Category Archives: music

Busy as a bee

Buzz! I’m watching my test knitters’ projects develop on the Go Tell The Bees projects page on Ravelry, and planning for a fun KAL. Pattern coming June 1, KAL begins June 11.

I found some cute bee stitch markers that will make a sweet prize.

I’m working on a design to coordinate with a crochet friend, and Biscuit is marginally impressed. She helped with the math.

I’m dreaming of a shawl in blue and yellow yarns. Which blue? Which yellow? I don’t know yet. What do you think?

And after changing my mind several times on how this combo will play out, I think I have a plan.

I’ll just be over here in my corner with lots of graph paper!

And in the middle of all that, I spent the weekend out at Edgefield for my friends’ wedding. No wedding pix; I was hopping busy that day! But I was blessed to sing with my beloved Pie Birds during and after the wedding. So much fun.

Note the red boots and newly finished second Red Zephyr Shawl!

We made good use of the soaking pool, and my MDK tote.

Wine tasting on the balcony. Cheers!

Catching up with May

How did half of May fly by so quickly? I see that I last posted here on May 1, but I’ve been having fun over on Instagram. It’s so easy to post a quick photo with a short caption. I’m pdxknitterati over there, too; here’s a link to my profile if you’d like to follow me there.

So to catch up here:

I’ve been madly knitting gorgeous gradients from Fierce Fibers, designing a crescent shawl in two sizes. More about that in the next post.

I picked the winner of the linen mini-skeins for the Linden Leaf scarf. Congratulations Sharon Brown! I’m sending you an email to get your addy.

And I love it when you send FO pictures! I had the pleasure of teaching at the Sheeper than Therapy retreat in central California last fall. One of the classes was for my Tilt Shift Wrap. Ann Berg sent me this picture of several successful finishers. Thanks, Ann!

On the non-knit side, I’ve been obsessed with baking bagels. I’ve been experimenting with whole grain and different amounts of yeast/kneading/boiling times, and now I’m getting the size and texture I want. Yay!

And I had the opportunity to sing with my fellow Pie Birds in church, and will be singing with them in a wedding soon, too. Here’s a recording of us singing Bird Song, written by Heather Masse.

Cheers!

Nashville and knitting

Catching up with myself here…DH and I went to Nashville for a few days of fun last week. He was on his way to Bowling Green, KY for a project, and had to pass through Nashville, so why not?

I met up with Ann Shayne at Mason-Dixon Knitting world headquarters. I’m so impressed by how she and Kay Gardiner have developed MDK from a longtime blog between friends to this new creation. They’re dabbling in all sorts of knit-related fun: publishing booklets, blogging, community forum, YARN.

MDK wall of yarn

This is the wall of yarn. My Euroflax mini-skeins used to live here, and now they’re all grown up.

SeaScape

It looks great on Ann! It’s a long skinny…scarf? Shawlette? Scarlette? What would you call it? Ann called it “deliriously pretty” in an Instagram post; I was pretty chuffed by that. Pattern coming soon.

 

These are samples of the Breton Cowl from Field Guide Number 1. The Shibui yarn is heftier than I thought (quick knit!), and really pretty. The favorites queue is getting longer! Thanks to Ann for a fun morning of knitting and chat.

Breton Cowl

I made a quick trip to Craft South the day before in search of yarn to swatch for a design idea. This is a sweet shop that carries fabric and a small but exquisite selection of yarn.

Craft South entry

Craft South yarns

While I was there I met Hannah Thiessen, @hannahbelleknits on Instagram. So fun to meet online knitting friends in real life!

Hannah at Craft South

And Craft South is near a Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream shop, so I got to introduce DH to his first Jeni’s experience.

Jeni's

I may have acquired some red boots that day, too. But it wasn’t an all knitting trip. We saw Sister Sadie, an excellent 5 piece bluegrass band at the Station Inn, and A Prairie Home Companion at the Ryman Auditorium. Nashville is a fun city; I’d love to visit again.

At the Ryman
Those stained glass windows at the Ryman!

Red Zephyr and Biscuit

Right now I’m knitting away madly on a red Zephyr Shawlette to go with my new boots. This is Hazel Knits Entice, Vamp colorway.

