Category Archives: music


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:


Isn’t the little guy cute?


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.


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.


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.


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!


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?


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!


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.



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.


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.


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


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!

Sing to me

Or, behind the scenes in the process of choosing a project.

The new yarn (Crystal Palace Taos) is being a bit difficult. It’s lovely stuff, very soft, and the colors are beautiful. But I’m still not sure what to knit with it. Nothing is singing to me.

At first I thought a bit of feather and fan would be fun. I’ve always wanted to knit a feather and fan lace pattern, and Two Weeknights with Warrick looked like it would be perfect. Great pattern, easy to memorize. Alas, it doesn’t do justice to the yarn. I’ll knit this pattern with a different yarn somewhere down the road.

So I cast on for the checkerboard scarflet. But the checkerboard was getting lost in the color changes, or the color changes were getting lost in the checkerboard. I’m not sure which.

I poked around on Ravelry to see what other people made with this gorgeous yarn. A lot of entrelac! And some mitered scarves. Aha. How about the Pioneer Braid Scarf? I cast on this morning and knit for a bit. The pattern is ingenious. Here’s what it looks like. And this is a much better depiction of the true colors.

pb scarf

It’s better than the first two tries, but it still doesn’t sing to me. And I’m not sure I want to knit an entire scarf right now. Tempus fugit! I’m thinking that I’ll play with some entrelac. I’d make a Quant, but the intended recipient isn’t a headband sort of person. On the other hand, I’m not sure she’d use the entrelac item I have percolating in my mind, either. But at least I’d get a design out of the yarn. If I do it. What I thought would be a straightforward project, isn’t. Le sigh.

Well, the yarn isn’t singing to me yet, but I was singing yesterday! The Day Old Pastries, my folkie group, played and sang carols at our church Advent Festival in the afternoon. From there I went to sing with the Everyone Welcome Community Choir at Artichoke Music, and that was a blast. Here’s a clip of one of my favorite songs from yesterday, Siyahamba. It’s South African (Zulu). Enjoy!

Moving right along…

Moving right along…

I finished the third purple afghan square, the Twirly Square. It does look better with fewer rounds of stockinette and reverse stockinette. More chances to alternate! I found out that Anne lives just a few blocks from me, so that will be an easy drop-off. It’s a small world.


I think I finished the left front for Hey, Teach. I don’t have the back with me to make sure they’re exactly the same number of rows, so nothing is bound off. That’s what stitch holders are for! I’m going to use a three needle bind off for the shoulders anyway, so I won’t bind off until assembling.


Where am I? Here’s a hint.

statue 2

I love this statue; it’s all rounded and smooth and chunky, too. It went up several years ago and was a source of bemusement for the family, but I think it’s cool. Do you know where it lives?


He looks a bit chilly this morning. Maybe next time I’ll bring him a hand knit scarf. And fingerless gloves. And socks! I’d have to enlist some help getting him accessorized, though; the horse is pretty tall.

Other fun: I’ve joined the Everyone Welcome Community Choir for six weeks. This was an outgrowth of the harmony singing class I took in October and November; the teacher is the director of the choir. We’re singing at a benefit concert at/for Artichoke Music at 5 pm on Sunday, December 7. If you’re in PDX and looking for something cool to do, come on over! The music is interesting, lots of world music. My favorite songs so far have been from South Africa.

Enjoy your weekend!

At loose ends

That’s how I feel, now that my Central Park Hoodie and the related Checkerboard Scarflet from the leftover yarn and buttons are done. I finished writing the pattern for the Checkerboard Scarflet, and Marie was kind enough to look it over for me. I’ve incorporated most of her suggestions, and the pattern is now available through Ravelry download/PayPal for $4.

I have another scarflet on the needles, the mindless log cabin blanket, and a secret holiday-related project, but no sweater. I’m antsy. Apparently I’ve become accustomed to bigger projects, and feel bereft without a sweater in progress.

What to do?

I think I’m going to have to make Hey, Teach. I even bought yarn for it. The pattern calls for four skeins of this yarn, and I hope it doesn’t need more, because this is all they had in this color at Yarn Garden. I usually have to shorten garments, so for once in my life, the fact that I’m not tall and willowy should work in my favor. At least the not tall part, anyway. ;-)

2 time cotton

The music behind the yarn is what I’m working at the piano. Which means not often lately! It’s from Valses Poeticos by Enrique Granados. Granados has usurped Mozart’s place in my affections, at least temporarily.

What else is going on? I’ve been taking a harmony singing class at the local community college. Just for fun! The day after the class started, the local paper had a feature on the teacher, Anne Weiss. Sweet! It’s been a great class, but it’s only four sessions and next week is the last one. I’ve been using my Zoom H2 digital recorder to record the songs we sing, and it’s been great to have those recordings for practice. I’ve loaded them onto my iPod, and there’s always a song running through my head these days.