25 April 2013

ANZAC Day - Remembering our lost soldiers

Australian soldiers, ANZAC spirit. world war two, Italy, escaped prisoners of war, reflections, Alpe Barbero, Trivero, 5th May 1944

Today is ANZAC day here in Australia. I was up and out of the house by 4:15am to get to the Dawn service I was playing at, then drove back into the city to play in the main parade. Big day! I think I sent about 5 hours holding 6kg of brass up in front of me! My arms hurt!

What was a thinking of during the silence, I hear you ask? My mind went back to when I was in Italy, and stumbled on a memorial for 5 Australian and 1 English soldiers in a remote valley in the mountains. They were escaped prisoners of war, killed here while waiting for the weather to improve enough for them to cross the mountains into the safety of Switzerland.

Maybe it was the unexpected nature of my discover, but finding this little memorial nestled into those steep hills really struck something in me. I couldn't help thinking I was one of the only visitors that this place has received. I couldn't find any information on it when I searched, and there were no signs of life other than that very weathered-looking bunch of flowers. I spent a while there, reflecting on their story and thinking how much strength they must have had to survive all they did.
They weren't heroes. 
They weren't superhuman. 
They were (probably) young men who had been shipped off voluntarily to the far side of the world, fought and been captured, survived as a POW until they could escape then survived in the mountains, a place where I had so many precautions in place to make sure I was safe and yet still felt uneasy. And then they were ambushed and shot.
To get as far as they did must have taken so much inner strength. I hope that I can find those same reserves in myself if I should ever have to, but hopefully because of their sacrifice I never will have to face what they did.

One of the four key responsibilities we agreed to when we became Australian was to defend Australia should the need arise. Having to agree to that rather than having it sitting in the background is a very confronting thing to do. I left a river stone on the memorial, with "Lest We Forget" and some flowers marked on in paint marker. I don't think it will last the weather conditions, but I'm happy that I marked their sacrifice as well as I could.

Since I couldn't find any information, here is my bad translation of the sign near the memorial. The location is shown below, but there are no roads recognised by google, so to get there you get to Castagnea village, and turn right at the T junction at the top of the town (western side) and follow the dirt road down into the valley, past the Santuario della Novareia to the river and the hydroelectric powerstation (Piancone). Then follow the river south until you notice the little sign. Its a one track dirt road and you will need a car with good clearance.

Around September 8, 1943, the Allied soldiers who were in the fields of Vercelli plain as prisoners of war gained their freedom and tried to get to safety in Switzerland.The flow to the Swiss territory was assisted from the first anti-fascist organizations that had set up a system of accompaniment through which many of the former prisoners were guided from the plains to the mountains of Biella and Valsesian and Ossola and then to Switzerland, usually through the Passo di Moro Macugnaga. Not everyone, however, managed to reach Switzerland, as the Germans occupied militarily the crossing points and also because, with the passing of time they became weather conditions deteriorated.Among the prisoners who remained in Italy, some were again captured, others joined the Resistance, and many took refuge in the hills or in the mountains, surviving thanks to the generosity of the local population or to aid liberazion National Committees.In the spring of 1944, several hundred former Allied prisoners were still in the Biella area waiting to ripen the conditions for the move in Switzerland. These include a group of soldiers had settled here at the Tagliamento Legion [part of the fascist National Republican Guard], department commanded by Marico Zuccari, who made ​​numerous and frequent roundup actions against the Resistance and looking for draft dodgers, both in Valsessera in Sesia Valley.
The presence of a group of soldiers [the escaped POWs], who were not part of the Resistance, was reported to the command of Tagliamento Legion by an informant.On May 5, the former prisoners were surprised by the fascists as they were returning from Mosso, where they had gone in search of food and information, and shot. In the event five soldiers were killed Australians, and one Briton.The pastor of the Alpe Barbero, Lorenzo Verzoletto, escaped through luck, but was forced to dig the graves of the soldiers along with Agusto Massaro.The names of the fallen are shown in the plaque erected in memory of the massacre.
C Ladell (AIF)
H Blain (AIF)
E Woolf (AIF)
T Nichols (AIF)
S Harvey (AIF) 
I English

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19 April 2013

And now it is.

Enough, anyway. I think I need to bite the bullet and buy a french curve, as the problems with the skirt resut with me not being able to draw a smooth curve! Can you tell I'd been wearing it sat down for a few hours?

And I finished the last pair of pants for MMM
(Can you guess the Boys name?!)

14 April 2013

So I thought this was finished...

...then I took the photos, and the camera never lies!

chevron skirt, colette meringue skirt, yellow and grey, sewing, perth

It looked fine in the mirror, though maybe in need of a bit of an iron.

But from the back?

chevron skirt, colette meringue skirt, yellow and grey, sewing, perth

Whats with the weird puffy sides?!

So its back to the machine for this skirt, to try and smooth out those puffs!
I have a horrible feeling I may have to take the invisible zip out and start it again, but I'm hoping it doesn't come to that!

In other news, I just got back from the local sewing meet with 3 new pairs of knickers, all ready for MMM. I have one more pair cut out and ready to sew. While 5 pairs might be a bit sparse for the whole of May, its been a fun learning curve. I can definitely see the improvement in technique.

10 April 2013

Me Made May Pledge

  I, Ellen, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May '13

I endeavour to wear 1 handmade item, teamed with one handmade accessory each day for the duration of May 2013.

I also aim to have made enough pants to last me through too!*


*A short laundry turnaround might be necessary!

Last year was my first real attempt at this, and I did pretty well despite being on fieldwork for some of it.
This year has no such hurdles, so all should be well. And Its one of my 2013 sewing goals, so I have to do it, right?!

My hand made wardrobe isn't massive, but its bigger and more varied than last year and now contains more separates and more "grown up" clothes. I never did get around to making that capsule wardrobe, but I think I did work on having items that go with things I already own. Its been a lot easier slipping me-mades in un noticed. Or at least not sticking out like a sore thumb.

Before May I plan to make a Laurel fall dress, out of some thin grey wool blend, and another skirt in a fabric that I have been coveting for a while. There should also be a Mathilde blouse after I won Adriennes "New Beginnings"  giveaway. The patterns all ready to go, I just haven't had the guts to start yet!

I bought some fancy fold-over knicker elastic at the recent local half price sale, so that should help me make a few more pairs of pants.The pants don't count as and item or an accessory, they're just an optional extra that I've been meaning to get around to producing for a while!

I got a lot out of last years MMM, despite and possibly because I didn't have many things to wear! So if you're contemplating it, I'd say do it! You choose your own challenge, so its as easy or as hard as you make it. 
I'll be posting daily photos in the flicker group, then probably just summarising on here. Otherwise it can get a bit boring.

If you're participating too, leave a link and we can compare notes :D

08 April 2013

1st Birthday Geranium Dress

Remember this little baby girl? Well, she just turned one!

We went to her birthday party on the weekend and one of her presents was a new dress. I think Made-By-Raes Geranium dress is a great base to work from, so I bought it for future reference!

I found this pretty poplin at Spotlight, in colours that I thought would suit. I went with the cap sleeves, neck notch and pleated skirt, then added piping to the bodice and also to a band around the bottom of the skirt.

Geranium dress- front

Geranium dress- back

The back is closed by hammered in snaps. They give a very professional finish, though they are a bit scary at first! As you can see, I hammered them in wrong the first time, too far from the edge which would make the dress too small. They came out eventually, but left a bit of a mark. Nothing too obvious from afar though.

Geranium dress- snaps closure

The inside is all nicely finished, with the bodice hand sewn down hiding bodice seams, french seams on the skirt, and an "overlocked" finish to the band (trimmed and zigzagged).

Geranium dress- inside

The parents liked the dress, and bubba seemed drawn to the pattern, so I'm calling that a win!

07 April 2013

Australian Nationals 2013

Is it really a week since Nationals finished?!
I had an awesome long weekend, releasing lots of pent up band-geekiness!
Friday was our hymn and Test Piece- "Northern Landscapes" - which is a big work that all the bands in the section have to play. The euphoniums had the opening notes and we managed not to split them, so we knew it would be all good from there. 

Saturday morning was the march contest, through the streets of Northbridge. There was a decent crowd watching the rare spectacle. Western Australia only has about 7 bands, spread across its vastness, so nearly 30 of them marching down the street is definitely not what you expect when you go out for brunch!

And Halt! Marching through Northbridge
On the inspection field prior to marching off

Then Sunday was the final day of the big competition. A stage march and our own choice test piece - "Rhapsody in Brass". We pushed pretty hard in our test piece, probably a bit too hard. Its normally a test piece for the grades above our lowely C-grade status, but we felt we pulled it off pretty well. We had a great time playing and preparing, and felt that our final performances of each piece were just about the best we'd ever played. 

In the auditorium performing our test piece

We ended up coming 3rd, behind two bands that were on the very top of their game. 
The band in general was a little disappointed to hear the results read out, but after some time to reflect it was a great first attempt at the national competition (the state competition isn't much of a competition...) and a great base to build on. 

During the week we had a party instead of rehearsal. 
And I made cakes :)
In band colours. 

Bring on next year!

red velvet cupcakes

And the pep talk from our conductor:
"I could not be happier with the way the band played today! We went in each day and played exactly as we had rehearsed it. Everything went exactly to plan (well as much as one can expect on contest day). All the comments from the adjudicator were very complimentary- nothing on the tapes is worth hanging our heads low about! There were 2 bands there today who are at the very top of C Grade at both nationally and state level and even in one case really should be in B grade. Lets think back to before the adjudication when we all agreed that the band never sounded better in this whole lead up to contest! I have never been prouder of this band and you can bet ill be singing the praises of the band to the guys at work on Tuesday!! I am so proud of this band- and I hope you are too!! Well done!!