Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Nuart Aberdeen: Taking it to the Streets

This past weekend saw the grey city turn a little more colourful, with the first ever Nuart Aberdeen Festival.

The Girl observed that she had never seen any street art in the city and I realised she was right.


You are  not in Walthamstow anymore, Roo!

On Saturday we went to the UK premiere of Saving Banksy.
Predictably, the event was sold out, because everyone has heard of Banksy.

On Sunday, with The Girl back on the train to London, I went to a showing of Beautiful Losers, preceded by the world premiere of Axel Void's short film "Play".
Aside from the crew of the Nuart Festival, there was only a handful of people in the audience.
It was utterly inspiring.
I came out of the cinema burning with creative fire.
Wonderful!

I wandered the streets with my map of the street art installations.
There is hope for this place.



Look closely, people!

On Monday I had the day off work and I settled down with my paintbox.

The tattoo I do not own reads "Very Very Circus".

I might settle for embroidering it on my shirt sleeve.



Monday, 10 April 2017

Living the Dream


Listen to this song... and imagine how you might dance to it...
Got it in your mind?
You are probably thinking something Latin, perhaps a tango?

OK - press RESET in your mind.
This weekend I took part in a two day Dance Bootcamp at Edinburgh's Dance Base.
Two full working days of dance workshops, in an astonishing range of styles from Ballet through Roaring 20's, Werk It, Afro Cuban, Contemporary, Hip Hop, Reggaeton and the gentle-sounding "Floorwork".

Floorwork... are you visualizing some lolling around on a yoga mat with deep breathing and whale song?
Ha!
Floor Work was Hard Work!
It was led by the amazing Chiara Pascale, whose dance style is hip hop based.
You can find her on YouTube - this is a good example of her work.

The Floorwork routine, to the accompaniment of  "Bust Your Windows", began with what I would describe as a full drop - not a technical dance term.
Basically, you go from standing up to lying flat on your back on the floor.
No mat.
And then you pull back up through your chest, twist, turn, roll, sideways plank, twist and turn a bit more.. and somehow find you are back up on your feet, taking a few salsa steps before performing a few more explosive movements... The End.

I began this routine feeling afraid.
Very  afraid.

I am not a natural hip-hopper.  I am too much of a wafter, up on my wobbly toes, with lots of expressive arms to distract from my uncoordinated feet.

But after about half an hour of feeling like a cissy, I let go and just... dropped.
Wow!
Empowerment!

I would bust the windows of your car, I really would, if I had to.  If you really pushed me.
Don't push me, dude.

And that was just one class.

The teachers at Dance Base were all incredibly inspiring and positive and inclusive.
We were a very mixed group of the young(-ish), the old, the pregnant (who did not "drop"!), the frightened and the confident.
But I think we all came out of the weekend feeling like we could save the world through dance.

I have never felt so alive.
Ever.
After the first 8 hours

Can I give up the day job and become a dancer?
Err...no.  I have no talent, technique or skill.
But I have ENERGY!
This is amazing to me.

If you get the chance to dance - just take it.
Go on - Bust Your Windows!



Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Springy Knits


Daffodils are blooming all the way down the farm road - a legacy from FL's first wife, who loved them.  The grandchildren recited Wordsworth at her funeral.

My own more restrained tulip planting is looking promising - pictures will no doubt follow!

I finished my Fladerblom socks, knit from the Swedish.
The book is now available in English I believe, but I managed to navigate an i-cord cast-on and colour chart transitions in the original language, with a bit of help from google translate.



If you look closely, you will see that one sock has two stripes of zigzags where there should be diamonds.  
This is obviously a deliberate design feature, adding asymmetric charm.
I am all about the asymmetric charm :)


I am currently obsessed by working on my Always In My Heart Shawl by Isabell Kraemer.

It is the perfect combination of interesting but simple, memorisable stitch patterns.

And the yarn... the yarn!
I am in love with this DK BFL / masham blend with added sparkle from The Knitting Goddess.
You probably can't tell from these pictures, but the sparkles have taken on the dye, for a rather more subtle effect than the usual in-ya-face bling of silver Stellina.
A little bit more sophisticated?
And definitely squooshy.
I can't wait to wear this shawl!


Meanwhile, my portable knitting is the second of my Wildflower Patch Baerenwolle socks, in the Meadow Sock pattern by the Knitting Expat, Mina Philipp.


