Yarn Around at Clayton Community Centre

On February 7, 8, and 9, we gathered to build the Yarn Around installation at Clayton Community Centre in Surrey. This was the final phase of the Yarn Around project, completing a cycle of meetings with various local groups of yarn crafters that started in May 2023.

In the fall of 2022, Marnie Perrin of the Surrey SPARK Festival approached us with a proposal to create a project to deepen connections between generations, involving people of 55yrs+ to share their knowledge. The Festival was successful with funding from the New Horizons Program of the Government of Canada, allowing us to create a project spanning a year. 

In May 2023, we invited members of the Guilford and Chuck Bailey yarn crafting groups to be part of our performance Tricoter [pronounce Tree-Ko-Tay, meaning knitting] at Surrey SPARK Stages where we presented a special version of the performance for babies and their caregivers. Tricoter is performed for an audience sitting in a circle, as if we all pretended this was a knitting circle. As we danced with the yarn and the infants crawled in to explore, this time, we had actual knitters supporting us. They were invited to work on their project and it was wonderful to see the warm interactions between the families and the knitters. Because they were 55yrs+, it was special to unite many generations in our circle.

Alongside our Tricoter performances, we held Yarn Around workshops during the entire festival. We could not have done it without the contributions of our fabulous volunteers. We played with yarn, had drumming sessions with knitting needles, and read books about yarn and knitting. Thank you Surrey Libraries for providing books and lists throughout the project at all our events!

Concurrently, the Surrey SPARK Festival invited Germaine Langan to assemble a special space for Indigenous fibre artists at the beautiful Surrey Arts Centre courtyard. This is where we met moccasin maker and beading artist Elizabeth Walker and star blanket maker Kelly White who were able to also present their works at our closing event on Family Day. The May weekend presentations also included the amazing author Wanda John-Kehewin. Check her website or look for her books through the Surrey and Vancouver libraries.

During Culture Days, our team held more pompom making in the Clayton Living Room, had a yarn parade, a storytime by librarian Sheri Kling, music throughout by Sacha Levin and Annie Brown, a movement workshop exploring the movement possibilities inspired by yarn and a drumming workshop. Percussion musician Sacha Levin asked participants to invent a rhythm and made the parallel between a rhythm and a stitch – she asked participants: “What’s your stitch?” Before entering in a fun call and response percussion game involving everyone.

We continued the project through the fall, by offering a drop-in program on Saturdays at Clayton Community Centre. A small group of recurring participants met weekly in the Clayton Community Centre lobby, also called the Living Room, and experimented with various “yarn bombing” ideas.

Shama and granddaughter, fall drop-in participant who became a dear friend.

Consultations with artists Diane Park and Jude Campbell, along with the support of Peggy Leung and Sarah Gallos, allowed us to create an impactful plan for the space while keeping in mind safety and installation considerations.

We agreed on creating a call to yarn crafters to create 40-inch scarves of any width. We would provide the yarn for them so that they would be in a specific colour palette. With their donated creations, made at home or in yarn crafting groups, we would build the Yarn Around installation. 

Our Fall drop-in participant Shama created all the detailed pieces that sparked the installation so wonderfully, with crocheted flowers, bells, spirals, and more.

Peggy Leung played with textures and created pieces that added volume and dimensions to the work. Children created pom poms that can also be seen on the installation. Watch a close-up video here : https://vimeo.com/916897722

Heading into the end of year holiday season is a busy one for any yarn crafters. Many create special gifts for loved ones. Many groups and individuals are busy creating warm items for the homeless or supporting some people’s healing journey. The Chuck Bailey group knits over 80 scarves and tuques to give away to a local charity every year! 

Come the beginning of winter, and knowing that we only had one month left in our schedule to create most of the needed materials, we conservatively planned to cover 8 feet on one of the columns, hoping for perhaps a second one, covering an additional 5 feet. We were faced with challenging weather, and the cold-flu season. Some of the yarn crafting groups did not meet often in January, making our visit somewhat difficult to organize! We were concerned we might not have enough materials. Thankfully, we discovered The Clayton Fibre Shed and many members of that group jumped on to support the project. Members of the Clayton Library Knitting Group and the Chuck Bailey Recreation Centre group knitted many pieces just during the last week before the installation! A drop-off box was made available at the Clayton front desk and, to our amazing surprise, we realized we had enough materials to cover over 35 feet ! 

