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I finished Sunbreak.
Ravelry tells me that I started it on July 19, 2011. I remember starting it at a Craft Camp. I used one of Kate‘s stitch markers for the centre and ended up taking it home with me. I returned it on the next camp, don’t worry. I think I finished the centre bit that camp, because I remember frantically making up little bobbins to do the rays, as everyone was packing up to leave.
For a while after that it looked like this
I couldn’t really knit it on public transport, so I watched a lot of Qi and That Mitchell and Webb Look while knitting this part of it. This part was sometimes hair-pullingly complex, but I can genuinely say (at this remove) that it was fun. I would do it again, no matter how lacking in calm wisdom I sound in this other post.
The reason it was so tangly was that I didn’t want a lot of floats behind the rays. Because the yarn is crepe ply, not wooly, they showed through and it was hard to keep them neat. So I basically did intarsia. Each little section of colour was its own bobbin. I remember getting very frustrated at how lumpy and imperfect it was looking, but I decided that a bit of bumpiness was ok. Eventually I got to the end of the short rays and it did get a lot easier then.
And then you knit each corner to square off the shape. It’s been long enough that I can’t remember the details of this, but I remember thinking that it was very elegantly designed. I remember a few head scratching moments of confusion, but I trusted in the pattern and it worked out lovely.
Then you block the middle bit like lace. It’s knit on fairly large needles, so it spreads out a lot. I didn’t get exactly the recommended size, so I just blocked it till it was even, and a nice proportion.
The centre is 76cm x 110cm. Flickr tells me that I blocked it in early February 2012. I started knitting the border, although after a whole blanket I wasn’t super excited about that. I decided to knit the longest sides first.
Then, on March 30, disaster struck. I know it was then because that’s the date of the email from me to the Clean Person at the hairpin, saying ‘HALP! I have ink on my knitting!’ A pen leaked on my bag and there was a splodge of ink, right at the beginning of the longest border edge that I’d almost finished. Clean Person Jolie was very helpful but although the ink was reduced, it was still present and I knew it would always bother me. So I ripped it out.
Then I didn’t knit anything at all for almost a year. I picked it up again in January this year. Because a summer of repeated 40 degree heatwaves is clearly the best time to knit. But also, I started it when I found out that my best friend was pregnant. It’s not for her kid, it’s for her. But he’s about to turn one and I thought it would be nice to have it for her by then. Not to mention that I intended to knit something for her 30th which was in February but obviously I am working on a year’s delay here.
So anyway. I turned up to craft camp this time with the blanket, two long edges, and half of a short edge. I finished the first short edge that first Friday there, and sewed on everything I had, so I only had one short edge to go. I was DETERMINED to finish it.
On the Sunday night I had the edge about five rows from completion when I gave up and went to bed. On Monday morning I steam blocked it and sewed it on. And then we had a little photoshoot.
I am SO pleased with it. I love it. The border gives it a nice heft, and it’s as snuggly as you could not-want in the heat we’ve been having. I am so pleased to finally be finished, and I’m really pleased with it as a piece of work, and proud of my own skill.
With the border it is 93cm x 120cm. I lost track of the amount of yarn I used, because of the shenanigans with the bobbins, but it weighs just over 900g, so I’d say I used 4 and a bit balls of blue (Bendigo Woollen Mills Classic in Tasman), and maybe a quarter of a ball of the yellow, which is an unknown yellow in Classic that I bought at their mill. Which is a shame because it’s a lovely colour, unlike all the standard yellows they offer which are palid and sad.
I’ll be giving it to its owner this evening and I hope she likes it.
And got a pinterest account. THAT’S RIGHT, LAUGH.
Anyway, I’m mostly using it in lieu of bookmarks for sewing stuff atm, but who knows for the future? I am trying really hard to limit my social networking time online because it’s just sucking all my time and then I don’t do the things I want (like actually MAKE the things I’ve bookmarked, or email you lovely people). But I thought it was only polite to inform you pinterest fanatics that I’m craftastrophies there, too.
