Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Our Local

It's not a time of celebration or glorification of War.
It doesn't honour the aggressors or the victors.
It is a time of remembrance, of respect, of contemplation of the Human cost of War.
It puts a name to the statistics.

My Grandad was on the beach at Gallipoli and the trenches at the Somme. He lost three brothers in this 'War to end or wars' and never, in my memory, went on any Anzac march. I don't blame him for that - why would any sane human want to remember and relive this most tragic and terrifying experience. He did come back though - permanently changed by what he had experienced but still alive and in one piece.

Today we went to the little service in our local park and stood in the rain and mist for an hour while the service was held. It was brief and to the point. References were made to the futility of many of the battles that were fought with such tragic outcomes. The crowd was small but composed of a true cross section of the community- kids, teenagers, grandparents, all there for one thing - not to forget.

At the end of the service the Ladies of the local Croquet and Lawns Bowls Associations put on refreshment - as they do. There was Anzac biscuits and freshly baked date scones and egg sandwiches, all the traditional fare of such events. The kids had cordial and Orange drink while the adults drunk cups of tea poured from huge teapots.

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Anzac Day Service

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.
Lest we forget.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Green Gables and friends

Green Gables is done - at last. The rich teal colour of the Classic Elite Provence cotton has attracted a few nice comments and the adaptations I made to the length and sleeves don't seem to detract too much from the classic design. It is a close fitting top as can be seen by this bathroom mirror shot but I am very happy with it. I have the next Zephry pattern, Wicked, stepping up to the queue but it must wait its turn.

The Cleckheaton Country Silk goodness of the Interweave Knits Pullover Flair jumper is at sleeve stage and I am tossing between knitting from the top down on two circulars or doing it the traditional bottom up way. The main body was all knitted on circulars and this made for speedy progress if not a bulky package.

In keeping with the commitment mad back in January these items are all from the stash and I have only fallen off the wagon once, as allowed by the 'get out of jail free' clause.

The yarn is Mega Stoppino by Lana Grossa from the variegated, bulky-weight family that is so very popular at the moment. On Saturday Paula, at Rubi & Lana's, said those dreaded words that guarantee a sale; "I've only got 10 balls left and there won't be any more coming in for a few months."

The rich blue/green/black shades were like a magnet to me and, in a fit of mild guilt at having made such an impulsive purchase (3 minutes between entering the store and making the purchase) I cast on this pattern 5 hours later. I must admit at 16 st/10cm on 6mm it's a fast knit and the yarn is being true to its promise of saturated colour.

The people at Cleckheaton consistently attract me with their designs and pattern books and this, their latest, had only just been taken out of the box at the Wool Inn before I had it. Unfortunately I can't say I have the same attraction for the colourways of the Vintage Hues yarn but there are so many wonderful substitutes available it's not a problem. Vero Tweed swatches up to the same gauge in 100% wool and has a warm plum/green/purple shade. It's destined for the cover pattern from the same book. By this time I should be well and truly over the variegated yarns phase for a few months.

The other Cleckheaton pattern book is the latest for Studio Mohair and it has a lovely jumper/sweater in it that has really got me wondering about pattern referencing/appropriation, inspiration?
Contrast and compare this sideways knitted sleeves, rib body, square neckline garment with this sideways knitted sleeves, rib body, square neckline garment. There are some obvious differences of course; lace sleeves, different gauge yarn, no stripes, but where does the original pattern stop and the new one start?

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Knitters Treat

I've just been told I have a Knitters Treat Exchange parcel coming - so a big Thank You to my Treater! S/he has told me the cost of Air Mail Postage was a bit scary so it's on a boat - a fast one I hope - but that makes the anticipation all that better.

I am still gathering together goodies for my Treatee but I'll have to keep that postage limitation in mind as well, it has to travel to the Northern Hemisphere. The Chocolate Rat pictured here is not going to be included in the parcel but the little gift bag full of delectable goodies is.

In the spirit of compiling suitable treats for this exchange I went on a "research" trip to the Chocolate Cafe in Katoomba where I had to sample the Real Hot Chocolate - I must report it passed the test with flying colours.