Zephyr and boot

I love how the Zephyr arrow echoes the heart on the boot. I’m trying to finish this to take to Madrona next week. Knit like the wind…a zephyr!

Happy Thanksgiving, and meet Zephyr!

Happy Thanksgiving!

It’s been a great year, knit-wise. I’m grateful for a life of designing and teaching, and meeting lots of fun knitters along the way. Knitters are the best people! We don’t have to agree on everything to be able to knit together. (Steek? Yes! Kitchener? No!)

The Indie Design Gift-A-Long is in full swing on Ravelry. Go join the group, use the coupon code giftalong2016, and join the KAL/CAL fun!

Zephyr Shawlette

I’m introducing another new design today. This is the Zephyr Shawlette, an asymmetric triangle knit on the bias. It’s named after the west wind. The lacy arrow represents the wind blowing west to east. The eyelets are like bubbles rising on the wind. I love that the yarn I used is called Bollicina, which is Italian for bubble. It’s 65% cashmere, 35% silk which makes it soooo luxurious. Sadly this yarn is discontinued, but any other fingering weight yarn will make an equally lovely Zephyr.

Zephyr wingspan

I had 550 yards, so this knit up into a gorgeous large wrap. The pattern is easily adapted to your yardage; it starts at the narrow point and grows from there.

Zephyr Shawlette gradient wingspan

Ann Berg test knit this for me with a Canon Hand Dyes William gradient, 460 yards of gorgeous shifting color.

Zephyr detail

And Rachel Nichols test knit this for me with the Fiber Seed’s Sprout fingering in Robin’s Egg, 480 yards.

Thanks for knitting, ladies! And thanks to Amanda Woodruff for tech editing. This is one of my favorite kinds of knitting, mostly stockinette so I can read blogs or my Kindle, or watch TV, and only pay close attention for a little bit. It would also be great for meditative knitting.

The pattern is on Ravelry, and it’s 15% offf through December 5, 2016, no coupon needed. But if you’re subscribed to my mailing list, you can get 20% off instead, with a coupon code from my newsletter. Let me know if you’d like to subscribe.

Trellis Vines Mitts

One more new release this week, this one through Knit Picks. I’m releasing a mitts only version of my Beanstalk Mitts and Scarf. It’s called Trellis Vines Mitts, and they coordinate with my Trellis Vines Stole Poncho.

Trellis Vines Stole Poncho

Same lovely lacy leaf and trellis pattern, using the same sport/dk weight yarn.

What else is going on? I’m taking a Harmony Singing by Ear class with Anne Weiss over at Artichoke Music in Portland. I’ve sung in her classes before; she is knowledgeable, supportive, and fabulous. I put class to use last weekend while singing with friends in church. I’m the low harmony on the verses of this version of Leonard Cohen’s “Anthem.” Click this link if you want to listen.

Rolling up my sleeves and getting to work in the kitchen. Here’s the recipe for my favorite turkey stuffing. My Baba (daddy) used to make it this way. I love that he used to just make things up, and suddenly we had our own Chinese version of an American tradition. I miss him lots, since 2001.

Chinese Sausage/Oyster/Water Chestnut Rice Stuffing, enough for a 15-20 lb turkey
2.5 cups uncooked rice (I like brown medium grain, but whatever you have is fine)
3 Chinese sausage (lap xuong)
2 (two) 8 oz jars of fresh small shucked oysters, drained and cut in half if they seem large
3 stalks celery, sliced 1/4 inch on diagonal
1 onion, chopped
1 can sliced water chestnuts, drained
3 eggs, scrambled (if you want it to be prettier, cook separately before adding so you have ribbons of scrambled egg)
1 tbsp soy sauce

Pre-cook rice, along with sausage. (Lay the sausage on top of the rice when you turn the heat down after it boils; they will be perfect.) When rice is done, remove sausage and slice 1/4 inch on diagonal.

Now it’s time to really cook!
Sauté sausage, onion, and celery in 1 tbsp oil. When onion is soft, add oysters and cook until they are just barely done (there will be a lot of moisture in the pan). Add water chestnut and eggs; cook ’til eggs are done. Beginning adding rice, one cup at a time, working it in. You may not use all the rice. When you have enough rice worked in (so that the ratio of rice to goodies looks right), add a bit of soy sauce for color (go lightly!). Salt and pepper to taste. Stuff the turkey, or not!

