Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Cello Lesson Tapes

I won't be writing separate posts for future cello lesson videos. Instead, I've decided to add a section of links over on the left called "Cello Lesson Tapes". I will simply add links there as they are produced. If I feel particularly strongly about one, I may mention it.

I snuck in Dotzauer exercise #45 (It was actually taped a bit before Gossec Gavotte), but I'm warning: it's pretty sour sounding. I was having a particular problem that day... for some reason I was overshooting when reaching for the G string (no jokes please!! ;) ). And also, I just couldn't find the notes anywhere. I'm not sure if it's because I had practiced out of tune during the week or what, but I was struggling.


Monday, February 27, 2012

Fiber wise... a few FOs

Weekend knitting: 2 face cloths. I love the absolute simplicity of this pattern. It's called "Grandmother's Favorite Cloth" and I found it on Ravelry (may also be found here: Grandmother's Favorite ). So easy to knit, no charts needed, and it results in a classic look. I went up to 60 instead of 44 stitches on the size 6 needles I used. I plan to make many of these. The light colored one is cotton/linen from Berroco called "Linsey" and the deep blue is recycled cotton with a bit of acrylic from Lion Brand.

I have wound my first hanks of the pretty blue merino and the lovely red Spinner's Hill. It's about fingering weight.

I got another idea last night while looking through Barbara Walker's A Second Treasury of Knitting Patterns (1970, Charles Scribner's Sons), and that idea is mosaic knitting. The first idea was tablet weaving. I must make a choice at some point--who knows, maybe I'll get another idea this week!--mosaic knit or tablet weaving? Hm... If I spin enough yarn maybe I can so some of both. I am most curious to see if the yarn will withstand the rigors of being woven with tablets. There tends to be a certain amount of strain on the yarn during weaving, depending on the design of course. I will set about knitting a mosaic sample right away. I like the look of the design called "Double Medallion".

Music wise... a trip to Frederick's Historical Piano Collection

I have a plan to take at least one out-of-town trip every month. It helps with the sanity. In January I went to CT to visit my aunts. Last weekend I made a trip to northeastern MA to visit a few special friends. Both have beautiful pianos. The woman I stayed with has a rebuilt Steinway A and my other friend has a Mason & Hamlim BB, only a few years old.

We've all been to several "piano parties" at various places here on the East Coast. It was at one of those that I met Valentina Lisitsa. Check her out, she's phenomenal!
Rachmaninoff Etude Op. 39 No. 6. She and Martha Argerich are two of my favorite pianists. I was very very very fortunate to hear Valentina and her husband play rachmaninoff duets at the party. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Almost unbelievable. Swoon.

The friend I stayed with arranged a most beautiful day for us in NE Mass with a quick venture into southern NH. I have to mention this because if you are ever in the area, you must, absolutely must visit Pickity Place. She took us there for a 5-course lunch and it was amazing. Seriously out of the way... I haven't travelled a dirt road since I left NH 35 years ago. All I can say is that sometimes out of the way is the best way. The place is a gem. An 18th Century cottage, gardens, woods, animals, herbs and wonderful food. It amazes me that someone thought of opening a restaurant in a remote corner of the woods expecting it to work. And it works! Very, very charming. Put it in your roster of places to keep in mind.

After our magnificent lunch we headed to Ashburnham, MA to visit Fredericks Historial Piano Collection, now housed in what was once the town library. The experience is jaw dropping. What a thrill! The Frederick's (it's a husband and wife operation) have more than a few dozen pianos dating from the late 1700s to 1928. All the pianos are demonstrated and much history is revealed during the 4 hour tour and all the pianos are available for playing.

I have to say that what I call the "middle period" pianos are my favorites, but I am totally charmed by the early pianos. The ones with the very small hammers and all wood construction. In all honesty: they are not the same instrument as what we now call pianos. I tend to think there should be a different name for the modern, repetition action, ultra heavy, high strung instrument. Anything with a metal frame in should have a different name!

The old instruments are very warm and unpretentious. Nothing overwhelming about them, except the glorious music they set forth. A scale so suitable for the home. As biased as I may be, I think my favorite was the Pleyel from 1845. It's impossible to be objective about it after reading that Pleyel was Chopin's favorite piano. The thing is, the one at Frederick's is a wonderful piano. There was also a Streicher from 1868 (or maybe it was the one from 1871) that I liked. Several of the "middle period" pianos (and early ones too) have character beyond what we are accustomed to. I think it's an Erard that sits directly ahead of the entry way, which treble is gorgeously glockenspiel-ish.

I realized--while there--that we don't know what we missed. The tour at Fredericks has given me a glimpse of it and my life is richer for it. My appreciation for period instruments has increased by several factors.

The erudite owners are ever so helpful and generous in their tour. Many, many thanks to the Fredericks for the music (piano and voice) and captivating history.

So next time you're round about northeastern Massachusetts or southern New Hampshire, look up Pickity Place and Frederick's. You won't regret it!

My friend took video while we were at Frederick's then put it together in this lovely recollection:
Friends visiting Frederick's Historic Piano Collection

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Knitting saves the day (night) ...

This happened a few weeks ago. I'm just getting around to writing it down... it's about the inconvenience of modern convenience, and how my knitting turned a frustrating experience into a tolerable one...

I often forget to turn my cell phone off when descending into the subway. The result is usually a drained battery by the time I ascend the station steps into the light of day. Two weeks ago I did just this. I got to work and found my cell phone very low on power. Luckily I remembered to put my charger in the bag. No problem: just plug it in, wait a while and tada, a newly charged cell phone.

