Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Meet Ellen of Shadow Feet

I have a new friend! We met over two intensive days of rehearsing for a big extravaganza fashion-y theatre-y thing, and my job was kinda to make her laugh because the director said she hired her for her smile! I have to agree, Ellen Sørensen lights up the room when she smiles.
see what I mean!

Now, Ellen does something stunning. She cuts paper very intricately. She makes layers! She lights her pictures from behind, sometimes they are in a box with a peep hole! All this is exciting enough! Then Ellen tells me she loves telling stories in this way and, well...we got on a roll about storytelling...more on that later!
image courtesy of Ellen's website
It kinda began for her in her second year in Art school back in her hometown of Auckland. But not really! You see, Ellen grew up with her mum and dad, big sister and grandfather all encouraging her to tell stories! And they told her their made up ones. Her grandfather (Danish born) and her mother would spend their time embroidering, and this instilled in young Ellen a sense of beauty and taking time to make something, the handmade, and how normal and very human it is to tell stories. Team that with living in some very beautiful seaside, forest-y places near Auckland (did you know there are NO SNAKES in New Zealand;  not one ), which Ellen wandered through, and you have the makings of a richly imaginative child with a deep connection to nature.
I think now is a good time to show you what Ellen has been up to!! (it's 8 minutes)

Let The Light In m4v from ELLEN SORENSEN on Vimeo.

 Now as you can see, Ellen is also a musician! That's really a bit unfair, I hear you say, for one person to have such a concentration of talent.  Ellen started tinkering freely on the piano when she was 6 years old, and began lessons at 7, doing piano exams, becoming quite accomplished by the sounds of it. She went to art school when she finished school, moving into urban Auckland to live an old dentist surgery.
Last year (2013) Ellen moved to Melbourne, looking to connect with other artists and to feel less isolated. She's already had a solo exhibition of her paper cuts entitled ""A Place To Call One's Own" at the Melbourne City Library. The works were placed in little nooks and backlit with little lamps. Damn! I missed it!
Only yesterday I heard Ellen's song, "Big Bear" played on 3PBS on the show Homebrew.
I tell Ellen she really has landed on her feet,  as we sit in a cute Thornbury backstreet cafe.
Have a listen!
Ellen explains she now belongs to a collective of musicians called Air Punch Collective , who have a novel  song club idea going and are who are putting on a show soon. The show concept is interesting: it's called "mixed doubles" and everyone pairs up and collaborates on each other's songs. She gave me a listen on her phone of a recording she'd made at the rehearsal with her "doubles" partner David Carlin . It sounds sweet! In fact, Ellen's harmonies are very striking on her song Big Bear. I asked her did she sing all the harmonies? Yes. They sound free, and intuitive, and in fact, the recording sounds like a big party! Just loose enough to have energy, intimate enough to draw you in. And the story: Ellen's own grim fairytale. I ask her which fairytales she loved as a kid: Hansel and Gretel and she had a Danish copy of The Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Anderson. Unsanitised. The mermaid has to cut her own tail off. We start ranting about how great real fairytales are! How children need the dark, they need those archetypes intact. If we make fairytales nice and polite and safe we are robbing children of the images we as humans need in life to access our own stories and our own shadow self.
photo courtesy of Ellen's website

And telling her stories through fairytale imagery and leaving space for others to relate with their own stories is what Ellen likes.
photo pinched from Ellen's facebook page

I ask Ellen about her moniker "Shadow Feet".
"It has to do with the retrospective way I write my music: I had this image of a character wandering back through time being followed by it's shadow and  memories of places and experiences that I've had forming my present, and that's how I felt about my self when I wrote them,  being informed by my shadows." I love that!

Thank you Ellen for a lovely chat!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

when the brain goes foggy...knit.....

After spending the day reluctantly trying to deal with bureaucracy so I can continue to moonlight as a casual relief teacher occasionally, my mind feels particularly clouded. Ughh!

This kind of head space calls for some knitting: curative occupational therapy for sure! I'm almost finished my Agnes in the most divine silver grey Drops Eskimo. I decided to make the ribbing extra long, starting higher; and a small child I met on the weekend suggested I do extra long arms and put in thumb holes. I rather like that idea!

It's been school holidays here, and the girls have had a well earned break from their busy life as full time school girls and busy musos! We spent the weekend in a mountain range with many wonderful folk musicians, doing workshops. One lovely man recorded birdsong and a snippet of Mabel practicing her song. Here it is (a few minutes in):

And here is an amazing film which my three thespian children made yesterday as a birthday present for their dad!!! Enjoy!! Here is the You Tube link if you prefer to view larger.


Sunday, September 14, 2014

a simple knitting post, well , almost

Knitting up a last minute Melbourne Winter turning slowly into Melbourne Spring thick warm Agnes for myself.
Pattern: Agnes by Melissa La Barre
Yarn: Drops Eskimo ( silver grey 53)
 (pictured with an edition of Pom Pom Quarterly which I always read from cover to cover! so great!)
 And my recent foray onto the Catwalk: Liberty of the Press! A collection of amazing outfits designed by a local couple who screen print (and still cut out their images by hand), based on the incredible Press dress of 1866 designed by one Mrs Mailda Butters! Such a lot of fun!! I look a lot like the Bride of Frankenstein: the middle years, yes!

