Category Archives: music

SEA-PDX Yarn Train

The annual Seattle to Portland Yarn Train arrived in town on Saturday, bringing Seattle knitters down south for a yarn crawl. I couldn’t meet the train because I was rehearsing with the Day Old Pastries, so I met up with Kathy at Knit/Purl.

Knit Purl

I met Kathy last summer at the Sock Summit Ravelry party, and we’ve been bloggy friends ever since. She was with her friend Chandria, and Denise, whom they met on the train. I offered to take the three of them across town to Twisted, my usual stomping grounds. But first, I needed to check in at the PDXKnitbloggers’ home base at the Starbucks kitty corner from Knit/Purl.

PDXKBs

I found Cindy, Duffy, Judy, Susan…and a table covered with yarn.

AbstractFibers BFL

Susan was just back from TNNA, and she had a samples of her entire new Blue Faced Leicester sock yarn. Judy was trying to choose two coordinating colors for a design project. It was difficult, because they were all gorgeous!

twisted

We did make it over to Twisted. As we pulled up, my phone picked up a text message. It was a tweet from Twisted: “Love Stinks! Spend your Valentine’s day hexing your crappy ex with our Voodoo Doll kits! (Then go on a date with someone way hotter)” That made me laugh out loud. We went in asking for the voodoo dolls, and here they are, modeling in front of the wall of sock yarn.

voodoo

Kathy bought some Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran to make a Pippi hat. It will be her first color work. Fun!

Pippi

I also ran into Debbi and her friend Susan, and Sharon (but I forgot to take her picture, sorry).

Debbi

All that yarn shopping is exhausting! We had a very late lunch at Costello’s, down the street, and then headed to Yarnia. I’d never been to Yarnia before, so this was an adventure for me, too.

yarnia

Yarnia is like Build-a-Bear for knitters. You choose thin fibers/colors you want to put together, and they are wound off together onto a cone to make the yarn of your dreams. Denise was in heaven! She got exactly what she wanted for a shawl project. With sparkle in it, of course. Here’s the winding machine in action. (There’s a cone of shiny stuff on the floor, feeding into the yarn on the cone, but I didn’t realize it when I was filming.)

There wasn’t time to visit any more yarn stores, so I chauffeured the happy knitters back to the train station. And I realized then that I didn’t buy any yarn at all! I’m just not much of a stasher. It was a fun day.

Monday is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day here in the States. Are you participating in any MLK Day activities? I’ll be at a workday for the Backpack Program; they provide weekend lunches for needy children at a local elementary school. (For some children, a federally-sponsored school lunch is their main meal of the day, and there is no school lunch on the weekend.) The Day Old Pastries will lead some singing at the event. If you’re local and looking for something to do, it’s from 1 to 3 p.m. at Woodlawn United Methodist Church, 1425 NE Dekum, Portland, 97211.

Almost…

So close, and yet so far…

drat

I can see that I’m not going to get 56 more stitches out of the remaining yarn. I bought another 50 gram skein, and I’ll figure out what to do with the 48 grams I’ll have left!

In the meantime, I made these.

snaps

They’re just those gingersnap cookies that show up this time of year. I used our mini ice cream scoop and filled them with peppermint ice cream. Then I drizzled them with chocolate truffle sauce (recipe here). They’re back in the freezer, firming up.

And the Day Old Pastries sang Mary, Mary in church yesterday. I love singing with my Pastry friends. We’re not perfect, but we have a lot of fun.

Busy, busy, busy! Knitting and shopping not done. But I’m off to a party…

A veritable potpourri

Let’s see, where am I? Oh, yes, the contest!

I ran the random number generator at random.org and the winners are: Susie (KnittingKnoobie) for the purple Berroco Vintage Wool, and Marie (permissiontounwind) for the blue Lanaloft. I’ll be sending out yarn soon.

Just a bit of knitting going on here. We started the Quincy hat knitalong at knit night last week; I love the way the i-cord just happens on the edges. This will be the moebius strip of the hat band around the head. Isn’t it pretty?

garter

Here’s a better look at the edges. Don’t worry; the green is temporary. It’s a provisional cast on so the beginning can be grafted to the end.

provisional

And I’m still highly distracted by my new guitar. It has a lovely voice, and I’ve been playing a lot. I had the action adjusted (lowered) by our luthier, and it’s easier to play. Dreamy. Now I just need to learn to play better! I’m learning to pick arpeggios rather than just strum. Doing that while singing is an interesting exercise in coordination, but it’s getting better.

taki

I’m also writing a couple songs with a friend (he composes the music; I write the lyrics), and that’s been a lot of fun. I’m so lucky to have all these creative outlets in my life, and I know it.

