Nashville: Music, Music, Knit!

Nashville. So much music. So. Much. Fun. There is so much musical talent in this town, both old and new, and so much respect for the history of it all. From the young people playing for tips at the honky tonk bars on Broadway hoping to be heard over the beer fueled partyers, to the old pros playing clubs like the Station Inn to a respectful audience who came for the music, to the Country Music Hall of Famers playing the Grand Ole Opry, showing us that they still have it. So wonderful.

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The Jones. We were pulled into Layla’s Bluegrass Inn on Broadway by the sound of their kickass rendition of “I’ll Fly Away” as we were walking by at midnight.

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John Jorgensen Bluegrass Band at the Station Inn. My reaction: “They look like math teachers!” Great music, fun show.

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Little Jimmy Dickens at the Opry, still singing at 94. Love the spangly suit.

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Nathan East playing bass with Vince Gill on guitar. A great story: It was Nathan’s first time playing at the Opry, and he confided to a friend that he was a bit nervous. Friend (whose name I didn’t quite catch) owns a suit that belonged to Carl Perkins. He offered up the suit for the show, and so here’s Nathan, wearing Carl Perkins’ suit, standing on that circle of flooring preserved from the Ryman Auditorium, playing at the Opry. The old and the new, so wonderful.

Nights were all about listening to music, and days were filled with more music-related activities. We toured the Ryman Auditorium (so much history!), the Country Music Hall of Fame, and Historic RCA Studio B.

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Windows at the Ryman

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For you fans of the TV show Nashville, the (teeny!) dresses that Hayden Panettiere and Connie Britton wore onstage at the Ryman.

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I stood on the stage at the Ryman and played a single G chord. (It costs $10 for a pic, at which point you can also have your buddy take a pic for you. I liked this pic by DH better.)

Cool things at the Country Music Hall of Fame.

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My friends and I often sing “Turn Your Radio On” by the Blue Sky Boys, so I was thrilled to see this banner and mandolin.

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Webb Pierce’s Silver Dollar Bonneville convertible customized by Nudie Cohn of Nudie’s Rodeo Tailors. Six-shooter door handles, a saddle between the front seats, steer horns…

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Piano
The piano (Kimball?) that Priscilla Presley had refinished in gold, and gave to Elvis on their first anniversary.

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Taylor Swift’s first sparkle guitar, and the MacBook she used to edit her first video.

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DH outside the RCA Studio B, where the signature Nashville sound was developed. Elvis recorded many hits here. The sound in here is amazing, a perfectly acoustically dead room, no reverb. Everything is so perfectly clear. You can read more about it here.

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This is Floyd Cramer’s piano in Studio B, part of that Nashville sound. Elvis played it, too. And I touched it. It was the 37th anniversary of his passing, so I played a silent glissando in his memory.

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Music, old and new. Stephanie Layne was our guide for the studio tour. I chatted her up after the tour. She’s a singer-songwriter from Minnesota, and put out an album in 2012. Check out her music; you can find her on iTunes and more. I’m listening on Spotify right now. Stephanie was a great guide, too, and a wealth of information. Did you know that Dolly Parton wrote “I Will Always Love You”? Whitney Houston had a big hit with it, too. Dolly has earned over $25 million dollars in royalties from that song. Whoa.

What else? Well, this is a knitting blog, so here’s the knitting content. I met up with the delightful Ann Shayne of Mason-Dixon Knitting. We went to Pinewood Social for breakfast and knitting. (She’s knitting a Honey Cowl. I’m swatching for the next fun design.) We talked about knitting, making jam, Nashville, life…

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I had this amazing fried chicken biscuit, which was all that and so much MORE. I gave up after half.

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There’s a bowling alley at Pinewood Social, and along the wall there are these cans with fun printed labels in several colors, arranged in a mosaic. They are rearranged from time to time. I especially liked these.

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A very fun morning. A very fun long weekend. And my very fun souvenir:

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Right now I’m in Sisters, Oregon, for a trunk show and knitalong at the Stitchin’ Post, and the boots fit right in.