This is basically fried rice, with oysters and chinese sausage. yum….

I hope you’re having a peaceful weekend with people you love. Lots of time to knit while waiting for a turkey to roast. And then the mad rush to make gravy. Cheers!

What Springsteen said to me

“You’re a dangerous woman.”

Springsteen n me

Who, me?

Bruce Springsteen was in town to promote his new autobiography, “Born to Run.” The event was at Powell’s Books, a large and wonderful independent bookstore here in PDX. We managed to get tickets (we crashed the first server, just like Sock Summit), but poor DH is out of town so a friend came with me.

The rules:

• The event is a meet and greet only. There will be no book discussion, booksigning, or performance.

• Springsteen will not sign anything during the event (books will be pre-signed). No memorabilia or other items are allowed.

• Please leave bags, backpacks, and personal items at home as these are not permitted at the event. Any personal items that cannot be pocketed will not be permitted in the event space. This includes backpacks, purses, shopping bags, etc. Only the book that ticket buyers receive at check-in will be allowed into the event space with ticket holders.

• You are allowed one posed photo with Bruce Springsteen. An employee of Powell’s will take the picture using your phone or camera.

Knitting in line

I don’t have a lot of clothing with pockets; I’m all about the skirts and boots! I wanted to take some knitting with me for waiting in line, and it had to be small to fit in my tiny jacket pockets. I’m not a sock knitter, but a half ball of yarn and a sock on the needles made sense. Of course, for me it was sport weight on size 2 magic loop. Look at that heel flap! I finished the flap, the heel turn, and started gusset decreases while in line.

What do you say to Bruce Springsteen, that hasn’t been said a million times before? In my case, it was, “Would you hold my sock?” (Definitely inspired by the Yarn Harlot.) But when it was my turn, the handler looked at my needles and told me I couldn’t go up with knitting needles. So I took the needles out, because I really wanted Bruce to hold my sock. Here’s our exchange.

Me: Would you hold my sock?

Bruce: (looks bemused)

Me: I had to take the needles out; they wouldn’t let me have them near you.

Bruce: You’re a dangerous woman…with those needles!

He had the sock; I had the yarn ball in my pocket. We’re connected by yarn! So we took our picture, and I thanked him for coming before they sent me on my way. 10 seconds, totally worth it.

Springsteen n me at Powell's

I just found out that you can make gifs and videos from the live photos on newer iPhones. So here it is; I love how Bruce is wiggling the sock. Too cute!

Springsteen sock wiggle gif

As I said, I’m not really a sock knitter, so I may never finish this sock. I’d have to put it back on the needles, for starters. So I think it will go in a shadow box with the picture, and we’ll call it good.

The Oregonian was there talking to people who were waiting in line, and I ended up in their video. I’m at the 26 second mark, in my Webfoot Shawlette in Hazelknits Entice, Hoppy Blond.

OK, back to knitting!

Road tripping

It’s been a multi-craftual couple of weeks.

I went to a piano retreat at Icicle Creek Center for the Arts at the Sleeping Lady Mountain Resort in Leavenworth, WA. No, I”m still not playing the piano, but it was a chance to hang out with the far-flung Adagio Babes, so I made my own personal retreat. I brought my guitar and yarn, and worked on singing and knitting. Pretty awesome. And the piano music was so beguiling I came home and played some, too.

meadow stage

My practice room: the Meadow Stage, with Sleeping Lady watching over. See her profile, forehead to the left, chin to the right, boobs to the right of that?

sleeping lady

You can see her better here. The setting was inspirational!

twin leaf at icicle creek

I’m working up a 100g version of my Twin Leaf Crescent Shawl. The pattern rights return to me in June, and I want to include two sizes. Right now it’s only written for Black Trillium’s five mini skein, 165g gradient kit.

canon hand dyes gradient

I’m using a 100g ombre gradient from Canon Hand Dyes. It’s very different because it’s one long shading from Lavender to Blush. So far, so good. I’m on the crescent shaping, and we’ll see if there’s enough yarn to make it work, or if I have to do a little more magic. Yarn chicken, it’s my life!