Friday, our favorite technician, Dave Brownell, came to the community centre to lift the giant “socks” we had assembled directly on the column. After resolving technical issues, they were pulled up with the electric scissor lift.

Seeing so many yarn crafters inspired me to start knitting. I tend to keep myself overly busy with multiple dance projects and also by cooking for my hungry teenagers. Over the Winter Break, I was able to knit a scarf, with generous contributions from my daughters. This is, for me, a great step in learning to slow down – although not all knitters would agree with me 🙂 Knitting can start filling all the minutes of your life if you let it happen! 

When I created Tricoter in 2016, I was a mom with young children, dreaming of knitting. Instead, I created a dance with yarn. This dance has been performed over 150 times all over Canada in all kinds of settings for all generations. Dancing with yarn and being around knitters helps me remember my grandmother who knitted so many mittens, hats, and socks for me.  After all these years of dancing with yarn, I am finally starting to knit myself. I am learning that knitting and working with fibers and textiles tricks my restless mind into being productive while providing rest and rejuvenation. While my hands are busy, I can focus a little more and listen carefully to those around me. 

On Saturday February 10th, we presented our piece Tricoter within the installation. It was a gift to all who contributed and also to all who appreciate the vibrant colours in the Clayton lobby.

Over 425 people came to the event to celebrate family day. Just before the performance, actor Sarah Roa animated a great storytime in our circle, it was perfect! After the performance, musicians Sacha Levin and Annie Brown played and many danced in our circle! We learned a couple of fancy new moves from children. Peggy Leung with the support of Jude Campbell, tended to the busy pompom-making station and many returned home with their creations.

Diane Park recalled an interaction with a child: “I’ve been thinking a lot about it since, especially the deeper impact that Yarn Around and Tricoter have on viewers. One of the best examples was a girl of about 10 with whom I briefly spoke at the pom pom table – she was making a bright yellow pom pom, and said she loved all the colourful yarn and this made her want to learn how to crochet. I said that Peggy might be able to teach her if she could wait until it was less busy. She said she might do that, but then said that her Grandma crochets and that maybe she’d ask her to teach her! Amazing!” 

We’ve heard that the installation might stay on until September! We’re overjoyed. We had initially planned for it to stay up until March 7th but the centre has received so many great comments that they will keep it up longer! Our dream is for the installation to be installed at other locations and spark joy in many more hearts!

Thank you to everyone behind the scenes to make all these moments happen. Marnie Perrin, Edward Westerhuis, Kaytee Kilgour and all their teams, Clayton Staff, and the amazing janitor who has yet to confirm their name.

To sum it up, here is a comment mentioned by a Clayton Fibre Shed member after visiting the installation with her son: “ My 3yo loved checking out each column wrap. He was so happy to see it he even gave each yarn wrap a hug ” 

Congratulations everyone! Thanks for your contributions! And Thanks to the City of Surrey and the Government of Canada for your support in this project.

Ensemble Thinking practice series

Foolish Operations is hosting an Ensemble Thinking practice series taught by Julie Lebel  – our Artistic Director, and member of the Lower Left Collective. This practice is open to all (dancers, theatre, visual artists, and musicians – instruments welcomed and can engage in the moving practice). This is an adult-only practice, 18yrs +.

Ensemble Thinking is a system of collaborative group performance practices. These composition exercises refine the individual’s ability to perceive, initiate, and support collective action. More about Ensemble Thinking here.

Picture by Lamont, with dancers Kira Radosevic, Flavie Pinchon, Jea Valdez, Sarah U.

When and Where: 

February 28th, Trout Lake Community Centre (Elm Room – Tatami floor)

March 1st, Moberly Arts and Cultural Centre (Sprung floor)

March 8, The Dance Centre Zagar Studio (Sprung floor)

 Time: 11am-3pm *We can accommodate people needing to leave early but please arrive on time for warm-up and opening.

Cost: Free! Contributions to Foolish Operations are greatly appreciated. For example, you can make a donation or become a member here.

Registration: Please fill out the form here to save a spot.

Access Notes: Bring your lunch and cozy clothes. You may enjoy having socks to dance in, but barefoot is also ok. Location-specific notes: 

-Trout Lake’s Elm Room is a fabulous tatami room, for martial arts, but unfortunately, wheelchairs can not be on that surface.