Buttons of pure chocolate, white, milk or dark, are melted in a special candle-heated cup then mixed with warm milk. The delectable liquid is drunk through the hollow stem of the spoon like a straw. They don't skimp with their serves and they top up the milk if you get carried away. All in a good cause!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Women of Art

During the course of our two day Canberra stay I did catch up with a few 'old friends'.
Nora Heysen, Margaret Preston, Stella Bowen and Grace Crowley

These are all Australian artists of a similar generation who come from a time that mostly regarded women painters as hobbyists.

There's something about their clear lines, their use of colour and their choice of subject that I deeply admire

I was pleased to see their work at most of the places we visited; The National Gallery of Australia; The National Portrait Gallery at Old Parliament House and the Australian War Memorial Museum.

Many of these women went overseas to study and have their work recognized in its own right. Some, such as Stella Bowen and Nora Heysen, became war artists.

I wanted to do something for the war effort and I offered my services for making sandwiches down at Rushcutters Bay for the navy. I did that for a while but they complained that I put too much butter and filling on the sandwiches and I was dismissed from that. From an interview with Nora Heysen, 25 August 1994

Heysen was frustrated by the restriction of only painting 'safe' studio portraits of the commanding officers of the women's auxiliary services. Despite this she still produced some fine works such as this one of Transport Driver Florence Miles.

I came upon the painting in a small corridor overshadowed by a large Mosquito plane but it was this small canvas that caught my eye. In a building dominated by large mechanical war machines and huge monuments it brings in a human perspective.

Canberra Travels

Our trip to Canberra went the scenic route via Grand Pacific Drive and the spectacular Sea Cliff Bridge. I have been known to admire large engineering structures and this sweeping curve of concrete is no exception. We missed the Bulli Pass turn-off so the scenery deteriorated to suburban commercial enterprises once Thirroul was passed (much as I admire the growing prosperity of Wollongong and its environs it doesn't make for a relaxing drive.)

Lunch stop at the Nan Tien temple was a welcome respite. We bypassed the downstairs restaurant for the more utilitarian cafeteria upstairs, lining up with the locals for a "three course" vegetarian meal for $8.00. It's no-frills but all part of the whole temple experience.

I missed the Canberra S'n'B at the city centre because we didn't rush the journey and I wasn't game to suggest we should hurry because of a knitting meeting.

There was much negotiation as to what would be visited on our short stay in the Nation's Capital but by a bit of juggling we managed to get through;
Questacon, The National Gallery of Australia, Old Parliament House, The National Museum of Australia, The Australian War Memorial and Cockington Green with a minimum of fuss. I was very impressed that most of the public buildings had no entry charge so that made for an economical holiday.

For me the highlight was the Print exhibition at the NGA. A huge display of over 300 works covering 200 years of Australian art and social history. The exhibit featured an extensive number of print artists, such as Jessie Traill, Christian Waller and a whole lot more. While the boys were exploring the delights of the Science Museum I spent a few hours wandering from print to print, going back, again and again, to favourites.

My interest waned at the Expressionist phase of the 1940's and 50's as it was all too dark and gruesome for my liking. I preferred Samuel Calvert's wood-engraving of a country lass "At The Creek" and cheeky chooks.

Friday, April 13, 2007


Here's Jiji looking a bit nervous - the ISE4 scarves are packed and about to be sent off across the Pacific.
Backyard Leaves from Scarf Style has been added to the mix as well as the Illusions faux cable scarf. Jiji is looking a little bit concerned because he doesn't want to be kept on tenterhooks for too long. Hopefully Australia Post will do right by him. (Also the fact that the scarf recipient hasn't posted to the ISE4 blog makes him a bit nervous but I'm sure it will all come out right).

It's nice to have the Camera back.
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Tuesday, April 10, 2007


Sometimes things just all come together - and that's what happened this Easter weekend. I made it to Rubi and Lana's for a small but lively group. Gemma made her first visit there after hearing about us through ISE4. I hope we weren't too boisterous.

I remembered to bring the knitting bag this time with all the carefully packed projects and the new edition of Yarn Magazine. I was pleased to see an article in it on copyright written by Jenni - a past member of the Blue Mountains Knitting Guild. She is a very skilled knitter and since she moved South to Melbourne is now working for a law firm, so I presume she knows what she is talking about.

It was a timely article as I think as there is a lot of confusion about what constitutes copyright in the knitting world. I have read so many comments that start or end with "I'm not a lawyer but..." and then often go on to give an American version of the legalities of copying patterns or designs. I am not even going to venture an opinion about this issue - just like I won't diagnose that ache in your shoulder or give a quote on re-roofing the house. Leave it to the experts I think.

