Thursday, September 25, 2014

Another brick (Chadwick) in the wall

I recently knit this Chadwick shawl, my third so far, as a special favour for my Mum to give to a dear friend. (Around the same time I requested she make something I really wanted to give my friend - so it was a perfect swap). It's a great pattern and luckily, I often don't mind repeats. Though I am keen to branch out to another Stephen West pattern or two - more on that later. both shawls

I put both of them together for the photoshoot.

tri stripe

Mum's friend had fallen in love with her Chadwick and wanted similar colours.

stripe point

With careful weighing I determined that the leftover amount of the orange Ella Rae lace merino from before, though it looked tiny, would be sufficient for 'Colour B' - last time it was 'Colour A'. The dark purplish colour was some Grignasco Bambi which had been in my stash for years. I think I had the urge to put it with the orange when I made Mum's, but the colour wasn't right for her. I do really like these colours together. And I was delighted to be able to make the shawl from wool I already had. triple

Friday, September 05, 2014

Queen. Live. I have seen.

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It's really hard to know what to say about this.
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The tour with Adam Lambert seems to be getting glowing reviews, for the most part.
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 Queen, in any form, had not been to Australia since 1985 - just couple of years before I started to become a fan.
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If I was to be objective I would say their show/tour is rather a strange thing
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it felt a little disjointed at a couple of points (or maybe that was just me coming apart)
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also, wonderful.
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(here is the set list from last Saturday. Dragon Attack was the surprise gem, also '39. Everything was good.)IMG_7828 e
but I am not objective
I am a massive fan
I was totally star-struck
I cried
(I was so glad to be there by myself and not give any thought to what a companion might be thinking of the show)
Freddie would have been 68 today. I can't wrap my brain around that. IMG_7825 e

Thursday, September 04, 2014

Some influential books

This has been going around Facebook, a request/challenge to list the ten books that have influenced you the most. It's interesting to think about what has 'influenced' me and what that might mean. I'm not going to overthink it too much or I'll be here for weeks, but I've tried to avoid including books that are simply favourite reads. And yes I can count and I know I've ended up with two lists of eight. I don't like to do exactly what I'm told.

Childhood/teenage (when we we very young...)

What Katy Did, Susan Coolidge. Our copy was old and it might have been one of the books that Mum had acquired second-hand when she was much younger. And now I think about it (and have checked out a few reviews and synopses), gosh it was so preachy and moralising! Perhaps it should be called 'The Taming of the Tomboy'. I don't think I'll be suggesting this one to my niece. I've included this more as an example of many quite old books I read which included words, places and situations that were hard to understand. I remember often reading and rereading books that had these little mysterious bits in them that I couldn't solve (or sometimes misunderstood), and it sort of made them a bit magical. That's why I think it's sad that they translate books like Harry Potter into American English. That's a missed opportunity to learn about cultural differences, and preserve a bit of mystery.

Edited after more thought:
I've thought a bit more about this - considering the Harry Potter series were books that got a lot of people of all ages reading, some who otherwise didn't read much, perhaps there is a place for this sort of thing. One person's fun challenge could easily be another's insurmountable barrier. And I know lots of keen literary types in North America just made sure they ordered the British versions.

Boy, Roald Dahl. One of those ones everyone at school was talking about. I doubt anyone who read this has ever forgotten the scene where he had his tonsils removed in the dentist's chair, brutally, without any anaesthetic. Lots of blood. Harsh times.

Playing Beattie Bow, Ruth Park. With a girl from the present being drawn into the past it was so exciting. I also remember the spooky feeling of present day Sydney (specifically the Rocks district) being lightly overlaid over the past - probably more from the movie, which I remember Grandma taking me and my sisters to. In the movie Abigail was played a bit older and the romance side was more prominent.

The Changeover, Margaret Mahy. Teen supernatural romance, but nothing like Twilight. I think. I maintain that it was much more classy.

Z for Zachariah, Paul Beadle. I can't remember if this is any good but it gave me a taste for post-apocalyptic survival stories. (later favourites include the heartbreaking A Canticle for Leibowitz, The Stand, The Passage, Wool...I could go on)

Forever, Judy Blume. Another one of those books everyone at school was talking about! Educational. Mm hmm.

Swords and Crowns and Rings, Ruth Park. Beautiful, epic, heartbreaking, tragic and romantic story, dealing with tolerance and intolerance.

Either Christine or Cujo would have been my first Stephen King, the first of many scary books I have adored. It's a bit strange as I never liked/tolerated scary movies or TV shows as a kid/teenager. Throughout childhood I was terrified of Dr Who, even the sound of the theme music. I think my visualisation skills aren't that strong, so I don't scare myself too much when reading. And I am drawn to supernatural and other quirky stories. (I still read King, and these days a good example of quirky/scary stuff I love is Phil Rickman's Merrily Watkins series.)

Later on (now we are six grown up?)

Animal Farm, George Orwell. Sure, it's one we all probably had to "do" at school. I don't think I've read it since, but I plan to pick up this as well as 1984, again soon. And it turns  out to be one of those 'how the world works' books. The punchline, 'all pigs are equal, but some are more equal than others' comes to mind so often. I may be over simplifying but I don't think it's just about communism or any particular political structures, but about human nature. We humans have to keep on grouping ourselves and defining who doesn't belong and isn't as good.

My traitor's heart, Rian Malan. The Power of One triggered a fascination with South African apartheid, then I came across this devastating book, where Malan uncovers many horrible things and tries to come to terms with his heritage. It used to seem easy to feel morally superior to the Boers and at one stage every Hollywood movie seemed to have a bad guy with an Afrikaans accent. But since then I've learned more about our own white settlement history (not least via the TV series First Australians) and can see the bigger pattern.

Guns, germs and steel, Jared Diamond. - a real a-ha moment, big picture of how and why 'civilisation' started and spread unevenly through the world.

The Gold Coast, Kim Stanley Robinson. In the opening scene, the characters travel on a highway system with linked driverless cars, and the idea has always stayed with me. The future takes so much longer to arrive than to imagine.

Death: the high cost of living, Neil Gaiman, Chris Bachalo, Mark Buckingham, Dave McKean. Intro to reading comics and intro to Neil Gaiman too.

Wonder Woman, George Perez, Len Wein, Greg Potter. Their run on the comic relaunched the character in 1987, and although I started collecting in the mid 90's, I also bought a lot of back issues. The look and feel and storytelling of this period of Wonder Woman (the first few issues are collected in a trade paperback called 'Gods and Mortals') is the best. How comics should be.

The Mirror of her dreams/A man rides through (Mordant's need), Stephen Donaldson. The first fantasy novels I was able to get into and it was thanks to the device of the main character starting out in the recognisable real/modern world and being pulled into the fantasy world. No idea if I would like it if I read it now, I haven't read Donaldson's other work but have been put off much more recently by hearing just how unlikeable Thomas Covenant is. A bit later on, I got deeply into Guy Gavriel Kay's Fionvar Tapestry which also used a similar device bridging the 'real' world and the fantasy one.

Electric Eden, Rob Young. Right time, right place - a growing interest in folk music of many kinds, a trip to the UK, and there was this book, on the shop shelf, calling to me. So much in it, I loved exploring all the connections as he casts a very wide net. I must reread it soon. Also probably find something along similar lines based in the US. (Any suggestions?)