Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Beds ...

I'm itching and raring to go! Today I put together the 1' x 12' hemlock boards I purchased last fall. They now make up 2 6'x12' garden beds, and is it exciting! Starting to look real.

Tomorrow I'm going shopping for compost and see if I can have it delivered. Would very much like to plant peas asap as I know they like cool weather. Going in will be: onions, peas, beans, tomatoes, cucumbers, radish, lettuce, spinach, arugula, marigolds, sweetpeas, nasturtiums, morning glory, forget-me-not, and whatever else I stumble upon between now and then.

Really have to give some consideration to other interested parties, i.e. deer, bear, rodents, etc. This year will be experimental. I need to see what sort of problems I'll be up against and then I can plan better next year. I will have a good talk with all of them and make it clear that the garden's harvest is intended for my larder, not theirs. But I'll be kind and let them feast on leftovers. Maybe that will appease them.

They still need leveling and nudging into place:

While I'm at it, the area what used to be the shed is brim full of large pebbly rocks. I'm slowly sifting through it all to reclaim the stones. It'll make nice paving between the beds.

Baby Surprise Jacket ...

I discovered on the day of our student cello recital that my teacher and his wife were expecting any day. Surprise! The big event took place last week so I'm off lessons for 2 weeks while they get settled in their new--hectic, I imagine--life.

Elizabeth Zimmermann's ("Knit on with confidence and hope, through all crises.") Baby Surprise Jacket has always intrigued me--I even collaborated on a BSJ project with 2 fellow knitters a few years back, by supplying buttons for our joint effort--so I've decided to give it a whirl. I'm knitting it in superwash (washable) merino.

The sweater is knit in one piece then folded in a way that forms a sweater. Awesome!

Here's where I am at the moment. I'm making it to fit the boy at 6 to 9 months, so hopefully he'll grow into it by this fall.

Trying to get it finished before my next trip to NY in a few weeks.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Well hippie me! ...

I think it looks a bit hippie-ish. I put the necklace on just to enhance the effect.

This, of course, is my sampler for the linen shirt I wish to make. I think I will make a few more before tackling the linen. There were definitely some challenges in this here shirt.

Firstly, I modified the pattern. Unbeknownst to me at the time, I purchased a size small--thought the pattern I bought contained all sizes within it. It didn't. So I wasn't sure where to add the extra fabric for my girth, and somehow decided to add 4" across the back and take in 1" of that in a pleat, center back. It worked! The shirt fits comfortably and "sits" well. Who knew?

The collar was a particular challenge. It is the feature I am least happy with, although I don't think it's bad. There was an issue at the front of the collar where the seam seemed to be too short. I don't know if it will wear well at that point.

The sleeves! Surely professional tailors, those on Savile Row and elsewhere, creating bespoke shirts of the highest caliber, must cast a magic spell on their fabric before "easing" it in. "Easing"--it sounds so innocent. Now on the list of classes to take is one that will show me the inner secrets of "easing" a sleeve into it's socket.

The cuffs are the feature I'm happiest about. They took very little "easing" and came out spiffy.

The fabric of course, is a little stiff for a shirt, being quilting cotton. But hey, it was only an experiment for a sampler. I'll be off to the store soon to buy some nice shirt fabric. Oh dear.

Mosaic lap blanket

Lap blanket or shoulder blanket. It will be handy come next fall and winter; perhaps even this spring!

I really like this one. It's knit in bulky yarn on size 11 needles (8mm). It measures 22" x 47". Fiber snob that I am, I don't usually knit with man made fibers, but this is an acrylic/wool blend (more acrylic than wool). Even at that, the finished piece has some weight to it, and of course it can go in the washer. Plus, it was inexpensive. It's pictured here set out to dry.

Up next: Elizabeth Zimmerman's Baby Surprise Jacket.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Practice piece ...

The plan was I'd make a shirt in black linen for the cello recital. Fabric, pattern, and notions purchased, but first I wanted to practice, so I started in on some scraps of cotton I have from quilting.

The recital came and went and the practice piece is still hanging, unfinished, on the door.

I think it's rather fun with all the different patterns in it. I'll wear it around the house this summer. The unsewn--as of yet--sleeves are simply pinned on in that picture so I could get a sense of how the color would look with the other colors. It'll be done soon--but obviously much too late for the recital. I can then move on to the all-black linen.