-Moberly: There are no restaurants or cafés near-by. Make sure to bring your lunch and snacks. A microwave and a kettle are available to use.

-The Dance Centre: The Zagar studio is wheelchair accessible.

Documentation notes: We intend to document this workshop through photos and short videos. Some ideas generated in this workshop will serve as a testing ground for a new project. Thanks for your contributions.

A new series of shows and workshops in April 2024!

Dear friends and families,

We are proud to announce a series of sixteen shows and a dozen workshops coming to you in the Lower Mainland in April 2024, including Port Coquitlam, Richmond, Port Moody, Vancouver and more ! While most activities will be reserved for small groups selected from our valued community partners, some will be open to the public.

Dates to come! Stay tuned.

Picture by Riz Herboza

Thanks to our partners for their support:

Vancouver Parks Board, StrongStart, SHARE Family and Community Service, City of Port Coquitlam, École des Pionniers-de-Maillardville, École des Navigateurs, Moberly Arts and Culture Centre, Walter Moberly School StrongStart Program, Little Mountain Neighbourhood House, Sunset Preschool, Conseil scolaire Francophone, Surrey Libraries, Franc Départ Program.

Untangling Yarn Volunteer Opportunity

Hello !

We have a yarn detangling opportunity at our Riley Park Fieldhouse coming up ! We’re looking for 3-4 individuals of 14 years and up. Youth volunteers will require a signed consent form from their caregivers prior to the event.
DATE: Thursday February 15 2024
TIME: 3:30- 5 pm
LOCATION : Riley Park Fieldhouse (95 E 32nd Ave, Vancouver)
Tea and snacks provided !

A Visit at the Move and Make Program !

Foolish Operations’ team visits Move and Make program at the Little Mountain Neighbourhood House !

Move and Make is a program that helps children aged 0-5 years old and their families build relationships through various activities that promote physical, emotional and intellectual well-being. It runs every Thursday from 10am-12pm at Kensington Community Centre, from January 18th to March 7th, 2024.

We are very happy to announce that artists Sarah Gallos, Julie Lebel and Annie Brown will perform Tricoter for the group this season!  It’s FREE!

DATE: Thursday, February 15th 2024

TIME: 10-10:30am

LOCATION: Kensington Community Centre (5175 Dumfries St, Vancouver)

REGISTRATION : ahead of time with the Move and Make Program ! For information, contact the coordinator of the program, Shalynn Kishore, at shalynnk@lmnhs.bc.ca

Invite your friends ! We would love to see you there.

Photo credit ©Rodrigo Iniguez

Yarn Around project at Clayton Community Centre

In collaboration with Surrey-based yarn crafters, we are creating a yarn-bombing installation! The colourful creations will be wrapped around the columns of the Clayton Community Centre Lobby.

Clayton area yarn crafters: message us directly on social media (Facebook or Instagram) to participate. @foolishoperations, or by using the Contact Us link through this website. Yarn provided, simple projects welcomed: 40-inch scarves -with stretch- of any width).

DEADLINE for finished projects: February 6th 2024 *Return your finished project to the Yarn Around bin at Clayton Community Centre’s Front Desk.

Foolish Operations artists will assemble the projects on February 7, 8 and 9. We will celebrate the installation on February 17 with storytelling and Tricoter, a dance and music performance for all ages. For more details about this free event, visit: https://www.surrey.ca/news-events/events/tricoter-0

This project is with Surrey SPARK Stages with the support of the Government of Canada.

Mentorship with Janice (Jea) Valdez Q&A

Janice Valdez on her mentorship with Julie Lebel 

Julie Lebel offered mentorship to artist & parent Janice Valdez in 2023 as a part of Foolish Operations’ Knowledge Sharing initiatives. Wanting to know more about Janice’s experience as a mentee, we reached out for a testimonial and collected a very heart-touching one. Julie felt truly honoured by Janice’s kind words. All though the responses were directed at Julie, these exchanges between Julie and Janice would not have been possible without the support of the entire FO team and the accumulation of experiences through trial and error and the best teachings Julie has received from many great mentors, including collaborators, parents and children. Most importantly, exchanges like this are always an opportunity to continue learning and un-learning.  

Here is a glimpse of what Janice has to say about her experience as a mentee with Julie! 

Q: How and when did this idea of reaching out for a mentorship come about for you? 

