I'll show you the PILE of products they have produced. It's very impressive. My portion of the program received a large donation of quiviut yarn which is made from the fleece of the local Muskox. It is softest and warmest fleece in the world- actually! all the brown products that you see in the pics are made with quiviut.
As you can see they have already begun creating designs, like muskox and roses, using both the electronic and punch card machines. Pretty amazing!