Deco City Revisited

My Deco City shawl pattern, originally published in Pom Pom Quarterly's gorgeous Winter 2015 issue, is now available as a single pattern download on Ravelry. There is one change to the new version of the pattern: this time it includes charts as well as the written instructions. As a chart-lover, I like to include them whenever I can! You can read all about the shawl and its inspiration in my post from last November: New pattern: Deco City.

Before I sent my shawl off to Pom Pom, we did a little photoshoot of our own in Melbourne's St Kilda, which has some interesting Art Deco buildings including the Palais Theatre. It was incredibly windy, so we used the wind to our advantage...

As you can imagine, it takes a lot of shots to get a shawl to look good in the wind, without having the lace design hidden or all of my hair in my face. :)

We also found this amazing architectural confection on the little lawn outside Luna Park:

You can find the Deco City pattern and the whole Winter 2015 issue here on Ravelry, and paper copies of the magazine are available through Pom Pom Quarterly's website and awesome yarn shops.

WARMing up

Have you heard about the WARM project? It's a community textile art project to reflect on climate change and sustainability, which will take the form of two giant pictures made up of small knitted parts, to be installed in the Ballarat Fine Art Gallery this September. You can read about the inspiration for the project here.

My contribution is a batch of knitted gum leaves. I've made six small ones so far, which I'll put in the post today. If I have time, I'd like to make another batch of leaves.

I found some fallen leaves and flowers under the gum trees at our train station today, very conveniently for my photos!

If you'd like to knit something to contribute to WARM, you can find the all of the patterns (devised by Georgie Nicholson) here on Ravelry - you can make different kinds of native flowers, or wind turbines, or simple lace squares for example. All items need to be made from 100% wool yarn, and using stash yarn is encouraged. Contributions are due by the 12th of August.

Finished project: Royally Striped

You guys, I actually finished a garment! This only happens once or twice a year, I am sloooow when it comes to garment knitting - mostly because I have so many other things I want to knit, and if they're my own designs I prioritise them. Which is totally great! But I think I need to get back to doing purely ME-knitting on the weekends, because I'd love a couple more jerseys and cardies in my wardrobe.

This is my Royally Striped cardie, designed by Stephen West and knit in a combo of Morris and Sons Norway 8ply (the natural charcoal and brown colours) and Vintage Purls Max (the burgundy and golds). The golds are actually the leftovers from my Beeswax Set, now put to good use. :)

Isn't this mural neat? It's across the train tracks from our place, on the side of some storage units. I like the little people climbing around in the eucalyptus branches.

Royally Striped is an all-in-one-piece design, where you knit one section and then pick up stitches for the next section. It's quite magical, the way it grows and grows. I really like the i-cord bind off around all of the edges, it finishes it off really tidily. I did add a big wooden button, but I prefer the way it looks unbuttoned.

The striped short-row wedges were fun to knit - don't they look cool?

Here's a closer look at the back, with its block of colourful narrow stripes:

I do love the cuddliness of garter stitch!

Next up will be another one of these. Not as exciting (especially as I've knit one before), but it will be a great basic super-wearable jersey. And my yarn is speckled, so scratch that - it IS exciting!

Indigo and cobalt

I have a pretty-pictures post for you today! I visited the NGV on Sunday after choir, and saw an exhibition that's been on my to-see list for a while.

Blue: Alchemy of a Colour definitely lived up to my textile/dye geek expectations, once my eyes adjusted to the dim lighting. I really enjoyed seeing all the different textile decoration techniques from various places and time periods - and it was so much easier to see the details and differences in real life. Being able to see the texture of the fabric from various angles makes such a difference. That said, I hope you find my photos interesting! ;)

Most of the fabrics below are dyed with indigo. This beautiful kimono and wall hanging were decorated using resist techniques, which you can read about here: Resist-Dyed Textiles.

And here are examples of ikat fabric, where the threads are resist-dyed in a pattern prior to weaving. You can find out about how it's made in this photo gallery: Making Ikat Cloth.

The 'rag kimono' below is an example of boro patchwork, a traditional Japanese form of visible mending. You can see the parallel lines of running stitch holding the layers together in the close-up photo.

You can read more about traditional boro and sashiko embroidery here: The Japanese Art of Sashiko Stitching; and you can see examples of modern sashiko-inspired visible mending here: Three Easy Ways to Mend Fabric, Inspire by Japanese Textiles.

This quilted bodice with indigo-dyed silk ribbons and 18thC embroidered bedspread are just too pretty, especially with the depth of colour in the ribbons. I recognised the bedspread from last year's 'Exquisite Threads' embroidery exhibition...

Lastly, I had a look at the ceramics. This article on the exhibition describes the use of cobalt in ceramic decoration, which goes back over 1,000 years. The 18thC Delft tiles were especially cute! I've included by favourite below...

If you're curious about indigo dyeing, here are a couple of videos I found interesting. The first is about cloth-dyeing in India, and the second (specially for my fellow knitters) is about dyeing yarn. I must get some real indigo yarn to play with!

It's Bach season!

It's March, and for those of us in choir-land that means the countdown to Holy Week has begun. As well as our St John Passion performance on Good Friday, my choir at the Scots' Church is doing a few Bach cantatas spaced throughout the year. We did one last Sunday - the first half of BWV 147, 'Hertz und Mund und Tat und Leben' - and it was really lovely to sing. The opening chorus was fast and exciting with its trumpet solos, and the final chorale was just beautiful. Definitely worth getting up at 7am on a Sunday. ;)

There's a video of us singing & playing the final chorale here on Facebook, courtesy of our organist Ria. The tune is best known as "Jesu, joy of man's desiring" - you might recognise it when you hear it. I remember coming across a piano arrangement at Nana's house many years ago and playing it on the dodgy old piano...

This is a video of the whole cantata, performed by The Sixteen:

I'm glad it won't be my first time singing the St John Passion this year, there aren't many weeks left now to brush up on my German (not to mention all of the notes). I'm also glad we have more than one special rehearsal scheduled this time in addition to the Sunday morning run-throughs.

One of my favourite Bach interpreters, John Butt and his Dunedin Consort, have recorded a liturgical reconstruction of the St John Passion. Here's a short intro video with some rehearsal clips:

After filling my head with all of this music, I'm going to be super-primed for a very, very exciting trip... This April I'll be heading off on my first trip to Europe with Willie and Julian! I really can't believe it's actually happening. We'll start with a visit to Berlin where Chloe and Celena live, and spend three weeks exploring a few different cities including Florence, Rome, and Amsterdam, with short stops in Leipzig and Munich. It was incredibly hard to narrow down our list of places to visit, but I prioritised the places with the art and architecture I most want to see (as a consequence of my years of studying music and art history and Latin).

In Leipzig I plan to visit the Bach Museum, the Thomaskirche and Nikolaikirche, a museum of musical instruments, and a music bookshop. And hopefully a coffeehouse or two!

More on the trip later. For now I need to work on my German and Italian (both beginner-level, alas) and do some more plotting and planning...