Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Hafencity knitting

Long time no post, but I've still been knitting.
I am currently spending some time in Hamburg, my native city, for work purposes. Hamburg has been growing a whole new part of the city in the last few years, with lots of new office blocks and flats springing up in the harbour just beyond the old warehouses. Being new and thoroughly town-planned, it has the same weirdly artificial feel as, say, Canary Wharf in London and Potsdamer Platz in Berlin. Thus, it is clearly in need of a bit of humanising, and a prime candidate for a little yarn bomb attack.

Streetlamp cosy


Striped/barcode style cosy on a bridge in front of the building site of the new concert hall which has been eating everyones taxes in Hamburg for three years.

I also made this little spiders web (not knitted but knotted), which is a reference to the fact (urban legend?) that the Hafencity is infested with millions of spiders, either due to import of exotic species via ships, or superior breeding conditions near the water. I like that even though there is nothing natural about this part of the city, you still cannot keep nature out. Or yarn.

PS: Someone wants to make a little TV documentary thing about me. I feel embarrassed already, but stay tuned.

Friday, August 27, 2010

continuing to plushify Bristol...

Contrary to appearances, I have not been idle. Although I've been busy with non-knitting activities (I have recently joined Bristol's new Roller Derby team), I was spurred on by the appearance of a little railing cosy on Gaol Ferry bridge, by Pod Knit. I've been planning something for that bridge for a while and I finally finished this thing:
Knitted Hazard Tape on Gaol Ferry Bridge, Bristol
Hopefully it'll be useful as well as pretty and cushion any cyclists knees that might knock into the barrier!

I also completed a project that was inspired by limpets that I saw stuck to bollards on our holiday in Wales. This one I put up in Bristol's street art hot spot, Stokes Croft. Every time I pass it, it's been moved around a little, so it's obviously getting noticed. Today it was all soggy and in danger of sliding to the bottom, but someone had tucked it in a bit to keep it up. Now I just have to hope it won't get co-opted for the Stokes Croft Museum...
Limpets by day

I also seem to be getting quite a bit of online attention, from Podknit, Knit Hacker, Stitch'n'Ting and something called e-democracy. Thanks for all the love!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Fungal infestation

My yarn bollard mushroom lasted about a week but I was so pleased with it that I've decided to replace it with a new version, this time yellow with red spots.

yellow and red yarn bomb mushroom

I've actually spotted quite a lot more bollards around the harbour that look like they are not in frequent use and could do with amusing cosies, but it does take quite a long time to make these so I may need to think of a new technique.

I've also been working on making some knitted necklaces in a variegated grey sock yarn that try to look like iron chains. I found some very nice little carabiner clasps and have tried adding in some metal rings. I'm quite pleased with the results but they may be a bit too itchy to actually wear.

knit necklace long

Sunday, May 23, 2010

(yarn) Bombs of Bristol

After my previous attempt at knitted graffiti didn't survive its first night, I decided to change tack slightly. I made sure that my next tag couldn't possibly get in anyone's way, and I incorporated it in an existing chain on Bristol harbour.

Yarn Bombing at the Arnolfini

In spite of being in a variety of day-glo colours, I don't think too many people have spotted it as it's hidden within the chain. I like the idea that it's a reward for people who are a little bit more observant, though.

So, encouraged by this success, I embarked on a larger project. Knitting this (and adding crochet spots) took me several weeks and I was worried it wouldn't survive the night again, but this cute toadstool has already graced one of Bristols sunniest days of the year!

Arnolfini toadstool yarnbomb

I'm thinking of making more in various Super Mario colours - but these mooring bollards are surprisingly large, it's like knitting a small sweater!

And now I've got started, I also did another spontaneous tag while sunbathing in the park yesterday:

Berkely Square yarnbomb

More to come!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Der Lauf der Dinge

So there's a new video by that band that make the viral music videos (and apparently the soundtrack too, but who cares about that) that later get turned into adverts for vitamin tablets.
It's a pretty cool video of a gigantic colourful contraption that even plays parts of the song as it runs.

