Your princess is in another castle

I have always had a love affair with video games. Some of my earliest memories involve playing Super Sonic with my brother on our (now very retro) Sega, and battling it out in Mario Party with the kids who lived in our apartment. My first gaming experience was assisting my Dad in Duke Nukem (for those of you who are unfamiliar, this is a “shoot ’em up” style game where the main character, Duke, interacts with strippers while eradicating the earth of an alien race of deadly space pigs. On reflection, possibly not the most appropriate game for an eight-year-old girl, but hey). As the assigned medic I was responsible for hitting the “health level up” key when hearts were running low. We then moved onto The Ocarina of Time (the first of many Zelda adventures I would later embark on) and I remember how satisfying it was, solving puzzles and beating bosses together as a team.

I love the visual and mental stimulation provided by games and am pretty sure I have gaming to thank for my excellent hand eye coordination, ability to stay cool under pressure, and sharp problem solving skills. The classic characters we all know and love compliment my knitting style perfectly (simple blocks of bright, fun colours) so I’m looking forward to drawing inspiration from them while I attempt to reinvent these stories through crafty magic.

The art of storytelling

Exciting news – animation powerhouse Pixar has unveiled plans to provide a free online course to educate creatives in the art of storytelling. The first lesson is currently available through Khan Academy (a not for profit educational platform), with the remaining five instalments of the series to be rolled out throughout the year.

Peter Docter (director of Monsters, Up and Inside Out) leads the first class and explains the concept of writing about what you know and the process of refining an idea. We then hear from other animators who give advice on harnessing imagination by asking “what if” questions, before developing worlds and characters and bringing all this together through effective storyboards. “We hope that by sharing how we tell stories, we’ll inspire students all over the world to tell their own stories” says Docter.

If you’re like me and interested in conveying compelling stories, then getting some (free!) tips and tricks from some of the best in the industry is a must.

UP

There’s a circus coming to town

I have always loved circus. It’s traditional but also timeless. It spans across generations and cultures. People never grow out of being bewildered at the limits the human body can reach. I’ve dabbled in juggling and have always been drawn to the tight-knit community that carnies create for themselves. Perhaps it’s something to do with travelling so much as a child that led to “running away with the circus” feeling so natural, or perhaps it’s because I’m attracted to the quirky and obscene. Either way it was the only logical progression to start my own circus, and so the Woolly Wonders Circus: the cutest show on earth was born. If I’m going to do something I’m going to do it properly, so I came to Montreal last year on a reconnaissance mission to learn the tricks of the trade. I lived at Cirque du Soleil and obtained access to their facilities through my unknowing human boyfriend. I had already gained decent exposure to Australian circuses but wanted to make sure I had an international view, and becoming a professional groupie seemed like the most foolproof way of going under cover(s).

 

I will be recruiting only the most courageous and talented (and fibrous) acrobats. Some acts will feature animals and their tamers, but with a playful twist that will leave you wondering who is taming whom. There will be daring, death-defying stunts as well as crafty magic that will need to be seen to be believed (or knot).

This wondrous circus will be limited only by the absurdity of my imagination, so step right up. Can I count on you to buy a ticket?

Winter came and went

I moved to Montreal with my two boyfriends in the last days of Autumn 2016. Knowing that winter was coming, I wasted no time knitting beanies and other essential accessories:

Jerome and I managed to get in a few leafy walks before the winter hit (I have to say the auburn leaves really complimented both of our gingery complexions):

Then the snow hit. Hard. Whenever I meet someone new here in Montreal and the question of how long they’ve been here comes up, they proudly reply in terms of the number of winters. As though the more winters you manage to survive, the more rightful a Quebecois you are. I laughed this off, until I made it through my first winter and then felt the need to boast about it loudly (hence this post). To give some feel for the intensity of the snow, here are a few pictures (yes, those are cars):

I’m grateful for all the time spent trapped indoors as it provided the perfect environment for woolly-worlding. I have also vowed to never complain about Australian winters ever again. I do wonder though if the settlers who came to Montreal and decided it would be a sensible place to set up shop were playing some kind of cruel joke, or if it happened to be summer when they arrived and by the time winter hit they just couldn’t be arsed packing up again. Who knows.