Knit and play on!

Franken-tar

Just in time for Halloween!

The Teen saw concert footage of Muse, and was intrigued by lead singer/guitarist Matt Bellamy’s guitar. Bellamy designed Manson MB-1 guitar, which features an x-y midi controller. The instrument sells for £2,999, which means that the Teen won’t be getting one any time soon.

But that didn’t stop him from tinkering on his own. He built his own version, dubbed it the RB-1, and used it for a short piece at school.

Basically, it’s an iPod/iPhone app called the Bebot Robosynth. It sells for a mere $1.99. The Teen loaded it up, put the iPod on his guitar, the earphone onto the guitar pickup, and away you go.

Not a lot of finesse with it yet, but he sure had fun!

Here it is charging next to my Norman. I like the old/new juxtaposition.

acoustic electric

A closer look at the setup:

bebot2

Isn’t the little guy cute?

bebot

Meanwhile, my new guitar arrived yesterday. I looooove it. Such great tone. The stock strings are mediums(?) and they squeak against my thumb. I’m about to swap them out for Elixir nanoweb lights.

Distracted

Not much knitting this past weekend. I’m a little distracted.

I played a friend’s new guitar (picture in previous post), and the sound of it took me back to high school youth group. Hanging out and singing was a big part of my life. About 5 years ago, I decided to learn to play, just a little, so I could revisit some of the music that I loved so much. I bought a little Norman folk acoustic then, and it has served me well.

norman

But the sound of my friend’s guitar is calling my name. Insistently. So I’ve been shopping for a new guitar, and I’m going to end up with the same Takamine. I can’t wait!

To make up for today’s lack of knitting content, I’m offering up a bit of yarn that came my way. This is Berroco Vintage Wool. It’s worsted weight, 50% acrylic, 40% wool, 10% nylon. It was in the goodie bag at the Sock Summit Ravelry party in August, and it’s nice, but I’m kind of a natural fiber snob and so I don’t think I’ll ever use it.

vintage

The other yarn is Brown Sheep Lanaloft, which is a sport weight 100% wool single. I bought it when I was designing my Seafoam Socks, but then decided to use a different yarn. I’m not sure it would be great for socks; it’s a single and it’s also not superwash. I’ve discovered that my other non-superwash socks need more tender care than I’ve been giving them!

lanaloft

If you’re interested in either of these yarns, tell me which one, or both, and what you’d make with it. I’ll take names until midnight Friday, October 30, and then I’ll do two drawings with the random number thingy.

Good luck!

Knitting project design process

All the cool kids were at Rhinebeck last weekend, and I was way over here on the left coast, just hanging out. But I walked to Twisted on Saturday and bought some yarn, so I didn’t feel so left out. I came back with these.

db cash chunky

db chunky knit

Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Chunky, 55% merino, 33% microfiber, 12% cashmere. This is incredibly soft and squishy to knit with. One ball makes a very efficient neck warmer (kind of like a mock T-neck), but it’s not very big. I don’t really want to use two for this project, so we’ll see how it goes. The color is somewhere between the two pictures: deep, vibrant, wine-y.

mal chunky

Malabrigo Chunky, 100% kettle dyed merino, 100 grams. It’s slightly heavier. And also really fun to knit with. The stitch definition is divine.

kw bulky

And I have one more on hand; it’s a bulky 100% merino yarn from Knitted Wit. Why am I suddenly obsessed with chunky yarn?

I’m hosting another party for the high school Booster Auction. Twisted is supplying the venue, and Lantern Moon is donating the needles. (Thank you to both!) Last year, I designed the Checkerboard Scarflet as a party project. I need a new project for this year. Yes, it’s above and beyond hosting the party, but it’s fun and for a good cause.

I’ve decided that I want to use a chunky yarn this year, to get near instant gratification. The project needs to be beginner friendly, but interesting enough for an experienced knitter to get some joy from it. I don’t want another flat scarf/scarflet. Fingerless mitts would be great, but you have to make two. I think a single item would be better. I think it’s going to be a cowl.

Next step: The perfect stitch pattern. I want to give options, so I think I’ll have three of them. I want at least one of them to be simple enough that a relative beginner will have a successful experience. I want something easily memorized. I want it to be elegant. Soon, with these chunky yarns!

In the meantime, I’ve returned to the piano bench and am picking my way through a Clementi sonatina (hey, I can still read music!) for relatively instant gratification, as well as trying to resurrect old repertoire. Hello, Mozart? Are you still there?

tak2

And I’m playing this guitar, just for a couple days. I have it on temporary swap with a friend; it’s new and I may want one of my own. Yes I have a guitar, but it’s not this nice! (Thanks to the Teen for being guitar model. He plays way better than I do.)

Piano weekend

Picture this: Sitting in your seat, knitting on an airplane. A pattern is on the tray table; Ishbel is in your hands. A ball of blue laceweight yarn is on your lap. You shift in your seat slightly, and the ball rolls off your lap, under the seat in front of you, and down the aisle…

No, it didn’t happen, but I was visualizing it as I was knitting. Just in case, next time the yarn should be in “cake” form!

piano

The weekend was lovely. Five erstwhile pianists (I think only two of us are actively playing right now) who met at piano camp several years ago. Two more piano buddies came down on Saturday to play for us: Satie, Grieg, Mozart, Bach… D’s piano sounds fantastic in its new space. It sounds rich and round. The space is very open, with a cathedral ceiling. And the view from the piano is inspiring, looking across the Carmel Valley.

piano room

back view

How could I not be inspired to play? I re-acquainted myself with the Granados Waltzes from Valses Poeticos. And the Adagio movement from Mozart’s K 332.

Friday afternoon’s sky was especially lovely.

friday sky

Saturday’s walk took us down by the beach.

cormorants

gulls

In other piano buddy news, fellow piano camper Katie Hafner’s book on Glenn Gould, A Romance on Three Legs, is now available in paperback. The book is a great read. Katie is one of the smartest, funniest, and most charming people I’ve ever met.

I did a lot of knitting on Ishbel while listening to my friends. But it’s not done yet. :sigh:

Ishbel exorcism

Mmmmmm. Malabrigo! I bought this purple Malabrigo Sock yarn, color is Violeta Africana. I really wanted blue, but Twisted didn’t have any, and I needed to cast something on in a hurry. My knitting mojo was at stake.

iris

Looks like this will work just fine. It’s the color of grape soda. The camera can’t quite catch the fizzy goodness; it’s not as blue as you’d think from the picture. But I’m knitting, and I’m happy. One of the problems of not having many projects on the needles is that when one project stops, there aren’t many alternatives. I’m still looking for a good mindless knit project. Right now, Ishbel can be it, until it gets to the lace.

I’m hoping that my next project doesn’t require a yarn change, because I’ve just had two in a row. Ouch.

In other knit news, Sock Summit registration opens on Tuesday at 10 a.m. I still haven’t decided what I want to take, but now the pressure is on!

And in non-knitting news, the Adult Beginner Forum’s quarterly recital went live on the 15th. I haven’t been playing much, but I had this worked up in March before I fell off the piano wagon, and it came back pretty quickly. It’s another waltz from Valses Poeticos by Enrique Granados. This is vals no. 6, also called Vals Sentimental. I love how melancholy and sentimental this is. I envision a woman looking at faded photographs of her long ago love. She goes into quite a reverie in the second half of this piece. But it’s so over, baby…just like I’m over that silk Ishbel.

Ishbel update

I just finished Ishbel‘s stockinette stitch center. There are 221 stitches on the needle.

stockingstitch

Not much to look at, is it? The vine lace edge and the blocking had better make this thing sing!

macro ish

Speaking of singing, I just signed up for this term’s community choir. First meeting was Monday. It’s nice to be back.

A different kind of music

Country!

I love the song “El Paso” by Marty Robbins. It’s so much fun to sing it with my Day Old Pastry friends. My friends Mitch and Karen introduced me to “Red Velvet Slippers” by Juni Fisher, the same story told from the girl’s point of view. The Pastries puzzled it out, and we love to sing that, too.

When blog friend Dee mentioned “El Paso” on her blog, I commented with an introduction to Juni Fisher. That got her wheels turning, and she invited Juni to do a house concert as a surprise for her husband’s grandmother. Nanny’s a Marty Robbins fan. Sounds like the event was a hit!

No pix; I didn’t make it to the event. But Dee was so sweet to invite me!