I bought Frugavore a while back and… let’s just say it wasn’t my favourite. There’s some good stuff in there, but there’s also a lot of classism and ableism and assumptions that growing food will save you time, because otherwise you’d be driving from organic store to organic store. As we all do. Obviously.
I’ve tried several times to read further into it, but I think I’ll just go re-read some Jackie French instead. But like I said, there is some good stuff in there. If any of you is interested, just let me know in the comments and I’ll send it your way.
EDIT: It’s been snaffled.
I wrote out this whole post about how I haven’t been around because I’m tired, and then wordpress ate it. (And also this one, which I’d cleverly written in Word, first. It seems it didn’t like photos being included?)
Probably for the best – it got a bit maudlin. Well, it is Monday morning, after all. Only three weeks till holidays, though. I am looking forward to them.
I sort of accidentally volunteered to organise the family Christmas. I’m not hosting, it’s at Grandmas, but I’m doing the running around and
herding cats organising family members. Mostly just telling who to bring what. But it’s good, I’ve been trying to involve myself more with my family. There were a few thing this year that I felt left out of, and while part of it probably was certain family members not thinking of me, a good part of it was that with most of my cousins interstate or overseas, my contact with the general family is limited. So I am trying to rectify that.
I anticipate that family Christmas will be painful but good. We had a big family birthday/reunion type thing a few months ago, after which I was really upset for no particular reason. I think I need to do some more processing – which is good, because it means I am in a place where I can actually do that. Progress, emotional continence, etc. In the mean time, though, it’s leaving me a bit limp and faded. I was just describing it to a friend as it feeling like my emotional bones are aching. I feel physically fine, but keep catching myself walking carefully, and holding myself as if I hurt. Keep having vivid, confusing, emotional dreams, too, that I can’t remember but mean I wake up completely un-rested. Only to be expected, really, as we head in to December. I’m fine, though. Taking it easy on myself, and I could be better, but all in all, totally fine.
As frustrating as this time of year business is, it does mean it has a time limit. Three weeks till holidays, when I can sleep all day. Then trauma week. Then festivities, then one more week of holiday to enjoy the summer. Not so long, really.
Anyway, long story short, I’m around, although some days even logging in to leave a comment just seems like too much effort. I am looking forward to being less tired, so I can sit outside in the twilight, having drinks with friends. And I am grateful for all the company and metaphorical cups of tea and cocktails that you internet people provide me with.
Saw this article on feministe this morning and it made me think of Eleanor. I’ve deleted some stuff because it’s pretty long, but you should go read the whole article. The link to Melissa McEwan’s article about Larry Crowne is worth a look, too.
I wanted my first-year film students to understand what happens to a story when actual human beings inhabit your characters, and the way they can inspire storytelling. And I wanted to teach them how to look at headshots and what you might be able to tell from a headshot. So for the past few years I’ve done a small experiment with them.
It works like this: I bring in my giant file of head shots, which include actors of all races, sizes, shapes, ages, and experience levels. Each student picks a head shot from the stack and gets a few minutes to sit with the person’s face and then make up a little story about them. I wanted to know:
- What kind of story or genre do you think of when you see this person?
- What character are they playing in the story?
- Is there a specific role or type that comes to mind?
- What is their job?
- Maybe describe an environment, or period, or style of dress that you associate with the person.
The students then show off their actor’s photo and pitch their stories to the class and then we talk about the results. I’ve run this experiment a few times, and the students are very excited and creative with stories/genres and have a lot of fun with it. “I picture him in a Western. He’s the lone cowboy who rides through town and gets caught up in the trouble that’s going on there.”
However, some troubling shit always occurs.
