Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Well, there goes October

It seems I haven't blogged in three weeks. Now I am thinking, "why blog now when November is coming and I can blog every day?" This is not especially reasonable, I know.

Here's a mini-post for you:

  1. I started the Stephen West mystery knitalong, but after the first part of the first clue, I said, "yuck," and moved on. Perhaps that was precipitous of me, but...
  2. this allowed me to start Color Craving, a Stephen West shawl I have liked for a long time. 
  3. I didn't actually buy the pattern, but am looking at the old MKAL notes and videos and chat and pictures, and I'm pretty sure that my shawl will be extremely similar to one knit by following the pattern.
  4. I have yet to take a picture of the work in progress, and it is now 800 stitches scrunched up on three 80 cm needles, so not a pretty sight.
  5. We'll see what it looks like in a week or so when I am done. 
And a dahlia: 

Tuesday, October 04, 2016

Some other art thing

I don't have pictures of Stephen's art today, but a week or so ago we went to another art event I want to show you.

You could buy buttons

It was called In/Future and was held at Ontario Place. I went to Ontario Place once in 1975, I think, and it was sort of keen. People who grew up here in Toronto can be very sentimental about it, bursting into song at the mere mention of the place.

Great font, even on the garbage cans

The Cinesphere was the very first IMAX theatre. Didn't know that, didja?

The Cinesphere, with some legs

There are silos that used to have educational displays about the weather in them, and pods and bridges, and it's all a bit "modern" and concrete.

Bridge 7


Now it is temporarily empty, and looks abandoned. So, the In/Future people said, hey, empty space, let's put some art there.

You have to be this tall to ride on the Wilderness Adventure ride. We saw the animals from this ride -- not pretty!

This big parachute-like thing billowed in the wind in one of the silos.

The tallest silo hosted these hanging reels of tape. Very beautiful!

Outside, someone had found and arranged a big pile of bricks. There were blackened ones, dark ones, yellowish ones and white ones. This is an artwork I would like in my front yard. (Luckily Toronto has a big spit going out into the lake where construction debris has been dumped for generations, so there are lots of bricks available.)

This is very cool, and would have been better if there had been more wind. These are cymbals atop poles, and there are drumsticks attached to strings. When the poles sway in a breeze, the sticks and cymbals interact. They look like giant otherworldly flowers.

Ah, the tinsel building. It's nice to see a shiny, tinsel-covered building on a sunny day, even if I don't think it "hints at the power inside of the structure."

We were standing admiring the tinsel when along came a swan. I think these swans used to be available to rent, and pedal or paddle around the water surrounding the Cinesphere. This is the last surviving swan, being propelled by some friendly folk. I believe they were the king and queen of something.

Of course it wouldn't be a Toronto thing without some interactive stuff for school kids to do. I think classes had come in during the week to build a dream city. Spot the Canadian flag. 

I have no idea what this originally was. The font is all wrong! But I do like it.

There were also video artworks and lots of other installations. There was at least one stage, but I kind of suspect more. We were cool enough to go see this rather huge display of really varied artworks in a location that was familiar, yet so odd. But we were not cool enough to know one should really go at night! We saw one music act, but couldn't stay to see the Imax movie. We went on the last day, instead of getting a pass for the whole 11 days. But we did have a really pleasant day wandering around.

(I realised I didn't link all the art pieces to their blurbs... You can find all the info here if you are interested.)

Sunday, October 02, 2016

Something I knitted

Well, look at this, a knitted thing.

Once upon a time, a long time ago, I got some Malabrigo yarn. I made things up as I went along and at one point had a triangle of blue, with a green scarf off one side and an orange scarf growing out of another... It was going to be great...

But truly, the yarn irritated my nose so much I never knit  it -- once I realized all those "colds" had to do with knitting soft wool or mohair or Lopi or ... on and on.

This sat around for years. So, the other day I un-kitchenered this lovely, leafy, reversible scarf from the rest of it and I filled the house with wool fluff by frogging the triangle and the orange bit. (I do have a vacuum cleaner.)

Of course, this is not really long enough to be a scarf on its own. I think I was very clever to sew it up into a cowl, with the pointy bit doing its pointy thing.

It is not very snug; we will see how excellent it is in a couple of months when it gets cold enough to need such a thing.

Saturday, October 01, 2016

October is here

Oh, my, October already.

This is the month of the Stephen West mystery knitalong. Last year I made the Doodler, mostly from stash, and gave it away. This year's mystery is called Building Blocks and needs four colours.

