Knitwit Wednesdays

Day 24/100

One of those days where it feels like forever since I’ve seen my knitting group – the Oxford Drunken Knitwits (although I prefer crochet). The knitwits are a group of yarn fiends who meet up at a different pub every Wednesday to drink and yarn-craft, as a rule drinking is optional, crafting is not – we’ve had all sorts from the knitting and crochet, to felting, yarn spinning and occasional cross stitch.

Since it’s inception in 2012 the Knitwits has spawned a further nine chapters (as of November 2018), as far afield as Philadelphia to the west and Brisbane to the east. As many people come to Oxford for work or study, the population here can be quite transient – this also means I’ve made friends with people from all around the world, with a variety of different backgrounds and interests – its one of the things I love most about the group.

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Things got a little silly. #knittingtakesballs

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This Wednesday we met at the St Aldates tavern, a cosy pub in the city centre – we were given the upstairs room to ourselves, which given how many people showed up turned out for the best. We also had a record number of male crafters turn up which prompted the above photoshoot!

St Aldates’s tavern has a good range of real ales, they are part of a pub group that is included in the City Club App (there’s currently four in Oxford) – I’ve previously been a bit dubious of these apps that keep coming out, but then I’m invariably drawn in by an offer or two. With this app you open a tab on your phone, and show it to the barstaff everytime you order something and at the end of the night you just click pay (you enter your card details on set up), and it whooosh, paid. But that’s not all, you get points for spending money and these can then be redeemed for food, drink, games of pool, tshirts… but hey mostly drinks. And as an added bonus, for using the app in November I got a free gin something or other which I need to claim asap.

The Oxford Drunken Knitwits meet every Wednesday – to find out where we’ll be next week, sign up using the link above.

 

 

London

Day 23/100

Today I spent the day in London for work, a conference at the Wellcome Collection, a fantastic space close to Euston, that also has a gallery hosting excellent health themed exhibitions regularly. I won’t go into details about the event I was at for work, but I will say that the conference spaces are also filled with medical themed artworks by various luminaries but by far, is in the catering space the wall adorned with Martin Parr’s food photos of sickly sweet, bright pink doughnuts and other sticky treats!

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The exhibition upstairs was about buildings and our environments and how they affect health, e.g. slum housing of the past 2 centuries, from their website:

Featuring works by Andreas Gursky, Rachel Whiteread and Martha Rosler, as well as buildings designed by Goldfinger, Lubetkin and Aalto, this exhibition examines some of the ways in which architects, planners and designers influence our health, self-esteem and ideas about society.

So if you find yourself at a loose end in Euston you could do worse that nip in and visit the Wellcome collection (they also have an irrisistable cafe and bookshop!).

 

Handknitting Association of Iceland

Day 22/100 – Back in the zone

Today was hard, being back at work after a jam packed 4 to 5 days in Iceland. So I relaxed by getting back into my crochet, after lovingly stroking all the yarn I brought back with me. I make a point of visiting the Handknitting Association of Iceland, located a stone’s throw from Hallgrimskirkja on Skólavörðustígur. It serves as both a store where you can buy handmade (and some machine made) knitted/woollen clothing along with being the best place (in my opinion) to buy the yarn to knit or crochet something yourself. It’s certainly the cheapest place I’ve found in Iceland and certainly cheaper than back home in the UK – the shawl I’m currently working on will cost less than £14, which for pure wool is fantastic.

The association was set up in 1977 by women who were supporting their familes making garments,  establishing standards and guidelines for the production which are still in use today

Whilst the flagship store is on Skólavörðustígur , there used to be another, smaller store on the main shopping street in Reykjavik – Laugavegur, however that seems to be closed now that I have also visited. There has been quite a few pieces in Icelandic media over the last couple of years about the influx of chinese made ‘lopapeysa’ you know the infamous Icelandic sweaters – that the stores are ironically charging even more for! If you buy from the Handknitting Association, you will find a tag inside the sweater with the name (and sometimes contact details) of the person who handknitted your item, how cool is that?! You can also buy from their website (see link above) and they will customise the size and colours for you – because it’s being made for you (the only thing to consider is that as iceland is not in the EU, you’re liable to import taxes, which for the UK is 20%).

So if you’re a yarn-a-holic like me, you should definitely visit when in Iceland.

 

 

 

Day 21/100 – Heading Home

This was oringially entitled ‘a couple of hours in Reykjavik’ however we didn’t end up having a couple of hours wandering as usual. Our plan of leaving our apartment to do our traditional last-day-in-reykjavik-enourmous-breakfast at Prikid, was scuppered in part by tiredness and hangovers and also booking onto an earlier bus home than usual (airport disaster last year made me cautious), so we decided to just head straight to the bus station and eat at the cafe there. Except it was closed. Around 10 minutes after we arrived and about 3 hours after the opening time on the sign, someone came and stuck a notice over the sign simply saying ‘closed’. Yay, fun.