Namely, for white men, they have no trouble coming up with an entire history, job, role, genre, time, place, and costume. They will often identify him without prompting as “the main character.” The only exception? “He would play the gay guy.” For white women, they mostly do not come up with a job (even though it was specifically asked for), and they will identify her by her relationships. “She would play the mom/wife/love interest/best friend.” I’ve heard “She would play the slut” or “She would play the hot girl.” A lot more than once.
For nonwhite men, it can be equally depressing. “He’s in a buddy cop movie, but he’s not the main guy, he’s the partner.” “He’d play a terrorist.” “He’d play a drug dealer.” “A thug.” “A hustler.” “Homeless guy.” One Asian actor was promoted to “villain.”
For nonwhite women (grab onto something sturdy, like a big glass of strong liquor), sometimes they are “lucky” enough to be classified as the girlfriend/love interest/mom, but I have also heard things like “Well, she’d be in a romantic comedy, but as the friend, you know?” “Maid.” “Prostitute.” “Drug addict.”
I should point out that the responses are similar whether the group is all or mostly-white or extremely racially mixed, and all the groups I’ve tried this with have been about equally balanced between men and women, though individual responses vary. Women do a little better with women, and people of color do a little better with people of color, but female students sometimes forget to come up with a job for female actors and black male students sometimes tell the class that their black male actor wouldn’t be the main guy.
Once the students have made their pitches, we interrogate their opinions. “You seem really sure that he’s not the main character – why? What made you automatically say that?” “You said she was a mom. Was she born a mom, or did she maybe do something else with her life before her magic womb opened up and gave her an identity? Who is she as a person?” In the case of the “thug“, it turns out that the student was just reading off his film resume. This brilliant African American actor who regularly brings houses down doing Shakespeare on the stage and more than once made me weep at the beauty and subtlety of his performances, had a list of film credits that just said “Thug #4.” “Gang member.” “Muscle.” Because that’s the film work he can get. Because it puts food on his table.
So, the first time I did this exercise, I didn’t know that it would turn into a lesson on racism, sexism, and every other kind of -ism. I thought it was just about casting. But now I know that casting is never just about casting, and this day is a real teachable opportunity. Because if we do this right, we get to the really awkward silence, where the (now mortified) students try to sink into their chairs. Because, hey, most of them are proud Obama voters! They have been raised by feminist moms! They don’t want to be or see themselves as being racist or sexist. But their own racism and sexism is running amok in the room, and it’s awkward.
The students aren’t stupid or malicious or evil for automatically slating the actors they way they did. They aren’t doing anything that casting directors don’t do every day. They are just reflecting the world they’ve seen on screen since they were born, the one where white men with strong jaws are the default human and everyone else is “other.”
The casting director and the studio will say “It’s just business. We’re trying to do what sells and give people what they want.” Let’s say you get to direct a big budget studio action film. Daniel Craig is interested in starring in the project. But you would love to cast Chiwitel Ejiofor, who is also great-looking and athletic and brilliant and who can definitely carry a film and even has a British accent! Both would do a bang-up job with the role, but with one actor you are guaranteed a certain box-office return and with one actor you are not, so you now have to talk your investors and the studio into shouldering more risk (and probably cutting your budget significantly or even un-greenlighting your movie or firing you, because what kind of idiot would turn down such a proven moneymaker?) So you think, I know! I’ll cast Craig as the lead but Ejiofor can be the partner (the one who dies horribly and inspires Daniel Craig to punch everyone in the world as revenge). The film will be good, everyone will make their money, no one is trying to be evil. Problem solved, right?
If you want to talk strictly aesthetics vs. politics, I think movies that are populated only with skinny under-25 white people with perfect teeth and hair who try to find love within the same 10 square blocks of New York or LA (with maybe some charming ethnic neighbors or whatever) are just… boring. Movies that star THE WALL OF DUDE + 1 TOKEN HOT LADY are boring. And then…did anyone see the trailer for Larry Crowne (as described by Melissa McEwan)? Watching that piece of mediocre bullshit before every single movie I’ve seen this summer, I can’t decide if I’m angry, bored-angry, angry-bored, or bored-bored. The sad thing is that the filmmakers are probably patting themselves on the back for not having an all-white cast and those actors are happy to get the paycheck and work with Tom Hanks.