I did finish the ISE4 scarf and borrowed the cousins' camera to take a pre-blocking photo. It's not as long as I would like but it is beautifully soft and the colours accentuate the faux cable well. I didn't use the extra skein of accent yarn included as the Sari silk mix didn't drape as well as the pure Merino. I plan to send off the parcel within the week because the other overseas exchange I enrolled for came through. I have 2 little piles being made up at the moment - goodies for ISE4 and goodies for the Knitters Treat Exchange. Now I know why I couldn't do this long term as in SP10 -the stress of getting "the right thing" is just too, too much. (holds hand to brow and sighs).

The weekend continued well when I managed to go out for dinner that night - a rare occasion. Grab your Fork's review of the new location of The Malay Chinese restaurant had me hankering for a big bowl of Laksa with a cool, refreshing Ale. This wasn't to be because the Malay was closed. We continued on to the Korean Quarter of Sydney CBD and, after a short browse through King's Comics, came upon a gem of a place.

The night was balmy, the streets wet from a recent rain storm and spicy barbecue smells led us round the corner down an alleyway off Pitt Street to the obscure entrance of Sydney Madang - Korean Cuisine & Charcoal BBQ.

I could not have asked for a better place to fulfil my yearning for something hot and spicy. Sitting inside the wooden panelled interior with the rain teeming down outside, a big bowl of Bibimbap, Kimchee and a VB in front of me it could have been anywhere in Asia. Especially as the line of people waiting to get inside were mostly Korean students, always a good sign of quality and value for money.

The evening was capped with a promenade around the George St block to 85C, a "Cake and Beverage" store where they packaged their cakes and pastries in quaint little carry boxes. A perfect finish to a lovely day.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Photo Shoot

The knitting came to the House the other day for a bit of Work Experience. I made use of the office digital camera to take a few archival shots of some of the current productions and document my WIP's at the same time.

First is the ISE4 scarf on the set of the STC's production of Ying-Tong. This "UK comedy success of 2005" by writer Roy Smiles will be touring to eight venues around Australia. Accordingly the set is small but visually, surprisingly effective. It has a strong comedic cast and should be an apt tribute to the genius of Spike Milligan and The Goons.

The scarf is based on the faux cables pattern and uses "Parsley" handspun slubby single yarn of "luscious and lovely pure Aussie merino wool handpainted in gorgeous shades of green" from That Spinning Place. I'm hoping it will block out to a decent length without losing any of its softness or texture.

Next is the Green Gable Top draped around Rocinante from the Australian Ballet's production of Don Quixote. This is a Ballet that is steeped in nostalgia and history. "Rudolf Nureyev choreographed this production for the Australian Ballet in 1970 and, as guest artist, danced Basilio partnering Lucette Aldous as Kitri. With sets and costumes by Barry Kay the inaugural performance also featured Robert Helpmann as the Don and Ray Powell as Sancho Panza. It premiered in Adelaide on 28 March. Nureyev returned to Australia in 1972 to direct a filmed version of his production, which was released in 1973."

The set was redesigned in 1993 and, in the nicest possible way, it shows its age. It is not over-engineered, relatively easy to set up and move out and takes up minimal space on an already tiny Opera stage. It has been designed by someone who knows how to make canvas and wood look magical under stage lights. While in no way being disparaging of set designers I think this ability is becoming a lost art.

Green Gable is so, so close to finished. The cap sleeves are being slightly rejigged and the neckline needs a line of crochet to tighten the edge but I am very happy with the end result. The colour is rich and flattering and the yarn was worth the wait.

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Sunday, April 01, 2007

The Quiet before the Storm

This is a rare and unusual sight - an empty scenery dock. The Opera Season has just finished - the Semi loaded with all the scenery drove off to Melbourne a few hours ago and the Opera Theatre is strangely empty.

The Ballet Season traditionally starts hard on the heels of the Opera - often bumping in as the OA is bumping out.

Not this time.

The understage area is eerily quiet and empty. You can see the walls! Central passage is not full of skips and trestles, no stacks of masonite for the floor of Rigoletto or large ornate bits of Alcina stacked high.

Don Quixote is coming in tommorrow so this emptiness will be soon filled with sets and lighting rigs - just as it should be - but for now I wander through the dock and make the most of its emptiness.