And my own dear Ivy with her brother , making a dash in her "Lady Grace" outfit for book day.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

post from a "mumager"

I have neglected my blog, as I have neglected my knitting, spinning and everything else to do with my fibre passions! But for a good cause I believe, and not for to much longer.
I have become what somebody described a few days ago as a "mumager". Meaning I have been facilitating my two talented singing daughters and their music project Charm of Finches.
A beautiful delicate project, involving much love, trust, enthusiasm and support from many people, friends and strangers!
Last November Mabel decided she wanted 2014 to be the year she recorded her music. It coincided with her being given her Year 8 project to consider over the Christmas holidays, in which time we enlisted the help of a lovely new friend who offered to record the girls. From a few casual home recordings in the hills burnt onto a few blank CDs for friends with hand drawn covers, the project grew, and after an astounding Pozible crowd funding campaign involving many hours of planning, recording, filming, listening, photographing, performing, sewing and stitching, the project is almost coming to it's conclusion with the official launch in two week. It's been huge and fun, wholly creative and exciting!
Here are some highlights in picture:

That first recording session in a proper studio with Fraser at the Aviary, after they won battle of the bands last year, giving the girls a taste of recording!

Recording glockenspiel at The Aviary
Recording at Emotion Studios, doing the songs with guitar and both vocals all at once to capture the live feel and the sister chemistry

Photos with the most marvellous Mara Ripani, who made it so much fun! 7am on Black Rock beach in winter!!

Ivy at the early session in the hills near Hurstbridge with Mike.

Filmiing Wild Mountain Thyme, Anna's song request for her Pozible reward.
Performing with Clare Bowditch after winning the Winter Secrets comp.
Mabel's artwork for the CD booklet.

And in two weeks, the girls will play  a concert to launch this little EP with six beautiful heartful songs into the world. In actual fact, the music has already begun its own life in the universe, already playing in lounge rooms and kitchens and cars all around the world. I love that idea the most. Whether  you are writing a book, making a  film, painting a picture or recording music or some other creation, once that little piece of you has burst out of its egg, it will have adventures you will never dream of, and many times, never even know of!
and the music: you can listen here!

I'm proud, I'm excited, I'm amazed,  I'm in awe of my girls, I'm grateful for all the wonderful people in my girls' life who made this project a success. I'm a wee bit tired right now, and I must now go and sew some bento bags and post them off to the last Pozible supporters patiently waiting for their CD!

Thursday, June 26, 2014


time to knit!

p a t t e r n: Woodland Shawl by Nikol Lohr (free pattern)
y a r n: Shibui Cima
we are in Darwin with family, packing the camping gear for a week in Kakadu National Park. Looking forward to reconnecting with the spirit of that country and soaking away the past few months extreme busy city life within the hot healing springs bubbling out from the rocks....
feels so good to be this colour yarn, fjord. I bought the yarn purely for the delicious soft peacock blue! (joining the yarn along with ginny)
Here are my ladies with Frangipani hair!
Here's their first beautiful song on bandcamp: Girl In A Lighthouse

Sunday, June 22, 2014

the quickest post ever!

Midwinter! See the exquisite lanterns my eleven year old and all her mates made!
 and I have been so busy with my dear girls and their music I have scarcely had a chance to knit!! But in the park I sat and took up the second sock of the pair I started three years ago!! Yes, three.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

birthday post

::today is my birthday.
I really wanted to cast off the jumper/sweater I have been knitting for my big girl before my birthday arrived.  I cast on in February!  It's finally off the needles and she wore it to school this morning happily! The "misti alpaca" is divine and squishy and warm and an amazing rich toasty brown.  I added length by picking up stitches with a pale grey silk/merino/angora for a rib, though it's very hard to see in the photo.
Annabel Sweater by Carrie Bostick Hoge
Ravelry notes here.
::the reason I was so keen to cast off the jumper was that I really wanted to cast on a new project with my new wool, some divine Shibui Cima in the fjord colour which I bought from our local; yarn store (LYS) just for the colour!!! yep. I am planning a Woodland Shawl after a glorious coffee date with my dear friend oggling together over my knitting patterns, which hilariously someone mistook for my PhD!! I have more patterns from Ravery than I could possibly complete in three lifetimes! I quite like the sound of Doctor of Knitting, don't you?

:: my birthday table which greeted me this morning with my present: a Tibetan singing bowl! It's divine, literally, and sings most mysteriously and enlivingly a perfect mellow C sharp!

::of course I treated myself: to a membership to the Australian greens, because they speak for me and are incredible and I want my children to have a real woodland to walk through with their children; and, a subscription to pom pom quarterly...what a great mag! not just eye candy, oh what eye candy! great interesting inspiring articles! what's not to love!
::my life has been rather dominated by my role as unofficial band manager for my dear talented singing birds. It's all been happening, with their crowdfunding campaign being a stunning success, their recording done and dusted, and the artwork for their EP being created by a beautiful and generous local artist this week! It's all very exciting and inspiring, and sometimes time consuming. So my knitting has been on the back burner.
Here are my pics of the cold wintry photo shoot on the beach last Sunday morning with Mara Ripani, our dear friend and photographer of young girls extraordinaire!

 bbrrrrrrrrr...the things you do in the name of ART!
connecting with Ginny for her Yarn Along