So what I want to say to Hollywood industry folks is that you have so much power to change the way that people see themselves and the world, and if you would just dream a little bigger, we would follow you. While everyone likes looking at gorgeous people, there are a lot of definitions of gorgeous. The way we are represented on screen hold meaning and power and consequences for us. You can take risks and still be commercial. IfMachete can pass the Bechdel Test, so can you.
And for my talented and lovely students, who will make the films we’ll be watching years from now, it’s important to me to get this out in the open right at the start. Take the Red Pill, students! In school, when you’re not making commercial work and you’re not beholden to anyone for what you do, why bind yourself to reproducing what you’ve already seen?
Because if this semester I have to watch 75 films about able-bodied middle class white guys with good abs being white at other white guys, relieved only by the occasional “hot chick”, “mom”, “love interest” ,”thug”, “maid”, or “black best friend”), I’m sure the writing will be sharp and the camerawork will be skilled and the acting will be good and your grade will be fine. But you’ll also be sending me and everyone else a message that you’re happy with the world just as it is. And the prospect of that makes me just a little angry-bored.
In unrelated news, last night I had a dream that I got to craft camp only to be told that it was for a whole week, not a few days. Which was great, but I then spent the rest of the dream trying to change my flights and finding someone to water my seedlings. Still, if that were the option, I’d take it.
Have you guys seen ‘A Very Potter Musical’? Tell me you have.
The Roller Derby season is upon us. It’s a squished up one this time around – the first two bouts were within a week of each other.
I feel like a bit of a bandwagon jumper. But I love roller derby for a lot of reasons. I love the costumes. I love the speed. I love the crowds of excited people. I love the catcalling. I love the way it’s totally a real sport (a hardcore one) but without offputting blokiness. (Butchness, now… that’s a whole ‘nother thing.)
I love that, because it’s pretty new in Adelaide (it’s been going for a while but most people hadn’t heard of it) lots of people don’t have a team to barrack for. Personally I have favourite players, but I generally barrack for whichever team is losing. It’s more exciting that way.
I love how camp it is.
I love the punny Derby Names – my favourite umpire is called ‘Or Elsie’. I LOVE the socks and short skirts and frilly knickers. I love how cute the Derby girls are…
Yes, she is offering her butt up for slapping. Why do you ask?
…and how badass.
But the thing I love most – about the individual players, the teams and the people who come to watch it – is its alternativeness.
There are people dressed up in rockabilly retro clothes, in stockings and short skirts, in ripped jeans and a tshirt. There are girls wearing suits and men in checked shirts with piercings and spacers. There are complicated updos and dreadlocks and rad undercuts. Fat chicks, big guys, skinny ladies, kids. There are people in so many shades of costumery. All just hanging out. Just being themselves, having fun. So many different kinds of awesome. All together in one big arena, watching women in sparkly tights and terrifying face paint whizz round and round, giving each other high fives – and thumping each other.
Apparently, the tactics are also excellent. I wouldn’t know – I have a pretty loose grasp on the rules, I’ll admit. I can tell you who is the lead jammer for a bout, and that’s about it. And that’s an improvement - last season I couldn’t remember the names of the positions and I kept calling them names from quidditch. I think ‘beater’ and ‘seeker’ are perfectly appropriate, frankly. Be that as it may, the first bout of the season was totally thrilling:
The Mile Die club was THRASHING the road train rollers in the first half. But in the end, Kit Cat Krunch scored a grand slam in the last few seconds of the final point… so that to RTR won by ONE POINT. (Reading that sentence back it sounds totally hilarious. But it’s not! It’s deadly serious!)
