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Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Sylvanian nostalgia

So who else used to play with these when they were little? Aren't they just the cutest??

I liked the baby ones best, and had a small collection of them which I used to make tiny clothes for and take on 'camping trips' to the pond in our garden. Unfortunately they would inevitably end up with bald patches as pond water and the adhesive in their fur didn't mix very well. I didn't mind though.

L and I had a shared love of our furry Sylvanian friends and regularly pooled our collections (my bald ones with lumpy clothing and L's immaculate ones) and played 'blind date' with them. Ah, those were the days!

Anyway, for the sake of nostaliga I thought I would include this little bonus bunny along with the shawl for L. Hope she likes them both!

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Belated Ishbel

So I've finally conquered my fear of lacy shawls - by knitting a wee one. Actually it wasn't that hard, I just had to engage my brain and concentrate for more than five minutes at a time.
That's not so say that there wasn't a bit of 'un-knitting' going on, but on the whole Ishbel (from Ysolda's 'Whimsical Little knits') was kind to me.
Here it is hanging out at my parent's place:

I guess it helped to be knitting with some gorgeous Wollmeise in the shade 'My Old Blue Jeans'. I swear that just a sniff of that Perwoll is enough to keep you going! Either it's a coincidence or Wollmeise understands the power of sensory branding. Or it's just my yarn fetish playing up.
Draping suggestion:

Anyway, what also spurred me on was the fact that it was a late Birthday present for lovely L so will need shipping across the Atlantic which is always time-consuming.. Actually, I also need one more thing to add to the package. Will update once it has been acquired!

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Welcome to Hotel Medea

As those who know me can attest, I am a big fan of the old 'immersive theatre' craze which seems to have been sweeping London's theatre scene in recent years. It started with Punchdrunk's 'Faust', continued with 'Masque of the Red Death' and a few dalliances with The Lyric's 'Contains Violence' and the slightly warped 'Abattoir Pages'. Even White Mischief tried to get in on the act, although not with complete success.. Having recently taken in the latest Punchdrunk offering, 'The Duchess of Malfi', a friend suggested we up our game with The Arcola's 'Hotel Medea'.

We thought we had seen it all. Wander around in dark rooms, wearing a mask and trying to find actors? Been there. Sit on a roof-top wearing headphones and checking out the acting in the office building opposite? Done that. Try to find the prohibition-style bar hidden somewhere behind the scenes? Sooo yesterday. What could stimulate our jaded palates if not an all night theatre performance in the middle of nowhere near Canning Town? When I say all-night, that really is the truth. Try 11pm-5:30am, propped up only by the promise of coffee, biscuits and breakfast at dawn.

So there we found ourselves, at 11pm at North Greenwich Pier with our snacks and water bottles, not entirely sure what to expect. A charismatic Brazlilian named Jorge welcomed us on the boat, and swiftly pulled out his iPhone: 'Is ok I film you?' Well, who could say no to that charming Brazilian accent? He asked what our expectations were of the production and I waffled something about hearing that the energy of the actors in Hotel Medea was enough in itself to keep the audience awake and engaged, never mind the coffee and biscuits. I later found out Jorge Lopes Ramos was the Artistic Director and the creative driving force behind Hotel Medea.

After a short hop across the Thames, we were deposited at Trinity Buoy Wharf (more of that later) and put through our paces in small groups to prepare us for certain elements of the production such as the 'call and response' singing, spontaneous rhyming, and some simple dance moves. We were worried. Though after having been plied with the first round of the promised refreshments we were calmed and ready to take on whatever the night would bring.
Instead of an in-depth description of the entire production (which can be found here and here), I'll instead impart to you my personal highs and lows of the night:

- Helping to prepare Medea for her wedding ceremony to Jason by washing, clothing and anointing her with fragrant herbs. Men and women were split at this point, creating a real spirit of anticipation and audience participation.
- Being put into pyjamas (over my clothes), tucked into a bunk-bed, given hot cocoa and read a story by our 'maid'. Then it was time to 'sleep', while overhearing Jason and Medea arguing over their deteriorating relationship - an effective way of having the audience experience the action from the point of view of their children.
- The use of CCTV style viewing of the action from the 'focus group' room - a clinical intimacy if you will.
- Experiencing 'Club Exile - the club exclusively for heart-broken women'. Men were allowed to infiltrate (having been told to 'gather evidence of Medea's betrayal'), wearing wigs and lipstick which provided some well-needed comedic relief.
- Running around like lunatics, trying to hide under a blanket in an alley-way at about 5am.

- Slightly forced audience participation in the first act. We needed to warm up a bit before feeling in the mood to jump around to Brazilian beats.
- Being stranded somewhere near Canning Town at 6am. The promised minibus proving throughly useless, with the driver eventually dumping us somewhere near All Saints with the comment "I think there's a bus stop down there somewhere." Admittedly he was confused by the closure of several roads due to a triathlon, but ANY tube station would be been better than none. Thank God a taxi made a timely appearance.

