Tag Archives: piano

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.

knit

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.

spin

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

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?

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.

February Baby in Seattle

I took the train to Seattle for the weekend. One of the Piano Babes is moving to Shanghai for two years, and we wanted to have a reunion before she departs. The Piano Babes have been friends since 2000, when we met at Sonata, a piano camp for adults. We live up and down the West Coast, and Seattle was a good meeting place.

I had *a lot* of time to knit on the train on Friday. We were delayed for five hours because a freight train further north hit a person who chose to commit suicide by train. She must have been a very disturbed person. So sad. But it completely discombobulated north-south train traffic for the whole day.

I finished the second sleeve of the February Baby Sweater while we were delayed. As soon as I finished it, I realized that I had made a grievous error and knit it out of the stitches for the back. During one phone conversation with The Husband, he asked if the baby had already been born.

“Yes, I’m taking dinner to the family on Tuesday.”

“Well, does she have an arm in the middle of her back?”

Such a card, he is.

But I had plenty of time to rip out the sleeve, and re-knit it. And work a good deal of the body after that. I finished the knitting on the train home, which arrived 15 minutes early. I’ll post pictures tomorrow after I have some daylight to take them!

In the meantime, here are some thoughts on this pattern: This was like that quiz in high school, where there’s a full sheet of instructions. The first instruction tells you to read the whole page first, and you never do. The last instruction is to put your name on the top of the page, ignore the rest of the instructions, and turn in the quiz. The pattern didn’t say to read the whole thing through first, but I should have! I read far enough to know that I had to pay attention to starting the buttonholes, which aren’t mentioned until well into the pattern, long after the first one should have been made. But I didn’t go to the end. The sleeves are made and bound off before working the body. At the end of the body, it says to bind off purlwise, which looks great. But I had already bound off the sleeves knitwise. Since purlwise looked better, I went back and tinked the bind off on the sleeves and reknit (repurled? or just purled, because I hadn’t purled them before) them. I could have left them, but I can’t stand to have things not match. I’ve made this sweater before, about 10 years ago, so I didn’t really remember much about it, other than I liked it. I think I’ll leave myself notes in my book this time!

Some pictures from Seattle:

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We spent some time at Pike Street Market on Saturday. It was really busy because it was the weekend, and a beautiful day. There were lots of street musicians, but this one was my favorite, just for sheer novelty value. He’s playing the harmonica, and the guitar, balancing another guitar on his chin? forehead? and managing two hula hoops.

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We bought some sea scallops here for dinner. They were delicious, seared on the grill. We also had fresh heirloom tomatoes and basil in a caprese salad, and sauteed green and purple beans and peppers.

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These looked great, too, but I’ve developed an allergy to crab, so it’s an unrequited longing…

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The flowers at the market are gorgeous, and I had to buy some. When we met up with the rest of the Babes, I found that I wasn’t the only one who had succumbed.

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This cruise ship was in port. Quite a contrast with the cruise I was on last week!

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We even played some piano this weekend, and some Rock Band, too. I played this Adagio by Franz Joseph Haydn (Sonata No. 48, Hob. XVI/35) among other things. I recorded this a few weeks ago for the Adult Beginner Forum’s quarterly online recital on PianoWorld.com. The recital went live while I was on vacation; I thought it was amusing to be in a piano recital when I was nowhere near a piano!

Some enchanted evening

Piano and pinot was grand!

I love the whole process of a party, cleaning the house, getting out the nice china, crystal, and silver, setting the table. It’s like playing dress-up with the house.

table

The event was a fund raiser, and we served 12 different pinot wines: a sparkling white pinot, pinot gris, pinot blanc, pinot noir, pinot meuniere, a rose (sorry, don’t know how to find the accent mark), and some sweet late harvest dessert wines. All were from local Willamette Valley vineyards: Brick House, LaVelle, Penner-Ash, Willakenzie, Winter’s Hill. My favorite was the LaVelle sparkling wine, but I’m a bubbly girl. No picture of the wine-laden buffet; I forgot.

Desserts included cheesecake, cream puffs, a raspberry/blueberry tart, and a dark chocolate and raspberry cake. Yes, that’s a gravy boat on the table, but it’s filled with chocolate sauce. Recipe at the bottom of this post.