How was your weekend?

New Snowy Woods Cowl pattern and KAL

The Snowy Woods Cowl pattern is now available! Robert Frost’s poem “Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening” was the inspiration for this piece. It is knit with heavy worsted to Aran weight yarn, and can be made in several lengths.

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snowy woods short

The shortest version takes just one skein of yarn. The medium and long versions require two skeins.

Snowy Woods Cowl

Snowy Woods Cowl

My favorite is the long cowl, doubled. It feels especially luxurious around my neck.

Lorajean Kelley of Knitted Wit dyed her Aran weight Superwash Merino in a special colorway for me, Snowy Woods. We’re celebrating this pattern release with a knitalong and hope you’ll join us! The pattern is $2 off with the coupon code FROST. If you’d like to order yarn for the KAL from Knitted Wit, she’ll ship for free with code Shipnow. Both of these offers are good through September 1, 2014. Don’t wait too long, though; we’re casting on September 1!

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KAL colors Tupelo Honey, Cedar, Snowy Woods, Oregon Sky.

You can purchase the pattern through Ravelry (click the link). Don’t forget to use your coupon code FROST for $2 off, whether or not you want to participate in the KAL.

New to cabling? I’m having a 2 session class at Twisted in Portland September 30 and October 7 from 6 to 8 p.m.

Here’s the link to my Ravelry group for the KAL. We’ll cast on September 1. I hope you’ll join us!

Adventures in jamming: fruit, pectin, music

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My friends gave me these beautiful yellow plums on Sunday, and I’ve been jamming up a storm. Both of these are ginger plum jam, with some chopped crystallized ginger added to the plummy goodness.

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The one on the right is my usual Sure-Jell pectin version. It requires an exact amount of sugar to set. It’s very sweet. The one on the left is my first experiment with Pomona’s pectin, which doesn’t require sugar to gel. The pectin is activated by calcium (included in the packet). I used less than half as much sugar in this second jam. It’s much more tart, and the plum and ginger flavors shine through. But why do these two look so different? I made the second jam with turbinado sugar, so it’s darker, and I don’t love how it looks. I went back to the drawing board (and picked more plums), and came up with this winner.

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Sunshine in a jar

It’s not as crystal clear/jewel-like as the Sure-Jell jam, but it has much less sugar, 4 1/2 cups of sugar for 8 cups of prepared fruit, instead of 8 cups of sugar for 6 cups of fruit. This is a little sweeter than the last version, per my family’s request. I like that I could add sugar until it tasted right. Pretty color. Delicious flavor. Nice texture. And I’ve run out of jars, so I’m done jamming for the season. Whew!

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Third time’s a charm

For reference for next year:

Ginger Plum Jam

8 cups prepared plums (pitted, not peeled, pulsed a bit in food processor)
4 1/2 C sugar
1/2 C lemon juice
1/4 C chopped crystallized ginger
8 tsp calcium water (from pectin package)
6 tsp Pomona’s pectin

Prepare and process per directions in pectin package.

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More jam? A couple weeks ago, we picked raspberries and made jam with this recipe I found last year. No added pectin, and an exquisite color and set.

Now I have a LOT of jam. I found this recipe for making jam ice cream a while ago. I haven’t tried it yet; I need to get out of the kitchen! But this may come in handy later.

I just picked the very last of my blueberry crop for this year. (Ring added for size reference. The bowl is only about 4 inches, and the berries are not so big in real life.)

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I don’t love blueberry jam, so I have gallons of berries stored in the freezer for (my signature) cobblers, pancakes, muffins, and compotes all year long. Eating them fresh off the blueberry bush is my favorite way to enjoy them. I’m going to savor these last few.

In a different kind of jamming, the Pie Birds (my friends Claudia and Becky and I) sang in church on Sunday. This is our version of the Wailin’ Jennys’ Bird Song. I’m the low harmony, and play one of the guitars. It is an absolute joy to sing with friends!

Snowy Woods Cowl

I’m madly knitting away, and about halfway done with two projects that are publishing soon. One is the re-worked Snowy Woods Cowl. Lorajean over at Knitted Wit is doing this custom color in her Aran weight yarn for me. Isn’t it gorgeous? And soft and bouncy to knit with, too. We’re planning a pattern launch sale and a KAL. Stay tuned!

How was your week?

Montreal, and knitting progress

Knitting away over here; I finished one project for a pattern I’ll be re-releasing soon, but I want to tweak it to add an additional size, so one more knit coming up. The smaller size was perfect airplane knitting.

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This is an update of the Snowy Woods cowl, which was released last winter as an exclusive for one of WoolGirl’s club kits.

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So far I’ve changed this up with a fatter, smooshier yarn which means it can be knit with fewer repeats and be closer to the neck, and I also want to make a version that will double loop around the neck. The current yarn is Knitted Wit’s Superwash Merino Aran, a heavy worsted/light Aran bouncy round fun to knit delight. More on this soon.

Other yarn was delivered while I was on vacation, and I was knitting away madly on it, until I looked closely and said to myself, “clown barf.” It’s a fabulous variegated paired with a semi-solid, but the stitch pattern I chose isn’t bringing out the best in the variegated, so it’s back to the drawing board on that one. No worries; I have time and determination.

Vacation: We went to Montreal for six days, and had a blast! It’s almost like going to Europe, very charming, bilingual, and much closer. We stayed in the old part of Montreal, and it was lovely. Our hotel had this bronze outside, which is a smaller version of the one we know and love in DH’s home town of Clayton, Missouri. We felt right at home.

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Our hotel was near the Basilica of Notre Dame. The square in front of it always has something fun going on. There’s music at noon.

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We saw a gorgeous bridal party…

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And at night, Notre Dame’s windows glow blue.

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We happened to be there during Just for Laughs, a comedy festival. We also enjoyed the Festival des Nuits Afrique. Montreal has a short summer, and they seem to make the most of it! So many people walking around, enjoying the sunshine and the warm evenings.

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I don’t know if this police officer lost a bet, or if this is just part of his summer wardrobe.

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This troupe was offering mariages gratuits, free weddings. No one took them up on it.

I saw a rendition of a very Canadian song, Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah, in a way I’d never heard it before. Sorry the sound isn’t very good; half the speakers weren’t working ’til later in the song. But I like the beat of this, in four instead of three.

There was a lot of good food, and wine.

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(Breakfast of champions. Or champignons.)

My food mission was to check out poutines. This one was from Au Pied du Cochon’s food truck at the festival. Poutine avec foie gras.

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And we had to try the poutine at McDonald’s, because, photo op. It was underwhelming, as far as poutine goes.

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But I learned that chicken McNuggets are Poulet McCroquettes, which made me laugh out loud. Really, doesn’t everything sound better in French?

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Whew! That was a big catch up. Back to my knitting. No more clown barf!

Spinners, weigh in! #tourdefleece

So, spinners, do you have a yarn goal in your head before you start spinning? The reason I ask:

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This is my first real yarn. I’ve played with the spindle before, but this is 4 ounces of fiber, turned into about 75 yards of single ply. I spun this on my Jenkins Turkish spindle.

It appears that I have made two different yarns here. When I started, I was trying to make a heftier single than my default accidental laceweight. Some of this yarn does that; it’s kind of like Malabrigo Worsted in heft and twist.

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The later yarn from this spinning is thinner and twistier, because I was afraid my fat singles were underspun. This thinner yarn would be great plied because some of that twist would reverse in the plying, right?

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This was all a grand experiment. But it’s like I have two different yarns in the same skein. And the first fatter singles weren’t underspun after all. The twist is lovely after washing and drying.

