Season to stay or stray

Where do foodies, culture mavens and adventurers go to embrace or escape the cold? To read the full story, click here

Embrace:  Make like a Melburnian and don your big coat – black, naturally – for a cultural winter and no, the AFL doesn’t count. The State of Design Festival from July 20-31includes Melbourne Open House, which gives you a licence to perve at 75 of the city’s most beautiful and environmentally sustainable designs – free. The city’s best tagging, bombing, paste-ups and stencilling are seen on street art walking tours ($69 a person, melbournestreettours.com).

Otherwise, download free DIY tours of hot and hidden street art (thatsmelbourne.com.au.) or a guide to the city’s design hot spots (audiodesignmuseum.com).

The National Gallery of Victoria’s new shopfront window allows passersby to watch ‘zine artists do their thing from July 11-August 8, while the Gertrude Street Projection Festival transforms Fitzroy’s Gertrude Street into an open-air gallery with light projections cast across the streetscape (July 22-31, thegertrudeassociation.com).

Federation Square’s Atrium showcases more than 100 Victorian wines, with winemakers on hand and live jazz on Wednesdays and Thursdays from July 6-August 4 ($25, fedsquare.com/wine). For more jazz, grab a table beneath the heaters on Hardware Lane for cool tunes (Mon-Sat, from 7pm). Chill on Ice Lounge serves drinks among 30 tonnes of icy walls in its Russell Street digs until July 16, then reopens at Southbank in August with bigger ice decor.

Do your best Torvill and Dean impersonations on the ice outside at the Melbourne Museum, then work on your apres ski skills at the Winter Festival, from August 18 to September 4. Highlights include free ice skating shows, too. (winterfestival.com.au, visitvictoria.com.)

Escape
Bare all in New York’s great parks for a season of festivals, concerts and hot summer nights outdoors until September. Opera buffs flock to the Metropolitan Opera’s summer recital series, held from July 11-28 across the Five Boroughs – free (metopera.org/parks). Indie groovers make for the Village Voice’s July 16 Four Knots Festival, headlined this year by the Black Angels (free, villagevoice.com), while jazzsters take in the Charlie Parker Jazz Festival on August 27-28, also free. It’s part of the city’s massive Summerstage arts festival (summerstage.org).

Shakespeare in the Park presents Measure for Measure and All’s Well that Ends Well in Central Park (free, until July 30, shakespearein thepark.org) and Lower Manhattan’s River to River Festival celebrates public art and music along the river’s edge (free, until July 16, riverto rivernyc.com). Meantime, the Latino Cultural Festival in Queens’s Flushing Meadows is the place to go for pulsing dance, theatre and music from July 25 to August 7 (queenstheatre.org, nycgo.com).

Squared up with the Third World

Are you a closet knitter? Or are you loud and proud, knitting in the car, trackside at the motorbike races, at the beach? 
Today, people around the world raised their knitting needles in public for the World Wide Knit in Public Day (www.kipday.com) The movement started in 2005, and last year, there were 751 knit-ins around the world on the day.  
Image from Save the Children
From Amsterdam to Melbourne, knitters came out for some plein-air action, the Melbourne event contributing to the Save the Children’s Born to Knit campaign, holding a knit-in where your knitted squares (apparently however dodgy) are joined up to make blankets for vulnerable children.
Now, I haven’t knitted since I was 11, and I remember being told that I had ‘tension issues’ – I think that meant that my knitting alternated from a loopy fishing net to something as tight as a duck’s bum. But I digress. What got me was the photo of a little child of the third world, eyes darkened with kohl, clutching a beautiful blanket donated by these generous spirits. It caught me right at my newly-minted mummy’s heart, along with the event’s motto, “Better living through stitching together”.
So the Child Prodigy (CP) and I wandered down to Federation Square to see what was cooking. Much of the square was dominated by a busker busting moves, and the big screen broadcasting a speech delivered by the Dalai Lama during his visit earlier this week.
The Fed Square event was organised by wool manufacturers Australian Country Spinners. The lounges and bean bags scattered around the area were filled with eager knitters, mostly pros, but I managed to snag a set of needles and coax an old hand to teach me how to cast on, then a nice Greek lady helped with the first row, another lady talked me through correcting the stitches I’d added while she dandled CP on her knee as the Dalai Lama roared about peace in the background.

Volunteers collected the finished squares which they will stitch together into blankets to send to their programs in India, Cambodia and Laos. Some women were flipping the squares out like wildfire. Me? I had tongue firmly stuck out as I battled through four rows (I have added this pic as evidence). People, I have to get 88 rows to complete the square in my chic mauve wool. I think it’s going to take a little longer than an afternoon.

If you’re knit-tastic (and I personally know some extreme knitters) but missed out on the knit-in, they are looking to create 15,000 blankets, made of 16 squares each. You can knit your square (88 rows of 44 stitches) and drop it into any Spotlight or Lincraft store, post it to 42 Dight St, Collingwood Vic 3066, or visit Save the Children