Kit Cat Krunch is the stripey-socked blur on the right there
That was weekend before last. Last weekend, the Salty Dolls managed a win over the Wild Hearses – it was a pretty tough battle, too. There was screaming and shouting and gasps as Derby Girls hit the concrete. Barrelhouse Bessie did NOT flash the crowd again, but she did give the umpires plenty of lip.
Next bout is in a week and a half. I cannot wait.
Also, this one:
This time last week I was still at craft camp. It seems like much longer ago. Been back to normal life for a (short) work week, and a weekend. And I miss my crafty tribe terribly! All those lovely women!
There was teaching:
There was sewing in the sunlight:
And at night:
There was swearing: at machines, at skirts sewn in backwards
(This being after the skirt had been reattached. Twice. I still have Caroline’s heartfelt, horrified cry of ‘noooooooooooo!’ ringing in my ears. The anthem of crafters everywhere.) And at F*&^ bias binding, how does it work, anyway?
(Janet aced it, even though she ‘hates sewing):
There was rain:
Oh, and there was a mouse:
I like this photo best because you can see Eleanor quietly crocheting away (‘I can’t stop!’) with her feet safely up, and you can see Suse just in frame. Her feet are up on her chair and her hand is flapping direction to Sue who was bravely searching for the mouse. I also searched, but I put my shoes on first, not being as courageous as Sue. And I didn’t search very hard.
Janet sewed a freaking lovely top out of some freaking lovely Liberty fabric:
There was enough left for Suse and I to have a handkerchief-sized square each. Suse sewed hers into a handkerchief:
Which TOTALLY counts as an FO. Mine is still in my suitcase. Ahem. It’s been a busy week, ok!
In fact, my total FO output was nil. I worked on my 100-year crochet blanket and made decent progress, making several more inner bits and attaching another half-row. I don’t have a photo but there’s one in Janet’s photo stream of me wearing it like a (very hot) scarf.
I worked on my Riding to Avalon. I finished the second sleeve. Then I realised the first sleeve was way too short, so I re-finished that. Then I blocked it, meanwhile discovering a little hole right at the cast on. I am really hoping I just tore it, and it wasn’t a moth hole. Now all I have to do on Avalon is the hood (well, and the seaming), which involves lots of thinking and also having the whole thing on my lap and worrying that I don’t have enough yarn left. So I put that to one side.
I worked on a baby jumper, the last sleeve of which I finished last week on the bus. Now I’m just doing the applied i-cord edging. Is everyone aware that applied i-cord edging takes approximately FOREVER? Ok, then. Good. Just as long as you are aware.
I had brought a bunch of yarn and a ballwinder, in case I got to some other projects. I didn’t, but the ballwinder was leapt upon with cries of glee from Kate:
And then by Suse:
Kate’s improvised swift was genius.
While I am leaving messages in my posts, here is Yalca Fruit Trees, with all their lovely dwarf quinces etc. It’s run by Cam, Tanya’s partner, who is very very helpful (Cam, I mean. Although, Tanya is, too).
And I know Caroline found it, but here is the Comic Relief Dr Who with Rowan Attkison as the Doctor
And here is the Catherine Tate show with David Tennant
And here is the Armstrong and Miller appearance in the RAF bit
Anyway, that was craft weekend, basically. I can’t really photograph the deliciousness of the food, the peace of the countryside, the pleasure of being in such, such excellent company. I can’t really describe them either. I just know that I said a lot of sentences starting with ‘gosh!’. As in, ‘gosh, we are lucky to be able to come here!’ and ‘gosh that was a good meal!’ and ‘gosh, isn’t Eleanor/Sue/Janet/Suse/Caroline/Kate/Lisa lovely!’ Because you all are. So very, very lovely. Thank you all so very much, especially Janet and Suse who go to such effort to organise us all.
And then I flew home. Boo:
There’s a club.