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Goodbye Reykjavik, the pond on our last day

So our last day of fun was spent in the airport, ok it wasn’t all doom and gloom, turned out we were sat next to the lead singer of Mammút which we realised after someone came and spoke to her. We had a nice lunch – they have a good cafe with self service, which is a bit like if an McDonald’s you helped yourself to the food from the silver slide. Whilst we were eating, Airwaves announced the super early bird tickets were on sale at around £65 each (so pre-2013 prices) we decided to go for it. Even though we’d sworn to have a year off for a break. I’ve got a big birthday next year so the plan is to save hard and tie it in with a trip elsewhere or a long roadtrip.

Keflavik Airport Roof Glass
Glass Roof of Keflavik Airport

Keflavik airport has changed a lot since our first trip, from memory (or maybe they’ve changed where UK departures leave from), there was this one small food shop where you could buy hotdogs, slices of pizza and various drinks/crisps/candy. Now there is a plethora of food outlets including Joe & Juice which seems really popular in Iceland. We didnt buy anything in the airport (unusual), and witnessed one of the most amazing sunsets I’ve ever seen. The plane initially flew north towards Akureyri and we witnessed this amazing pink sky, some ethereal cloud formations (think fluffy layers of low and high clouds) over the snowcapped mountains. I certainly wasn’t the only person who spent the first half an hour of the flight with their camera fixed to the window!

Flying over Iceland
Wow-some clouds over Iceland

So a very long day, after leaving our apartment at around 11am, we finally got back to Oxford 11 hours later, tired but happy – til next year Iceland!

Super-early bird tickets can be bought at Icelandairwaves.is

Day 4 of #Airwaves18

Day 20/100 – well it seems my challenge has failed somewhat. I could’ve sworn I posted my day 4 review but as this was empty I guess not and in case you couldn’t tell, post holiday fatigue set in and stayed in. I’ve had a super busy week at work and this weekend had family staying so no real time to blog and now all that excitement is catching up with me and I’m coming down with a cold. But, I’ll try and remember what I enjoyed most about the last day of airwaves.

Clue, it was a lot. We went a bit off-schedule with our planning. This year the festival reduced the off-venue program, whilst the press have said this was for financial reasons, we heard from some locals that apparently it was because the Icelanders themselves apparently don’t buy tickets anymore and just attend off-venue shows – not sure how true that is? I mean they’d still need to book time off work etc to attend shows, another ru mour we heard was that Icelandic bands playing on-venue were limited to one off-venue show, however that ended up not being true, but it certainly was like in the past where bands played multiple shows througout the festival, and it’s not like the off-venue replaces the full festival – most of it shuts down at 7pm. For us the off-venue compliments the offical shows, making it easier to see more people if you see someone at lunchtime friday, that might free up saturday evening to see 1 or 2 other shows for example.
Anyway, we started with an Airwaves favourite – Una Stef, performing at Lucky Records, which turned into a full on dance party, which audience synchonised moves!

Una Stef @ Lucky Records

Una Stef at Lucky Records

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Tap list at RVK Brewing

We made a detour to RVK Brewing, a micro brewery with tap room that was easily a highlight of the trip (much more than Brewdog Reykjavik which was oddly disappointing), the flight of beer was a lot cheaper and in much cuter glasses. They were also playing the new LP from Benny Crespo’s Gang which reminded me to pick up a copy on our way back past Lucky Records, where we also saw a snippet of Godchilla.

We then went for another Airwaves tradition and stopped off at Reykjavik Fish for a lovely fish supper, before heading back to our apartment to drop off our bags – here we were delighted to find the Northern Lights playing out!

Aurora over Reykjavik

Northern Lights over Reykjavik

With this giving us giddy levels of excitement, we then headed to Hurra, as it was a venue we’d not been to, we caught the end of Munster’s set which was alright. We then headed across the road to the Art Museum to see Emmsjé Gauti, an eminent Icelandic rapper performing in the Art Museum, the venue was large and not very crowded when we were there, which meant we could sneak right up to the front for the feel good show (even though we didn’t understand the lyrics). We then went back across the road for Vio, who we saw last year off-venue and were great – really energetic indie rock.

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Dr Spock at Gaukurinn

Promptly followed by Dr Spock who are not indie rock at all, but loud and crazy punk rock, handing out marigold gloves and singing whilst wearing an elephant mask, and omg the crowd loved it and so did we!

After this we headed to our final gig of the the evening, timings being what they were meant we had just missed the end of Ceasetone (thankfully I managed to see them earlier in the week), but not too late for Benny Crespo’s Gang. I had first heard of them a couple of Airwaves back, being a fan of LayLow – I had no idea at the time that she was in a band that were much more rocky than her laidback, soulful music. Another crowd pleaser of a band, this small intimate room at Bryggjan Brugghús was pleasantly full of people dancing and singing. A fantastic end to the festival for us.

(We may have already bought early bird tickets for next years’ festival).

Day 19/100 – Day 3 #Airwaves18

Day 3 was a slow starter, feeling slightly hungover and very tired we started the day with a traditional swim at Vesturbærslaug, if you can call lying around in a hot tub swimming! We were pleased to find that the HagaVagninn was back in business and enjoyed a post swim burger – served by none other than Emmsjé Gauti, a rapper who will be performing at airwaves on Saturday night.

