Category Archives: music

Crafty Moms 12.0, a guitar, and a Tauriel winner

Yes, the 12th annual Crafty Moms weekend! I looked back in my Shutterfly albums, and the very first crafty spring beach trip was in 2003. There were four of us moms then, and we took our 4th graders and our spouses with us. The next year we ditched the kids and spouses. The group has waxed and waned in the following years; this year we had 15 moms.

I love this time away so I can reconnect with friends, and also work intensively on projects. This year, I knit most of the second version of a shawl that will be published at the end of the month.

mimosa

I can’t really show you what it looks like, but here are several other things I’ve designed during past Crafty Moms weekends.

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Pacific Shawl

breezy
Breezy Market Tote

2 way rockaway
Rockaway 2-way Beach Beanie/Cowl

I loved this group of young adults hanging out on the beach.

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It was a pretty rainy weekend, with a few sunbreaks.

seagulls

rainbow

lone seagull

I’ve done some songwriting on previous Crafty Moms weekends, too. Not this time, although I was hoping my new travel guitar would arrive before I left. Missed me by 4 hours! And I had too much knitting on deadline, anyway. But this is what I found when I got home.

Taki and Minnie

It’s the Limited Edition Holden Village Taylor GS Mini Guitar on the right. I’ve named her Minerva (Minnie for short), and she has a huge sound for such a little thing! The top is old-growth Engelmann Spruce from near Holden Village in the North Cascade Mountains in Washington. The trees were harvested as part of a mine remediation project that will clean up the creek there. Part of the proceeds from the sale of each of these guitars will go to El Porvenir and Living Waters for the World. El Porvenir has a special place in my heart since I worked on a service trip with them in Nicaragua in 2012. You can read more about the guitars here and here. The combination of a fundraiser for El Porvenir plus tonewood from Holden Village (a place I’ve never been, but a place that inspired Marty Haugen to write Holden Evening Prayer, a gorgeous piece of liturgical music that we’ve sung on Women’s Retreat and at church) pushed me to order this guitar.

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Larry Breedlove designed a beautiful 12th fret inlay that portrays water flowing from between two mountains. There’s a lot of inspiration in this little package, and a lot of win for everyone.

Speaking of win: We have a Tauriel winner. There were 195 comments, wow! The winner is Lynne Phelps; I have sent her an email to get her info to Bonne Marie. Thanks all, for reading and commenting. And I hope all the rest of you download and knit this wonderful pattern!

How was your weekend?

Recess 24/7 this weekend

I was going over my upcoming weekend with DH, and he turned to me and said, “Your life is like 24/7 recess!” Well, it is a pretty sweet extended weekend I’ve got lined up. Knitting, music, celebration…

Friday is the RCYC MKAL cast on party at Twisted, 5 to 8 p.m. Refreshments and prizes! Come knit with me!

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Saturday I’m teaching Tink Drop Frog, how to fix mistakes at Twisted, from 1-3. I love teaching this class; it’s very empowering to new-ish knitters. There’s still space in class, if you want to register.

My baby turns 21 on Saturday, too. Where did the time go?

Sunday I’m singing with my music besties (The Pie Birds, aka the Divas) in church. Monday, even more of us (The Day Old Pastries) are singing at this MLK Day Remembrance and lunch packing event. The NE Portland Backpack Program provides weekend lunch sacks for children at risk for hunger who don’t have the school lunch program on the weekend. During the 2012-2013 school year we are providing about 5,000 weekend lunch sacks (11,000 lunches) to 164 children at four locations. Come sing with us, and pack lunches with us! The event is free, but bring a can of chili to donate. We’ll be at Maranatha Church, NE 12th Ave between Skidmore and Mason in Portland, from 1-3 p.m. Details here.

MLK

Tuesday, the Thrumbelina KAL begins! Two more days to enter to win a copy of the Thrumbelina pattern. Check out the blog post for details.

And now the moment you’ve been waiting for: The winner of this lovely Knitted Wit single fingering yarn (silver lining and madge)

mkal yarn

is…Samantha from Eugene! Go check out her blog here. Congratulations, Samantha!

I hope you’re with me for part or all of this weekend fun, in person or via the interwebs! Looking forward to it all.

Weekend Rock Star

I had a stellar weekend. A friend asked me to accompany her to Ladies Rock Camp here in town. It’s a weekend day camp for women, and the tuition helps provide scholarships for Rock ‘n’ Roll Camp for Girls summer and after school programs. I had fun and did a good thing at the same time!

