Category Archives: Blogging

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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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?

The Opinionated Knitter

Elizabeth Zimmermann wrote a book with that title, but aren’t we all just a bit opinionated? Here’s your chance to know a bit more of what I think about knitting, designing, and teaching. I was featured on Robin Hunter’s blog, How to Become a Professional Knitter last Friday, but am only catching up to myself today! Click the link and get to know me…

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And here’s a sneak peek of an upcoming design.

Ah, mystery! What’s new on your needles? Mine are strangely empty, but not for long.

Claramel! and a whirlwind weekend…

I had a great weekend, full of knitting and blogging fun. Saturday afternoon I taught Tink Drop Frog at Twisted, a class on how to identify and fix mistakes. I love teaching this class; it’s very empowering for students. We had two knitters who had very different knitting; all the knit stitches were twisted! The fascinating thing was that each had arrived at this look by very different paths. One was knitting all her stitches through the back loop. The other was purling with the yarn running clockwise instead of counterclockwise around the needle; this commonly happens with continental style knitting because it’s easier to pick in that direction. So we talked about ways to keep or change that (Eastern Combined Knitting, anyone?), because ultimately knitting is about how to get the look *you* want. And then we learned about tinking, laddering down, and how to get your knitting back on the needles when you frog. And yes, I’m aware that this paragraph confirms my knitting nerdiness.

After class I headed down to Powell’s Books to hear Clara Parkes read from her new book, The Yarn Whisperer. Clara is smart, charming, and witty. She had a little knitting limerick contest to give away some of her famous Claramels, and I won one! I *think* it was chocolate and espresso; I *know* it was delicious.

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I’m looking forward to reading my autographed book!

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On to the next event! Local journalist, blogger, all around great guy George Rede has a Voices of August feature on his blog, with guest bloggers all month. This was my second year guest posting on his blog. George has a meet-up for his guest posters, and it is so much fun to meet the other bloggers in person!

That was quite the afternoon/evening. But it was all good. Sunday was a little bit calmer. It was gorgeous out, but I had to take a nap between events, so I missed the sunshine! The day ended with the kids over for wonton soup. (Recipe in the linked post.)

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How was your weekend?

Barbara Walker knit auction

Pieces of knitting history are being auctioned off later this month. Barbara Walker is auctioning off some of her amazing knits. You know, Barbara G. Walker, knitting luminary, author of Knitting from the Top and all those lovely stitch treasuries? Barbara Walker, creator of the SSK? (Betcha didn’t know that.)

Schoolhouse Press is handling the auction. I scrolled through the pdf catalogs, and for a moment I thought BGW23 in the first catalog was the sweater she was wearing when I met her. I did a search on my blog and found this picture:

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Close, but not the same. Good, because otherwise I’d want it. Badly. But I did enjoy revisiting my Sock Summit post from 2009. Remember the luminary panel? :sigh: (I love that my blog is my journal; it’s much easier to search than my old paper journals.)

I have mixed feelings about the auction. It’s very cool that you can own a gorgeous piece designed and hand knit by Barbara Walker. But it also seems like there should be a knitting museum somewhere, to house treasures by all knitting luminaries, kind of like the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Wouldn’t that be cool?

The weekend that was…full!

First of all, I was guest blogging as one of the Voices of August on a friend’s blog. This is the second time I’ve done this, and I was honored to be invited again. As a maker/crafty person, I feel like I’m pretty capable of making things happen, so it’s bothersome when I come up against something that’s not so easy. How do I deal with it? Go read my guest post, Because I Can, to find out. And if you’d like to know what I wrote last year, you can find my musings on The Empty Nest here.

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Saturday was also the Portland Bridge Festival Block Party to celebrate the 100th birthday of the Broadway Bridge. DH and I rode our bikes down to check it out.

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Tyler Mackie, Bridge for Blankets creator, hosted the Bridge for Blankets info/raffle table. I bought tickets, but I didn’t win the Raffghan. I’m glad it’s going to a good home, though.

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Members of the Portland Gay Men’s Chorus modeled some fancy bridges. I can’t walk in heels like those on level ground; how do they do it on gravel?

DH and I rode under the bridge to look at some condos along the river that I admired on my last ride. He says they’re not urban enough; he’d rather be in the Pearl. proper. Guess we’re not moving to a condo yet since our condo visions don’t match up!

