Monday, March 30, 2009

Familiar ground....

But still a little bit different each time. I never get sick of it.

bigger bowls
Though it does sometimes it takes me a few evenings to get the felting done, cause I optimistically make a start and quickly run out of energy for the plunging & agitating. It doesn't hurt them to sit half-done in the bucket til I next get around to it.


Sunday, March 29, 2009

You call me sweet like I'm some kind of cheese

pear beads close
I used to buy a lot of beads and make jewellery pretty regularly. Other creative pursuits have now taken over more of my time, but a few factors have conspired recently to get me back into it.

1. I have a desk now. It is so much more inspiring to be able to sit up at a desk rather than crouching at the coffee table at the old house. I can also easily leave works in progress sitting there and come back to them when it suits me. Some years ago I bought a small mobile computer desk to work on and store all my beads. The idea was that it could be shut away in the spare room and brought out to the living room as needed. And it worked for a while but it was a hassle and we were so cluttered in the living area that I wasn't inclined to bring it out and add to the general claustrophobia.

2. Mum asked me if I could rejuvenate some of her earrings made by me over the years. We're replacing the findings with better quality gold plated stuff and the results are very pleasing.

3. I fell in love with these beads at an African drumming stall at that festival I went to recently. I dug them out of a big bowl of mixed glass beads, and isn't that the BEST way to buy beads? You feel like you could unearth a treasure. I get much the the same feeling diving to the bottom of bargain bins full of wool. Before I made them into a necklace they really looked pear-shaped to me. Now I'm not so sure. I'm also not sure this necklace actually suits me perfectly, but I love it anyway.
pear necklace

Saturday, March 21, 2009

It was so good that we got bored

juldeh camara
You might just want to skim or skip this post if you've seen and heard enough from me about this year's Womadelaide festival. I hadn't yet reflected on the music this time around, and I like being able to look back on posts like this later on. So here are my micro-reviews of most of the artists I saw and heard during the weekend.

Arte Kanela - flamenco music and dancing. Show-offy fun.

Andi & George Band - we turned up at the end of their Friday night show. I had heard the buzz about this large, fluid Canberra group, but had never seen or heard them. We really enjoyed their range of mostly upbeat reggae, soul, and roots-influenced music. Unfortunately they are finishing up as a band (I gather George had already made his exit) - we also went along to their final show on the Sunday night. There were about 14 or 15 people on a small stage looking like they were having the best time ever. Towards the end they found room for a bunch of Canberra groupies to dance around on stage as well. It could have felt cliquey but instead it just felt like the party expanded to include the whole crowd.

Ska Cubano - interesting idea, though I didn't fully get into it - an innovative combination of Jamaican ska and Cuban mambo music.

Paprika Balkanicus - gypsy music Balkan-style, with members from Romania, Slovenia and Serbia. I like my gypsy music any way I can get it; in this case the fiddle count was low - only one, but smokin' - yet there WERE two accordions, yay. Youngish guys with a slightly wack sense of humour.

Lo Cor de la Plana - a big highlight, six blokes from Marseilles singing beautiful harmonies accompanied only by hand claps and hand held drums/tambourines. My rudimentary French skills were not a lot of use, as their thing is to revitalise songs from the ancient Occitan culture and language. Oh and their jokes and comments between songs were about as dirty as their singing was angelic.

Rachel Unthank & the Winterset - another favourite, Geordie folk music. One of our crew is always seeking Celtic music, and this was the closest she got this time around. We all loved the Unthanks, very cool girls with beautiful voices, providing translations of dialect where necessary, and judicious use of the 'safety cardigan' - worn over a strappy dress to avoid wardrobe malfunctions during vigorous clog dancing.

Speed Caravan - Algerian Mehdi Haddab plays his oud electric, we loved it, went back for more. The one in our group who normally likes his music heavy found most satisfaction here of all the womad acts.

Justin Adams & Juldeh Camara trio - Justin Adams is a guitarist who works with Robert Plant, I knew his name from the Festival in the Desert CD (how much would I love to go to that festival?). He has teamed up with Gambian griot Juldeh Camara who plays the ritti, a one-stringed fiddle. That's him in picture at the top of the page. I loved this show, bought the album, got it signed.*
Canberra girls
A workshop with the Andi & George girls - the three female singers were down for a workshop session - in this case they just took turns playing and singing their own songs, handing one guitar back and forth, and sometimes providing harmonies for each other. An absolutely lovely, intimate show, some great songs, and lots of love for Andi who is fairly new to the game herself but obviously a real encourager for others to give it a go. All very warming for the heart's cockles.

Black Jesus Experience - Australian based fusion group with Ethiopian and other African singers - good fun times.

Kaki King - she does a lot of different things with guitars, which I found interesting, cool, densely layered, and inexplicable by turns. She has serious pretty rock cred, and is obsessed with Australian netball players - it must be the appeal of tall athletic girls in skirts (else why wouldn't the basketball players in her native US thrill her so?).

Neil Finn - with his sons Liam and Elroy. Liam looked like he was having the most fun. It was a great show including songs from all parts of Neil's catalogue; I would have liked to hear a Liam song included (unless there was one and I missed it?)