I didn't have enough of anything just lying around, and I didn't want to spend $100+ on something that I have no idea about (except it should be great...) so I got some 6-ply sock yarn from the sale basement at Romni and I'm good to go.

The first "clue" or part of the pattern is released next Friday. So I am at loose ends until then. I have another Koigu hat on the go, and I got some nice cotton someone gave me out of the cupboard and looked at it, but I have nothing compelling on the needles.

This weekend Stephen is showing his science-y art at the Queen West Art Crawl, which has meant renting a car (a giant SUV) and driving back and forth to the park where the show is. Today, after delivering him and his art to the park, I sat on hold with the "emergency roadside assistance" because there were two large nails in a tire and I wanted them to come and change the tire. It was a bit drizzly, so every tow truck and tire-changing guy was busy, but after a couple of hours and a couple of phone calls we have a crappy spare on our fancy SUV, which should last until Monday (a few more back-and-forths). I drive when I go out west, and I drove all the time when I lived in Texas, or California, but I am not a big-city driver at all. Nerve-wracking I call it... Pedestrians and bikes and streetcars all over the place!

My October goals, aside from getting to Monday without driving into anything, are to keep up with the knitalong clues and to maybe finish my Koigu hat. Anything more would just be gravy!

Monday, September 19, 2016

The last movie. Macbeth and a hat

My last movie at TIFF was Gimme Danger, a doc about Iggy and the Stooges. Iggy is now an elder statesman of crazy rock and speaks very well about his past and the wild music they made. The movie was a bit meh, like almost all my choices this year. It was definitely a movie about the Stooges and not just about Iggy, so there are decades missing, from about 1974 to some time in the early 2000s. Lots of concert footage and lots of interviews with the remaining Stooges (one of whom worked in Silicon Valley for those intervening years) which was great.

Also, lots of old footage from movies or TV, from the news of the day, from stuff I found distracting and irrelevant. So, 6 out of 10 for that, I'm sorry to say!

Sunday we got up early, went downtown and got a bus to Stratford, Ontario, home to a Shakespeare festival. In fact, Stratford seems to be totally supported by Shakespeare. We didn't have time to explore the town much, but there seemed to be antiques shops and places for theatre-goers to eat, and a nice park along the river Avon.

We saw Macbeth. The Sisters were Weird, the ghost was ghostly, the wood walked and the final swordplay was quite excellent.

Me and silver Will Shakespeare
We have lived here on and off since 1986 and this is the first time we've made the trek. They do a bus run from downtown; it takes two hours but it's better than driving and it's not expensive. Maybe next year we'll do it again!

I finished my hat in the first half hour or so of the bus ride down and then was bereft for the rest of the day.

Knitted mostly in movie lineups, two strands of sock yarn on 4.5 mm needles, k2 p1 ribbing around and around. I didn't have a darning needle with me, so I made an I-cord out the top to finish it off. It goes in the box... I have a lot of new hats this season; I'll have to see who wants what.

I think we will be back to normal around here for a bit. Until the next big thing...

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Almost the end of TIFF

Since we last spoke, I have seen the following:

Something Wild from 1986. My oh my, it was good. Jonathan Demme was there because he was showing off his latest film and did a great Q&A. I saw it 30 years ago and remembered it as being cool and having a great soundtrack, but I could not have told you anything about the plot. It was just as cool now and the music is indeed amazing! It was a free show, which made it even better. (The plot involves a woman, a man, some lies, some spouse issues, more lies, and a big fight.)

B-Side, a documentary about Elsa Dorfman, a photographer whose favourite camera was a 20x24-inch Polaroid.

She always took two photographs, and let the subject choose which one they wanted. She kept the "B-side," the initially less regarded work that was often better than the A-side! Lovely, lovely movie and I would dash in a minute to a gallery show of her photos.

Kati Kati, a movie from Kenya about a woman who finds herself in a strange place... she learns that she is dead, but can't remember anything about her life. A tad weird, as movies about dead people tend to be, but good!

Burn Your Maps, which you will hear about in the cinemas, I am sure. It has the great Canadian kid, Jacob Tremblay, in it. Family distress, kid acts a bit nuts, dad loses patience, mom and a sidekick take the kid to Mongolia to see goats. A tear-jerker with beautiful scenery (although much of Mongolia is really Alberta).