This is clearly not a new concept, although done very well here. For example, the Bravery had a video that looked very similar a few years ago:

In fact, I think the Bravery's version is closer to what I am now going to call the original - "der Lauf der Dinge", a 1987 movie by a Swiss duo of artists, Fischli/Weiss.
Clearly, the concept of an overly complicated machine or chain reaction in which one element triggers the next is much older - there's Heath Robinson, for one thing, and the whole Dominoes thing. But there are elements in both the OK GO and Bravery videos that come straight from Der Lauf der Dinge, such as the twisted bin bags being slowly undone as they turn, or car tyres bouncing down a ladder.

I'm not really trying to pinpoint any plagiarism here, but what I think is interesting is that Der Lauf der Dings derives most of its wit from the suspense that occurs when you are not *quite* sure whether the next link is going to work. The times where some strange foam drips off a board, a rolling cone goes slightly off track - the times where you suspect everything might just go wrong. Apparently the Independent said at the time, "Watching 'Der Lauf der Dinge' is like watching a Hitchcock movie by objects instead of people." which sums it up quite well. I think it's probably just showing its age though. Youtube videos can't really afford to have many moments that will allow people get impatient, because there's always a cat video to watch.

In any case, to prove my point, Fischli/Weiss seem to have removed the original version of Der Lauf der Dinge from Youtube, and the only version you can watch is a sped-up one set to music.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

It's a hoot

I've just returned from my little trip to London for Owl Parliament, which was highly enjoyable. I think it may have been one of the most civilised gigs I have ever been to, being set in a beautiful old church, with pews to put your cups of tea on.

I was most excited about Darren Hayman's set, although I felt like I was the only one who really appreciated the presence of Jack Hayter, pedal steel guitarist and Ex-Hefner member. They played "We love the City", the lyrics of which always pop into my head when it takes two hours to get home to someone's house in London in the evening - "This is London, not Antarctica, so why don't the tubes run all night?" - I mean, even Hamburg can do it.

The Go Away Birds were lovely and had a pretty singer, Mariner's Children brought their entire families (including grandma), Jeremy Warmsley has grown a beard and started a new Band, Summercamp, with his girlfriend Elizabeth, Pete Roe sang some nice traditional folk/country.

The second half of the gig was somehow less convincing for me. Maybe I was getting tired, but the Blue Roses were sailing slightly too close to Enya territory for me, and Aidan Moffat was just plain offensive. I don't disapprove of songs about double penetration in principle (I am a big fan of the Hidden Cameras, after all), but when the lyrics are sexist and badly written Daily Mail style rants and the "songs" consist of sense- and tuneless autoharp strumming, I'd rather go off to have a drink for a bit, thanks.
I may have missed the point of Mount Eerie to some extent, but the stripped-down set (guy & guitar) of songs about wind (really, each one of them mentioned the wind) didn't excite me much. A lot of people seem to like them a lot though, so maybe I need to listen to the full band versions.
Headliner Emmy the Great didn't disappoint and delivered her sweet songs about Love & Death, as well as a slightly awkward Cover of Fight for this Love by "Cheryl Tweedy" with a very uncomfortable looking Darren Hayman - clip below.

In further twee news, we spotted Josie Long in the pub where we went for a drink after! She was doing a work-in-progress show.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Preparing for a bombing

That's YARN BOMBING, in case the FBI is going to start reading my blog now.

I've been planning this for about a year now, and the idea isn't really clever/witty enough to have survived this long - but I am stubborn.
Install and update tomorrow evening!


Let's see how long it lasts until someone nicks it, bins it, or starts a City Council vote on whether it should stay.


Well, in the morning, barely 10 hours later, it's gone. They must have someone patrolling the area with scissors, maybe there's a real problem with overzealous yarnbombing in this city that I'm not aware of.
Didn't think it would stay up that long but this was quicker than expected, meaning it didn't even achieve my one goal of cheering up a couple of people's walk to work.
Well, I'm not giving up now.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Whimsicle Fuckery

Yes, I can spell, but I've been reading Regretsy a lot. Regretsy features the more ridiculous offerings for sale on etsy and it is hilarious, but somewhat dangerous if you want to ever approach craft with an open mind again. I'm pretty sure I won't ever make any genital-inspired jewellery now.

It's been a bit slow on the craft front here, but on the other hand, I've been to a number of fun gigs, so quick reviews are in order.