Campers have their choice of guitar, bass, drums, keyboards, or vocals. No experience necessary. On Friday you form a band with a variety of instrumentalists depending on what kind of music you’re interested in playing. There are two sessions of instrument instruction, a couple workshops, and the rest of the time is devoted to band practice. You write a song with your band, and perform it on Sunday. Quick work!

I wanted to do something that I might use in real life, so I opted for vocals. I wanted to improve my singing and presentation skills. Becky wanted to see if there was an inner rocker hiding behind her mandolin (they put her with the guitar class). She was in my band, and we liked her sound so much that she had emergency surgery for her mandolin on Saturday morning and had a pickup installed so we could amp her!

I’ve written a couple songs before, and I’ve had bits of lyrics running through my head for a song called “How Can I Miss You If You Won’t Go Away.” We took it and ran with it.

Here’s our band: She Let Her Sassy Out. Hannah on keyboards, Bobbi Sue on drums, Becky on electric mandolin, and me on vocals.

She Let Her Sassy Out

Are we having fun or what?

Sassy 2
(photo courtesy of Teri Untalan, my vocal coach)

The camp showcase was at Mississippi Studios, a local music venue. It was so cool having professional lighting, sound, and roadies. It is amazing how much you can accomplish over one intense weekend; all the bands sounded great! We had fun with “How Can I Miss You” (mp3 link here, if you’re interested). I may have to do this again next year…it’s for a good cause!

It was hard to go back to real life on Monday. But I’m back to knitting this little sweater for Lorajean’s baby girl, due in 8 days. Almost done!

In Threes

I have two design projects to work on, and I’m teaching at Twisted on Saturday. We’re doing entrelac in the round (my Athena Cowl), and blocking. Both classes are full, so we’ll probably do both of them again soon.

What’s up for your weekend?

Pinot and Piano…and stellar desserts

My home was filled with gorgeous music on Sunday evening. The sixth annual Pinot and Piano Fun-Raiser brought together three musicians, 16 guests, and wine and dessert. I don’t play my piano much these days, so it’s nice to hear it played by someone else. For this event, I’m in charge of the venue, a freshly tuned grand piano, and dessert.

We had two intermissions; the first one featured this simple dessert (regular wine glass shown for size reference):

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Mini blueberry cheesecake shooters. I adapted The Pioneer Woman’s Cherry Cheesecake Shooters recipe, and topped it with my blueberry compote using this summer’s blueberries from my yard. These mini wine tasting glasses hold just enough, and look fabulous. Full recipe at the bottom of this post.

The second intermission featured a buffet of chocolate chip shortbread, brownies, fruit salad, and one other sensational dessert, a flourless chocolate cake with chocolate glaze.

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I wanted a gluten-free option on the menu, but this cake is so good that the GF status is just a bonus. This was easy, elegant, and delicious. I used a 9 inch cake pan, because I didn’t have a 7 inch tart pan. I reduced the baking time to 19 minutes (start checking at 15) to compensate for the wider, shallower pan. The recipe says it serves six, but it would easily serve 12 as a single dessert. We cut 20 slices, since it was part of a dessert buffet.

The music for piano solo and duet, and piano and flute, ranged from Bach to Handel to Grieg to Mendelssohn to the Beatles.

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A lovely evening among friends.

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Mother/Daughter duet. And since this is a knitting blog, I’ll note that designer Chrissy Gardiner is the daughter. She has many talents!

Blueberry Cheesecake Shooters
adapted from the Pioneer Woman’s Cherry Cheesecake Shooters

Make the blueberry compote the night before, and refrigerate.

For the blueberry compote:
2.5 cups frozen blueberries, unthawed
1/3 C sugar
1/3 C water
1 T fresh squeezed lemon juice

Combine 1.5 C berries with the sugar and water in a medium saucepan. Simmer over medium heat, stirring often, until berries burst, about 10 minutes. Add remaining berries and lemon juice. Continue stirring; cook until compote thickens, about 8 minutes. Cool, then cover and refrigerate. Serve warm, room temperature, cold, whatever! You’ll have enough left over to top ice cream, or pancakes…

For the cheesecake (same day, or night before):
12 graham cracker rectangles
4 Tablespoons butter, melted
2 8 ounce packages cream cheese
1 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 – 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (to taste)
1/4 cup sliced almonds

Pulse the graham crackers in a food processor, or place them in a resealable plastic bag and crush them with a rolling pin. Gradually add the melted butter and process or mix until crumbs begin to cling together. Spoon this “crust” into serving dishes: mini wine glasses, wine glasses, whatever you’d like.