And Sunday afternoon I went sailing on the Columbia with friends. The sky cleared and there was a very light breeze. The sunset was lovely.

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How was your weekend?

Yarn winners, catching up

I used random.org to choose winners for the two blog anniversary yarns: Leah Robertson is the winner of the Knitted Wit Silky ‘n’ Single, and Laura K is the winner of the Three Fates Eponymous Sock. Congratulations, ladies! I’ve emailed them both, and will be sending out yarn this week. Happy fifth anniversary to me!

I finished a third hat for Jackapalooza at knit nite last week. Cathy brought a bunch to knit nite; Jack’s logo is being added to each hat. Jackapalooza is this coming Friday, and Cathy has 74 hats for the event so far. More are still coming in. I hope all the hats sell, both to support the family, and to let them know that they are embraced by the love of knitters, even knitters that they don’t know. Knitters are the nicest people…

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I popped in to see the Cooperative Press trunk show at Pearl Fiber Arts last Tuesday. I re-met Shannon Okey of Cooperative Press, saw some Theressa Silver’s lovely hats from her new book Hat Couture, and saw a trunk full of goodies from Alex Tinsley’s upcoming Doomsday Knits. Alex was in town for the book’s photoshoot, and was serendipitously available for the trunk show party. I’m so excited about Doomsday; I have a design in it, and seeing the rest of the collection was awe-inspiring. I want to knit it all!

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Alex, me, Daniel Yuhas, Lee Meredith. Fun to hang out with local designers! There were many more that evening, but I was actually out with a birthday group, so I couldn’t stay long.

Busy, busy, busy! But it’s all good.

What are you knitting?

Feedly’s a winner! and 5 years of PDXKnitterati means you could be, too

I’ve posted about my angst over Google’s impending shutdown of Reader. I’ve tried several alternatives, and really just wanted something as quick as Google Reader’s titles view for skimming through blogs. Feedly was pretty good, but only offered a titles view in a browser, and I do most of my reading on an iPad. They asked for feedback from Reader refugees, and it sounds a lot of us were looking for this option.

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As of this morning, Feedly’s iPhone and iPad apps now have a Title Only view. Talk about responsive! It’s not an April Fool’s joke. I’ve updated my apps and I. Love. It. I’ve played around with it, and it does what I want. I think it may be even better than Reader; I haven’t figured out all the shortcuts yet. You may have issues with Feedly on a computer, because it requires an extension on your browser, but the extension issue doesn’t bother me. Feedly is working on cloning Google Reader’s API, and says that the transition will be seamless when Reader shuts down on July 1. Sounds good to me. Done!

Hmmm, knitting content. I can’t show you what I’m knitting right now. Sometimes design work means nothing to show, for months and months! But it’s spring, I have a new blog reader, and I just realized that I’ve been blogging for five years as of March 17. That went by in a flash! To celebrate, I’d like to share some yarn with you, because that’s what knitters do.

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This is Knitted Wit Silky ‘n’ Single, worsted weight, 60% Merino/40% Silk, 220 yards, 100g. I don’t know if this color has a name, I got it from Lorajean’s Community Supported Yarn club last year. It hasn’t told me what it wants to be, but maybe it will tell you!

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And this is Three Fates Yarn Eponymous Sock, 2 ply 100% superwash merino, 400 yards, 100g, color Mulch. I chose this rich brown yarn at Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival last fall because I had a brown project in mind, but I ended up using a different yarn. I can’t show you that project, either, until later this year, but it turned out just right. But I digress.

Hmmm. Tell me what you think each yarn wants to be, and I’ll do two random drawings to choose the lucky winners. I’ll take comments through next week Monday, April 8. Good luck!

Farewell, Google Reader; Hello…who?

I love to read knitting and food blogs. I’m subscribed to hundreds of blogs, and usually I just skim using Google Reader. I’ve particularly enjoyed using Google Reader Next on my laptop, where one click brings up the next blog in all its glory, instead of just titles/text on Reader. But alas, Google is retiring Reader as of July 1. Horrors! How will I keep up with all those blogs?

