Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Cast On Mania Day 4: Daybreak Mitts

I am pleased to announce that this blog's regular scheduling has been interrupted. Instead, I present you with:

Every day this week I will be starting a new project. Every project is to be made with yarn from the stash and all of them need to be finished in two months or less.  It'll be fun!  Clearly crazy, but mostly fun.

Today's post is brought to you by McDonald's Cheltenham because I blew through my entire month's data allowance in 2.5 weeks. I didn't think I'd used it that much but I have been doing a lot of procrastination, so really it's a good thing that I can't use the Internet to distract me from actual work any more. However, it does put a bit of a spanner in my week of CAST ON MANIA.

Yesterday I wrote about the socks I am knitting for my sister. I have two sisters and if you have sisters then you'll understand that you can't make something for one without making something for the other because they notice and remember and get incredibly shirty. Everything is remembered - they're like elephants in that way. So to head off any dramas today's project is some mitts for my sister using the yarn left over from the Daybreak I made her for Christmas.  Last time I tried to improvise a pattern using Daybreak as an inspiration it did not go well, so this time I am using weezelana's Mitt Envy as a template. If I sat down and put some serious time into them I could finish these mitts in about four hours. However, I suspect that it might take me a while to get these finished given the amount of predicts that I've started already this week...


Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Cast on Mania Day 3: Panel Rib Socks

I am pleased to announce that this blog's regular scheduling has been interrupted. Instead, I present you with:

Every day this week I will be starting a new project. Every project is to be made with yarn from the stash and all of them need to be finished in two months or less.  It'll be fun!  Clearly crazy, but mostly fun.

I love knitting socks and I try to share the love by giving those socks to my loved ones. Honestly, though, other than Sam (who I know loves his socks) I'm never sure if they really if they actually appreciate the effort that goes into them or if they just look at the gift thinking "You can get socks from Target for $6...this is the scungiest present ever!". So when my sister requested a pair of handknit socks to get her through winter, I cast on straightaway. The yarn is Jitterbug in colourway Fruit Coulis that has been in the stash since January 2011 and it is alternately very very bright and very very dark. I'm not a huge fan of pooling, but the beauty of gift socks is I don't have to be. They certainly add colour to the long cold winter days, so no complaints here.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Cast On Mania Day 2: Dad's Socks

I am pleased to announce that this blog's regular scheduling has been interrupted. Instead, I present you with:

Every day this week I will be starting a new project. Every project is to be made with yarn from the stash and all of them need to be finished in two months or less.  It'll be fun!  Clearly crazy, but mostly fun.

I made my very first pair of socks for my dad. I was shocked at the cost of sock wook ($18! You can buy socks at Target for like six bucks! Little did I know...), I struggled with the skinny needles and teeny tiny stitches and I didn't understand calf shaping or how to get the perfect handknit fit, so I just did what the instructions told me, finished the socks and mailed them to my dad.  They did not fit and he has never worn them.

He will be in Australia for his birthday in July and I think it's finally time to knit him some socks that he will actually wear. The yarn is an unknown sock yarn that I picked up in the grab bag that I scored from a destash last year. It's very thin yarn but the variegation looks quite nice and I think the finished socks will be warm and comfy. Let's just hope that they fit!
In Other News

Yesterday's Radiating Star Blanket is now big enough that I can stop magic looping and start knitting on the circular needles. Check out the cute little star in the middle:

I made bread again. I used Delia's recipe again but this time I skipped cooking the flour before mixing and kneading. That was a big mistake! Clearly baking the flour does something to the amount of water the dough can handle because I added the same amount of water as last week and ended up with a gloopy glue-like mixture. I had to add almost another 200g of flour to get a kneadable dough which threw off the ratio of salt, yeast and sugar. The loaf looked alright when it was baked...

..and the crust is nice, but the bread is a little bit bland and not fluffy at all. It still tastes nice when smeared with butter but, honestly, what doesn't?

 Back tomorrow with more !