 A: It happened organically. I didn’t know or think to ask for it. Julie simply started sharing resources with me and inviting me to dance in Ensemble Thinking and I had not been invited to dance in this way before. There is often a process of qualifying to be involved in dance, whether it be a fee or an application of sorts. I believe there was a personal resonance made between Julie and I when we spoke of our respective work. The way Julie facilitates dance sessions and the way I have done my work in drama share a similar philosophy – learner-centered and gently structured with lots of flexibility for emergent collective creation, the facilitator being a guide rather than an expert authority.

Q:What did you like most about the mentorship? 

A: Much of what I appreciate in the mentorship I’ve received with Julie are the ways I’m invited into spaces and forwarded information to advance my practices, whether through an email forward about a grant opportunity or a show. [] Rare among leaders, Julie is one who is able to give an unconditional positive regard for people, and this is essential and common in the greatest of leaders. I’m truly honoured to be in circle with you, Julie!

Q: What were some things you felt could be improved? 

A: I feel Julie and Foolish Operations deserve to be given unlimited resources to create what they wish in the world. This is a company of integrity, vision and heart, and I believe our world is better off if more of your work engages families and more artists have access to Foolish Operations’ mentorship. I’m only just beginning to imagine possibilities to apply what I’ve learned in Dancing The Parenting and Ensemble Thinking. I have yet to actualize and take flight. With some time and funds, a scheduled and intentional mentoring program (even of a short duration) can really help. 

Q: What are the most memorable things you learned from this mentorship?

A:  From my time with Julie, I’ve learned that just to begin does not require a lot. I have not yet begun many ideas because I feel as though I’m not yet prepared. And Julie models that minimal things make space for so much creativity from participants. And that showing up in space as we are is all that is required to give others permission to do so.

Q: How would you describe your relationship with your mentor?

A: Julie is capable of unconditional positive regard for those you hold space within the studio, and from what I can see, in much of her life. I consider my relationship with her one of respect and great admiration for not only her work but also of ways of being in the world as a mother and community leader. […] In the right time with resources aligning, I see potential in future collaborations with Julie, and Foolish Operations as I deepen and expand my artistic practices as an artist, community facilitator, and holder of sacred spaces for personal expression and healing.

Reflection Post : Babytime with Surrey Libraries

FO artists Julie Lebel and Sarah Gallos recently completed a second year of collaboration with Surrey Libraries.

Together they worked through existing library practices to further support the Surrey Libraries Youth Services Staff in feeling more comfortable offering movement in their storytime for babies! This year, they dove deep into what FO views as the key elements of facilitating movement for caregivers and their babies during Babytime, also sometimes known as Laptime. Reflecting on this project recalls Foolish Operations’ exploration of BC’s Early Learning Framework and the First People Principles of Learning started last year.  

And so, as they worked with Surrey Libraries, the goal was to share FO’s movement facilitation skills and curriculum additions. Professional development opportunities were offered to the Surrey Libraries Youth Services Staff. This included email discussions with staff members throughout November, chosen as the Month of Movement for Babytimes at Surrey Libraries. The librarians shared their reflective practices with Sarah Gallos, artistic associate at FO. Weekly emails were sent to keep the dialogue going, and several themes emerged. 

To get deeper into what was worked on, here are a few key elements they discovered as they reflected on the librarians’ Babytimes together, and how they apply to any public Storytime or Babytime!