I also played with the mystery fiber that was at my house (leftover from a kids’ felting experiment). I used my Kundert top whorl spindle because it can handle a much bigger cop. The single was twisty, and then I wound a two-strand plying ball with my ball winder so I could ply it on the spindle. It’s pretty, yes? It’s only about 16 yards, 2 ply worsted to Aran weight. But pretty consistent! I like the barberpole look in the skein, but I’m not sure I’d like it knit up.

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I think all of this means that I need to decide what I want this BFL from Knitted Wit to be, before I start spinning it.

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I think because it has so many colors and I don’t want barberpole, I should aim for either a fat single ply, or a skinny yarn I can chain ply to preserve the color runs. I’m not sure which one I’m more likely to be able to do successfully.

This is as much fun as planning a knitting project. Everything is possible, until you start and then doors start to close…

Spinners, help me out. Am I on the right track?

Astoria StitchFest 2014

Do you love knitting and/or crocheting? Do you love the Oregon Coast? Here’s a winning combo for you: Astoria StitchFest. This is a brand new event October 10-12 in Astoria, Oregon. I’ll be teaching there, along with Sivia Harding, Mary Scott Huff, and Laurinda Reddig.

I’m teaching Cast On/Bind Off, Blocking, Entrelac, and a new class, Slip Stitch Designing. I’m especially stoked about sharing the magic of slip stitch knitting, which results in colorful patterning, but only one color is worked per row. Here’s an example of a slip stitch cowl I designed.

starwood detail

I hope you’ll come join us in Astoria this fall. More details about the classes, the StitchFeast dinner on Friday, and places to stay in Astoria are on the website.

New pattern: Beanstalk Scarf and Mitts

Beanstalk is live! Cathy Woodcock at Lantern Moon gave me a skein of Indochine to play with last February. I wanted to design something that made the most of this single skein of luscious yarn. That something turned out to be a skinny scarf.

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I love the way the stitch pattern blocks out in silk. But a scarf alone didn’t seem to be enough, so I designed some coordinating mitts. Just one more skein!

beanstalk set

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The thumb gusset grows out of one of my favorite leaf motifs, the same one that I used in my Garland shawl.

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This photo is from Sarah Peery, who test knit this set for me.

More information about this pattern is on the Beanstalk pattern page, and on the Ravelry page.

To celebrate the launch of this pattern, I’m offering it for half off through July 22. Use the coupon code BEANSTALK when you check out; here’s the link to purchase through Ravelry (you don’t have to be a member). Go forth and knit!

(Anyone interested in a KAL?)

Tour de Fleece?

Lots of stuff in the works: Design project at test knitter and tech editor (mmmmm, Indochine), design project that’s in time out after two tries, design project that’s just fun fabric to knit, design idea that wants a drapey yarn that’s being dyed up (hello, Knitted Wit Shine!), design proposal that’s cooking in my head, and an upcoming pattern re-release that needs a sample and some math in an alternate yarn. So since I don’t have anything to show you from that list at this moment, what should I show you?

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Spinning. Of course.

It’s Tour de France season, and that mean’s it’s also Tour de Fleece. I don’t really spin, but all the pretty pictures in my Facebook and Instagram feeds got me inspired. I have a couple spindles, but I was frustrated that my singles get skinnier and skinnier as I spin. My aim for TdF is just to play with techniques and try to get fatter yarn.

I’m working with my lovely Jenkins Turkish spindle; I can control the speed more easily than with my Kundert top whorl spindle, which is really fast. My yarn looks better so far, but far from perfect.

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I chain plied the previous skinny single and a new fatter single. (I think it’s merino and silk. Label is long gone.) One feels like string, and the other feels like yarn. Happier with the new stuff! But a long way to go before I get any consistency.

I saw Lorajean (Knitted Wit) this morning and picked up yarn for the sample I need to knit up, and she sent me home with this:

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Corriedale pencil roving. So far, it’s easier to spin with (longer staple? already uniform width?); I’m drafting it it just a little bit, and experimenting between park and draft and draft as I spin. It’s all research, right?