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Cast On Mania Day 1: Radiating Star Blanket

I am pleased to announce that this blog's regular scheduling has been interrupted. Instead, I present you with:

Every day this week I will be starting a new project. Every project is to be made with yarn from the stash and all of them need to be finished in two months or less.  It'll be fun!  Clearly crazy, but mostly fun.

Today's project is the Radiating Star Blanket by Alexis Layton in Patons Soft Haze, a discontinued yarn that has been in my stash since May 2009 - three years! It's got a really soft and fluffy feel to it so I think it'll be perfect for this very pretty blanket.

The baby its for is due at the end of June so some speed is required. The wool is chunky and the pattern is simple, so hopefully I'll get it done with much time to spare.

In other news, I think I may be part sloth

There are some days where I just want to get everything I have to do with the external world done as fast as possible so I can get back into pyjamas. Today was one of those days, and now it's 1 o'clock in the afternoon and I'm sitting at my desk in my pyjamas, under a blanket with a hot water bottle. It's days like this that remind me how luck I am that I can work from home, sloth-style.

Back tomorrow with my Day 2 Cast On Mania project! 

Saturday, May 26, 2012

How To Be A Woman by Caitlin Moran

How to Be a Woman by Caitlin Moran

I reserved this book at the library on a whim after hearing it recommended by Marieke Hardy on The First Tuesday Book Club and I knew nothing about it. I’m glad I did borrow it – it’s about feminism and I love feminism. I spend a good chunk of my life reading feminist film theory, I’m a member of a feminist group of Ravelry and a lot of the rules I use to deal with things and people in everyday life stems from my identification as a feminist. I was very interested to see how this book explored this much-discussed and very important theme.

How To Be A Woman is part memoir, part feminist treatise. Stories from Moran’s life are told between discussions of topics as diverse as porn and shoes. That sounds kind of serious but it’s not – it’s a really funny book. (Side point: one of the reviews I read on Goodreads said something like “This book is proof that a woman can be funny!” I was like “What? Women can’t be funny? Is that a thing?” I googled it, and yes, it is a thing. Apparently a lot of people think that having breasts and ovaries inhibits the ability of half of the world’s population to crack a joke. FFS – really?) Moran discusses important things like how to tell if something’s sexist – if something happens that you think might be sexist, ask a) would a man be treated the same way and b) is it polite? If the answer is no to either of these questions, then it’s sexism. I spent so much time nodding at her apt observations that I had a sore neck when I finished it (not all women like shoes! YES THAT’S TRUE I REALLY DON’T LIKE SHOES. I wish someone would issue a directive to every marketing manager in Australia explaining that to them) but I didn’t mind – it was worth it. In parts of this book it was like Moran had climbed inside my head and was reading my brain, it was that true to my life.

The thing I find most depressing about How To Be A Woman is that in 2012 there is still a need for a book like this that explains what feminism is and why it is still important. The next time I’m sitting in the public bar of a pub with a female friend with tertiary qualifications, a mortgage and an extensive travel history who says to me “I don’t consider myself a feminist,” I won’t explain that 100 years ago she wouldn’t have been allowed to sit in the public bar or get a mortgage in her name or attend a university of her choice or travel widely without a companion and it’s because of feminism that she can now. I won’t talk about the fact that on average women get paid 30% less than their male colleagues for exactly the same work or that the lowest paid industries in Australia are those which are female-dominated. Instead I’m going to buy her a copy of this book and mail it directly to her house because Moran mounts a much more convincing argument than I have ever been able to.

How To Be A Woman isn’t perfect. The links between the memoir and the treatise sections are sometimes a bit awkward, which creates a slightly jarring effect. It is written in Internet speak, which means there are LOTS OF SENTENCES IN ALL CAPS and chat-room abbreviations that this very out-of-touch blogger had to look up (a bit annoying, TBH). Despite these flaws I really enjoyed reading this book and have paid it the ultimate compliment – I returned the library’s copy and bought my own. The next time the Book Depository have a sale I’m buying a copy for both of my sisters as well because I want everyone I know to read this book. My advice - stop reading this review and go and read this book! It’s excellent.