Icicle Creek

Icicle Creek valley

hikers

In between music and knitting, I took a little hike with friends. Not very long, but a respectable elevation gain.

double wrap bracelet

Before I went to Icicle, I stopped in Ellensburg, WA to visit V. A very belated birthday visit. I made this double wrap bracelet for her: Beads, leather cording, silk thread.

single wrap bracelet

There was enough left over for me to have a single wrap for myself. Win!

beads

Even better, we went to the bead store, and I showed her how to make them. Double win!

hita von mende crossing the bar

Went to an art show and fell in love with Hita von Mende‘s paintings. This is her Crossing the Bar, 30″ x 30″. Wish it would fit over my fireplace, but it won’t…

What’s new with you?

Braided Wristlets Class Debut, singing, and more

I had a super busy weekend, and knittingly, this was the highlight.

pdxknitterati braided wristlets

I taught my new Braided Wristlets class at Twisted. I designed this pattern to be a workshop in herringbone and other braids, two color stranded knitting, and color dominance. We did cover all these things, and had a great time, too. And I made a good start on another one of these for me.

braided wristlet

I’ll be teaching this class at Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival in September. It will be an all day class on Saturday, September 24. Come and learn new skills with me!

But the weekend wasn’t all knitting. Sunday was Pentecost, and I organized and led music with the Pie Birds for worship. (The Pie Birds are a 3 part harmony group with guitars and mandolin: My friends Claudia and Becky and me.) So much work, so much fun. We sang Somewhere to Begin for the prelude; link provided if you want to give a listen. We closed the service with Turning of the World, with the congregation joining in.

We had a guest chorus from the Randolph-Macon Academy in Virgina sing for us. What a talented group of young people! They sang We Sing and All Creatures of Our God and King (not the version you might expect). Really wonderful. And they joined our choir for Spirit Come Down; it was so much fun to have all these voices singing with us.

I needed a recovery day on Monday!

PIe Birds mimosas

Madrona, fun and games edition

Madrona was, as always, a magical experience. This was my first time teaching there. My blocking class was full, and my students came ready to learn about swatching, washing, and blocking all the knits. It was fun!

I took two classes, but I’ll write about them in a later post because I’m using new knowledge from both classes on a little project, and I want to put all of it together for you. Curious? Watch this space! This post is about everything else. To tide you over, here’s a link to the class I took with Evelyn Clark last year.

Last Wednesday I was packing for Madrona, and I caught myself thinking, “Don’t buy any more fingering weight yarn.” (The bin is full.) And then I heard myself say out loud, “Unless it’s gradient!”

Sincere Sheep

So apparently I had to buy some gradient yarn. This is from Sincere Sheep. I bought just the gradient on Thursday, and the next day went back for a coordinating solid. And two days later I found myself buying beads from Bead Biz to go with them! This will be a fun design project.

Janine Bajus FeralKnitter

Janine Bajus was our speaker on Friday night. Very inspiring. As she wrapped up her talk, I was compelled to write down these 3 ideas, plus the big question.

You get to do what YOU want.
There is no one right way to do it.
You won’t know if it will work until you swatch.

What is holding you back?

I chatted with her on Saturday about her strikingly beautiful shawl, which actually isn’t finished yet. She wore it on Friday, the steek cut but not edged. Holding just fine! Now that I think about it, it would be cool to leave it that way, as a representation of the journey.

Carol Milne

I met glass artist Carol Milne. She’s well known for her knitted glass sculptures. Her current project is a glass entrelac dress. Glass entrelac? Yes. She knits the squares with wax cord, and makes a clay molds which are used to make the glass pieces.

knit wax for glass carol milne

pamela

New buddy Pamela Grossman tried on the beginnings of the dress. Pretty cool! You can sponsor a glass entrelac square, and when the June exhibit is over, Carol will send it to you. I want one! Check out her Facebook page for details. (It’s not up on her website yet.)