Mustard Allegro & Stanton Delaplane & Alexander Thomas, Cube Cinema, 23 Jan:
Highs: Gushing review especially of Alex in Venue the next week, sad songs from Stanton, the King of facial hair, fun surf-pop with interesting visuals, knitting in the front row.
Low: the hangover the next day.

OLO worms & SJ Esau, Cube Cinema, 29 Jan:
High: Seeing SJ Esau perform for the first time in ages. Always brilliant.
Low: It was a bit too busy to sneak into the auditorium for the main act as a non-paying volunteer, although what I heard sounded pretty good, in a silly experimental pop kind of way.

Ausform presents: LUR, Cube Cinema, 5 Feb, a livelooping cabaret dance pop act from Sweden.
High: My favourite part was when they turned themselves into a human conductor, with the pitch of the sound controlled by the amount of contact between the two. This called for belly-licking, incidentally.
Low: Not really. Could have been busier though.

There's more good music coming up too, such as the highly twee Alessis Ark with Rachael Dadd on Friday, with a beautiful poster by a man I'm in no way affiliated with (ahem), and in case you are concerned by how Cube-centric my life appears at the moment (so what! I like it there!), I am going to London for Owl Parliament on the 27th! It's all going on.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Team Steam

Last weekend, I went on a little day trip to Oxford with a couple of friends to see the Steampunk exhibition at the Museum of the History of Science. Now, I appear to have caught steampunk. I've developed an inexplicable desire to wear a corset and a leather top hat with goggles and to stick typewriter keys on my laptop keyboard. I am bidding on an antique Pince-Nez on ebay to wear around my neck. Help! If I don't find a way to curb this soon, I will end up with a full-scale metal working workshop.

It's made worse by the fact that the Oxford experience was preceded by a visit to the Bristol Old Vic to see the Kneehigh production of Hansel & Gretel, which was brilliant - if you're in Bristol, hurry, tomorrow's the last day. This was not like your average panto, for example, it included a giant contraption with candles burning ropes, blocks of wood swinging around, dislodging other bits of wood, which eventually crushed a mouse (which happened to have kept still the whole time...). And Bunnies.

I've found myself having to explain the concept of Steampunk quite a lot lately and although I think I have a pretty good feeling of what it encompasses now, I find it hard to explain. The video of the Oxford exhibition sums it up pretty well:

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Things I have liked in 2009

There have been lots of amazing things that people I know have done this year and that I have mostly mentioned previously.

Other than those, some of my favourite things of the year were these:

Where the Wild Things Are

I was a bit worried I might have built it up to much after going to the exhibition in New York and hanging around outside the Premiere party at the MoMA, but it was a wonderful film. Particularly this song by Daniel Johnston (performed by Karen O and the Kids, as the rest of the soundtrack), Worried Shoes.

New York

Everything about it. I was particularly surprised that although it is of course a thoroughly modern city, it always has a touch of retro about it. I think it's partly the predominance of the "moderne" style. And as I suspected, every single person is creative, beautiful and fashionable. To quote the Bonfire of the Vanities: "...the irresistible destination of all those who insist on being where things are happening".


Just as I'm suckered in by the pretty packaging of Benefit cosmetics, I also belong to the target group for Moxie tampons. Luckily, the actual tampons are not retro (I imagine a retro tampon would be a rag tied on a bit of string or something equally unsavoury), just the tin and the wrapper with the bow on.


the cat that comes to visit

She loves me. I love her, but not her fleas and all the hair that she sheds.


The Flaming Lips

I finally fulfilled my ambition of seeing them live, got showered in confetti, Wayne Coyne did the hamsterball thing, they played Do You Realize - all boxes ticked.

Vintage Knitting patterns

I've only been buying them for the purposes of the advent calendar, but it may be time to start a real collection. The 1940's ones are just too beautiful.

The Cube

It's a wonderful place. Working at the bar at the Cube has actually tricked me into thinking that bartending is the best job ever. I do suspect this is not so in more commercial drinking establishments.

Regina Spektor

Well, I've talked about that.



I've been reading this neo-feminist news website for a couple of years now, and although the constant complaining about one-dimensional female characters on TV and narrow beauty ideals is starting to grate somewhat, they still make some interesting points, and have pictures of nice dresses.

There was of course much more to the year than this, but I'm now going to head off to the Arnolfini and play in the Craftivism exhibition. Happy 2010!