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I like what I’m getting so far. I don’t know if I’ll keep it as a single or chain ply it. I’ll figure that out later.

If you’re wondering why I chain ply instead of two ply, it’s because I don’t have a lazy kate (although I could jerry-rig one; I have before), and also because chain plying keeps the space dyed colors intact instead of mixing them. My sense of order is pleased…

Are you doing Tour de Fleece? Any hints for me and my quest for fatter singles?

Road trip with the Traveling Ewe

It was a fiber-full weekend! On Saturday I went on The Traveling Ewe‘s inaugural road trip. JJ Foster is putting together fiber-related tours, and this one was grand.

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How awesome that the license plate on our bus said “YARN”? Too funny. Our trip took us out of rainy Portland to the drier side of the Cascades. We shopped at Knot Another Hat in Hood River, a very lovely store with a view of the Columbia River.

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We had lunch at Celilo. I’m thinking these hefty picks through my sandwich would make very cute little knitting needles.

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From there we hopped back on the bus and visited Cascade Alpacas of Oregon, which has a cute little yarn shop and even cuter alpacas. Thomas demonstrated spinning and weaving for us.

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And Connie told us about raising alpacas.
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Can you get more bucolic than this?

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Snack time!

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This cria (baby alpaca) is 2 days old.

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And this cria is 3 hours old. Check out the wobbly walk!

Our last stop was at Mt. Hood Winery. We sampled some wines, and had show and tell with the day’s purchases. (Angela wins. She did some major shopping!)

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Melissa is going through a blue-green knitting phase. All her yarn seems to match.

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Mt. Hood made a valiant effort to peek through the clouds. All in all, it was a fun day! JJ Foster has a knack for planning. We had just enough time at all the places we visited, and the bus was a great venue for chatting with other knitters. I’d do this again! You can, too. The next trip is August 16, and will visit Corvallis and Eugene. More details here. Bring knitting you can multi-task with, because you’ll be chatting and laughing the whole time.

Sunday’s fiber fun? Open studio at Knitted Wit; Lorajean is doing this on the second Saturday and fourth Sunday of each month. Stop by and craft, and shop, too. This weekend Lorajean was getting ready for Tour de Fleece. Me? I just knit. Oh, and we are coming up with a very cool color for a pattern I’m releasing soon. I edited and formatted two patterns this weekend. Lots of fun things in the works; I’m looking forward to showing them all to you. Soon!

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Fiber appreciation starts early!

How was your weekend?

She Who Watches

Last week, I did a quick camping overnight at Washington’s Maryhill State Park. It’s about 2 hours from home, on the other side of the Cascade Mountains. I drove through that area a couple months ago; you may remember my fascination with wind turbines.

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Still fascinated.

Here’s the daylight view, with knitting.

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I met up with my friend Vickie so we could visit Tsagaglalal, She Who Watches.

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She’s a Native American petroglyph that was etched and painted into the rock perhaps 250 to 300 years ago. She Who Watches is located in what is now Columbia Hills State Park in Washington, and is only viewable through a guided walk with the park.

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Along the way, one can also see other pictographs (rock paintings, as opposed to etchings or carvings).

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Salmon Shaman

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She Who Watches is at the end of this guided walk. Very cool! There are also some petroglyphs that have been relocated to this park from Petroglyph Canyon, which was flooded when the Dalles Dam was built.

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You can read more about these petroglyphs and pictographs here.

The knitting? It’s the second knitting of the Lantern Moon Indochine, this time in the color Viridian. This piece is done and blocking. On to the companion piece! All will be revealed, soon.

In other news, the blueberries are early this year! Ripe and ready for picking. I made my first cobbler of the season from my favorite recipe that I’ve been using since 1986. You can find the recipe here.

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It was deiicious, as usual. We had it a la mode, in the back yard, as a belated Father’s Day celebration.

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What did you knit this weekend? Did you go to Black Sheep Gathering? I’ve never been, but some day…