After a wander around town via the hand knitting association of Iceland (I think wool is the one thing cheaper in Iceland than back home), we called into Skúli bar, a craft beer bar that has been commandeered as the official IA clubhouse. They’ve been having some official performances on there broadcast live on an American radio station – we arrived in time to hear the end of Reykjavikurdætur, after they’d finished we joined the queue to get in for Mugison and that did not disappoint. Anecdotes about some grim stage adventures had everyone laughing and of course he played an excellent set.

After this it was time to head to the OmNom chocolate factory – a place we’d visited for a tour on our last trip to Iceland. We’d been lucky enough to score tickets to a tea ceremony and performance by JFDR to celebrate the release of her EP (which I’d bought yesterday at 12 Tonar!) which is a collaboration with OmNom and comes in the form of a matcha chocolate bar. Not only was the performance incredibly beautiful and intimate, but we were fed some nice chocolate too and of course we got a goodie bag containing the afore mentioned EP!

Next up music wise we headed to Harpa which is playing a tiny role in the festival this year. Here we saw aYia with their dark synth music followed by Vök with their upbeat funky electro indie music.

Then we rushed over to Gamla Bio to prepare to queue for the upcoming HATARI, here our VIP wristbands were golden – as the queue snaked down the street and around the corner we got straight in. We headed upstairs to the VIP section where we could look over the balcony to an enormous crowd watching the Voidz who we didn’t enjoy. After that though the crowd thinned a bit and we got to the front for the energetic bondage laced HATARI with their unique brand of … cyber industrial I don’t know what to call it, but it was an excellent way to finish the day.

Day 18/100 – Day 2 #Airwaves18

Well today started early! Given that in past years off-venue usually starts around lunch time, we’d planned our music walking tour of Reykjavik by 12 Tonar in order to not miss any bands. It turns out we could’ve opted for a early afternoon slot instead of the 10:30 one we chose – however it turned out to be a good choice as for a start there were only 4 of us being taken around the city by Larus, co-owner of 12 Tonar.

I think I’ll leave the tour to its own dedicated post as it was so interesting, so be satisfied with a picture of the wall inside smekkleysa

So our first off-venue show ended up being at a very packed Slippbarrin catching the end of Axel Flovent, but the main reason was to catch Ceasetone. As is the way with the small off venue shows it was a pared back low key show but it still packed a punch and they played by favourite The Bright Side.

Later on for official shows I landed at Gamla Bio for Warmland who were great, followed by Stereohoney a U.K. band – both of these got the crowd really enjoying it despite it not being very busy at all!

On my way back I popped into Iðnó and caught the end of Snail Mail and the start of Tamino, not really my thing/tired.

Day 17/100 – Aka Day 1 #Airwaves18

Well we made it, I’d say despite sitting on the tarmac at Heathrow for an additional 30 plus minutes it’s one of the smoothest journeys we’ve ever done, no doubt due to lack of hold luggage. We were in Reykjavik before 5pm and (despite google maps giving us the run around) managed to get to city hall for our wristbands and goody bags AND bonús and to find our accommodation by 6pm At which point we flaked. We were starving and of tired feet. So I missed one of the artists on my own ‘people to go see’ list.

However we started the night by heading to Bryggjan Brugghús which is now an ‘official’ rather than off-venue, for Ingibjörg Turchi.

Next we decided to camp out in Iðnó for GlerAkur and later Une Misére.

GlerAkur were interesting, sort of like For A Minor Reflection but maybe less intense/ rock. But there was a lot of synchronised head bobbing.

In between these and Une Misére were Kælan Mikla, a female trio in the punky goth synth persuasion. Starting their set with some incense burning it was a theatrical set, however after playing one song that really got the crowd going they ignored the vibe and just went back to introspective goth incense waving.

Finally after a ten minute countdown Une Misére took to the stage with gusto. There was head banging and a mosh pit and some of the band members decided to climb on the speakers which resulted in security pulling me out of the way for their descent I guess in case I got injured? But it was such an energetic show I ended up leaving the husband at the front whilst I chilled out near the back for a breather. 10/10

Even more Airwaves picks part 2..

 

part two mostly because I’m doing an 100 day blog challenge and need an extra post and I’m tired – I know, cheating myself! but here goes, 6-10 of my ‘bands I haven’t seen before but really want to’

6. Blaskjár

 

7. Eivør

 

8. Febrúar

 

9. GlerAkur

 

10. Ingibjorg Turchi

 

So I hope you enjoy my picks, there are loads more  hope to see but currently on my way to Iceland!

Even more Airwaves picks

Whilst my previous recommendations have been based on bands I’ve seen before and enjoyed. This list in 2 parts is conceived of bands I’ve been listening to since the final line-up announcement in August. I can proudly confirm I’ve now listened to every artist (who has an online precence which is almost all of the 240 performing at Airwaves over the 4 days).

My top 5 I’m hoping to see (because rule of airwaves is that  schedule clashes will always result in some disappointment):

  1. Ceasetone

2. Mammút

3. Stereo Honey

4. AYia

5. Berndsen

 

Part 2 tomorrow!