Saturday, 28 February 2015


My eldest daughter has always been a dancer. Until she finished school, it was ballet and jazz. Then she moved to the big smoke for University and had to reluctantly give it up. Two years ago, she sort of stumbled into the dance side of cheer-leading. A cheer gym near where she was living advertised an open day with free dance classes. So along she went, eager to stretch out those under used dance muscles and got asked to audition for an Open Pom team. Why not, she thought? She made it through the audition and onto the team. Being somewhat of a novice to the world of cheer she had no idea at the rarefied levels the team she had joined was playing in initially. In her first year, she found herself at State and Australian championships and at the end of year being part of a team that had won a bid to compete in the World Cheer and Dance Championships  at Disney World in Florida in America in 2015.
Australian All Star Cheer Championships 2014: She's the one on the left.
Her University recognized her as an elite athlete. She currently juggling 4 or 5 days of training a week with hospital placements. (She's in her last year of Med school). She and her fellow Swifts are on the final countdown to #20swifteen - their giant World Championship adventure.

But of course a team off to the other side of the world needs a mascot to take on their adventures.So I got one of those bizarre knitting challenges I thrive on from my daughter and her squad of fellow cheerleaders. Could I make a slightly gangsta knitted swift mascot for her team?

I got some guidance in the form of this lovely photograph of a sketch from my daughter. (She's incredibly talented at lots of things but she'd be the first to tell you drawing is not one of  her strongest points).
And here's what I came up with. I've made little knitted birdies before. There's a little knitted parrot I made years ago kicking around my house that's just the right size to fit on a child's shoulder. It's played parrot to many an imaginary pirate. The knitted Harry Potter doll has it's own owl companion, Hedwig. I used the same basic body shape.
You can see the swift's little birdy feet here. They're made from bent paperclips wrapped in yarn and secured with hot glue.
The final finished swift is about 15 cm tall and 22 cm across from wing tip to wing tip.
This was just the prototype. It's hard creating something to exactly fit the brief when all the conversations around what is wanted take place by phone, email, and Facebook chat. The swift is a little small. Now I'm scaling up to about 40cm tall with a slightly less outspread wing arrangement. It will also be wearing baby size high-tops and a peaked cap and dog-tags... This little swift has gone off to live with my daughter in the meantime.
So "Go Swifts!" (You need to imagine this said in a cheer type way - complete with pom pom waving and a kick line).

Friday, 13 February 2015

Randomly on a Wednesday

Every so often you get the gift a day to stop and smell the metaphorical roses. I spent a pleasant Wednesday morning idly wandering the streets of Melbourne camera in hand with no plan and no agenda except to appreciate our beautiful city (and take some photos of the latest finished objects).

The city square was a riotous bloom of colours - all the trees were wearing sweaters. (Clearly the trees had figured out the only way to deal with Melbourne's non existent 2015 summer was to rug up). It was a grey and overcast day.

This is a bare sprinkling of the trees. All the ones along the footpath have also been done - must be about 20 to 25 trees in all.
This one is my favourite. All the texture and pattern.
This is the work of Yarn Corner who advertise themselves as one of the largest yarn-bombing groups in the world. They left their little business cards tied to the trees. It's not an unsanctioned installation but fully endorsed by the Melbourne City Council. I love that I live in a place where people allow you to cheer the world up like this. I went and hunted up Yarn Corner on the internet and may have just joined up to play in their next epic yarn-bomb madness. I also discovered that a couple of the people I know in real life contributed to this massive effort. For those of you wondering how you dress a very large tree in a sweater, there are cherry pickers involved apparently.

I just may have also hugged a tree or two....

I did take my camera and the most recent finished shawl and scarf to specifically take some finished object photos.I may have done my own little subversive bit to brighten people's days by temporarily yarn-bombing statues. After all Chinese Lions wear shawls and cute little punk dogs need a scarf to ward off the summer chill.

This was my favourite. This is on one of the busiest corners in the city. There are a trio of statues here - depicting typical commuters in the everyday rush. I wrapped this guy in a shawl, took my photos and patted him on the head and went on my way - all to the smiles of the passing city crowd.

Melbourne has amazing street art everywhere you turn. This is outside the State Library - a giant chunk that just looks like its randomly fallen off the building. I hope it liked its transient scarf  embellishment.
(And because I know there are those of you who are wondering. (Because I know my mother did). I didn't leave the scarf and shawl behind. It was temporary adornment for the purposes of photo taking only. There are too many knitting hours in these to just abandon them to fate. The scarf in particular in the last bit of of my giant scarf-ghan. It's sort of needed).

The highlight of my random Wednesday was the last bit. I was in the city with my youngest sister. She had to work for the morning but the afternoon we spent at the John Paul Gaultier exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria. I was truthfully blown away. I had a little idea of what to expect - fantastic outfits on dummies of course. Maybe a cone bra or two - corsetry and costumes made for stage. But the sheer scope and scale of the imagination of Gaultier as a designer was eye opening and humbling.

The crafter in me marveled at the hours of handwork involved in bringing the genius vision to life (1600 hours for a life like hand beaded leopard skin anyone?) Photography was encouraged with signs everywhere urging patrons to snap and share on social media. I left the snapping to my sister except for a few garments to sang to my knitter's heart. (Try searching the hashtag #jpgngv on instagram for a taste of the 160+ garments in the exhibition)

My relevation of the day was that Jean Paul Gauliter is really a freeformer.

And he can take a classic fisherman's rib and aran and twist it so it dances across a catwalk.
We'll finish this with a little peak into one of Melbourne's ubiquitous laneways. This is Amplett lane named in honour of Chrissy Amplett from the Divinyls. The official street sign may still be in chalk but the artwork is striking.