GS Mini

What else? I had a fabulous hotel room with a great view. And a fainting couch! I brought Minerva, my GS Mini, as a diversion. Last week when my #BangOutASweater gauge swatch lied to me, I started writing lyrics in my head. It’s to the tune of Blowing in the Wind. I’m sharing them with you here. If you use them anywhere, please credit them to me. And yes, I used the singular “they.”

Knitter’s Lament
Michele Lee Bernstein, PDXKnitterati

How many times must a knitter cast on
Before the swatch doesn’t lie?
How many swatches must one knitter frog
Before they break down and cry?
How many swear words will one knitter say
While knitting the umpteenth try?

The answer my friend, it’s all about the gauge
The answer is all about the gauge

How many binges must one knitter watch
On Netflix, to finish a sleeve?
Second sleeve, second sock, second mitt, second cuff
Our boredom must be relieved
How many times do we itch to cast on
Before our ends have been weaved?

The question my friend: What’s next in the queue?
What project is next in the queue?

How many times have you given a gift
And were told, “But wool makes me itch”?
How many gifts have been tossed in the wash
To felt, and shrink each precious stitch
Yes, but how many times have you given a gift
And seen the lives you enrich?

The answer my friend: It’s for the love of yarn
We do it for the love of yarn.

How many ways can a knitter make socks?
Up from the toe… Or down from the cuff?
How many ways can we learn to cast on
Before we know all the stuff
How many classes will we knitters take
Before we call it enough?

The answer my friend: It’s time to confess
At Madrona, we are obsessed.

As you can see, I had a fun time at Madrona! I’m knitting away on the little project I want to show you, using Latvian braids (from Beth Brown-Reinsel’s class) and speed swatching and proportions (from Franklin Habit’s class). Stay tuned for a class review! Here are a couple peeks out my window while you’re waiting…

Friday sunrise

Rainier peeking Friday

The love of music

In 2000, DH sent me to piano camp as a birthday gift. We were both taking music lessons (piano for me, guitar for him), and read Noah Adams’ book, Piano Lessons: Music, Love and True Adventures. The description of Adams’ week at Sonata Piano Camp as an adult student inspired DH to surprise me with the same.

music quilt detail

It turned out to be the gift that kept on giving. I went many more times after that. I made great friends, and even improved my piano skills. One of my new friends attended with her mom, Betsy. Betsy was my duet partner in 2001. She was an amazing woman: A college math teacher, marathon runner, downhill ski racer, knitter, quilter.

music quilt 2

When Betsy was dying in 2012, I sent a note along with a CD of her playing at Sonata, including the duet that we played. It arrived the morning she passed away. Last year her husband was deciding what to do with some of her things, and wanted to know if I would like her music quilt.

music quilt

I love the composition of this, how she took the simple repetition of the black and white star blocks and personalized it with a music theme. The one brown star at the bottom left. The heart that balances it visually. The music staff border fabric. The embroidery around the top edge: “I love music, in around and, under the stars”. It is a beautiful piece of hand quilted art, expressing our love of music both visually and in words. I am so honored to receive this. I’m glad I knew Betsy, and I’m glad to have this quilt to remember her by.

duet partners

Here’s our duet from 2001, Pastorale by Stecher, Horowitz, and Gordon. Betsy is playing primo, and I’m secondo.

My time is mostly devoted to knitting and designing now, with not much piano. Guitar and singing with friends is my current musical outlet. But every once in a while, I sit at the bench and play pieces I learned at camp…

If you’d like to know more about Sonata camps, here’s their website. All levels of playing welcome. And here’s an article from the NY Times; my roomie Katie Hafner wrote it in 2002.

Edited to add: Here’s a note from my friend Becky, Betsy’s daughter.

I am Betsy’s daughter. Michele and mom always had a special connection thru knitting and friendship. The CD Michele refers to contained a few songs from the sonata concert. The odd thing was the mailman brought it at 8 am the day she passed away and the receptionist said he never came before 2 pm. My mom had been unresponsive for 16 hrs but when I played the CD her eyebrows raised and she smiled. My stepfather Alex kept the letter that arrived with the CD. This past summer he asked me if he thought Michele would enjoy having the quilt. I immediately said yes they contacted Michele for confirmation. i am glad that my mom’s creativity is in the home of a fellow knitter and music lover.