Combine cream cheese,sweetened condensed milk, and vanilla extract in the bowl of an electric mixer. Whip until fluffy. Place mixture into a resealable plastic bag, cut off a corner and pipe mixture over graham cracker crumbs.

Spoon blueberry compote over the cheesecake mixture. Top with sliced almonds just before serving. Enjoy!

Yield: 12 servings in mini wine glasses, fewer if you’re using larger dishes. I used Libbey’s mini wine tasting glasses. They’d also be cute in little half cup canning jars.

Blues Roundup: music, skies, berries

Not much knitting here last weekend, but lots of music, and blueberries, too. The Waterfront Blues Festival ran from Thursday through Sunday, and the weather was perfect. Sunny and warm, but not hot. Portland knows how to throw a party! And it was for a good cause: The festival raised $1.3 million for the Oregon Food Bank, well in excess of their goal of $1 million, plus tons of canned food. (Admission most days is a suggested donation of $10 plus 2 cans of food.)

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The music was great all weekend. My favorites?

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Nikki HIll, a great big voice in a sassy package. Yes, those are sequined cowboys on her skirt, as well as sequined slide pumps on her feet.

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MarchFourth Marching Band, with stilt walker/dancer/acrobats! I think this is every band kid’s dream of a band afterlife. But even cooler and funkier.

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John Hiatt, an oldie but goodie. He’s written tons of stuff that others have sung, but I also like his own whiskey voice.

I don’t know that I’d classify all the music I heard as the blues, but the variety made the festival much more enjoyable. There was also a lot of zydeco music, which is always fun.

I missed Sunday, which featured Mavis Staples and Robert Plant. I was at the Oregon Zoo, enjoying the Go-Go’s and the B-52′s. Definitely a smaller venue than Waterfront Park, but still a sizeable crowd.

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Zoo concerts are great; you can picnic on the lawn before the show. Go with a group of friends, and it’s a potluck miracle. I made a blueberry cobbler, as requested.

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It’s great picnic fare, especially with a side of spray whipped cream. I’d prefer ice cream, but that doesn’t travel well.

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I’m coming to the end of my blueberry harvest. It’s my last chance to use my own berries for a blueberry cream pie in a gingersnap crust which requires fresh berries, so that was last night’s dessert.

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Lorajean saw my pie pic on Facebook, and then I saw her at Twisted when I was delivering patterns yesterday. She was hoping that the pie was for tonight’s knit nite, but sadly, no.

But I came home and did the last picking, and there are just enough berries to eke out one more pie. Let the rejoicing begin…

MLK Workday for Backpack Lunch Program

backpacklogo

The fifth annual MLK Remembrance and Work Day for the Northeast Portland Backpack Lunch Program is coming up on January 21. Last year’s event saw 160 volunteers packing 593 lunch sacks for needy children who are at risk of hunger on the weekends, when school lunches aren’t available. At two lunches per sack, that’s nearly 1200 lunches, all provided by donations and volunteer labor. This program is now serving children at three Northeast Portland schools and continues to grow. How many lunches will we pack this year? The 2013 event is Monday, January 21, from 1 to 3 p.m. at Woodlawn United Methodist Church, NE 15th and Dekum Street in Portland. All are welcome; there are activities for all ages. Come do a good deed, and have some fun, too.

The Day Old Pastries will again lead the music for a singalong opportunity during the short program that follows the lunch packing. Who are the Day Old Pastries? We’re a group of friends that get together to make music. We’re a little crusty, but fresh enough! We sing and play the guitar, and we’ve added mandolin and piano and some song writing, too. We have a lot of fun for a bunch of amateurs. 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. I love that we’re part of this workday and celebration every year.

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? At last year’s MLK Day event, we had 160 people singing, happy and in community with each other. Perfect! I hope you can come join us this year.

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.

taki

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?

River City Music Festival

I spent a little time last night at the River City Music Festival. This used to be the River City Bluegrass Festival, but the festival has expanded its horizons and now encompasses Americana and Country, too.

We went mostly to hear Tommy Emmanuel, a phenomenal guitar player from Australia. He played for an hour and a half, delighting us with guitar and his special brand of percussion on the guitar.

