Monday, 27 April 2015

100 Years of ANZAC

Saturday just gone, 25th April, was ANZAC Day here in the antipodes. In fact, it was the 100th Anniversary.

I am used to commemorating the end of the War with our Remembrance parades in the UK, honouring the 11th hour of the 11th Day of the 11th Month, when First World War hostilities formally ended in accordance with the armistice signed by Germany.   In Australia it is done slightly differently, as the main commemoration occurs for the beginning of the Gallipoli campaign. The land offensive landed at dawn on 25th April 1915, and as such ANZAC Day is commemorated with Dawn Services on 25th April each year, followed by the laying of wreathes and then civic and military parades which are very similar to the UK Remembrance Day parades - the only real difference being that things were much less formal here in Australia.

I have written a brief piece about the Gallipoli Campaign, and put it at the end of this post in dark red, so you don’t have to read through it if you don’t want to; but I did want to share the gracious words of Ataturk, first President of the new Republic of Turkey and an Ottoman commander at Gallipoli, on the memorial at Anzac Cove, Gallipoli, Turkey:

"Those heroes that shed their blood
and lost their lives…
You are now lying in the soil of a friendly country.
Therefore rest in peace.
There is no difference between the Johnnies
and the Mehmets to us where they lie side by side
here in this country of ours…
You, the mothers,
who sent their sons from faraway countries
wipe away your tears;
 your sons are now lying in our bosom
and are in peace,
after having lost their lives on this land they have
become our sons as well."
Ataturk, 1934          

Here in Townsville, I was collected by a friend at 4am so that we could get to the park and ride that was laid on to take spectators to the Dawn Service. Before the service began, documentary footage about the Gallipoli campaign was screened. Then the service began, with readings and speeches continuing as the sun made its way above the horizon.

The quiet and still of dawn darkness and the anticipation of the sun rising lent an extra layer of solemnity to proceedings. While obviously there is no comparison and we cannot possibly imagine what it would have been like, being tired and uncomfortable, and slightly chilly (we are still in the tropics here, so although the nights are starting to cool it will never be very cold) helped people to empathise more with what those young men must have been going through 100 years ago.

Following the conclusion of the Dawn Service, most people dispersed to get breakfast and coffee and let their kids go and play, before returning to line the streets ready for the parade.

We walked past this Field of Poppies installation by a local craft group

Watching the sun come up as we eat breakfast

Townsville has a very large proportion of military families due its Army and Air Force bases, so the largest contingent of marchers was the Australian Defence Force. Also parading though were various Veterans Groups, hobbyists with restored military vehicles, elderly residents, Volunteer humanitarian groups, local bands and even school children in their uniforms. There was even a flyover by a couple of planes, including a local tourist seaplane called the Red Baron.

"The Spirit of Mateship"

My husband is in there somewhere!

Septimus the Pony, he's a Regimental Mascot.

The Pioneer Sergeant, with beard and axes. Hipsters be jealous!

Air Force working dogs - and spare a moment for that poor lady who had to march 2.5km in those heels. When will the military learn that it is no longer the 1940s, and women don't have to dress like that?

Nursing uniforms

The Gallipoli Campaign in brief:

During the First World War, the Ottoman Empire (now Turkey) was an ally of Germany, and the Russian Empire was an ally of the Allies. The Dardanelles is a narrow strait in north-western Turkey, providing a sea route through to the Black Sea and Russia, and as such was a tactically important area during the First World War.

In order for the Allies to gain control of the Dardanelles and establish a sea route for their navies to the Black Sea and Allied Russia, an Allied force was sent. The aim was the capture of the Ottoman capital, Contantinople (now Istanbul), initially via Naval force and then via landings on the northern banks of the Dardanelles, formed by the Gallipoli peninsula.

The initial naval attempt used damaged British and French ships attempting to force the Dardanelles. They made headway, however the attempt failed after too many losses from artillery bombardments from the defending Turks, newly laid sea mines and strong currents that destroyed submarine attempts. Therefore, a land campaign was devised to eliminate the Ottoman artillery and clear the way for the naval operation.

This campaign was designed to be a quick hit, but there was a delay of several weeks until the plan could be put into action, and this time was not wasted by the Ottoman and German defenders. Good preparations were made to repel an invasion, and this combined with the Allies’ inadequate mapping and intelligence, plus a failure to keep momentum and capitalise on ground gained early on, with the result that a stalemate ensued.  

The landings at Gallipoli began at dawn on 25th April 1915, and the campaign ended with an Ottoman victory and defeat for the Allies on 9th January 1916. Here in Australia, it seems to now be part of folklore that the joint Australian and New Zealand force – the ANZACs – fought a spirited battle and suffered an unfair defeat due to callous disregard by the British masters for their Colonial servants. In reality, the ANZACs fought their battles alongside troops from Britain, Ireland, France, Nepal (Gurkhas), India, Canada, Palestinian Jewish volunteers who had been displaced by the Ottoman Empire, civilian volunteer logistic support, and probably others as well. While I’m sure there were poor decisions made by Allied commanders, there was also poor information to go on as intelligence was not adequate.

What is definitely true though is that at this time, for white settlers Australia and New Zealand were very much overseas parts of Britain. In the Gallipoli campaign these ‘new’ countries came of age, and a new sense of nationhood was forged. These junior nations had been called upon to make a vital contribution in a very violent grown-up world, and had established themselves as useful countries in their own rights. The sacrifices made at Gallipoli helped to cement a new national consciousness and an idea of 'the Anzac Spirit'.

For the Ottomans too this campaign was important in the forging of a new nation. The victory was not cheap, in one infantry regiment every single man was either killed or injured in defending their land. Commanding these troops was Mustafa Kemel, later to be known as Ataturk. This final defence of the motherland formed a basis for the later Turkish War of Independence, and the formation of the Republic of Turkey under Ataturk as its first national leader.

After the failure of the Allied campaign, the evacuation of the Allied troops went more smoothly. Despite the bitter winter conditions, good planning and ingenious tactics and deception meant that the Australians suffered no further casualties as they evacuated. The final troops to leave were elements of the British Troops who had been amongst the first to land.

At the end of the Gallipoli Campaign, casualties on both sides were similarly heavy, with losses of over 56,600 lives each:
The Allies lost 56,707 lives; the ANZACs lost 11,430 lives between them, and British forces lost 34,072 with 7,654 either missing in action or prisoners of war.
The Ottomans lost 56,643 plus another 11,178 either missing or prisoners.

I don’t want to disrespect anyone by belittling their loss and not including them here, so below is a table from Wikipedia listing casualties:

Gallipoli casualties (not including illness)

   Ottoman Empire  
United Kingdom
New Zealand
British India
Total Allies

Thursday, 23 April 2015

Monster Mash

Well this is exciting for me - I left a comment on LucyRavenscar to let her know that I had shared her links on my last post, and she not only replied to me, but she said "I really like your little animal characters too, and your budgie is adorable!" I feel very excited about that praise!! It's made my day!

I also said in my last post that I had yet more mini amigurumis to introduce, but as I'm making them faster than I'm blogging them I think that will be the case a lot, so I might stop saying it! Instead, I'm just going to introduce a few every now and then, when I have a nice little group to show, or something I'm especially proud of.

So with that in mind, here's a little set of new prototype amis I made the other day. I fancied a little change from making animal ones, so I decided to use the same simple pattern I’ve developed to make some people-y ones.

This first one wasn’t originally going to be a people-y one, it was going to be a turtle. But as I finished the first piece (head/body/legs) I started thinking about of all the options - it could become any number of other things! I eventually decided to make it into a little monster though – I thought of making a zombie, but finally settled on a mini sort-of-Frankenstein’s monster.

His monobrow is embroidered with yarn, and his hair is a small pompom of the same yarn, sewn securely onto his head. I didn’t make many wraps to make this pompom so that it would lie a bit flatter than a full pompom. He also has little co-ordinated buttons on his jumper :)

Having made this little monster, I really wanted to make more! [remember kids, monsters aren’t just for Halloween!] My husband suggested a vampire, so I made this little fellow (He's a bit short as my husband kept asking me questions about it while I was making it, and I lost count of how many rounds I had done for the body...). His hair is slicked back – embroidered with long stitch. He has a string tie and matching cape, but I haven’t been able to make good enough fangs yet – I have a plan for that though, so when I can put it into action I'll let you know how it works out.

With two boy monsters now created, I felt I needed a girl. I decided to make a witch. I couldn’t quite figure out how to make her a cloak and legs, I will need to work on this, but I still think she’s quite cute. I gave her some crazy purple hair and a cool hat, and she has a purple belt fastened with a little button buckle. Cute!

So there's my mini monster mash! I think they need a bit of tweaking still - like it would be nice if the witch could have feet, and even better if she could have stripey stockings under her cloak! But I think they're still pretty sweet :)

I'm not forgetting my regular crochet though, especially as I've been able to collect the rest of my Deramores order from Aus Post. I have in here more cotton for my Cotton Doily Hexagon Blanket, as well as some Stylecraft Classique Cotton DK for another project yet to be started:

As well as adding in a new green colour, I needed to top up the original colours I had for this blanket. Unfortunately, even the original colours I reordered are all a bit different to the yarn I already had. I guess that's what you get for buying your first batch of yarn in 2011, then waiting 4 years to order extra! It shouldn't really matter though, as it was meant to be a multicolour blanket with randomly placed motifs anyway. I will just keep hooking on it and see how it turns out - I'm working later this aftenoon, I wonder how many new patches I can get done before I have to get ready and leave...?