Ma vie de courgette

A stop motion film with a title as ridiculous as “My Life as a Zucchini” is obviously something I’m going to pay attention to… and that was before learning it was nominated for Best Animated Feature this year after winning Best Animated Feature Film in the European Film Awards 2016. I mean, just look at the poster:

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Our young hero is a waif with blue hair and blue tinting around his eyes, reflective of the sadness he carries with him. The story opens in his bare bedroom where he’s stacking empty beer cans instead of toys and playing with his only possession in the world – a handmade kite with his absent father painted on it. After accidentally killing his alcoholic mother, he is sent to an orphanage for troubled kids where “there is nobody left to love us”. Not the best start, I agree. The band of abandoned misfits become their own family and the empathy they show towards one another is touching.

The aesthetics are stunning and wildly original. The sets are simple but beautiful, not to mention the characters with their balloon heads that really push the boundary between big but cute, and big but scary (while staying firmly on the cute side). The camera often lingers on the small details, which you appreciate given the amount of care that has gone into sculpting them, reminding you that human hands have brought these figures to life. The score compliments the story perfectly and is not overdone, leaving you wanting more.

Ma vie de courgette finds the perfect balance between silly fun and emotional depth. A core theme is loneliness, as you ache for the characters who are all so deserving of more, but still able to find joy and love regardless of circumstance. The film touches on heavy subjects while maintaining a childlike innocence, and in the end you’re left with a feeling of hope for our little gangly friends.

I give this charming film 🍿🍿🍿🍿🌽 4.5 popcorns (the corn cob was the best way I could think of conveying half a popcorn).

cour 3

Jeromeo

This post is dedicated to that special knitted someone in my life. Two years ago I entered into a fulfilling relationship with a 1-foot tall, ginger-haired, knitted-boyfriend called Jerome. We first met when I moved out of a share house and decided to live by myself. I was worried I might become lonely, so we moved in pretty much straight away and have been “going steady” ever since. He spends most of his time sitting on my bed, pondering the bigger questions in life. He relentlessly wears a smile, is soft to touch, always ready for a cuddle and is the best listener I’ve met in my 29 years.

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Don’t get me wrong, we have had our rough patches, like most couples. Specifically, he isn’t very warm and is always the little spoon in bed. I once considered zapping him in the microwave for some warmth, but realised he probably wouldn’t have enjoyed that too much. To fill this void I have also gained a human-boyfriend. Does that make me a hussy? Probably. But why settle for one boyfriend when you can have two. At first I was anxious that there would be some jealousy, but I was very upfront and made it clear from the get go that Jerome and I were a package deal. The new addition to our relationship has been respectful of the dynamic and knows his place, so domestic life has been full of bliss.


The inception of Woolly Worlds was inspired by Jerome. I spend a lot of my time out and about, and as much as he does come with me on occasion (in the safety of my handbag), he spends a lot of time alone at home. It’s important to spend time around your “kind” and I could sense that he was missing some fibrous company, so I set to work on crafting some worlds for him to enjoy.

Jerome likes the idea of this blog as much as I do and has expressed interest in contributing to the odd post here and there, so stay tuned if you’d like to hear from the man himself…

And the beat goes on

After paying so much attention to film I decided to try my hand at recreating some of my musical heroes. I could tell you that I started with The Beatles, but that’s kind of obvious (isn’t the likeness uncanny).

I played around with some songs, making strawberries for a field, Lucy in a sky with diamonds, John flying across the universe and an octopus in a garden.

Mick’s iconic lips needed to make an appearance and I added a twist of creative flair by giving his teeth some personality. It’s amazing how two black dots can instantly bring something to life. The stop motion animation for this piece was particularly fun as I watched his little molars make a break for it and slide down his tongue to freedom.

As a very white girl I have to confess that I love hip hop and how cool I feel when I awkwardly attempt to rap along. I’ve never attempted to knit a head before, so recreating this Big Poppa’s face was an everyday struggle, but the sky’s the limit after all (apologies if you are unfamiliar with his music and read this paragraph as nonsense).