  • Dance can be simple movement games and community-building: Walking with your child or babe in arms to music, around the room to visit with the other participants, is an easy way to add movement. Everyone can dance a little and get out the wiggles. Simply talking about the rhythm you hear will tune people into that and help them find the groove, turning a walk into a dance.
  • Movement can be a SUPER Transitional tool:  In Foolish Operations, we use songs to transition because movement is the main focus.  For Babytime facilitators in libraries, this can be shifted around. Use movement as a transitional moment, especially when folks are used to babytime being more verbal.
  • Invite participants to move their own body rather than moving their baby’s body
    • Babies will eventually start to mirror the movements they are seeing. Caregivers moving their own bodies is a self-care practice. Placing babies on the ground, facing their caregiver, rather than the Babytime facilitator, will foster parent-child connection through eye contact and closeness and allow the caregiver to move more freely. Babies will also have more freedom to move their bodies and to express how they are feeling through movement. 
    • Games that invite caregivers to move baby’s limbs for them can be fun, especially when they involve tickles. But these games often involve holding the baby, which can be tiring, especially when much of the early caregiving positions already over-involve the arms, the neck, and the back. Our suggestion is to add more moments where caregivers and babies can move independently. For example, moving their spines in different directions, opening their arms for a good stretch, etc.
    • Suggest moments where the caregiver doesn’t have to hold their baby, perhaps the child is on a blanket in front of them, watching their caregiver move. And remember, there’s no right or wrong, only suggestions.
  • We can’t always see what might be limiting folks: Approach your facilitation with an accessibility lens. Try warmly inviting participants to move and change your language, considering how your group is arriving in the space on any given day so that all suggestions might work for them. Somedays that might mean just picturing the movement in their heads and that’s ok. They might do it at home later.
  • Don’t be afraid to talk about love: Humans learn through attachment. In Babytime, attachment abounds – so much love! Invite caregivers to express their love for their babies in many different ways. It’s beautiful. When the caregiver and child can look at each other, feel each other’s movement, and hear each other’s sounds, that’s the attachment we want to promote in a caregiver/child relationship.  
  • Follow your instinct and provide what you notice people might need: For example, you might want to provide the words to songs and rhymes for the adults on the felt board; this is a lovely way to show care for the group. It’s an access thing, with the power to make people feel more settled.

    And that’s not all! As a group with Surrey Library Services Staff, we have curated a list of over twenty songs for babies to use during storytime.

Tick Tock

A Bouncing We Will Go

Roll Roll Sugar Babies

Zoom Zoom

Go In and Out the Window

Shoo fly

Feel like a morning star

I belong to somebody

Moon is round

This is me

Here is the Beehive

Hokey Pokey 

Rainbow Rumba

Mother and Father and Uncle John 

Smooth Road

Red Fox Red Fox

Bees in a hive

Rain is falling down



Falling Leaf | A Fall/Autumn Movement Song For Kids! | Music For Kiddos

BC’s Early Learning Framework and the First Peoples Principles of Learning

In this project and all our projects, we continue to draw connections and explore BC’s Early Learning Framework guide [ELF]. We appreciate the reference to how “children use multiple modes of expressive languages to communicate ideas, participate in relationships, and make meaning in their homes and communities.” (p. 80). Movement is one of these expressive languages and benefits from nurturing from a very young age. 

The ELF centres the “First Peoples Principles of Learning” articulated by Indigenous Elders, scholars, and knowledge keepers for the BC Ministry of Education. With these principles in mind, we have been shifting how we approach our work. We are particularly inspired by the following principles and hope they feel present in our curriculum development for Surrey Libraries:

  • “Learning ultimately supports the well-being of the self, the family, the community, the land, the spirits, and the ancestors.
  • Learning is holistic, reflexive, reflective, experiential, and relational (focused on connectedness, on reciprocal relationships, and a sense of place).” ELF p.14

Thanks again to Surrey Libraries and the City of Surrey for funding this wonderful project. We love the openness that Youth Services Staff have shown to include movement as a language and as a way to approach literacy.

Photo credit: Shelly Rackel, City of Surrey

Consultant for Tanz und Elternschaft !

Last summer, our artistic director Julie Lebel participated as a consultant for Tanz und Elternschaft with their project of writing a “kids and caregivers” rider ! In October, the rider was published online !

The project provides resources for “implementing a sustainable approach to transgenerational audiences in dance and the performing arts”. Give it a look by clicking HERE! There is an English version available.

Many thanks to Tanz und Elternschaft / Parenthood and making dance !

Yarn Around Weekly Workshops in Surrey!

We are happy to invite you to take part in our weekly Yarn Around Workshops happening this fall season ! Either Julie Lebel or Sarah Gallos from our artistic team will also be there each week  to host the event and share snacks and stories with participants.

Whether you work on your own projects or seek a new beginner-level one, we’ll work together towards building materials to Yarn Bomb the Clayton Community Centre! The workshops will include finger knitting and pom pom making.

Picture by Surrey SPARK Stages

DATE: every Saturday, from October 14th to November 25th (excluding November 11th)

TIME: 10am-12am.

PLACE:  Clayton Community Centre  (7155 187a St, Surrey)

REGISTRATION through this link:  Yarn Around at Clayton Community Centre

This event is possible thanks to the financial support of the Government of Canada and our community partner Surrey SPARK Stages.