My delight in this yarn is unabated.
And the regular texture of the slipstitch pattern sets it off its variegated colours beautifully.
I am coming to appreciate such subtleties more and more.

My next sock will almost certainly be another Mina design.
I have just bought her New York Sock Collection after a ridiculous period of prevarication.

I plan a pair of Avenues Socks with another skein of Baerenwolle, probably in Ambivert, a suitably spring-like green with pinky peachy patches.
Lovely!






Monday, 3 April 2017

This Week's Song

I promise I have things to say about knitting...
But for the moment, have a song:




Monday, 27 March 2017

Cultural Pursuits

Crazy Gym Woman has been working on her social life.


In the past two weeks I have attended three Events.
Four, if you count a memorial service. That was emotional.

It has been an interesting personal challenge, to get out there and find Other People.
I have spoken to: two women of a similar age to myself, an engineer, an air traffic controller, several postgraduate students, one undergraduate and some researchers.  None of these people had ever crossed my path before, so from that point of view it has been positive.

But it is hard, being out in the world as a lone woman with nothing but a knitted sock and an asymmetric fringe to hide behind.
I have seen two cracking films, though!
And I have learned much more than I ever thought possible about: fungus, extreme rock climbing and the nature of the self.
LOL
I sure know how to live!



It has been disconcerting to discover how casually bitter other women can be.
One entertained me to a lengthy diatribe on the subject of professors who park at the sports centre without doing any sport.
Another explained that she had steel rods in her back and that she would like to give her pain to people who use disabled persons' toilets.
Do I have a particularly sympathetic look in my eye?!
Or is this just how women interact with each other, on the basis of an assumed shared misery?
That is of no use to me.
If I am going to talk to a stranger, I do not want to know about their unhappiness or anger within 30 seconds of meeting.
It happens in the workplace too.  So much female negativity!

So I find myself talking to the men.
But I don't have any patience for football or rugby, the common currencies for idle chat.


Which leaves me talking to myself...
Or reading, or writing, or knitting, or dancing, or walking the fields, or gardening, or...
Herrumph.
I want to live a full life, dammit!

So I take my sock out and about.
We share a coffee, my sock and me, scanning the horizon and eavesdropping on other people's conversations.
Thinking:  "You could be my friend, if only you knew me!"
Smiling quietly to myself.
Waiting.

I ponder moving into the city, but it is a relief to retreat to my hermitage.
Maybe I should make it mine, after all.
Invest more energy into making it my home.
Somewhere I might invite friends to visit without feeling the need to apologise, to excuse the wreckage of the past.
But that feels like a betrayal.
Which brings me back to thinking I need to start again somewhere else.
A fresh start.
Become another person.
With other people.
But where are they?




Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Can't Stop The Feeling

So... I am on fire with energy right now.
It is, quite frankly, terrifying.
I can't sit still long enough to knit and I have to take dance breaks at my desk.
It is entirely possible that there is something amiss and I am going to get myself checked out at the GP... just in case.
It does not escape me that FL always had a power surge before a relapse.
Zara embroidered sweatshirt
But if this is a fit new version of me, I like her, thanks!
As already mentioned, I am at the gym every morning before work.  My only day off is Saturday, when I go to a Sh'bam class. Then there is Jazzercise twice a week in the evening.
So the planned sedentary, knitting-based holiday was not going to work for me this year.
Fortunately I was able to cancel and someone else has taken my place.
But what to do instead?
Zara embroidered dress
I looked at writing holidays.
And writing-with-walking holidays.
And knitting-with-walking holidays.
But walking is not really my thing.
I am... a dancer?!

Pause for that to sink in to my confused brain.

So my excitement level went through the roof when I discovered a Ballet Retreat in Leeds at the Northern Ballet School.
OMG!
Three days of dance-related activity in Yorkshire.
Bliss.
Sadly it is fully-booked, but I am on the waiting list.
Zara dress

So I kept looking... and discovered a Dance Bootcamp in Edinburgh... in two weeks' time.
SO EXCITING!
15 hours of dance, in a multitude of styles, for a full range of abilities...
...which is just as well, because I may have energy and enthusiasm but my technique is pants.

Zara t shirt

And a confession...I also might have an unhealthy obsession with Zara right now.
Um, yeah.