Friday, July 28, 2006

Honour Bound

Honour Bound - an intense, powerful production that any thinking person has to see - it is awesome. Previews of the show are happening now and it opens next Wednesday.

"Set within an eight-metre square cage, the performance and projections take place on the walls, ceiling and floor. A daring and provocative work, Honour Bound, which takes its title from the words written above the gates at Guantanamo Bay, is about some of the most important issues we face as a society: law and order, hatred and love, humanity, and human beings pushed beyond their limits. "

I did the complete run through for the first time tonight and I was impressed. A busy show for cast and crew and very confronting for the audience; it only takes 90min of your time but you leave feeling you've experienced the four whole years with David Hicks in his cage. The background images of two normal sounding Aussies, Terry Hicks and his wife, recounting their story in their matter-of-fact way, highlights the barbarity and hypocrisy of the incarceration and the Governments that placed their son there.

Damien Cooper has created a dramatic design with a small but punchy rig including Atomic Strobes and Varilites. This is a lighting session of the production with a knitting Light Walker - (Something the light can shine on so the true effect can be seen) .

The show will be running at the Playhouse for 5 weeks before it tours to Melbourne and I think, and hope, it will be a hit.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

My Local Yarn Store

Some Happy Stash Enhancement moments with Anita at the last Guild Meeting

Buying over the internet from the ease and comfort of one's computer supposedly cannot beaten -but not in all cases. Knitting is such a tactile art that it is not uncommon to see shoppers in wool stores stroking yarn, holding balls to their cheeks and (something I am often guilty of) sniffing skeins.
A computer monitor cannot convey the true richness of the colour of a ball of Kureyon or the soft texture of a skein of Naturally Mohair, or the rich, earthy, lanolin smell of a Merino/Possum mix. Nor can it easily provide the invaluable answers to the age old questions such as - "what's going wrong with my knitting here?" or "what can I knit with this?".

I thought I was above such plaintive appeals as I am a self reliant, self taught knitter; a member of many knitting groups and forums with access to the vast wealth of experience and wisdom therein; a practiced Googler and ebayer with a pay pal account and a long list of online yarn shops. Despite this, Anita, from my LYS, The Wool Inn, showed the true worth of the non-cyber interactions by solving my latest yarn dilemma in about 5 seconds.

She suggested I knit this from this. She even had an example of the completed garment available for a close and physical inspection. I could see clearly how this beautiful lightweight mohair yarn easily knitted into a sideways garter stitch boat neck top -with an additional crab stitch edging. So it seems that an essential ingredient of a successful LYS proprietor is ESP and patience, endless patience. Thank you, Anita!

Wednesday, July 19, 2006



  • an inability to resist the gratification of whims and desires
  • the act of indulging or gratifying a desire
  • folly: foolish or senseless behavior
Evidence - 1 set of beautiful Colonial Rosewood circular needles courtesy of the Wool Inn's visit to the Guild last Saturday. I thought I was very restrained in my purchases until I looked in my wallet and found a receipt for 10 balls of Patons Jet and the pattern book! Now, how did that get in there?

Claire Patterson Yarn

I received this yarn in the mail from Claire Patterson Design Knitwear - 3 Skeins of fine boucle destined for that slim hipped no-bust 60's pattern.
I love Claire's designs and colours but I unfortunately can't show you them as she has no web site. Apparently she has a regular stall at the Balmain markets as well as her annual visit to the Darling Harbour Craft show. The yarn was customed dyed and it has come out in the exact shade I wanted.

The skein is draped over a handsome specimen of Banksia Spinulosa in the back yard. A bush that is much loved by the birdlife in our area and which received a viscous pruning from a flock of Black Cockatoos last year. Those birds are like punk rockers of the bird world - attitude in bulk, loud, noisy, destructive and raucous. I still love having them visit .

Here, in the shade of a Tree Fern, Cyathea cooperi, is the lovely yarn all wound up and ready to go. It swatches to a very springy, very light fabric and despite my early misgivings I think the 300g I ordered will be well sufficient. The only problem I have is calculating the tension as there is no stitch definition - I can see some eye strain arising out of this task.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Charing Cross, Waverley - a Favourite Haunt

When I have to stay in Sydney one of my favourite retail therapy areas is Charing Cross in Waverley. Up to a a few years ago it was a slightly run-down nondescript area with an over-supply of Hardware and Builders Supplies outlets. It also had the odd Aussie Chip shop; a quaint "Ladies Hairdresser" with pink tiles and big "Drying Helmets", a few "Ladies Fashion" outlets and a Bakery that sold finger buns with pink icing.

As with all things in the Eastern Suburbs it is being rapidly gentrified but there is still vestiges of quirkiness that make it worth visiting. It still has the best St. Vinnies around (all those out of season designer labels have to go somewhere); there is Iku Wholefood; Shasta Bray Boutique; Bizarre Pets, specialising in scorpions and Wolf Spiders (they don't sell snakes anymore); the Verona Bakery,still selling pink finger buns along with Palmier and Croissants; and some great coffee shops including the famous Fideli's; a recent cafe newcomer, Bellagio, and not forgetting "Istvans Cuisine From The Heart Of Europe" where you can find freshly baked bagels and buns, great coffee and a slight infatuation with Soccer.

