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

Saturday, April 26, 2014


I watched a play reading last night as a conscious effort to find my own resonance for what is regarded as a huge deal in Australia: Anzac Day. We have a public holiday and people get up before dawn to go into the War Memorial in droves to remember the soldiers, raise/lower the flag etc. While I have much much empathy for the soldiers who have returned from the horror of war and have to somehow continue their lives, I struggle with the air of nationalism, glory and heroism war and soldiering. Like most of humanity, I feel so averse to the idea of governments sending men to slaughter each other in fields and forests. I am newly horrified this week by a photo of our irrefutably unhinged prime minister sitting up in a war plane costing several billion dollars grinning like a boy with a new toy.

Well, last night I went to a play reading my friend Mark invited me to. It was "War Hero" written by Michael Galvin, a New Zealand actor and playwright. The play is about Archibald Baxter, who in 1916 was a pacifist conscientious objector and was tortured and punished terribly for it. I loved the experience of sitting there in the theatre with the actors all sitting in chairs reading this beautiful, funny, moving story. The experience was akin to how I remember listening to radio plays and story records as a kid. I watched the actors with fascination, but part of me could see every scene as well.
At the end, I felt so heartened that there are people telling the story of non-violent resistance to sanctioned murder. I look forward to spending the next Anzac day in a similar way, perhaps even watching the full production or listening to it as a radio play.

I have been knitting up a storm of little leaf bookmarks for the Creating a Welcome (blog here) market at Chalice Uniting Church, Northcote. It's so lovely to have something tiny and portable to knit wherever I find a spare moment. Simply an i-cord with leaf pattern from here.
Think I'll yarn along with Ginny and Natural Suburbia.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Charm of Finches Pozible Campaign is launched! woohoo!

It's very exciting! We have finally launched the Pozible campaign for the girls' EP! I can't say how much I loved creating the video with them in the Oak forest, and now the campaign is live and in the first five minutes someone pledged! It's all a bit exciting.

Monday, April 14, 2014

capturing the soul

My two dear talented girls went into the recording studio last week. recording is a tricky thing. capturing the soul of a song, giving a performance you are happy with to set in stone, preparing to  send a little boats of preciousness off to sea. They coped so well, sang their hearts out (repeatedly, at times), and I believe caught a bit of magic. I'm so in awe of these two dear people.
They were blessed to be working with two beautiful men with so much experience and such big hearts.
Hopefully we will be launching their crowd funding campaign tomorrow. It's been so much fun planning that as well.

We also frolicked in a forest filming their lovely campaign video. It was so fun and free and beautiful.
Then the girls played a small concert in my friend's lovely old 1862  church which is now his home.

I haven't had much time to knit, but it will return when this big project settles down a bit! I am spinning wheel-less, which has been odd but probably well timed, considering my pre-occupation with the girls' music. But one little gem of a wheel is coming to me soon, and my fingers await eagerly to start again!

Friday, April 4, 2014


::the bounty at the kindergarten harvest festival
 ::sleeves are too short on a shop bought knitted hoodie, so casting on for more stripes.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

toy box theatre

::hectic week teaching, telling enchanting stories to fresh-faced, wide-eyed cherubs.

::creating and planning for a storytelling and art workshop for children: lino cut fun.
(more photos after the fact)

::sadly, too much working and not enough knitting, and no spinning because I had to give my borrowed wheel back! saving madly for my wheel.

::looking forward to the school holidays and sleep.

Friday, March 21, 2014

dear cedar

The excitement of the week involved playing a wee morning veggie market gig on Wednesday morning with some lovely friends. we ladies call ourselves "Dear Cedar" and have been lucky to have various beautiful fiddlers join us. This Wednesday we were joined by an old mate of mine, Steph, and my didn't he add a special deliciousness to the morning.
We met a gentleman, Peter, who was kind enough to record a song and take lots of photos. We also had a television crew stumble into the veggie market and upon us, and they filmed us too.
My favourite part of the day was when two tiny girls decided to dance to our songs, and one wee dot was in particular very taken by Steph and his fiddle music, and danced softly and attentively just under his nose, her eyes not leaving the fiddle for a moment! ah, the power of music, the great communicator between souls.
The song in the video, "I wish my baby was born"  is one of my favourites. It is found in the movie "Cold Mountain" (the director Anthony Minghella wrote extra lyrics, according to the CD sleeve notes), though of course the song is a traditional folk song from the Appalachians, no doubt with roots in English folk music. Like many of these songs, there are numerous songs with variations on these lyrics or melodies floating about. It's a melancholy and fragile song, yet so beautiful and plaintive.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

shoulder thingy

fresh off the needles: a shoulder cosy for my dear friend who loves sea glass green. I am so so please I chose this project for my first handspun, and so thrilled and enchanted by the greens resulting from the Landscape Dyes chamomile and fern (the second photo is more true to the colour).
it's a very easy knit (took 2 days of occasional knitting): Shoulder Cozy by Churchmouse Yarns
ravelled here

yarning along with ginny
and keep calm craft on with nicole

Monday, March 3, 2014


my first, freshly dyed-up hand spun skeins! gloriously nubbly and unintentionally thick and thin, which I'm told is quite the fashion. I used some landscape dye shades fern and chamomile. First time dyeing wool too, and oh sooo much fun!

my knitting::the annabel pullover in misti alpaca tonos worsted (leatherly), almost done.
I'm modifiying it, because the length in the pattern was too short for my kidney-conscious girl ("I want it to cover my,  and she wants length.
my idea is to add a rib in another colour, either grey or bird egg blue...I'm knitting the sleeves in the round using two circular needles.

I found this book at an op shop. Pearl S Buck's The Big Wave. As soon as I saw it, I was struck by what I can only call a memory-feeling or feeling-memory. I can't remember what age I was, but I remember reading this book and it fascinating, or maybe, haunting me. That's all I remember, nothing about the story itself, but when I saw it I had a faint rush of awe mixed with fear, and fascination.
It now waits for's kinda spooky.
also, yarning along with Ginny