Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Something to do on a public holiday

Accompany two nephews and a niece (with my mum and grandmother) to Cockington Green Gardens so they can drive the trains (and ride on a bigger one too).

Friday, April 22, 2011

Not Olde Worlde

This is the Moderne Baby Blanket from the first Mason Dixon Knitting book.
It's the first time I've tried the log cabin technique - you pick up stitches for each block so there is no sewing up at the end. I liked it, and would probably like it even more in wool. This is a bamboo cotton blend (Queensland) which is pretty unforgiving when picking up stitches, and sewing in ends. I shouldn't have allowed any ends in the middle of blocks, as they show a bit on the wrong side. A couple of times there was a knot in the middle of a ball, and I wasn't interested in ripping back. Once again, evidence of my lack of perfectionism. I can live with it!
I told the new parents there are several mistakes in the knitting, and they saw that as a challenge to find them! There are also a few errors in the pattern, I think even one or two more than what is published in the errata. As long as you follow common sense (and the photos) when the numbers in the pattern don't seem right, it's an easy fix.
I like this pattern and would do it again. Actually I would probably just take the concept and make up my own layout. Although there is much to be said for this layout which has been tried and tested, works well for four colours, and has that random but balanced look.

As I made the first two or three blocks, I thought the 'wrong side' was going to look uneven and awful - not ideal for a blanket. Picking up on the side of garter stitch does look different to picking up on a cast off edge. But as more blocks were added it didn't seem to matter. And now I quite like the seamed effect.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Afro-Cuban All Stars

Not to be confused with Afro Celt Sound System, who were also at Womadelaide. I saw them, they were very cool, but I was deep in the middle of the crowd and didn't take pictures.
For the Afro-Cuban All Stars, however, we got a spot early, right at the barrier.









Wednesday, April 06, 2011


Yeah, I know, it's all Womadelaide all the time at the moment. (If you're sick of it, this is the second last one, promise)

Rango is the name of the group, but it is also the name of a revived style of music and ritual, which was brought to Egypt by Sudanese slaves, a couple of hundred years ago.
And rango is also the name for the xylophone in the picture below. According to mepop, when the music is performed at rituals, those gourds attached below the xylophone blocks (pity that chair was in the way) are the vehicles for the spirits to manifest and enter the Rango cult devotees.


This guy is wearing/playing a mangor — a shaker-belt covered in hundreds of sundried goats’ hooves. Yes, goats' hooves. At the time I assumed they were some kind of seed pods.
And man below is shaking the mangor as well as shakers made from aerosol cans.


The main singer (although there were several) had a costume change halfway through the show - into the outfit below, which was so much fun to photograph.



Saturday, April 02, 2011

We'd have a fabulous garden by now

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Joanna Newsom alternated between piano and harp. She is clearly super talented, though I can't quite decide if I like her voice. I'd heard some of her songs before, but definitely appreciated her better live. The lady was a good sport, she was attacked by locusts as they swarmed the stage at twilight. She had to get a helper to swat them away, and she made a deal with the audience that if she "swallowed a bug bigger than an Australian $2 coin" she was outta there!
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And then there was Tanya Tagaq, an Inuit throat singer from Canada. Because I arrived late at the festival this year, the others had already heard a bit of her music and I got the impression it was pretty difficult to listen to. Although there are always acts that I find it really easy to like, I do also try to take some of these opportunities to experience something new and maybe difficult. I ended up seeing Tagaq's Sunday night set alone, and found it interesting but not really engaging - although I was very impressed by the violinist, who didn't seem to stop playing for the whole hour.
The next day we happened upon Tagaq's workshop (a question and answer session plus some performing). We decided to sit down for a minute and were totally drawn in. She was just so engaging and charming, talking about her singing and her life, as well as the community she comes from and the common experience of her people and the aboriginal people of this country in coming into contact with colonial powers, and having their children taken away 'for their own good'.

Tagaq described traditional Inuit throat singing as kind of a fun, competitive game where two women sing into each others mouths. She herself is self-taught, inventing her own solo, improvisational style. The singing she did during the workshop session was more or less part of the same music she had performed the night before, but it just sounded so much better. She did say that she finds her performances very variable - it seems to be a highly personal and emotional form of expression. I suspect the audience was a lot more engaged during the workshop than the show the night before, and her performance reflected that. Or else my ears and brain just liked it better because I knew more about where she was coming from. And I don't really mind which it was.