The outlets near my desk are all taken. However, the co-worker who used to share my office has moved on, and the outlet next to that desk has some free slots. Easy peasy. So I plug it in and place my phone on the edge of that desk to charge. That desk is behind me when I'm working facing my computer. Out of sight.

Out of mind. And when I left for the evening, I grabbed my bag--made sure the knitting was inside and noted that I'd packed my pen, etc. Stopped by the door to grab my (handknit) hat and scarf, and bundled myself up in my coat. Said the usual good evenings (it's usually around 10 to 11'ish at night when I leave the office) and hailed the elevator. The subway train was relatively quick to arrive and I got to 14th Street in good time. As I recall there wasn't a bad wait for the "L" train to come along either, and it quickly whisked us under the East River to Brooklyn where I got off at the first stop. That's where I wait for the number 62 bus to take me to Greenpoint. Probably 35 minutes had elapsed since I left the office... pretty good.

My mind switched over to the delivery of the rocking chair I was expecting the following day. When I spoke with the seller of the chair he kindly offered to deliver it to my apartment. He said he would call if he was going to be later than the agreed upon time. Momentary good thoughts--something to look forward to. Life is good. The thought of the possible phone call had me instinctively--a semi-conscious action--reach to the pocket where my cell phone... wasn't. Wasn't! Oh no! It was still at the office, on the desk behind me... out of sight, out of mind!

On any other night I would have thought eh, I'll get it tomorrow. But I needed it. The delivery might be late and if I don't answer the phone they might think I'm not available. Oh darn. Darn. Darn. Darn. By now it was past 11pm and I just wanted to be home getting comfortable with a glass of wine. Unfortunately I had no choice: get on the next train back to Manhattan, switch at 14th Street for a downtown train: go all the way back to the office to pick up my modern convenience.

Well, I would have been peeved beyond all, but fortunately I had my knitting in the bag, and the slippers I've been knitting were getting close to done. With another hour or so of being whisked about in the subway I might be able to finish the slippers. And I did finish them that night. Hurray for subway knitting!

I got the slippers sewn together on my trip up to MA this past weekend (that's another post) and I am wearing them as I type this. They are the 2nd pair I knit up and I love them. The pattern is from kriskrafter: Options Slipper Pattern for Men. Great pattern!

Here is the chair. $45 on Craigslist!
The slippers... (Isn't it hard to get a picture of your own feet!):

Monday, February 13, 2012

Spin wise... the mystery arrives in the mail...

What's this!? ... Could it be? ...
YES! It's my order from Wellington Fibres in Ontario, Canada, arrived over the weekend, and oh my... It's gorgeous!

They had 250gms left of the same "mystery" roving I was given as a gift last fall so I took that, along with 250gms of a natural colored roving. It's divine! I don't know which I like best. Both of them!!
This "mystery" roving is such a beautiful preparation. My mind is spinning (ha!) with ideas. Depending on how busy the coming months prove to be, these rovings may very well become my Tour de Fleece spinning this summer. In the meantime they are hanging where I can feast my eyes upon them every day.

Humble pie is on the menu again...

My teacher taped this video at my lesson last week. 14 month mark. The visual didn't turn out well and you can barely see me. That's OK. You can hear me fine though... not sure if that's OK or not! (Have your finger on the stop button -- just to be safe.) The video is dark because the camera was sitting in the closet ... because it's a new space and a camera set-up hasn't yet been devised.

It's a little hard to see and hear these videos for the first time. Somehow they sound worse than, yet they sound better than I imagined! Different aspects of the playing sound better and/or worse. But still very valuable to see and hear. This video motivates me strongly, especially to work on bowing.

I'm playing by myself this time around... egads, now you can really hear me... be forwarned: there are a couple of pretty sour notes, and I botched up the rhythm in one particular measure, twice. It's funny how, when the mind is pre-occupied with something else--like learning fingering and bowing, something like a simple rhythm falls by the wayside.

Not terribly musical... that'll come later... I'm not playing very fast as there are some sixteenth notes coming up in the piece and I want to be able to handle them when I get there... I feel I'm progressing...

Gossec Gavotte

Friday, February 3, 2012

Music and fiber...

I love discovering new music. Either someone new to the scene, or someone who's been around for a while but somehow I missed. More than once I've asked myself "How could I not have heard about this artist before now!?" A few examples of the latter would be 2 artists I stumbled upon late last year: Nick Drake and Judee Sill. Nick's album Five Leaves Left is just beautiful.

The Kiss by Judee Sill is utterly gorgeous. Matt Alber covers it on his latest album Constant Crows and sings it beautifully.

Sadly, both Nick Drake and Judee Sill died young.

Today I discovered Canadian Country singer Drake Jensen who released his first album On My Way To Find You last year. Last week he came out of the closet with the release a video for the title cut. A video which features his husband. I liked On My Way To Find You so much that I bought the album right away and I'm very glad I did. It's really really good. I don't listen to a whole lot of country music (though I have my favorites) but I will be listening to this album. This song is really nice too: All You Need .

* - * - *

I've started to knit up another pair of slippers because I really need something to knit while I'm travelling on the subway, but other than that I'm up for a spinning breather. I've started in on my Sheep and Wool Festival purchases from last fall. This lovely blue Merino which I've pre-drafted a bit because the top was quite packed in:

All of my current spinning is a bit thinner than my usual. It will all be 3-ply, Navajo style--surprise! ;)

Also this luscious red top from Spinner's Hill:

Bringing closure to the vest (a bit of double entendre there!), here are a couple pics of the button on the vest. I attached the I-cord loop to the inside front instead of the outside. Somehow I think it looks more masculine that way. Go figure! To attach the button, I simply sewed it to another button on the inside of the vest. The inside button is one I made: