Category Archives: music

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?

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.

oops

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.

fleur

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

Single Skein Club 2010

My family enrolled me in the 2010 Single Skein Club over at Twisted for Christmas. (Thanks, guys!) The club has a project every other month, six during the calendar year. It’s February, which means that it’s time for the first club offering. If you don’t have yours yet, and don’t want to know, look away now!

Have you averted your eyes? It’s almost too late!

Okay; it’s time.

ssc feb

This month’s offering is a sweet cowl and cuffs pattern by Star Athena. Star is the manager over at Twisted, and she’s also a brilliant designer with a primo sense of style, and a great teacher, too. I took her Sock Design class at Sock Summit last summer. Star’s Arctic Blast Mitts were the February kick off for the club last year. I made those…twice! Remember these?

duet

The yarn this month is Malabrigo Twist, a worsted weight plied baby merino wool yarn, in the Indiecita coloway. I love it. Blues and greens; it’s perfect. It feels wonderful.

indiecita

Look at the color…

indiecita close

And this month’s goodie? A project bag from Flower Pie Designs, also local to Portland. The bags are all different, so don’t be surprised to see someone else’s completely different Single Skein Club project bag! (Yes I know the characters are upside down. I can even read some of them. On the back of the bag, they’re right side up, because the bag is one piece of fabric, folded, not two pieced together.)

bag

I love this bag; it will be perfect for corralling my project inside my big Sock Summit tote.

There are a few spaces left in the Single Skein Club. You can pick up your club kits locally, or Twisted will ship to you if you’re far away. Contact Twisted if you want in on the fun!

And here’s a sweet opportunity for those of you who are local to PDX. Sweet Sound of Jazz, a fund-raiser for the Band programs at Grant High School. Enjoy music and a dessert buffet, Friday evening, February 12, 7 p.m.

ssoj10_emailflyer

A whirlwind…

But there hasn’t been much knitting this last week!

Last Monday I participated in a service day for the Backpack Program. We packed 420 weekend lunch bags, which means 840 lunches. This program provides lunches for low-income children who are at risk for hunger. The program began in the fall of 2008, serving 10 children, and quickly grew to 30. It now serves 60 children, and the current goal is to serve 100 children for the entire school year. It’s a cooperative effort of four local United Methodist churches, and has grown to include community volunteers and school groups.

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I love that people of all ages volunteer for this program.

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The Day Old Pastries led some singing after the lunch packing. We’re a group of friends that like to play and sing together, 6 guitarists and a mandolin player. Occasionally a guitar gets swapped for an accordian! We were all acoustic that day (no amps, no mics), and it was folkie fun. I recorded it with my Zoom H2. (This little stereo digital recorder is fabulous; it’s easy to use and works well.)

Down by the Riverside

Swing Low, Sweet Chariot

Wade in the Water

I’ll Fly Away

Blowin’ in the Wind

The week blew past, and DH celebrated a significant birthday. Happy birthday, Sweetie!

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We had family in from out of town, and ended the weekend with dim sum before they headed back to the airport. Who got the last piece of shiu mai?

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Back to knitting this week! Here’s a little yarn for this post:

Hat tip to the Twist Collective Blog.

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.)