Tag Archives: guitar

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.


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

Pacific Shawl

Breezy Market Tote

2 way rockaway
Rockaway 2-way Beach Beanie/Cowl

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

sunset love

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



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.


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?

Spring fever…

This week I finished a couple projects, including the straps for the felted slip stitch tote. I felted it last night. It’s drying, so I’ll take pictures tomorrow. This project took more yarn in the heavier Brown Sheep Lanaloft than the original KnitPicks Wool of the Andes; I’ll edit the pattern notes to make reflect that.


I had a fun day at Pico Accuardi Dyeworks. I taught an entrelac class in the morning. We even purled back without turning our work! This saves so much time when you’re working stockinette over a small number of stitches.


I also took a drop spindle class with Deb Accuardi. We worked with wool roving and with top, and mixed in some other fiber, too. My goal was to spin a more consistent single, and I did. And then we plyed some of it, too.


dye 2

Stevanie Pico taught dyeing. All in all, a fun day.

The days are getting longer and lighter, and the air is getting warmer. Weeds are springing up like crazy in the garden. The boys helped me weed the front flowerbeds, and we’re in the process of taking out all the Japanese anemone. It was only slightly invasive when we had a big birch tree to shade it, but when we had to remove the tree, the anemone got too happy in the full sun and took over the garden. Buh-bye.

With spring, I’m also feeling the urge to jettison my unfinished Heather Hoodie (bulky yarn) and cast on something breezy and new! But I’m afraid if I set it aside, I’ll never go back to it. Yikes. I think it’s all a result of spring break.

I headed up to Seattle last weekend to play guitar with a piano friend. Yes, that sounds nonsensical, but it’s true. We met in 2000 at September Sonata, a piano camp in Bennington VT. We were roomies then, and have been friends ever since. In fact, there’s a whole group of us west coast “Piano Babes” that get together at least annually. Some of us aren’t playing the piano a whole lot right now (moi, for one), but we still have a lot in common.

tak girls

Last fall, I bought a new guitar, and Sheryl did, too. They’re both Takamines with the same body style (NEX); mine is cedar and mahogany with a satin finish, and hers is spruce and maple, with a gloss finish. We’ve been trying to get together to compare them, and finally did. Hers sounds warmer/mellower from the back (playing) and more forward/pushy/rock from the front, and mine is mellower from the listener’s point of view, and brighter from the player’s perspective. I happily played them both!

all 4 2

Some of the other piano babes came over on Saturday; we played/sang Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah. We also web-surfed to check out kd lang’s version (she opened the Olympics with it), Jeff Buckley’s (hailed by some as the best) version, Bon Jovi’s acoustic version (my favorite), and of course, Leonard Cohen’s version (Live in London). C played this last year in Carmel, so it seemed like good common ground.

tak 2

We had a great time! Thanks to Sheryl for hosting. There was more spring break activity, but I’ll leave that for another post.

What is spring inspiring you to do?

Franken-tar, redux

Spring is coming, and that makes us a little bouncier around here. Off the wall dreams seem like good ideas. And perhaps they are. What if we take those ideas one step further? You may remember the Teen’s Franken-tar.

I had a lesson the other day with Jim Loewenherz. He’s a local musician and luthier. We worked on some strum patterns for Irish reels and jigs. Near the end of the lesson I asked him about bass runs and fills for a song I’m working on with the Day Old Pastries, but all of that was pretty much over my head because I’d have to learn where the notes actually live on the guitar neck first. I’m a pretty rudimentary guitar player; I love my open cowboy chords, strummed or picked!

So we discussed ensemble play, and he talked about each instrument having its own sonic space, each doing something a little different. The Day Old Pastries have five guitars and a mandolin. The mandolin has its own sonic space by default. But the guitars can each have their own space by having one of them strum, one pick, one capo up for a different voicing. And then Jim asked if we have a 12-string. Nope. an extra guitar? Sure! So he suggested high string Nashville tuning, just for something different. Basically, you string a six string guitar with the extra six strings that you’d find on a 12-string guitar. The lowest four strings are an octave higher than normal, and the top two strings are the same as usual.

I just had to try this to see what it sounds like. I decided to try it on the Teen’s Taylor Big Baby, because he doesn’t play acoustic guitars much, and it’s a comfortable size for me. I poked around on the web and found that D’Addario sells string sets for high string tuning.

high strung

What a cool sound! (Listen to the video on the link.) I’m going to take it to practice tomorrow, and we can play around with it.


And now I’m about to go pick out some mis-crossed cables on my Heather Hoodie, ten rows back…ouch! That last “O” isn’t an O.

Here’s a sign of spring that I saw on my walk this morning.


Crocuses are blooming here! Is it winter or spring in your neighborhood?

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?


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.


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.


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!


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!