A Herby Herbivore (2012 FO #6)

A while ago I participated in a Will Work For Yarn project - I knitted a Henslowe Shawl for the lovely CathG and I got this lovely Wollmeise in return.

Wollmeise is a really gorgeous wool. It feels a bit like cotton to work with and makes shawls with a gorgeous drape. The colours are lovely, with an intense depth that is really hard to capture on camera. I love Wollmeise but I absolutely do not have the energy to do all the hard work required to get a skein from Germany to my house, so I was very happy to be a part of the swap.

My friend Katy got married last year and them promptly moved to San Francisco. I wanted to knit her a shawl to commemorate the event bit I was a bit stuck on what specific shawl - Katy isn't the knitted lace triangle type of girl. When I saw the colour of this yarn, I knew what shawl it had to be...

..a herb-coloured Herbivore.

There's not much I can say about this pattern that hasn't been said. It's an interesting shawl to knit, although I would recommend using a lot of stitch makers when starting out - it took me a little while to get the hang of the pattern. I measured the yarn after each four-row repeat and began the edging when I had 20g left. I ended up with a 4g nugget left over and a good-sized shawl.  I love this project and I'm itching to start another Herbivore for me. I hope Katy enjoys wearing the scarf as much as I liked making it :)

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Boring Brown Christmas Socks At Last! (2012 FO# 5)

Ta-da!  Look, I finished some socks!  Why yes, these are the socks I started November last year as a Christmas gift. They're not even a full five months late - they're virtually early, and everyone knows early gifts suck because, while it seems like opening presents right when you get them is a good idea at the time, opening a present early means that there will be an empty hole* the exact shape of that present on your actual special day.

The yarn is Regia Medina Colour in colourway 04265. I  knew after the heel of the second sock that there was no way I've have enough yarn to finish the socks so I used the leftovers from the Camouflage Socks I made last year in a two-row stripe pattern to the toe. I know it looks kind of jarring in the photograph but the two colourways actually blend really well.

The Regia was fine but I wouldn't buy it again - it reminds me a lot of Patonyle in that's its very soft and nice to knit with but doesn't seem like it will wear very well. That said, the socks were very well-appreciated by their recipient

They are the same size! He just didn't pull them up all the way and I didn't notice till I was uploading the photos to my computer.

And another thing...

Before I go, I'd like to share with you my To Do list for today:

To Do - Wednesday 23 May
1. Write 1,000 words

Now I'd like to share my Have Done list for today:

Have Done - Wednesday 23 May
1. Gone to the shops to buy bottle of wine so I can celebrate with a glass once I've written 1,000 words.
2. Gone for a quick walk down the street because exercise focuses the mind and will help me write.
3. Go to supermarket to buy ingredients for dinner tonight. While out, visit to the Italian butcher to buy sausages for dinner on Friday. To conserve petrol, also visit fishmonger and buy Atlantic salmon (it was on sale for $22 a kilo! You'd have bought some too).
4. Blog.
5. Update Ravelry projects to reflect my current FO status.
6. Read The Hairpin and The Billfold.
7. Check what new books my library has in. Reserve Favorite Socks, which they bought at my suggestion (Yay for Kingston Library! You and your book-buying practices rock).

HELP ME! I need to do work but I just cannot get the words from my brain to the page. ARGH!!

On the plus side, I'm glad I've got dinner sorted for the rest of the week.

* Is this a truism or tautology? By definition a hole is empty, right? If I was being paid to write this I'd check, but I'm not so I'm noting my reservations here in case any future clients use my blog to showcase my editing/writing skills.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Baking bread and an update on the koala socks

Having a cold is seriously the worst. You aren't really sick enough to lie in bed with a crappy novel, lemon and honey tea and a hot water bottle (although you really, really want to) so you end up doing everything you would normally do except you feel really shitty at the same time and, if you're me and ridiculously concerned about spreading germs, spend so much time washing your hands and applying hand sanitiser that you start to see the benefits of an OCD lifestyle. If my hand-washing retains its current over-energetic level, send me to a doctor. Friends don't let friends become crazy people (if they can help it).

