Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Palmerville in Autumn

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I had heard about Palmerville via a friend who lives quite close by, as well as a recent-ish story by In the Taratory.

Still, I imagined it being a bit of a hassle to get to and I was surprised when I looked it up to find it's quite accessible and pretty much in the middle of suburbia. (They don't call Canberra the bush capital for nothing - we do have plenty of bits like this in between normal suburbs).

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A bit over week ago, Bertie Mabootoo and I went there for a Sunday afternoon photography walk. It's a very pretty and peaceful spot, the site of an early European settlement, very much pre-Canberra.

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As well as several grand elms and oaks, likely to be the oldest in Canberra and planted from the mid-1850s, the park also includes the much younger Landcare memorial forest.

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Each of these trees, natives this time, is dedicated to someone who has died. In some cases families have added extra plaques for other family members. I can't find much online about it, but this forest is clearly cared for, probably by local Landcare volunteers, and also visited by at least some of the families. I wonder if you can still purchase/dedicate a new tree? There were some saplings among the mature trees, but it looked like they were replacements for trees that had died or had to be removed.

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Wednesday, May 21, 2014

I'll wear something pretty and white

Kina cardigan

This little cardigan for my niece was made, not long after Christmas, out of some mystery yarn. It was one of those 'allsorts' packets at Lincraft that are almost always awful stuff. This one I bought years ago, thinking it looked and felt a lot like a 4ply cotton. Once I finally started knitting with it, I realised it must have at least some acrylic in it. And when I washed the finished garment and it dried very quickly, I started to wonder if it is actually all acrylic. There are some nicer acrylic yarns that can feel quite cotton-y.

Kina heart card

In any case, the colours are fun for a nearly-6-year-old, and when I showed it to her after I had just started knitting, she pointed out all the colours that will go with clothing she owns. I really like the orange (and green) to temper the pink. I'm not against pink, but there is so much of it in the life of a little girl.


The pattern is Kina from Kids Tricots. Early in the piece, she asked if it could have pockets, so I figured out how to add those using instructions from Studio Knits.

pocket inside

I actually had a drastic false finish on this one. Somehow, when I measured the length on her, I did a stunningly bad job (it was Boxing Day, we were all tired) and I ended up finishing the cardigan way too short. The length was cropped and the too-tiny pockets were up around her ribs! Luckily it's knit top-down, so there was a bit of ripping and reknitting, but it wasn't too hard to fix, and this time I made the pockets a good bit bigger and deeper. I just felt terrible for telling her it was all done, and then having to take it back home for more knitting.

Kina cardie for niece

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Is teal in the rainbow?


I am so happy to have finished my Arc en ciel jumper, which I've been working on between other things for months and months. I think it was the second sleeve I was working on while waiting for Bruce. And that was ages ago. I work on too many things at once, often get distracted by gifts, and generally seem to take ages to knit something, so I never really get too hung up on finishing a garment for for a particular season. This one, purely by chance, was finished pretty much just at the right time to start wearing it.

stripey flat

It's warm but light, made in Crazy Zauberball sock wool. It's close-fitting enough to wear under a jacket, but the loose boxy shape will mean I can layer under it too. So I think it will see much more wear than a heavier jumper.

I'm not sure what made me so sure I wanted to make this, since I knew it wouldn't work for me exactly as written - the neckline was a wide boatneck, and a little oversized on the model so that it also fell off one shoulder. Even so, I jumped into making the pieces without quite knowing how I was going to make it work. The front and back pieces are exactly the same shape, and this worried me a bit. I would have liked to drop and shape the front neckline, but I was too lazy to work out the shaping, as everything is knit on the bias...tricky. As it is, the inside of the cowl does sit higher on my neck than I prefer, but it's ok.

I ended up following the pattern as written, but continued the neckline beyond where you were supposed to cast off, with some paired decreases either side to narrow the yoke. I sort of hate skivvies/turtlenecks, so I really needed the cowl to drape down at the front. This took some trial and error (I really should have known that stocking stitch would turn into a big doughnut) and I ended up using a slightly larger needle, seed stitch, and some increases at the centre front.

increases detail stripey jumper

Saturday, May 03, 2014

Songs that tell stories

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I had a wonderful time at the folk festival at Easter. I had one evening alone (which I like - I find it a perfectly comfortable environment to wander around alone) and a day with a very musically compatible friend. Great company! We like a lot of the same things but are also drawn to slightly different styles, which probably meant more variety for both of us. I'd tried to get her to come along with me before, but only at short notice. This time we planned ahead and had a most wonderful day.
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It's not cheap, so you really want to plan ahead and spend a whole day/night there. Then you can really get your money's worth.
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Fire performance by Zap circus.

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It's such a comfortable, relaxed festival. Almost too relaxed sometimes - the audiences are attentive and appreciative but almost always completely seated (except for a few people standing at the back or in the doorways.) I tend to think some of the bands might like people to get a bit more animated. But then, it's not a rock festival. They're probably used to it.

There seemed to be a lot of bluegrass this year, and a variety of groups. I missed the festival last year - I was travelling to Melbourne to see this guy. The year before I think there were one or two bluegrass bands, but this time, they were all over the place. (Also, so many young guys with serious beards! - which is not just a bluegrass thing) Styles ranged from quite traditional (Karen Lynne Bluegrass Circle) to the younger guys: the quite clean-cut Davidson Brothers and then the more scruffy, frenetic Quarry Mountain Dead Rats. The Rats' banjo-playing speed, in particular, had me mesmerised.

But I didn't only listen to bluegrass. Although the festival still has a strong anglo/celtic focus, there is some other folk and 'world' music. One of the first groups I caught this year were the very charming Italian folk group Santa Taranta. And in the Celtic department, we loved Fasta, who play a combination of Irish and Quebec folk music with fiddle, Irish pipes and guitar.

I am always happy to go along to the folk festival (or Womadelaide) without particularly knowing any of the acts. But this time there was a big bonus to look forward to. I've been listening to Tift Merritt's music for years, ever since I came across one of her earlier songs on a country compilation disc, and started to collect her music.
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I was very excited to hear Tift play live and she didn't disappoint. Her voice is so warm, and powerful. Although they sound very different, in a way the experience of such a big voice coming from a relatively small person reminded me of the awesome Neko Case.
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She is also very energetic - I couldn't get a non-blurry photo while she was actually playing and singing! Gorgeous. I really can't wait for my next opportunity to see her.

Martin Carthy And then there was this guy, English folk legend Martin Carthy. I knew of him from reading Rob Young's Electric Eden. I am so glad I got to see him. He sang wonderful songs and told some great stories too.

Each time I've been to the festival, I love it and feel at home and relaxed there, but at the same time I'm aware that there is almost a whole other festival, or at least a very different experience had by the many musicians who attend. Whether or not they are officially on the program, musicians have lots of opportunities to meet, play together, and learn from each other, including in the legendary Session bar. This year I noticed a  lot more 'blackboard sessions' than before. I don't know if this was just because the layout had changed and they were more obvious to me. These are venues where individuals or groups can put their name down for a slot to play. There are also lots of buskers. And as the long weekend wears on, you notice more and more of the formal shows where additional guest musicians are invited to join the band for a song or two.

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So, compared to many of the people at the festival, I feel a bit like I am just skating over the top. But it's okay, they still need audiences, don't they?