Thank you, Becky!

Nashville: Music, Music, Knit!

Nashville. So much music. So. Much. Fun. There is so much musical talent in this town, both old and new, and so much respect for the history of it all. From the young people playing for tips at the honky tonk bars on Broadway hoping to be heard over the beer fueled partyers, to the old pros playing clubs like the Station Inn to a respectful audience who came for the music, to the Country Music Hall of Famers playing the Grand Ole Opry, showing us that they still have it. So wonderful.

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The Jones. We were pulled into Layla’s Bluegrass Inn on Broadway by the sound of their kickass rendition of “I’ll Fly Away” as we were walking by at midnight.

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John Jorgensen Bluegrass Band at the Station Inn. My reaction: “They look like math teachers!” Great music, fun show.

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Little Jimmy Dickens at the Opry, still singing at 94. Love the spangly suit.

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Nathan East playing bass with Vince Gill on guitar. A great story: It was Nathan’s first time playing at the Opry, and he confided to a friend that he was a bit nervous. Friend (whose name I didn’t quite catch) owns a suit that belonged to Carl Perkins. He offered up the suit for the show, and so here’s Nathan, wearing Carl Perkins’ suit, standing on that circle of flooring preserved from the Ryman Auditorium, playing at the Opry. The old and the new, so wonderful.

Nights were all about listening to music, and days were filled with more music-related activities. We toured the Ryman Auditorium (so much history!), the Country Music Hall of Fame, and Historic RCA Studio B.

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Windows at the Ryman

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For you fans of the TV show Nashville, the (teeny!) dresses that Hayden Panettiere and Connie Britton wore onstage at the Ryman.

onstage at the Ryman
I stood on the stage at the Ryman and played a single G chord. (It costs $10 for a pic, at which point you can also have your buddy take a pic for you. I liked this pic by DH better.)

Cool things at the Country Music Hall of Fame.

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My friends and I often sing “Turn Your Radio On” by the Blue Sky Boys, so I was thrilled to see this banner and mandolin.

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Webb Pierce’s Silver Dollar Bonneville convertible customized by Nudie Cohn of Nudie’s Rodeo Tailors. Six-shooter door handles, a saddle between the front seats, steer horns…

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Piano
The piano (Kimball?) that Priscilla Presley had refinished in gold, and gave to Elvis on their first anniversary.

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Taylor Swift’s first sparkle guitar, and the MacBook she used to edit her first video.

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DH outside the RCA Studio B, where the signature Nashville sound was developed. Elvis recorded many hits here. The sound in here is amazing, a perfectly acoustically dead room, no reverb. Everything is so perfectly clear. You can read more about it here.

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This is Floyd Cramer’s piano in Studio B, part of that Nashville sound. Elvis played it, too. And I touched it. It was the 37th anniversary of his passing, so I played a silent glissando in his memory.

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Music, old and new. Stephanie Layne was our guide for the studio tour. I chatted her up after the tour. She’s a singer-songwriter from Minnesota, and put out an album in 2012. Check out her music; you can find her on iTunes and more. I’m listening on Spotify right now. Stephanie was a great guide, too, and a wealth of information. Did you know that Dolly Parton wrote “I Will Always Love You”? Whitney Houston had a big hit with it, too. Dolly has earned over $25 million dollars in royalties from that song. Whoa.

What else? Well, this is a knitting blog, so here’s the knitting content. I met up with the delightful Ann Shayne of Mason-Dixon Knitting. We went to Pinewood Social for breakfast and knitting. (She’s knitting a Honey Cowl. I’m swatching for the next fun design.) We talked about knitting, making jam, Nashville, life…

bloggers

I had this amazing fried chicken biscuit, which was all that and so much MORE. I gave up after half.

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There’s a bowling alley at Pinewood Social, and along the wall there are these cans with fun printed labels in several colors, arranged in a mosaic. They are rearranged from time to time. I especially liked these.

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A very fun morning. A very fun long weekend. And my very fun souvenir:

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Right now I’m in Sisters, Oregon, for a trunk show and knitalong at the Stitchin’ Post, and the boots fit right in.

How was your weekend?