Bleurgh to you, cold germs! However, there are things that can be done to improve mood. Inspired by last night's Masterchef episode (is anyone else really bored with this current season? I can't watch it for longer than three minutes without rolling my eyes at the excessive hyperbole and changing channels), I decided to make some bread. Fresh bread smeared with real butter makes everything better (at least for a little while).

I was feeling shitty enough that I knew I didn't have the energy or willpower for the traditional mix-knead-rise-punch-rise-bake, so I looked for recipes that would rise if I left the dough in the fridge overnight. This one seemed to fit all my criteria, so I dutifully measured out the flour and popped it into the oven on 100 degrees Celcius for 10 minutes (the recipe says 'your oven at its lowest setting'. Honestly, Delia, you can do better than that. Give a temperature range, please).

I then added 220ml of warm water to the flour along with 1/2 teaspoon each of active dried yeast, caster sugar and salt. I mixed it till blended, then put the dough on my largest cutting board to be kneaded (I find it much easier to clean a cutting board than a benchtop and, as a lazy cook, easy is very important to me.).

The recipe says that after kneading I should 'feel the magic' - the dough literally 'springing to life as you push it away and it defiantly springs back to challenge you'. My dough sprung nowhere - I just kneaded until my arms got sore, a paltry, uneneregetic and slightly embarrassing 11 minutes. I covered it in olive oil and cling wrap and put it in the fridge for 12 hours or so while I sniffled, sooked and complained to anyone who would listen.

When I pulled it out in the morning it had risen but was really really cold (quel surprise!). I popped it into my loaf tray, which was lined with baking paper, covered it with cling wrap and left it to warm up and prove.

After two hours it had risen a little bit but not doubled in size. I'm attributing that to the cold in my house making it hard for the dough to wake up after the cold in the fridge. I decided it was risen enough for my purposes and popped it in the oven on 210 decrees.

Voila - 30 minutes later a loaf of bread emerged! It's a bit lopsided because I didn't shape the loaf properly but it looks like a proper white sandwich loaf. It's quite dense, which could be a) the recipe b) because I didn't knead it until it sprung to life and punched me or c) because my house was too cold for the second rise but it tastes delicious! I've never added caster sugar to a loaf before but the teeny tiny little bit of sweetness contrasts divinely with the saltiness of the butter and I'm afraid there isn't much left for sandwiches tomorrow BUT (and this is a big deal) I feel much better. Bread-baking = an untapped cure for many ailments.

Koala Sock Update

The socks are coming along well. I've got another day to finish the rest of the foot and the toe if I want them blocked and dry before Thursday - I think I'm going to make it. Yay!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

The Magical Self-Knitting Daybreak Scarf (2011 FO #21)

Today I woke up with the Cold From Hell. It's both of my nostrils have turned into gross snot-dispensing taps that can't be switched off. My nose is producing so much liquid that I'm worried that I might become dehydrated due to loss of fluid! I'm about to go to the shops to by some tablets and orange juice, but before I do I'd like to share with you one of my all-time favourite knitted pieces.

This was a magic scarf that effectively made itself - I knitted the whole thing while I was in hospital last year and whacked out on hardcore painkillers. I emerged from an opiate haze some time in September with a brand-new super warm super fantastic scarf and nary a complaint about long rows, the difficulty of maintaining a four-line pattern repeat when I had couldn't use words with more than four syllables*  and interminable 400-stitch cast offs. While I wouldn't recommend breaking a leg to anyone, a healing process that includes bonus scarves is definitely a positive.

The yarn is Jo Sharp Alpaca Silk Georgette and it is divine. The scarf is soft, warm and gorgeous to wear - so I wear it all the time. I love it.

Now one thing I wouldn't recommend after producing your magic scarf while high on drugs is attempting to make a matching hat without a pattern. I knit a swatch in the round, blocked it and then calculated the number of stitches using the formula gauge per centimetre x circumference of head in centimetres.

My calculations were wrong (please not the cat trying to get out of the frame with the crazy lady who has a knitted bag on her head. Lucy is totally too cool to be in this picture). The hat will be frogged and made into a comfy pair of bed socks and all matters of design and mathematics left to the professionals.

Daybreak scarf in Alpaca Silk Georgette = massive success.

* The drastic reduction of my vocabulary was one of my least favourite side effects of the drugs. When your business is words, every job you've ever had revolves around words and your self-image is largely centred on your ability to use words and use them well, losing that ability is a really scary and awful thing.

Peppermint Lounge Hat (2012 FO #4)

Winter has descended on Melbourne, bringing with it the same set of deep personal questions it does every year - what am I doing with my life?  What am I working towards? Why do I choose to live in a city that is cold for half of the year when there are so many places closer to the equator where it's possible to get your Vitamin D from the sun instead of from a tablet? How much do I really love footy? Then, after four months of soul-searching, when I have decided to apply for a transfer to UCLA where it's warm and they get better trashy reality TV (although, of course, I will miss my 'u's), St Kilda make it to the finals and I realise that I really do love footy enough to stay in my cold and windy hometown. Every year - it's like a broken record.

In preparation for the same old cold merry-go-round (also known as seasonal change) this year I decided to start the Campaign to Keep Belinda Warm 2012 (CKBM2012) early, and a few months ago cast on for the Peppermint Lounge Hat from Knitting It Old School, a really fun book with loads of great retro patterns.  I loved how the model looked - so warm, cute and funky.

And snowflakes! Isn't it gorgeous? Except I forgot a) I hate knitting side to side b) I have a massive head and c) the snowflakes weren't included with the pattern. My hat looks more like this:

Clearly too small for my humungous noggin.  The yarn was stash yarn (yay for stashbusting!) - some really old Patons Bluebell and Bendigo Classic 5-ply.

There is either something wrong with the decreases in the pattern or the way I did them (I'd put money on it being the latter) and I ended up with non-matching miters and a white seam down the back which I'm pretty sure is not supposed to be there. However, there was absolutely no way that I was going to count back all the short annoying rows to figure out what the hell I did wrong, so I grafted that sucker up, knitted on the edging and called it a day.

I'm not sure what I'll do with the finished hat but the first Belinda-warming item of 2012 has been a mammoth fail. California is looking more attractive all the time...

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Tired, cranky and running out of time

Still tired

On Monday night I went to the footy.  My team won and it was heaps of fun but Monday night footy is seriously the worst ever.  It took so long for Sam to get home from work and drive to the city that we missed the start of the game. We didn’t get home until after 11 and I was so hyped up with adrenalin from the win that I couldn’t get to sleep until 2am. I don’t mind if the crapness of Monday night games was shared amongst all of the teams but it’s St Kilda home games every year. Dear AFL, please stop the Monday games or share them around!

A review: Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin (Macmillan, 2011)

Writing this I have realised that it’s a lot easier to write a negative review than it is to write a positive one. Is that human nature in that it’s easier to criticise than commend or is it an indictment of my character? Either way, it’s not a very good thing! I’m definitely going to try to get more positive reviews out there now.

The crooked letter in the title is from the method used to teach southern children how to spell ‘Mississippi’ – “M, I, crooked letter, crooked letter, I, crooked letter, crooked letter, I, humpback, humpback, I”. Honestly, I can’t see how that is any easier than just remembering how to spell the word but I never used the rabbit-hole rhyme to help me tie my shoes, so I’m clearly not a good candidate to judge the appropriateness of memory games for children. Anyway, the title is very appropriate for this very southern book, which is set in Chabot, Mississippi, a small town that has been decimated by development and the passing of time. The story begins with the shooting of Larry Ott, a lonely and alone man who drifts through life, not engaging with anyone other than his chickens and his elderly mother, who has Alzheimer’s and is living in a home. Ott is shunned by society due to his association with the disappearance of a young girl 25 years ago and the recent disappearance of another young woman has refocused the attention of the town on him. Silas ‘32’ Jones is the sole law enforcement officer of Chabot and, like Larry, he is isolated, although not alone. Although he is not investigating Ott’s shooting, a link is established between Ott and Silas that has effects that reverberate through the rest of the story.

Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter is told largely in flashbacks and the themes of isolation and loneliness are explored as the deeper-than-expected connections between Larry and Silas are brought to light. There is an excellent sense of place in this novel and, as is expected in a book about the American south, race also plays a role. When I read books that are very American and deal with very specific American issues like Walmart culture and the racial tensions and in the south I often feel like I am missing some of the references that an American reader would get, but even with a fairly considerable cultural difference this book was completely accessible. It’s classified as a thriller but it’s not particularly thrilling – while it’s clear who the murderer is about two-thirds of the way through the book, the book isn’t about the murder as much as it is about blame and guilt and separation. I enjoyed this book very much and would recommend it as literary fiction rather than a murder-mystery. Four out of five stars.

A deadline

It’s Sam’s birthday in one week’s time and this is all I have done on his socks.

I have a heel, a sole and a toe still to go and I don’t think I’m going to make it!  Less blogging and more knitting certainly required to get this job done…

Monday, May 7, 2012

Contagious and Contagion: A Review

Hollywood and women's magazines have taught me to believe in thematic consistency.  Your cushions should match your wall hangings and colour scheme, Christmas movies should always be shown in December and, when you wake up feeling like 25 different types of crap with your first cold of the winter, it's time to watch a movie about contagious viruses.

Contagion, from director Steven Soderbergh, follows the spread of an epidemic (pandemic? Something-demic) virus from Person Zero (Elizabeth ‘Beth’ Emhoff (Gwenyth Paltrow)) through to the discovery and distribution of a vaccine, unsurprisingly focusing on America (thank God we have America to save the world! Seriously.). Its structure is episodic, with an ensemble cast of international stars who to a fault downplay emotion in service of plot and style. The narrative twists and weaves between characters and stories, establishing connections within the complicated network of people and events.

This structure didn’t work for me for two reasons. Firstly, Hollywood films work by displacing external, unresolvable conflicts onto a finite group of people and then figuratively resolving conflicts through the successful conclusion of the narrative. War movies focus not on the actions of countries but on a certain group of (usually) men at a particular moment. Thus the experience of Australia in the First World War is displaced onto two men from different social classes and backgrounds in Gallipoli. This is what Robert B Ray calls ‘a certain tendency of Hollywood cinema’ (although technically Gallipoli is a product of the Australian cinema rather than Hollywood cinema, I don’t watch war movies because they make me sad but I was forced to watch this one in primary school so it’s one of the only war movies I know. It made me cry in front of my class - my teacher was clearly a sadist.). When this group blow up the bridge or save Private Ryan or whatever, we cheer for them and the sad, tragic and awful group moments of war become private moments of success. This tendency reached its zenith when Stephen Spielburg managed to create a happy ending to the Holocaust in Schindler’s List. Contagion eschews this tradition, moving quickly between storylines and character.  However, when there are a number of narratives, none of which fulfil the traditional arc the viewer has no-one to identify with, resulting in a disengaged viewer who spends a lot of the movie wondering why there were so many characters with ‘L’ sounding names – Ally, Ellis, Elizabeth, Lyle, Leopard, Lorraine. (Why? Because ‘l’ is predominant in the world ‘ill’? I don’t understand.)