How does he make it sound like his hands are an ensemble of players? At one point he yelled, “Take it away, boys!” and looked over his shoulder. You would have sworn that he had a backup band, but nada. Amazing.

There were bluegrass groups jamming in rooms all around the hotel, and they sounded great. There were vendors in the hallways and meeting rooms, and I fell in love with a blond. A blond guitar, that is. It has a gorgeous Sitka spruce top, a Brazilian Rosewood back (the guitar on the right), and it’s only three days old. Les McMasters of McMasters Guitars in Hermiston made it. It felt good in my hands, and sounded good, too. I’m not in the market for a guitar right now, but a girl can dream, right?

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(Sorry that my iPhone camera doesn’t do this beauty justice, but this is all I had with me.)

There’s a more thorough description of the festival here on the OregonLive site, but what you really need to know is that the festival runs through Sunday (tomorrow), so get on down there and enjoy some music! Whether or not you can make it, here’s a treat. Tommy Emmanuel, playing Michelle, with lots of harmonics.

Coming up for air…

It’s been graduation/guests/music chaos around here, but we’re finally getting back to normal.

Last week’s 18 rows of Zen Rain at graduation?

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Frogged. I made it to 24 rows while chaperoning the All Night Graduation Party, and realized I didn’t like how firm the fabric was. This yarn is single ply Rambouillet, and it’s interesting to knit with. It’s a bit thick/thin in places. It felt thinner than the yarn I was knitting with previously (Alpha B Luxe B, and I still need to finish binding that one off), but it knit up way more firmly on a size 6 needle. I was afraid it wouldn’t be loose enough to block out to the gossamer texture I want. Hence, the frog. I started over with a US 7 needle, and am much happier. Yesterday I was on row 44.

44

And today I’m on the ruffle.

row4

My basement has been a blocking studio! I have a futon sofabed down there, and it’s great for blocking shawls. I can stab pins into it to hold the blocking wires, and it doesn’t hurt anything. It’s also away from the cat, so she doesn’t “help.” This week I blocked Lorajean’s Octavia shawl, and Christina’s Zen Rain.

cm2

It was a busy music weekend, too. The Day Old Pastries sang in church. It was Pentecost, and we sang a new song; I wrote the lyrics and a friend wrote the music. Come Holy Spirit, Come.

I also wrote a song for the Teen for graduation, and sang it for him just before. It’s called Graduation Day. Caution: it’s really sentimental! Can you tell I’m having empty nester issues?

I think we’re caught up…

‘ukelele and more music

Just to be clear, we did make it back in time for Christmas. It was theTeen’s last appearance as guitarist/liturgist in the Christmas pageant run by the youth. He’s a HS senior, and I’m having empty nest syndrome already…

reading

angels
(incoming flock of angels, just had to share)

But not so much empty nest syndrome that DH and I didn’t abandon him to his own devices for a week so we could play and Christmas shop in Hawaii. DH and I took a ‘ukelele class with this guy one afternoon.

uke dude

It was easy to pick up a few chords, and as I tell my Pastries, three chords makes a simple song. Since there are only 4 strings, it’s a bit easier than guitar. I can play a barre chord! DH fell in love with the instrument, so I offered to buy him one for Christmas. We shopped here, based on the recommendation of one of my guitar buddies.

mele

mele ukes

Lovely instruments, but we weren’t quite ready to buy.

We went to a show at the Maui Arts and Cultural Center and saw slack-key guitarist George Kahumoku, Jr., and Daniel Ho, who sings, plays piano, ‘ukelele, slack-key guitar, and I don’t know what else. Both of these talented gentlemen have won Grammy awards for their work. Uncle George even let us hold them for a photo op.

grammies 2

When we came home to rainy Portland, it was time to jump right back into Christmas week activities. We finished our uke shopping at Artichoke Music, our favorite local music shop. (We bought our first guitars there many years ago.) There weren’t a lot of ukes in stock (a run on ukes for Christmas, who woulda thunk it?), so we ended up buying a Fluke. Interesting construction, made in USA, big happy sound. It’s very sturdy and DH will be able to take it on his many travels. A winner!

fluke

Here’s one knit related thing in this post. Sharon won this vintage learn-to-knit booklet in the white elephant gift exchange at the Lantern Moon holiday party. I love the expression on the knitter’s face.

knit book

What’s your favorite knitterly gift this year?