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

This Week

I hope everyone out there in blog land is all good :) 

I’m still being quite busy this week: I had enrolled on a course a while ago (I think I might have mentioned this at the time), it’s a ‘blended learning’ course, meaning that the delivery is a mixture of home study and college attendance. Well, Monday and Tuesday this week were my first attendance days for this section of the course – I have already completed the introductory section which was attendance-based, and I’ve done a lot of the home study already too. The next big thing to focus on now is getting log book experience as I need to build up practical hours as part of the course.

You may be wondering what the course actually is of course! Well, the full course I’m doing is a Diploma of Remedial Therapy, but it begins with the level below that, which is relaxation massage. So I don’t think I’ll have any trouble finding volunteers to help me out getting my practice done :)

Easter holidays are all over now, so I’m back to my previous work hours on just a Wednesday and Thursday afternoon/evening. I don’t like working these hours as it makes it difficult for me to get to sleep at night as it takes me a while to unwind, and I miss out on not only precious time with my husband (he will be away again soon – we will be apart for most of this year…) but also on the opportunities I had hoped to take up to do ‘after work’ activities, like watersports and Red Cross volunteering. For me these are now ‘during work’ activities so I can’t take part, but of course during the day there are no activities available as most other people are at work then! So frustrating as I really miss being able to do interesting activities! If only there was something fun on a Monday or Tuesday evening instead…

My at-home activities are easy though – I’m still enjoying my current obsession with amigurumi, not only trying it out but also looking at other amazing creations online. I really am in awe of the talent of some people, there are some incredible pieces of work out there. With that in mind, I thought I would just share a couple of websites that I recently found when trawling Pinterest for inspiration:

First up, I’ve already mentioned as I have made 2 patterns from there (bunny and pig). My favourite of these patterns was the pig, as it had such a beautifully shaped head and cheeky face, and it looked so cute when finished! I couldn’t believe how simple all this cuteness was to produce, with the easy-to-follow pattern. I do find Sharon’s patterns on this site easy to follow, and she provides great video tutorials too, so I really recommend her simple patterns to anyone who is a beginner at amigurumi, or who wants to learn. Or who can do it already and wants a cute pig! Pig pattern here

Next up, and in a different style, is Lucy Ravenscar. If you’ve searched for amigurumi on Pinterest at all and seen any really cute Star Wars figures, chances are they are Lucy’s. Her Star Wars figures are so impressive and cute, and so popular, that she’s even got a book now that comes with a kit for some of the designs. The book is released next month (May 2015), and I wish we had proper Amazon in Australia! Even though I’m not a Star Wars fan as such, I think the figures are so cute that I would be tempted to make them anyway – I could always gift the results to Star Wars fan friends?
As well as this book, Lucy has several free patterns for little teeny amigurumi on her blog, and she has other patterns for sale in her Etsy shop. The for-sale patterns vary from slightly larger makes, to small makes with brilliant details given the size. My favourites from the Etsy shop are the Halflings – they look like cute little Hobbits to me, and the Witches and Wizards. I also love that the Witches and Wizards are inspired by Terry Pratchett’s characters, as I’m a huge fan of his.
Back to her blog for the free patterns, my favourites are the cat and owl to go with the Witches and Wizards. I haven’t made these yet as I’ve been so busy on my own stuff, but just reading these tiny patterns has taught me a bit more about adding shape to small amigurumi. And the owl looks like a Hedwig to me :)

Finally for now, I want to share some amigurumi eye candy! The little dolls on Magic Dolls  are made in mixed media – amigurumi, crochet, knit, fabric, cross stitch, applique, and perhaps more. They are all photographed so beautifully, with gorgeous painted illustrations and little props and accessories. The blog is in Ukranian (I think) and doesn’t have its own translate button, but the post titles and the labels have English, so it’s easy to find the images. There’s also Instagram if that’s easier for you.
I mentioned the illustrations in the photos, well if you like those you may be interested to see that there are also these gorgeous cross stitch portraits of the dolls (I can’t find links to any charts, but if you were really keen I’m sure you could email to ask about charts).
I just love looking at the pictures here, so pretty.

With regard to my own amigurumi work, I’ve been continuing to make little creations from my own pattern, the same one that I used for these little critters:

I’ve got this one written up in note form for myself, and I’m planning to share a pattern when I’m less busy and can therefore write it properly and take photos to accompany it (so probably not this week…)

And speaking of patterns, I’ve also been trying to rework my budgie so that I can make a pattern. I made the budgie without making any notes whatsoever, which was a bit silly. I also made it in rounds rather than in a spiral, as amigurumi should be. This means that it will probably need a fair bit of working and tweaking to find a good ‘proper’ version, but if I figured it out once then I’m sure I can do it again!

My next task though is to make myself a nice cup of coffee, take some photos of my latest creations ready to share, and then settle down with some hooky before I have to head off to work :)

Have a great day whatever you’re doing!