On the whole I would warmly recommend Hotel Medea, especially if you are as particular with theatre as we are. We prepared well by sleeping in, and having a nap between 7pm-9pm so it really was surprisingly easy to stay awake. The Trinity Buoy Wharf area was actually really fascinating too. It seems to be something of an artsy quarter, so we may well be back to take in future events. Once the sun was up, I took a load of pics.

Some cute office space for rent:

'Container City':

We'll definitely be coming back here!

Funny mechanical wing contraption. We managed to make it flap v-e-r-y s-l-o-w-l-y.

This is where the action took place:

Our breakfast feast (breakfeast?):

Needless to say, we collapsed into bed as soon as soon as we got home, but by about midday we were perky again. Almost felt like a long weekend!

Monday, 9 August 2010

Don't be a sinner, be a pinner!

Damn you Springwise, for bringing to my attention the pretty wares of Cloud 9 Fabrics! I'm sure some of you will have heard me wittering on about a couple of particular prints, and after (not much) deliberation I decided to make it my mission to acquire some.

(Un)fortunately Cloud 9 made it rather easy for me to find a nearby UK distributor, in the form of Saints and Pinners - can you think of a better name for a fabric shop?!
About two days after my order, this charming package arrived for my delectation:

Now I *know* I'm in love. Cute packaging, with or without a bonus lollipop/free product sample/sweet message gets me every time.

The contents: Let me introduce Sandpiper and Coral Weed.

Ready for their close-up:

Sandpiper might become this dress when it grows up, while Coral Weed will become something along the lines of this one. We will see. In the meantime, I am quite happy just to look at them as they are and then curse as I try to wedge them in the cupboard with the rest of the fabric stash..

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Knit Nation 2010

If you are not intimately familiar with knitting (or indeed knitters) you might be forgiven for considering the craft still somewhat niche and, despite a resurgence over the past several years, with a rather limited following. I believe that Knit Nation goes some way to dispelling this belief.

Knit Nation was arranged by Cookie A, sock designer extraordinaire and Alice Yu of Socktopus. Hats off to them for making everything run so well with only some minor technical glitches. Taking place at Imperial College in South Kensington, it offered knitters of various degrees of obsession a chance to shop amongst the yarn stalls, take courses to extend and learn new skills, and also just to revel in the knowledge that it's not just you that has a borderline fetish for squooshy yarn.

Thursday saw the opening of the yarn market for a 'preview' of the mouth-watering wares. I was not there at the initial opening, but I hear that it was quite well-attended. No pushing and shoving, but perhaps some dainty trotting over to the Wollmeise stall in order to grab some prettiness. Fibbertygibbet and Craft Actually will tell you more about the (controlled) dash! I had to make do with excited emails and texts from my ladies on the ground keeping me up to date with what was going on until I could leave the office :)

By the time I was on the scene, it was rather calmer. Check out that Wollmeise stall!

The vibrancy and colour range was just stunning!

Mind you, apparently they did bring one metric ton of yarn with them from Germany, so there should have been plenty to go around.

Cute detailing!

Having signed up for the all-day course in knitting two toe-up socks at a time, I had to peel myself out of bed at the ungodly hour of about 7am on Saturday. It was worth it though. Our lovely teacher was Chrissy Gardener, rather a big cheese in the sock-knitting world! Her endless patience with us was admirable, and by lunchtime I had managed to churn out these:

After (another) quick visit to the yarn market and lunch with friends, it was back to it and time to turn the heels. After that it was pretty much plain sailing and I ended up with these beauties:

I would say that this class was a good level for me and I learned a brand new useful cast-on for socks as well as a great stretchy bind-off. In addition it was good to revise the heel technique so I was happy!

With our courses now done, we toddled off for an early dinner at easily the best Polish restaurant I've even been to. Daquise offered exquisite food in fairly posh surrounds and at a reasonable price - what more can one ask for? Everything was freshly prepared (sometimes at the table) and lovingly scooped onto your plate. Delicious!

With the time now approaching 8pm, we wandered back to Imperial for the 'Ravelry Party' - or to put it bluntly, the Ravelry Party goodybags. Yes we are shameless freebie hunters.

Here are Jess and Casey, the Founders of Ravelry, about to begin the raffle.

We did end up having a raffle winner in our group, so it was worth sticking around for ;) We also piled into the photo-booth, with (for me at least) disastrous results..

"So where's the swag?" I hear you cry. Below we have some undyed cashmere, angora, silk blend from Artisan Yarns, followed by four skeins of Wollmeise twin sockyarn, two in 'My Old Blue Jeans' and two in 'Neptune'. I actually also got two more sock skeins, but they will remain un-photographed as they are to be delivered to a friend in Sweden and I'd like the colours to remain a surprise..

Here's the cute goodybag from Ravelry, along with my Wollmeise lace in 'Dunkel Kirsche' and 'Flaschenpost' (love that name!).

As we were one of the first to arrive at the Ravelry Party, we also got a nice Knit Nation bag to carry everything home in. So not a bad haul!

With a successful Knit Nation complete, our only question is when the next one will be?