(So far things are fine, but nothing really jumps out and grabs me. It's been a strange festival that way. Is there a clear frontrunner for the People's Choice award? I wonder...)

Mali Blues, a doc about music in Mali. In the north of the country, Islamic extremists are banning music, wrecking equipment, threatening musicians. This movie shows mainly Fatoumata Diawara, who returned to Mali after years away becoming quite famous, and a few other musicians, talking about their fears for their country.

This is not from the movie but it is a song of Fatoumata's that I like. I have no idea what it is about....

City of Tiny Lights, a noir-ish, London detective story. Lots of swoopy light-swirl night scenes. A bit of Blade-Runner-esque voice-over. A sad teenage story leading to murder and betrayal years later.

This morning was the film I was most looking forward to, Their Finest with Gemma Arterton and Bill Nighy. I linked to that story because it shows off quite a bit of the fantastic knitting in the movie! It's a sweet story of plucky English folk winning WWII by making a movie about Dunkirk. Bill Nighy is always a delight (and he gets a fantastic cabled pullover in one scene) and Jeremy Irons has a small but ridiculous part. Gemma Arterton is super as our heroine, and she gets a lot of fine-knit, drab-coloured knitwear. The movie ended up being a bit too sweet, maybe, but it was pretty fun.

One more, tonight, and tomorrow, Macbeth live on stage! Such a busy girl I am.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Three movies already

Despite my good intentions to exercise moderation at this year's TIFF, and despite starting out to buy only a Back Half pass, I have already seen three movies.

Yesterday I went to a free screening of Nightlife. In the schedule, it has a block of an hour and a half, but in fact, they showed the 15-minute show over and over, with a wee break in between. The description didn't say much: psychedelic, hypnotic, botany...

Trees swayed in the dark, fireworks went off, we listened to someone sing "I was born a loser" at different volumes and speeds and levels for 15 minutes (just that one line, not the whole song) and that was that. The filmmaker is also a sculptor and the whole thing was indeed very sculptural and arty and so on. I wonder if anyone found it so "immersive" that they stayed for all four shows. I confess to leaving after one!

Stephen wanted to see Oliver Stone's Snowden. It opens in theatres before the festival even ends, so there was only the big gala last night and one other show today at noon. So we went today, to see a movie in Roy Thomson Hall, home of the symphony orchestra! We got there almost an hour before showtime, standard business at TIFF, and there were already a few hundred people in line! However, before they opened the doors, the line went down the block and around the corner -- we were pretty close to the beginning, considering the building holds a couple of thousand people. We got a fine seat, and it was actually really great to see a film in that huge space.

Oliver Stone was there and said a few words before the movie, but there wasn't a Q&A afterwards. He said he'd been to Russia nine times to talk to Snowden about events, and they'd interviewed and met with everyone they could. It is a bit hard to make a thrilling movie with people sitting at computers, and sitting in a hotel room in Hong Kong, but it was pretty gripping and it makes Snowden's story understandable -- I think a lot of people don't really know the significance of what he did and this sets it out pretty clearly.

When I got out of the theatre, I checked my e-mail. Every day of the festival I get a thing called TIFF Daily, a little e-mail blurb about what's going on, that I don't really read, except for the "enter to win" section! Last year I got two pairs of tickets this way, and today I got a notification that I won my first pair of this year. Blah blah September 10th blah blah. Since we were in the neighbourhood I went and picked up the tickets today, even though I assumed the show was tomorrow. It wasn't till I was almost home that I looked at the schedule and the tickets and the date, and realised I had tickets for a show at 4:45 today! Yikes!

Lucky for me the show was at the theatre near me, and I had time to get a snack and get in another lineup. (Stephen had had enough film-going and I couldn't find another date on half an hour's notice, so I had an extra ticket, which I shoved at some guy in the box office line on my way in.)

It was a bit curious that the people on either side of me in line all knew people involved in the production. In fact, the place was filled with Mom and Dad and friends and neighbours and people with bit parts here and there. This was not really a movie, but three episodes of a TV show, which started out life as a web-based show. It's called nirvanna the band the show and it's hilarious.

Our heroes, Jay and Matt

Stupid, indeed, and I think three episodes might be all I need to see, but so very funny. And the guys are from Toronto, the show is half shot down the block... they even talked about making a film for a festival and how they'd do better at TIFF than at Sundance. Loads of laughs, and with such a friendly audience you can't help but have a good time.

Unless I win more tickets, that's it for me for a few days. I start in earnest on Wednesday.