Our pianist played Bach (C# prelude and fugue), Mendelssohn (Song without Words), Debussy (first Arabesque, Clair de Lune, La Fille aux Cheveux de Lin, Golliwog’s Cakewalk), Grieg (Andante from a sonata), Rocherolle, and more. She was fabulous!

pianist

This picture was taken before we put the lid on the high prop stick. The piano sounded glorious; it was such a treat to hear someone else play it. The sound experience is different out in the room; I’m used to hearing it just from the bench.

I have a fridge full of leftover wines and desserts, and I get to enjoy a still-clean house!

In other news, remember how I mentioned that the squirrel had won the bird-feeder battle? It turns out that he has a friend. I saw them taking turns at the bird feeder. I chased one off, and while he was on the telephone pole, the other one appeared. They’re pretty brazen; they don’t mind me taking pictures from fairly close range.

onan2

onan1

I’ve figured out how Onan and Conan access the feeder. They jump from the trellis on the front of the house onto the top of the feeder pole. It’s about five feet, laterally. No problem for these guys!

Here’s the recipe for the chocolate sauce:

Chocolate Sauce

24 oz semi-sweet belgian chocolate chips
One pint heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup butter, cut into chunks and softened

Five 8 ounce jelly jars

Place the chocolate chips into a large heat-proof mixing bowl; place the bowl over a large pot filled with hot water. Let the chocolate melt as you proceed with the recipe.

In a small saucepan, bring the cream to a boil, stirring constantly. Pour the cream over the chocolate chips, stirring until the chocolate has melted and the mixture is smooth. Stir in the butter until blended. Ladle the sauce into jars; cool completely before screwing on lids. Store in the refrigerator (all that butter and cream!). Scoop out the sauce as desired and warm it on low power in the microwave. Or eat it by the spoonful directly from the jar. ;-)

Makes about 5 cups

That photo mosaic meme…

I’m not even sure what a meme is, but out in blogland there are a lot of them. I think it means many people doing the same thing? This one has been going around for a while. I was slow to jump on the bandwagon, but I knew I would get there, eventually. Hey, I’m a sheep! But that’s not a bad thing for a knitter. Here’s my mosaic, and I think it looks cool.

mosaic7567892

1. Ponte San Michele – Vicenza, Italy., 2. Artichoke Lover, 3. Made in Oregon, 4. Blue Morpho, 5. Mozart’s Starling, 6. Lemon drop, 7. Notre Dame at Twilight, Paris, 8. lemon bar, 9. French Knitter, 10. Snowmen family in TX, 11. Tender Love and Care, 12. Piano Innards As Art

In case you want to try it, too, here’s how to do it.

Instructions:
1. Type your answer to each of the questions below into Flickr Search.
2. Using only the first page of results, pick one image for each question.
3. Copy and paste each of the URLs for the images into Big Huge Lab’s Mosaic Maker to create a mosaic of the picture answers.

Questions:
1. What is your first name?
2. What is your favorite food?
3. What high school did you go to?
4. What is your favorite color?
5. Who is your celebrity crush?
6. Favorite drink?
7. Dream vacation?
8. Favorite dessert?
9. What you want to be when you grow up?
10. What do you love most in life?
11. One word to describe you.
12. Your flickr name.

In other news, I had the piano tuned this week. It’s pretty stable, tuning wise. I always get the treble voiced down a bit when it’s tuned, because it gets a little too bright as the hammer felts pack down with use. It sounds divine right now. I’m hosting a piano and pinot event next week, so this is perfect timing. I’m not the pianist next week; I just have to clean the house! And serve dessert, pour wine, and enjoy the music.

Oh, I started seaming Josephine this morning. Tiny stitches, but it’s going pretty quickly. I love mattress stitch; it looks so good on stockinette.

Josephine of my dreams

and the Josephine on my needles aren’t quite matching up. :sigh:

I finished one shoulder of the front this evening, held it up, and realized that the eyelet row wasn’t going to land where I want it to be (under the bustline, not on it). But in order to add some length on top, I have to take it back to the armhole bind off, and add it *before* the armhole.

So I frogged back to the armholes. Rip-it, rip-it, rip-it.

I’ll have to redo the back, too, after I finish the front. :sigh, again:

But look at all the practice I’ll get with short-row shoulders! Hey, I’m trying to find the bright side. Work with me.

Sunday’s piano party was fun. The premise of the group is that the more you play for others, the more comfortable you’ll be playing in public. It’s a small, non-threatening group. So far, so good. I also go to a bigger group that meets bi-monthly at a local piano store, but I’ve missed the last several meetings. Something about spending all my free time knitting instead of practicing!