* I actually went away from this signing a little bit (ridiculously) introspective about whether lining up to get something signed and telling the person "gee I really loved your show/book/whatever" is actually a nice opportunity or just a dispiriting failure to make a real human connection. This is a continuation of an ongoing conversation with myself. See I have this fantasy self who is outgoing and can actually make interesting connections with artists who mean something to me. And, you know, that fantasy self is not actually ME (a classic introvert).

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Whisper your name to me


Here's a little baby cardie I just finished this week. I used Carole Barenys' top down raglan again, with slight modifications to make a v-neck (fairly easy with a little bit of maths - cast on less stitches for the neck and then increase at both ends of every other row until the stitch count 'catches up') and to add a bit of width, just to make sure it would be likely to fit in winter, for a baby born mid summer. I also changed the ribbing at neck and hem to garter stitch to match the button band. The wool is Naturally Haven Merino 4 ply. The light in these last minute morning photos makes the colour look a bit lighter than it really is. It's quite a strong, but still soft, green.

Baby's name begins with an S. I had an idea that some sort of motif incorporating an 'S' would be nice. Something personal but not quite a monogram. I think this worked out quite well first try! (at the last minute of course) I admit the daisy was not intended to be there, but I had left too much space between the two Ss. I quite like it though. I did do a little bit of swatching first to make sure I could do duplicate stitch. It turned out to be so easy and satisfying, I may never bother with colourwork again!
I don't know why my stitches look so wiggly. They aren't normally like that. Maybe I should have knit this stuff at a tighter gauge, but I liked the fabric.

cinched back
The duplicate stitch working out was such a pleasant surprise, because colour work (fair isle-esque) was not my friend on this project. This is how the cardigan looked when I first finished and washed it.
cinch close
I was lazy/hasty, and realised too late that swatching would have saved me time. I decided about halfway through that I should have reversed the positioning of the lilac and the white, because the lilac did not 'pop' enough against the green. Colour theory experts are welcome to correct me here - I think it is because they have a very similar level of brightness, ie if you converted a photo to black and white, they would be indistinguishable.

The lilac wool was also too thin. I could see this before I even started, yet I pressed on thinking I could get away with it. When I steamed it even before washing, I was able to block it out so the cinching in affect was hardly noticeable. But when I washed the cardie, I could see that each time it was washed it would look bad again. It was ok, certainly wearable, even cute. But I knew I could do better.
So I did this kind of thing again. I had already woven in all the ends, so ripping out wasn't worth trying. So I put a lifeline in the last row of stitches before the ill-fated colourwork, snipped a stitch in the row below, and pulled out that row, neatly detaching the lower part of the cardigan. Reknitting it plain was relatively quick and easy.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Although we're wearing different faces, nobody wants to hide

I've put a whole lot of last weekend's Womadelaide photos in a Flickr set, including more flags and bright blue skies for people who like that sort of thing. Hope you enjoy.

In a comment on my last post Tara said she was reminded of playing in the roots of those enormous Moreton Bay Figs, pretending the gaps between the roots were rooms of a house and sweeping them with branches with leaves on them. I like that story. Actually I would like to live in that kind of house, if the scale was right! When we were kids we had friends down the street who had a tree with a big hole in it where fairies lived, we were quite sure. We used to leave food for them.

The Mobile Sewing Company, from the Netherlands, have sewing machines attached to the back of two bikes. People offer the clothes off their backs for creative alteration. To get this done they need to pedal the bike for a while, to power the sewing machine. So clever and fun.
Mobile Sewing Company
On Sunday evening I was waiting in a line for food I had ordered, and there was a man ahead of me in the queue who had a Womadelaide t-shirt that he had obviously had embellished by the Mobile Sewing Company. I am still kicking myself for not asking if I could take a photo. I'm not always brave or outgoing enough.

Osadia have been at the festival before. I think they were there my first year (2005), but I hadn't actually seen them working. Imagine loud techno music and a small, rapt crowd watching intently.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

white flags and the moon


I was planning to avoid posting too many pictures of Angus Watt's flags at Womadelaide, since I've done that theme before. But, Donna Lee, give a girl a tiny bit of encouragement and look what happens! I reckon you might enjoy that deep blue sky too.

I could easily launch into a love story about the trees in Botanic Park, too.
love trees
small stage big trees

Monday, March 09, 2009

Ain't you happy that we're all together?


I'm just back from Adelaide tonight. It was a much better festival experience than last year's Womadelaide (ie, free of any intestinal distress).

Here are some Finns - Neil, Liam and Elroy - in their accustomed habitat. They seemed very happy there. I enjoyed their antics.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

For the railway buff - you know who you are

station front
I went on a photography jaunt yesterday afternoon with Bertie Mabootoo. We went to the Canberra Railway Station to honour a request I had from a family member for certain Canberra photos, including the one and only station. (There is no internal railway within Canberra, only one line that comes in from Sydney). It's not exactly an architectural marvel, and it's not even in the city centre. But it has its own charm.

Here are the rest of my photos, and here's a starting point for Bertie's.