I’ve been poking around the interwebs looking for alternatives. Feedly looks pretty good, and I love their titles view for computers. I’m hoping they’ll make it available for mobile devices, too; I don’t need a magazine format or lots of pictures. Yes, I love blogs for pictures, but not when I’m skimming. I like being able to choose when to go to the site to see them.

I’ve also heard good things about The Old Reader, and Bloglovin. I’ll probably end up with Feedly, but I’m holding out for that titles view on my iPad and iPhone. For now, I’ll wait and see how things shake out by mid-June.

Do you use a blog reader? If it’s Google Reader, what are you planning to use next?

Also, I keep forgetting to mention: You can follow PDXKnitterati on Facebook and Twitter, if that’s how you keep track of blogs. I usually link to blog posts on both of those, and there’s also light chatter and news going on. Stop by and say howdy.

I’ve updated my blogroll with my current favorites on the sidebar. What are your favorite knitting blogs? I’m always looking for more, more, more!

Magnolia buds

And! Every post needs a picture, so here’s what’s almost blooming here. It’s a magnolia. The cherry trees are all out in full force, too. And it’s sunny/windy/rainy/cloudy/raining/hailing/sunny. Happy spring!

The Empty Nest

I’m guest blogging over at Rough ‘n’ Rede today. I met George Rede when he recruited me to be a community blog partner with the Oregonian News Network. We later came to find that we have a lot of neighborhood connections. I’m honored to be guest posting on his blog. The topic? The Empty Nest. It’s what I’ve been thinking about the past couple weeks since Ryan left for school. Enjoy!

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This little one left, too.

Crafting Balance: Knitting and Music 3KCBWDay7

Day 7 of Knit and Crochet Blog Week is all about crafting balance. The original question had to do with knitting and crochet, but I don’t really crochet much. I use it for edgings and now for steeking, but don’t really intend to go much further. I’m a knitter! And an occasional beader, too.

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But I do look go back and forth between knitting and music. You can tell from my blog header that making music is important to me. Music is the reason this post is late: Sunday was a music day for me, and I needed some time to recover.

My knitting has taken a back seat to music for the past couple months. I was so moved by my experience in Nicaragua that I wrote a song about it. I was inspired by the warmth of the people in the Nicaraguan village where we worked, and also by the group that I was with. The other inspiration was the moon. In the northern hemisphere, a crescent moon looks like the letter C. Closer to the equator, that crescent moon looks like the letter U. It’s the same moon, but it’s all a matter of perspective. The song is called “Grace Unforeseen,” and here are the lyrics (link to recording below lyrics):

Grace Unforeseen
Words/music © Michele Bernstein, 2012

God sent us to meet you, to lend you a hand
We started as strangers; now we are friends
We don’t share a language; smiles were our words
We met each other through the grace of the Lord

The moon shines on me, and shines on you
As you gaze at the moon, maybe I’m gazing too
We are friends around the world

Your lives are so humble; so are your homes
You made us feel welcome, with smiles so warm
“Pueblo” means village, people not a place
Your wealth is each other, your families’ embrace

The stars shine on me, and shine on you
As you wish on a star, maybe I’m wishing too
We are friends around the world

We thank God for water, sunshine, fresh air
The gift of each other, people who care
God calls us to service, in giving, receive
From sisters and brothers–grace, unforeseen

The sun shines on me, and shines on you
God smiles on me, and smiles on you too
We are one in God’s own world

We celebrated our trip in church on Sunday, and I sang this song with some friends. I had a technical issue with my recorder on Sunday so this version (link to recording) is from a practice session. We were outside on a sunny day; you can hear the birds and kids wandering through.

If you look at the word amateur, you’ll notice that the root of the word is love; amateur musicians pursue music out of love for it. I won’t say we’re ever perfect, but we love what we do. Before recorded music, the only way to hear music was in real time. You could go to a performance, or you could get together to make music. It was perfectly natural. Now that we have recorded standards, it’s much more intimidating to make music; we think we have to be as perfect as the music we hear. But music is so ephemeral. At the end of a song, do you remember a fleeting wrong note, or the overall feeling that was conveyed? I’m still learning to get past my perfectionist tendencies, and I think I’m getting there. Finally!

Thanks for reading along. The third annual Knit and Crochet Blog Week has been fun for me, and I hope it was for you, too.

And how was your weekend?