Making shirts is easier on a machine that can 'back tack'. On the Singer 66 I have to take 3-4 stitches ending with the needle down and pivot the whole of the material 180 degrees to stitch back across those 3 or 4 stitches and pivot back 180 degrees to proceed. In the tricky bits (collars and sleeves) it's pretty fussy work to pivot the whole kit and caboodle around. I love the Singer 66 and will be using it for much of my sewing, but I decided it might like some company ...

And now I really must put a padlock on my wallet and throw away the key.

Cello recital ...

The student cello recital took place Sunday in NY. How did it go?

The duet. Not as well as I'd wanted, if I'm going to be honest. I have played it better. But having said that, it probably came over better than I imagine. (I hope.) There is truth to the addage, "We're our own worst critic."

I was on edge after missing a "turn" (Gruppetto) which leads into an arpeggio which, due to the bad launch, didn't fare so well either. After that my playing felt stiff and unpredictable. I found it hard to relax which caused further minor flubs here and there. Sounds horrible, doesn't it! It wasn't quite that bad, just not as good as I'd hoped. The performance aspect of it gave me just enough pressure to cause the stiffness which made the 'turn' fall flat.

In hindsight it makes sense that I had difficulty with the 'turn' because I had started to notice a problem with it during my last few practices. For some reason I didn't take the 5-10 minutes required to slowly work it through. Maybe I felt pressured to work on some of the more challenging parts of the music. Yes, I think so. There was a lot to work on. But lesson learned. Experience is a hard teacher.

After the recital we all met for light refreshments and some fellow students told me I played well. I'll take their word for it.

I had a piano teacher who once explained that in a recital or competition or other performance situation, someone comes out on top, someone comes out on bottom. Sometimes we are on the top, and sometimes we are on the bottom. It's OK to come out in the middle, or on the bottom, or on the top. Someone has to. Every possibility can be a growth opportunity.

A few months ago I was watching the winter Olympics on TV and seeing athletes -- the best in the world -- come crashing down and making 'mistakes'. I made a note to myself then to remember that when it came time for this recital. You win some, you lose some, you pick yourself up and grow.

I'm quite proud and happy about certain aspects of the recital. For one, my nerves leading up to the moment when I walked on the stage were fairly good. An occasional flutter in the stomach that I was able to subdue by breathing. I can't remember if I've ever felt that confident before a performance before. So I consider this quite major progress, no matter the outcome of the performance.

It's hard though, isn't it? When something comes out a little below our expectations. Yes, I was a little disappointed. Will simply have to get up and do it again.

The Bach. This went better. Coming out overall about par with my practices. At the end of it I thought my bow was getting a little shaky, but someone told me it wasn't noticeable. I was, however, feeling the stress in my shoulders. The shakiness of the duet was bearing down. Must remember to breathe.

It was only a student recital. The "public" wasn't there. I think my playing reflected where I'm at at this stage in my development as a cello player. There is some discussion about having more frequent recitals and I hope so, because the more one does it the easier it becomes.

I have it in mind to try to start an amateur classical musicians society up here. There's one in NYC I used to go to. Once a month there is a recital for anyone who wants to sign up and play for fellow amateurs. It's a great way to get performance practice. I have to give it some thought.

Today was a Skype lesson day and we discussed new repertoire. Perhaps Saint Saens' "The Swan", or a Sonata by Eccles.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Banana/Strawberry bread ...

I had a couple bananas on the counter that had been there for too long so I decided to make banana bread. Two bananas does not a bread make, but I remembered some strawberries I froze last summer during peak berry season. So I added an equivalent amount of chopped frozen strawberries to the bananas, and the result is great. I love it more than plain banana bread.

Banana/Strawberry Bread

2 very ripe bananas
an equal amount of frozen strawberries, chopped
1/3 c. butter, melted
1 c. sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. baking soda
pinch of salt
1.75 c. of flour

Mix the fruit and melted butter. Add sugar, egg, and vanilla and mix. Add soda and salt, mix. Add flour last. Don't overmix. 4x8 pan.

350 degree oven. Check after an hour, may need a bit more time depending on your location.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Afternoon walk ...

Another nice day. A foot and a half of snow melted over the past week I think.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Afternoon walk ...

It was spring like this afternoon as I wandered down the hill and back. Snow melting, the banks receding, water running, sun shining.

That is a close view of a puddle of silty water on the pavement. I like how it almost looks like a skyscape. It's from this puddle: