Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Look around your life, you'll find enough

One of the reasons I love spending time in Adelaide is the bus tickets.

They have a series of wise sayings handily printed on the back.

Angry at the guy sitting next to you with his headphones turned up so loud YOUR ears are ringing? Don't get mad, just think:

Pleasant thoughts make pleasant lives.

Confused about where you need to get off the bus, or even if you're on the right bus? It's okay!

To know one's ignorance is a part of knowledge.

Why are you on this bus, anyway? Are you just wandering the town aimlessly? Think about this then:

Purpose is what gives life meaning.

Also,

Making the most of today is the best preparation for tomorrow.

This afternoon I cooked dinner before I went out for the evening, so that it would be waiting for me when I got home. Mmm, that was good. And there are leftovers for tomorrow too.

Thank for all the sterling advice, Adelaide Metro!

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Ooh tell me please, why it takes so long

Thursday night's Harlot Happening / knitting fundraiser was great. Thanks to several generous sponsors there were lovely prizes for all. We also ended up with a tidy sum of money and a pile of hats to be donated to charities:

My knitting time is fully committed (and then some), so I felt ok with my strategy of donating extra money in lieu of a hat. Bells live-blogged the night as it happened. Kuka has posted about it too. I especially liked Jejune's crossword, which you can complete on her blog.

I think I've found something to do with all that Cosy Wool that doesn't felt. I took a little test drive on the ripple crochet bandwagon. Still a few glitches to iron out, like that holey first row/chain. I want to call it a cast-on but I don't suppose it is. I've done very little crochet before, and mostly only for felting - in which case it can be very messy and I don't have to worry too much about counting, just get the basic shape I want.


I had to laugh when I read the advice column in the recent (March 07) Lincraft 'How to make' brochure. The question from a reader was about trying to felt some 100% wool with no success. The answer was multifaceted and fascinating. Firstly it was surmised that she had probably attempted felting with wool treated to be machine washable. Yep, possibly. Or perhaps with Lincraft's own Cosy Wool purchased in the past two years? It was suggested that if she repeated the process with the same piece she might have more luck as she may have "washed out some of the treatment". I'm keen to know if this is possible/realistic. It sounds very unlikely to me. When I tried to felt the 'wrong' cosy wool I kept going for quite a long time, and the fabric only pilled and dragged, but showed no sign of felting. (Don't know if it was machine washable though).

The answer went on to note that Lincraft's new season 2007 Cosy Wool felts very successfully, that it's only available after March 2007, and to look out for the new purple label.

Cosy Wool always used to felt beautifully, and I'm glad the old Cosy is back. Well, I haven't tried it yet but will take them at their word for now . It just amused me that the whole point of this question-and-answer seemed to be to let people know essentially that the old Cosy is back; without actually having to admit that they made a mistake in changing the formula... whatever it was that they did.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

You were only hungry for some musical food

We're still deep in music festival season, and there is a lot of cool stuff going on. With encouragement from friends I just bought my ticket for the V-festival in Sydney. The Pixies coming to Australia for the first time is just about reason enough. Sadly their headline set overlaps significantly with the Pet Shop Boys, causing us vast quantities of angst. I'm very excited about seeing Phoenix earlier in the day, and should catch some other great acts too like Gnarls Barkley, Beck, the New York Dolls.

I thought I had completely missed the boat on this one - K and I talked about it when it was announced last year - but the organisers have several strategies to avoid much scalping going on, including releasing a late batch of tickets. Clever. And not mailing out the tickets til quite close to the day, which is making my mates squirm a bit. (Being late to the party I opted to pick up my ticket on the day). I don't know how many tickets they are selling but I reckon there will be BIG CROWDS.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Got my eyes wide open and I see the signs

I'm going to join in this party this coming Thursday night. Woohoo! It's for a good cause: raising funds for the Garema Place soup kitchen, and hats for the homeless. All knitters/crafters(no need to be exclusive!)/readers of the Yarn Harlot welcome.

(yay! Kuka pointed out that we Canberra knitters scored a mention by her Harlotness).

By way of further explanation, this is the rant that started it all.

Monday, March 19, 2007

They're all shouting something at us, waving and pointing


Which bands did I see at Womadelaide - continued.

Saturday

Femi Kuti Dancers - a workshop session. We had seen Femi Kuti and his group the night before, and I had worked up a mild annoyance with yet another instance of the old standard model - male singer in charge of it all, large all-male band, three female dancers/backing singers mainly employed to waggle their bottoms really amazingly. Kuti is supposed to be all about the political consciousness. So anyway I was heartened to see that the three women were doing a workshop, thinking we might hear them talk about what they do, & try to teach the audience a few. Maybe all the butt moves could be construed as a girl power thing.

Then I was so disappointed to find that one of the male band members was running the workshop, directing the women to demonstrate various moves one by one, and noting in halting English that to do this job is not only about the dancing (or having the Afro-beat in your blood) but also playing percussion instruments, "and they also make their own costumes".

I have to concede, I might be judging quite unfairly given that a language barrier was likely a large part of the problem. Still there was an icky feeling to it, especially as the three women seemed a bit disengaged & not thrilled to be there.

Augie March - I had been curious for a while without actually checking them out. I enjoyed their quite mellow set a lot, sitting back in the shade on a hot day. I had wondered if they would seem out of place during the daytime, but no worries there.

Blue King Brown - including a guest appearance from Emma Donovan, as well as some guest percussionists from other groups. Great fun set to dance. And it was a bit of a welcome antidote to see a woman not just lead singing but really leading the group.

Fat Freddy's Drop - I stayed for a bit of this but then went wandering. The music was a bit too chilled out.

Deborah Conway and Willy Zygier - gorgeous songs including one Deborah said she wrote after attending Clare Bowditch's wedding, where Clare sang a she had written instead of making a speech. Deborah sang what she said would be her wedding song, making it pretty clear she and Willy are not planning to actually get married.

Saturday night

Emma Donovan Band - she has a great strong blues voice, and taught the audience some words in her mother's Koori language. She was a member of the Stiff Gins which I know I heard on the radio (Artsound maybe?) once or twice. It was the sort of stuff I always enjoy live, though probably wouldn't buy on CD.

Lila Downs (again - she was just so much fun)

Sweet Baby James & Rob Eyers (I only came along at the end)

Yasmin Levy - from Israel, sings traditional Sepphardic songs (her father used to collect and preserve them) but also pisses off the elders by singing some of these precious old songs in Flamenco style. She was a lovely delicate soft-spoken woman, with a huge singing voice. I liked her cheek.

Then we caught the caught the end of Mariza's set which seemed pretty awesome.

Mr Scruff - a dj set. We danced for a while but I didn't last long, M and I sat leaning on a tree waiting for the others to run out of steam.

Sunday

San Lazaro - Melbourne group with strong Afro-Cuban heritage and influences. Some hot salsa dancing too. Very good fun band to dance to. J bought their CD & we got the obligatory CD-signing photos. Ahem, there were some lookers amongst their numbers, for sure.

"Women's voices" - I only caught the last two acts, Yasmin Levy and Emma Donovan, thought they all jammed a bit together at the end. This was good but not as great as I hoped. The others were the Mahotella Queens, Lila Downs. They really had very diverse styles but they gave it a go.

Sambasunda - The starting point is an Indonesian Gamelan orchestra and then they add completely unexpected instruments and play a variety of styles, including samba.

"History of the Blues" - I only caught the end of this. It was a huge crowd at a very small stage. When I got there someone was doing a lot of talking, which we could hardly hear. Very frustrating.

Rebetiki - An Australian-based Greek group playing a particular Greek style (rembetika). Great fun. This was a sit-down stage but lots of people people made a large space at once side to dance Greek-party-style in big circles. Two older Greek gents emerged from the audience and got really into their solo dancing - all very entertaining.

Salif Keita workshop - three members of Keita's band played a great set and talked about the origins of their Malian instruments. Two played percussion and one a stringed, vaguely guitar-like instrument. They all spoke French and used an interpreter, which worked surprisingly well.

Sunday night

All-star jam - the first year I went to Womadelaide, we made the mistake of giving up on the all-star jam too early - this often starts a bit oddly but really builds up momentum by the end. There are always a couple of acts at the start that they can't really blend in - but at least I got to hear the Huun Huur Tu, Russian "throat singers", this way. Like last year, percussion players featured heavily - easiest to combine disparate styles that way I guess...

Augie March - a difficult choice, as they were up against Deb Conway who I have seen live many times over the years, and always love. We had to wait a long time for it to start, in a big crowd, at a smallish stage, but most of the people were pretty nice. I enjoyed the set, although I was so tired by this point that it was a slog to get through a slow middle section with no danceable songs. Also we caught a whiff or two of obnoxious rock star 'tude from the lead dude. No regrets though. I'm sure I'll see Deb again.

Salif Keita - whoo, this show was a big highlight for me. The Malian afro-beat I just really love. Dig it. The backing singers/dancers were nicely clad in flowy robes, and they danced all over the stage, and were gorgeous and dignified. Keita had a lovely friendly vibe. The late Sunday night slot is a pretty big one. It didn't "go off" quite like Jimmy Cliff last year (in the rain too) - Cliff's reggae is probably more accessible to more of the audience.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Who found out that nothing can capture a heart like a melody can?

The main game at Womadelaide is the music, and we cover a lot of ground in three days. I'm just going to list all the acts I saw, adding a few impressions where I feel like it. If you want to know more about any specific act, leave a comment. And maybe my mates who were there might chime in as well.

Friday (This link has brief info for all the acts on Friday night)

Kaurna welcome - the festival always starts with an acknowledgement of the traditional owners of the land we're on, Kaurna people. Then there was a welcome (song and dance) by Paitya from the Four Directions. I've had the same thought each year - at several times during the piece, the dancers are obscured by equipment on the stage, when they get low to the ground - I wish they could arrange for them to have a clear stage to perform on. Guess that would delay the next group which would have to wait for set-up and possibly sound check?

Mahotella Queens - South African trio who have been singing and dancing together since the '60s. Great legs!

Lila Downs - Mexican-American singer doing trad. and new Mexican songs, very high energy, gorgeous costumes, harp. Really great to watch and/or dance to.

Lunasa - Irish celtic 5-piece.

Gotan project - France-Argentine collaboration described as "techno-tango", included video projections. Very interesting and pretty unusual.

Femi Kuti and the Positive Force - funk with Afro-beat. Attention captured by a fascinating trio of dancers who spent 90% of the time with their backs to the audience, gyrating their butts in various directions. The effect was heightened by the fringing & beading on their miniscule outfits.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Wompapalooza


Womadelaide provided yet another relaxing, fun and mind-expanding (musically, that is) weekend.

I came down with a cold on Thursday night, so the first half-day at the festival involved a lot of tissues, which was a hassle, but I survived. My cold improved quickly and we all had a really good time. Adelaide hasn't had rain for a while so there was a lot of dust kicked up in the park, which wasn't so pleasant. There seemed to be a lot more people around than there were the last two years. Not to a really painful degree, but if it got much more crowded it would lose some of the aspects I love most about this festival - the comfortable friendly vibe, ease of getting around and finding your mates, and at most, short queues for food and beer. It's still nowhere near as bad as a Big Day Out type of thing, and for the most part the people are still pretty friendly and polite. And not drunk, which helps. There are always a few issues about sitting down versus standing up in front of various stages (the smaller stages are quite low, and if people stand at the front, no one else can see anything) - but the festival management seem to be onto it and had the mcs make some annoucements about how it should work for specific stages and specific shows. Stand or dance at the sides worked quite well. Dividing the crowd down the middle, not so well.

As always one of my favourite things was the flags by English artist Angus Watt dotted around the park. I could lie back on the grass and stare at these for ages. I even made a little video of a flag moving in the breeze, but I'll spare you that. They are all mounted on bamboo poles which make a funny groaning sound which you can only really hear up close.

Friday, March 09, 2007

what makes a hotel stay?

Is it the enormous, amazingly comfortable bed? Huge TV?
Oh, maybe.

Real paintings on the walls, atmospheric light fittings in the bathroom?
Could be.

The fancy aromatherapy bath products?
Eh.

For me there is only one critical benchmark.

A hotel stay just is not impressive if there isn't a cushy white towelling robe awaiting.

Never mind the fact that I have one of these at home, that I never wear. It's different when I'm way from home, got a hotel room to myself and only have work clothes. It's quite a bit cooler in Bowral than Canberra, and I didn't bring a comfy jumper.

This is the place where work put us up for two nights. But now I'm in Adelaide. Womadelaide starts tonight.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Mmmmmmm...meathead


As a result of this plea, I bought the meathead pattern and knit it all in a hurry on Friday night. I used some of that Cleckheaton 12 ply, held together with Lincraft Big Wool (red-and-white and pink-and-white), and monstrous 10mm needles which were hard work.

This lovely article tells the origin of Larissa's meathead pattern (and there was a recent knitalong though I wasn't part of that.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

I'd like to say I've been fine, and I do


Sometimes you just have to make sure to count the little things. Also sometimes you just go for it and post low quality night-time photos.

If I think about it too much, it seems like I couldn't possibly spend enough time studying to commit to memory all we cover each week in French class.

Then I watch a Canadian movie in French and I'm encouraged when I find myself picking up words here and there.

Next week, a course I'll attend for work is going to impinge unwelcome-ly on my personal time. I think it'll be all right once I get there, but right now I'm thinking about the pilates and stretching classes I'll miss, the basketball game, the sleeping in my own bed, and walking the dogs. I will take some knitting though.

But, today I was thrilled to hear from a friend who is far far away and had been out of contact a little while.
Two weeks ago I grabbed several balls of wool at an op shop, two different vintages and colours of Cleckheaton Natural 12 ply, hoping it would be felt-able. It's marked 100% wool, and importantly it's NOT machine washable. It features wiry white 'hairs' that surely aren't wool - but a small amount of non-wool content doesn't usually matter. As soon as I brought it home I enthusiastically knit a swatch. A lovely swatch which went on to gather dust on the coffee table for almost two weeks, as I kept thinking I didn't have the time or energy to felt it.

This evening I had 20 spare minutes before netball, and with crazy logic decided to give it a go. Whaddaya know, it felted like a dream! (quickly too). Such a small step, but it feels like progress. Now I can make plans for that wool. Along with the wonderfully welcome balls of old-school Lincraft Cosy wool recently given to me by Taph.