I wore this:

cable tank front

cable tank back

I love this pattern; it’s ingenious. It’s knit smaller than body size, and it stretches to fit (negative ease). The ribbing on the back makes it work. The pattern is the cabled tank from Vogue Knitting Spring/Summer 2007. A quick knit with 6 skeins of Berroco Cotton Twist (cotton/rayon blend).

Knit haiku

I wrote a haiku the other day. I’m not really in the habit of doing so, but Dee at Cooking with Dee is having a haiku event, and I wanted to send her something.

Knitting in sunshine
Pink yarn on smooth black needles
Poetry in lace

I made some more stitch markers yesterday. They’re pretty, but not as fun as the first batch. I think the difference is that it’s just the one bead, and that wasn’t as much fun as picking several beads for a marker. It was more of a job than a creative activity. But here they are, anyway:

markers2

Pianists, note that this picture is on the back of a Schirmer book. The previous markers were on Henle blue; I thought I’d continue the theme! Henle is my favorite urtext edition.

I’m going to a piano party on Sunday, so I’ve started playing again. Nothing like a deadline to get me on the bench. At this point in my piano life, I’m not practicing enough to learn something new, so I thought I’d try to resurrect some old repertoire. I have several pieces that are easily revived, but I’m reaching further back and trying to re-learn some other things, notably the andante from Mozart’s G major Sonata K. 283 (I used to play the allegro, too, but that’s an ambitions resurrection right now), and Beethoven’s G major Sonata Op. 49. No. 2. Neither one will be ready for Sunday. I’m enjoying it, anyway.

Josephine’s shoulders: short rows

I’m a big fan of the three needle bind off for shoulder seams. I’m in this for the knitting, not the sewing! Fewer sewn seams = happier knitter. Josephine has slightly sloping shoulders instead of a straight across seam, so I needed to learn a new trick before I could use a three needle bind off. Short row shoulder shaping! I found a very good tutorial at Knitty. Worked like a charm. I couldn’t figure out how to simultaneously short row the neck shaping (I ended up finishing in the middle of the shoulder when I tried it), so the neck has a stairstep bindoff, but the shoulder is perfectly smooth. No problem; picking up stitches for the neck on a stairstep bindoff is easy. Here’s the back of Josephine:

jo back

And the shoulder:

jo shoulder

Modifications so far: shorter on the lace portion at the bottom (reduced by 1/2 repeat) because I’m short and want it to end at hip length, and also I think I’ve arranged things so that the eyelet row that will hold the drawstring will be right under the bust, instead of on it. I think it will look more flattering that way.

On to the front! The other modification that I’m planning is to raise the V-neckline. I hate wearing layers; I don’t want to have to wear a camisole under this. The pattern as written has a very deep V-neck, suitable for a cami underneath, or else a sewn-in lace inset. Neither idea excites me, so I’m just going to start the V neck a bit higher. Fingers crossed!

On the piano front: I finished reading Katie Hafner’s A Romance on Three Legs: Glenn Gould’s Obsessive Quest for the Perfect Piano last night. I’m not much of a Bach fan; my preferences tend more towards Mozart and Beethoven, but I do love all things piano. I didn’t know much about Gould other than that he recorded two definitive versions of Bach’s Goldberg Variations, early and late in his career. It was really interesting to learn about him as a person (beyond idiosyncratic) and the piano he loved, but even more interesting to learn about Verne Edquist, the piano technician who tuned and regulated the piano to make it into Gould’s dream come true. You can learn more about the book here:

Look Inside this book

 

Back to knitting!

Camping Gear, PDXKnitterati-style

I’m going camping with some friends this weekend. It’s a good thing they’re in charge of important things like cooking gear, because I don’t own any. We’ve been camping with most of the same people for 7 or 8 years. It started as a cub scout outing when Kid2 was younger; now it’s just a bunch of families having a good time.

It’s been cold and rainy here for weeks, so I’ve pretty much had my head in the sand about this trip, refusing to believe that it’s going to happen. But today, the sun came out, and it’s supposed to be nice for the weekend. Time to inventory the camping equipment:

Tents and tarps, camp chairs

Sleeping bags, air mattresses, extra blankets

Guitar, song books, music stand

Knitting, knitting, and knitting projects

Jewelry making supplies (more stitch markers!)

A new book to read. This arrived yesterday, and I’m looking forward to diving in. If I’m not playing the piano this weekend, at least I can read about it. A Romance on Three Legs: Glenn Gould’s Obsessive Quest for the Perfect Piano.

AROTL

I think I’m set!