Every time I visit Charing Cross something has changed, not always for the better but so far not totally for the worst either. The Cross has a sense of place that is missing in the chrome jungle of the recently completed Westfield Mega Mall in the Junction and the feral grunge of the Bondi Beach Backpacker Hell strip.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Noro Revisited Rant

I received this in the mail a few days ago - I easily sourced it from a Canadian ebayer and including postage etc I paid a grand total of A$28. What is it about Australia that it retails for $45 to $60 in the local and internet shops?!

I can understand (well, not really) the outrageous prices some people will pay for an Out of Print Alice Starmore but this is an in print issue of a very much available pattern book that is a rip-off in Oz!
I'd much rather being paying the difference towards the yarn.
The pattern that caught my eye and made me buy the book was Jakobsberg and also Tista, a child's cute yoke jacket.

So far the cheapest Kureyon I have found is Yarns online at$11.00 a skein. On the web Janettes Rare Yarns comes in at $9.30. As I need 600g I think this item will be in a holding pattern for a while but it's still nice to have around to look at and admire.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Another Day in the Culture Factory

An eclectic week as usual - the sublime to the audacious. Start off with the annual PAU school shows, several hundred budding musicians with recorders at the ready for a soul stirring, mass rendition of Scarborough Fair. Doesn't it make you proud?

I only operated the Banksia Concert of the 2006 Festival of Instrumental Music but I am always impressed with the degree of organisation and coordination it takes to wrangle several hundred primary school children in and out of rehearsals and performances without turning the place into a giant chaotic playground. The show was of course, beautifully lit by Dave who can and does do the whole thing blind.

After my ears had recovered from the descant and trebles my next gig was back at the Studio and the fbi 94.5 Radio Play. (I missed out on Dame Kiri Te Kanawa who made a lightning visit to the Concert Hall and who reportedly sang beautifully but whose serious operatic repetoire seemed to go right over the heads of many of the audience who were hanging out for something from My Fair Lady.)

The best part of the Radio Play - besides the seriously talented actors of course - is the Sound Effects table with sticks of Celery, coconut shells (for the horses of course), wind machines, broken glass, metal bits and pieces and a bin full of 'vomit'. The third and final episode is on next Sunday so I had to make sure I was operating it so I can find out what happens to Plantanganet and his battle against Charton Heston and the Russel Crowe clones.

The week ended with a performance in the smallest set I have ever seen.
A Large Attendance in the Antechamber is one of those off the edge performances you're not really sure about but which is oddly compelling. Brian Lipson plays Sir Francis Galton – "perhaps the most brilliant, charming and eccentric example of Victorian genius. A great man of science, he was Darwin’s cousin and an exponent of social Darwinism through his founding of Eugenics". The SMH gave this 90 min one-man show a good review -"This oddball gem of a show is highly recommended" - and the usually small audience always gives a rousing applause at the end.

The lighting is minimalist - most of it is done with period candle and gas light supplemented by a few 10 degree profiles from the front, never above 50%. The props used are mostly authentic 19th Century parephenalia including a marvelous magic latern with "portable" battery which was reputably bought from a relative of Darwin for a scant few pounds.

Looking Shiny

Monday night - 23:59. I'm walking along the concourse, heading for a Taxi and as the Clock Tower in the Rocks starts ringing out midnight across the Cove, I stop and look back.
Usually I'm rushing to catch a train or scuttling through passages to get to the underground car park to beat the rush of Punters. Just now and then I catch myself and look around.
This night was particularly clear - a rare shower of rain had just passed and everything was looking crisp and shiny. And the view was shiny - I tend to forget that I'm working in one of the most beautiful buildings in the world - even if the concrete catacombs of the interior don't match up with the stylish exterior.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Stress Relief

A week that was, was this week. Stress levels extremely high but from no easily identified specific cause. A bit like the frog in hot water syndrome - gradually the heat gets turned up until 10 pm, Saturday night, I find myself spinning in circles, overwhelmed by everything that has to be done, if not now then yesterday.

What comes to the rescue? A good nights sleep, some vitamin B, an iron pill and two hours in the train, knitting and listening to Radio National Podcasts on the ipod. My favourites are; All In The Mind, delving into all things mental; Ockham's Razor, thoughtful people have their say on important science-related topics; Radio Eye, best of documentaries and features from Australia and around the world; and my personal pick; The Night Air, "hard to describe but you'll be glad you listened: a mix of all the best uses of radio in one time-slot".

I did subscribe to a lot of knitting podcast but have gradually been weeding out the banal and the repetitious so that I'm down to about 3 regulars. Unfortunately Brenda Dayne has gone on a break and Marie Irshard hasn't posted for a long while so that limits it even further.

The knitting that happens on the train is the Rib Wrap - it is progressing nicely but I am now so paranoiac about pattern corrections that I am double checking every instruction, despite the fact that there was only one listed. I question the back measurements, remeasure the front and check it against the back - it shouldn't be this stressful!

I am seriously studying Barbara Walker's Knitting from the Top Down as I want to free myself from such constraints to make my own errors! She's not an easy read though. The boat neck, cap sleeve, design I have in mind requires that I read three different chapters and decipher her probably really obvious instructions. My problem arises from my presumption that all top down knitting is done as circular knitting - as I have discovered it isn't. Barbara recommends a cunning "Invisible Cast On" that starts at the back, continues to short row shaping for the shoulders and then joins with the front (which has been picked up from the cast on) at the underarms - then it becomes a circular knit. The book has some great tips in the last chapter including a stern recommendation NOT to join yarn at the sides - as it leaves unslightly bumps - but to single knot and weave the ends in the body.

I think I may try the top down jacket I recently received from Knitting Pure and Simple and that may clarify a few things.