Secondly, I found it problematic that, while preventing us from identifying or even caring about any of the characters, the narrative is continuously reinforcing the importance of the self against The Man. The characters in Contagion are constantly being opposed, by hospital unions who stop nurses from working with sick patients (“How can they do that?”, exclaims Aubrey Cheever (Sanaa Lathan)) or by the government, who suspected that terrorists had engaged in biological warfare and prevented non-government staff from working on the virus. Mitch Emhoff (Matt Damon) erects boundaries around his daughter, while himself being prevented from leaving his house or obtaining food. Insubordination and rebellion are promoted as the way to fix this problem – the virus is replicated by a scientist Dr Ian Sussmen, a scientist who ignored the government’s orders to cease working with the virus (played by Elliot Gould – another ‘L’  name!) and the vaccine’s creator, Dr Ally Hextall (Jennifer EhLe, who played Elizabeth Bennett in the one and only acceptable adaptation of Pride and Prejudice) ran a human trial on herself in violation of scientific protocol. Repeatedly, the importance of the personal over the national is emphasised – Dr Ellis Cheever (Lawrence Fishburne) saves his fiancĂ© in an act that has dramatic consequences for the health of millions of Americans but he states it was “the right thing to do and I’d do it again”. The problem with this viewpoint is that it violates a basic premise of civil society in that groups who are chosen to protect the many do so, even at the possible expense of a few. It is the job of unions to protect their members, especially from highly dangerous diseases. Scientific protocols exist so that an independent scientist doesn’t have access to diseases that can wipe out a quarter of the world’s population and that the key scientist working on vaccine doesn’t inject herself with an ineffective vaccine and die. The possible death of one woman is less important than the possible deaths of millions of Americans. Also, FYI, Australians don't say "Crikey!" Really, if you need to resort to inaccurate slang to identify a character's nationality, as the youngsters say today, ur doing it rong.

Soderbergh’s distinctive style marks every frame of this film and is in many ways its fatal flaw, with moments with the potential to provoke an emotional response instead being ridiculous and overdone. For example, in the second half of the film, we are shown sites that previously had been busy and teeming with life now empty and literally lifeless. The stark contrast between life and death that is demonstrated here should have been moving and sad, like the moment in 28 Days Later when Cillian Murphy leaves his hospital bed and wanders through a disturbingly empty hospital into a deserted London. Instead, the twangy synthesised soundtrack, more reminiscent of an ‘80s porno than a possibly dystopian future, provoked laughter in my living room and an excuse to pause the movie and check the footy scores. 

For all its many millions of deaths, Contagion is remarkably bloodless. The movie has been praised by the scientific community for its accuracy concerning the scientific and medical practices and procedures depicted (although as an Arts graduate they could have been testing products on rainbows using unicorn farts and I wouldn’t have noticed). There is a curiously sterile quality to this film, as if the emphasis on scientific accuracy was reflected in the style at the expense of any identification with a particular character that would encourage the viewer to actually care what happens to anyone. I certainly didn’t. At the conclusion of the film I felt like I’d been part of an expensive thought experiment. It wasn’t until the last five minutes of the film that a character broke down and cried and by that time it was too late to have any impact on my emotional investment in the film. I give this film 2 stars - if I don't care about any of the characters or any of the stories, then I just don't care.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

FO Friday: Little Pretty Pinky Bookmark (2012 FO#3)

One of the things I like most about being bi-craftual is having the skills and ability to make something that's suitable for almost any situation. A friend getting married? Knit her a shawl. Someone you love having a baby? How about some itty bitt shoes and mittens, or a warm, soft and cuddly blanket. A birthday for a second-tier friend? Buy them a book (Seriously. Handmade gifts are time consuming, often made from expensive materials and, in addition to the physical created object, are a gift of the time, thought and love of the creator. Don't waste those special things on someone who is not super special to you.)

Need to send an overseas friend an 'I'm thinking of you' birthday gift? A cute pretty pinky bookmark does the trick:

The pattern is Crochetroo's eternally popular fan bookmark with some unintended modifications. Because I am too lazy to take the four seconds it takes to google the pattern so I made it largely from memory, I forgot to attach the fans properly so they kind of flap around a bit.  I figure for a bookmark that shouldn't really matter - it'll be squashed by the pages anyway! The yarn is Twilleys of Stanford Twenty (colour way R6) which feels like plastic, so should be perfect for the functionality of this gift.

I'm pretty happy with this effort and (as an extra bonus) there's no extra postage cost for including this with my card. Win win win.