Thursday, December 31, 2015

Next Project: Hats

Or, toques, or tuques, if you prefer! 

I'm kind of combining two programs for making hats.  25,000 toques is an initiative to provide warm winter hats for new refugees arriving in Canada, which I thought was a nice idea.  I'm not sure yet if my toques will be donated there, or go directly to a local refugee family.  I've already started, so I suppose it will depend partly on whether the hats I make will fit local family members!

Sunset Family Living's 2015 Christmas Challenge is all about making hats for charities, too.   They provide the patterns. You can read more about it  HERE. I'm a little behind, as they are supposed to be finished by January 6th, and I'm supposed to make 12 for the 12 days of Christmas!

The first one made was very simple, the "Easy Sideways Hat" found HERE.  I made my rows longer, so that it could have a turned up brim, and added a pom-pom on top.
For the second one I chose a pattern from the Christmas Challenge, "X-Treme Beanie" from Blackstone Designs in a toddler/child size.
On to decide which pattern to use next!

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Crocheted Wristers

Ta-da!  The last project in the Holiday Stashdown Crochet-a-Long 2015! The Basic Wristers pattern can be found HERE. I cut the number of rounds before the thumb to make the fit I wanted.  I might experiment with adding a few rounds on the thumb, too.  It's a good pattern for customizing.

This is the last project I need to enter here to link back to for my five extra draw entries for completing each of the 15 projects.  However, I can continue to make additional projects from the patterns, and get extra draw entries for those, too... if I have time to before the January 11 deadline.  AND they say the group will continue to post patterns once a month until next fall when they will do this all over again.  Will I continue to follow?  I don't know.  I've also committed to making hats for refugees... coming soon, so I need to get busy with those!  Another baby afghan is on the hook, too...

Friday, December 18, 2015

"Video" of the Week: Beethoven's birthday

December is a busy month for birthdays in our studio!  Did you know Beethoven's birthday is in December, too?

Did you get a chance to play the Google Doodle game on December 17?  It's fun!  If you are reading music, try it before listening.  If you don't read well yet, just click on the pieces and sort them out from there!  If you don't get it the first time, try again! 

Have fun!

Tuesday, December 15, 2015


"Festive Bottle Cozy is this week's pattern, works up fast and makes a great gift." Ooh! Well, what timing!  I had a bottle to gift that very day.  Just how fast could I make it?  I only had one student coming, surely I could do it!  I knew the perfect yarn to use, too! Oh. Wait. Son number two was here for the weekend and sleeping in the room where said yarn was stashed.  I suppose thanks to his sleeping, I got the vacuuming done...

In the end, I think I had one hour before teaching and an hour after... finishing touches while waiting for my physio appointment!  I forgot both my phone and my camera, and the recipient's camera was also down, but another friend had her phone and took this shot.  The pattern can be found HERE (with much better pictures). In my haste, I actually did a "variation" on the pattern, but it all works in the end.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Video of the week: A Christmas favourite from the Piano Guys

Please enjoy this, one of my favourites for the season!  I tend to like things in minor keys, as well as ancient plainsong chants, which this is based on...and cello solo? Of course!

Students: Please send me a link to a favourite video of yours, and tell me why you like it, if you can!

Friday, December 11, 2015

Adelyn Earwarmer

We are in our last three weeks of the Holiday Stash-down Crochet-a-Long!  That makes this project number 13. 

I've enjoyed learning some new stitches through these free patterns, and this week the new stitch was a Tunisian treble crochet! Combined with the Tunisian simple stitch, this made for a very nice texture on this earwarmer.  If you're not familiar with Tunisian, aka Afghan stitches, these are made on a foot-long (more or less) hook.  The rows are worked forwards, as your hook works yarn on, then backwards, as it works it off, finishing the stitches.

The pattern for the earwarmer, and links for tutorials on Tunisian crochet, are HERE.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Christmas Crafties and Cello Too

Christmas... Between crafts and music I've been pretty busy!  Happy that the latest CAL projects have been small ones!  Here is my "Holly in the Snow Cup Cozy", and the white Christmas tree which I've been putting off finishing...  I have the beads which will serve as decorations, just not looking forward to sewing them on!  Don't be surprised if I decide an un-decorated tree, save the ribbons on top, will suffice for this year!  Sorry the top is chopped off - I was really focusing on the cup cozy, as that's the one I need to post to enter for the CAL giveaway.

The pattern for "Holly in the Snow" is HERE.

The tree was based on the pattern HERE, though I made the boughs more like the ruffles on the scarf pattern HERE.  And my tree did NOT reach 12 " as the pattern stated... In order to even get this size, I had to stretch it over a styrofoam cone.

After the dress rehearsal for Saturday's concert with Gratiela Friday evening (here we are minus the "voice of an angel" soloist)...

 ...I rushed over to our church to arrive in time for the craft portion of Ladies' Night (and too many goodies.. my November sugar fast is definitely over!).  I chose to make the mason jar luminary.  A small stemmed glass was already glued into the mason jars for us.  There were several options for decorating, and I chose the glittery frosted look achieved by painting the jar with Mod Podge and sprinkling with Epsom salts.  I chose my ribbons and do-dads to tie on, and then it was sprayed with a fixative to protect the salts.  Last step was to drop a battery operated "candle" in.  Voila!

Friday, December 4, 2015

Video of the week: Piano Guys... Silent Night with Placido Domingo

What a lovely new video from the Piano Guys and Placido Domingo!

Students: No questions, just enjoy!

Monday, November 30, 2015

Video of the week: The neck positions

No, this has nothing to do with the posture of our necks!  We are looking at the positions of the left hand on the neck of the cello!

I have sometimes used the "upper" and "lower" terms with 2nd and 3rd positions as per Rick Mooney's book, Position Pieces, but most of the time the somewhat moveable 2nd and 3rd position indications are a little more vague.  I like the way Robert Jesselson explains things here, using the terms "2nd and a half" and "3rd and a half", etc.,  and the chart he shows.  Take a look!

Students: Is there a "4th and a half" position?  Please be ready to show me on your cello at your next lesson!

Geography #1 – Position chart and VII position harmonic 0

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Non-Stop Slippers by the Non-Stop Crocheter

I wonder if I have enough yarn left for mittens? 
Yes, I made this week's "Non-Stop Slippers" to match this set... just hoping the hat and sweater/jacket and bootie/slippers will actually fit some little girl some winter!

The slippers are called non-stop because they can be made from sole to ankle without ever changing yarn... unless you want to, like I did.  The pattern can be found HERE in 9 sizes! (Follow the links for child or adult sizes.)  These are supposed to be 9-12 mo size. 

Monday, November 23, 2015

Warm necks here!

Okay crochet-a-long peoples, enough cowls, methinks!  If I'd known what the patterns would be in advance, I probably wouldn't have made more than one of the early versions...  Well, I probably will make at least one more of those really cushy chunky yarn ones... place your order here!

Last week's project was the Starry Night Luscious Cowl (pattern HERE).  It so happened I had seen this sparkly Red Heart  "Shimmer" yarn on clearance recently in black and white... had to go back and ... yes, I FED my stash during the stash-down. Shame on me.  But it IS a pretty yarn, no?

If you make this scarf, I would suggest adding on more group of stitches to end with 42 posts, not 41, if you plan to add the embellishment chain and want to weave it in the posts evenly by 3s or 2s.  I did the over/under/under pattern - except where I had only one left to go under...

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Video of the week: Kind of ...

Okay, so it's just animated images, and you'll have to go to this other website...

But just think of the physio $$ I could have saved if I had started these exercises at a young age!  Specifically, I was assigned 4a and 5a by the therapist who began my treatment a few years ago.  She also reminded me of the curve we should have in our lower backs as you see develop in 1b (chin push) - it's too easy to loose that when we are seated with our cellos.

The page says it's for violinists and violists, but most of it applies to cellists as well!  And if you're in a state where you can't achieve the posture seen here, as I was a few years ago, I highly recommend getting some manual physiotherapy!  I couldn't do those exercises as they are demonstrated here until well into my therapy.  My back is happily now healthier than it was 10 ...or maybe even 20 or 30 years ago!

Students, please demonstrate the chin push exercise at your next lesson, getting your ears over your shoulders, and a nice curve in the small of your back!

If you need a motivational cello video, see my November 10 post on our studio facebook page!  
It hasn't made its way to You Tube yet, so if you don't have facebook... hopefully someday this incredible string-breaking performance will be posted a bit more publicly.

Alaskan Blue

I took a bit of a break from the CAL this week and made my "Alaskan Blue" V stitch baby blanket. More squishy Deborah Norville "Serenity" chunky yarn, and a 6.5mm hook.  I broke up the blue with some left over Bernat "Wedgewood" stripes.  It measures 29" x 33".  Whoops!  Only enough yarn left for a simple single crochet edging.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

A Sleeved Wrap!

Here is the most recent CAL project: Zig n Zag - A Sleeved Wrap. It is crocheted as a very long scarf,  then the ends are sewn into sleeves and cuffs are added! Pattern found HERE.

Yes, I know I can reverse the camera on the iPad, but this was the only way I could get the sleeves in!

I also made another cowl, this time with the same kind yarn as the designer used, Red Heart Sashay. The metallic glitter didn't show up in the photo, unfortunately. 

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Yet More Stash-busting!

Last week's pattern was The Whimsical Sashay Cowl found HERE!

I didn't have any Sashay "yarn" or anything super bulky, so I took the bulky yarn I had (alpaca blend and unknown wool) and beefed it up with an additional strand of lighter weight synthetic yarn, and did this with my 12 mm hook - a nice quick project (not counting when I had to frog it because of an issue with a row change...).  I made mine a bit narrower than the original design, but just as high.  It is SO cushy and will be very warm around someone's neck! 

Stash-Busting Crochet-A-Long Continues...

Here's my Crochet-A-Long Christmas Stocking!
The pattern for the stocking is found HERE, and the holly leaves pattern is found HERE.
 Yes, I even had those holly berry buttons in my stash! (Though I didn't know they were holly berries until a few days ago...)

Mom, how good is your memory?  I've had this red yarn forever, but don't remember buying it myself... I thought I might have got it from you for some project in my teens or 20s? It is vintage for sure! 

Video of the Week: Yo Yo Ma plays all 6 Bach Cello Suites

"Yo-Yo Ma plays the entire Six Unaccompanied Suites by Johann Sebastian Bach at the BBC Proms at the Royal Albert Hall on the 5th of September, 2015. He played for nearly three hours. A truly remarkable performance. Hope you all enjoy it!"

Remarkable especially in light of the rumours that he has been experiencing back pain. Take a look at his new posture!  I know he had surgery for scoliosis when he was younger, and does not have the same mobility in his back that most of us do because of the implanted rod. (When you can play like Yo Yo, I'll let you lean back in your chair!!)

No video, just audio, but turn up your speakers and close your eyes (or follow along on a score...)!

Students:  The pros always make this sound so easy.  We will first encounter the Suites with the Minuets from the first suite in late Suzuki book 4, if that gives you any idea.  Most teachers these days prefer the Baerenreiter edition if you are so tempted to purchase it before you are really ready...if you want to start previewing with pizzicato maybe?? :-) 
Student Q's: How many movements are in each suite? When does the audience first clap at this performance?  And the second time?

Ribbed Stretchy Crocheted Slippers

A lifetime ago, my mom made me a pair of slippers which I really liked.  I haven't been able to find the pattern, so just did a copy-cat job with no pattern.  This is what happened:
My original plan had more black, but I didn't have any black that was the same weight as the grey and lavender, so it was relegated to trim. 

They are not exactly like Mom's - she used a different weight yarn, for one. I will make a few more changes next time! But for now they are a great addition to my music bag for when I am out and about. 

Maybe I will publish my own pattern when I am happy with the changes!  If anyone knows of a previously published pattern for these I would be grateful to see it!

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Video of the Week: Massenet Meditation from Thais

Searching YouTube, I came across this video, featuring a cello prof from my university (he took my teacher's job), and the symphony I used to play in!  I also had the pleasure of attending a concert here in my current town where John Friesen performed with the Okanagan Symphony, and I bought a lovely CASSETTE TAPE of his (!It was a while ago!).  I should see if the CD is still available anywhere.


Students: What instrument was this originally written for?

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Hat and Wristlet Set

Another Swirling Leaves Wristlet (pattern HERE) and Not Quite a Slouchy Hat (pattern HERE), child sized.  Two more Crochet-a-long entries!

Friday, October 23, 2015

Monkeying Around

My husband was thinking about getting a new lunch bag, and then guess what the next Crochet-a-long project was!  Sigh.  He has a good sense of humor, but not enough to carry this to work.  Well, I hope some pre-schooler will love it!  The pattern is HERE.  I changed the handle and put my ears on the flap rather than the bag.  I didn't think to check the gauge of my light colored yarn - the face, ears, and button (eye) holes are a bit smaller than the original pattern.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Recycled Denim

My other sewn project which was entered in the fair was under the "Thrifty" category: "Useful item made from recycled denim."

I've been wanting to make a crocheting project basket... though I was collecting crochet patterns. But when I saw the one HERE, I decided that was it!  And it looked so simple... why buy the pattern?

Did you read about my apron!!??  Yes, there was ripping out and re-sewing, because I did things in the wrong order!  When I was sewing the reversible lining in, I had to ask son number two for help!  "I don't know anything about sewing!"  "Yes, but you're very good with spacial relations. How do I..."  "Oh, just turn it that way."  Simple, of course!  Oh, and we won't even talk about my math... circumference of a circle plus seam allowance... Oh! MINUS seam allowance.. Huh?  Whoops, I just did (talk about my math).  Hopefully I will remember to not ever try making a narrow strap with a heavy seam in it like that again.  Turning a narrow tube is hard enough with regular fabric, though You Tube does lend some hints!

Hey, did you know they make special sewing machine needles for heavy fabric like denim?  Thankful there were a few included with the sewing machine I inherited!

In the end, I'm pretty happy with this, though I didn't make the drawstring top, so it probably won't be going out with me much longer in the interest of keeping my yarn dry.  In keeping with the thrifty theme, not only did I recycle the denim from an old pair of jeans, but the fabric, trim, thread, and fleece between layers were all left over from a mid-80's project!

Happy also to win 2nd place out of three entries at the fair!  Maybe I will sew again.  After I forget...  For now, it's all put away.  Back to the hooks.

(Thanks, Mom, for the magazine!)

Friday, October 16, 2015

Video of the Week: Yo Yo Ma at age 7

Yo Yo Ma had great connections even at a young age! 

Students: What country did he live in before the United States?
Who introduced him to Leonard Bernstein?

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Grandma's Apron

I have a love-hate relationship with the sewing machine.  I love creating things, and I love a finished item I have stitched myself.  And using the machine makes it all happen rather quickly, right?  Ugh.  Only when you don't have to take it apart and do it again.  I do struggle sometimes with spatial relations.  It always LOOKS easy, but then when it comes to fitting pieces together (wrong sides, right sides, upsides, downsides?)... So, sew, so... Not something I have spent a great deal of time doing.  Usually I finish an item, then sigh with relief, and put the machine away.  Far away, for a long time.  Until the pain recedes.

Our fair has a category called Grandma's Apron, with a nice prize for first place.  Usually there aren't that many entries, either!  So for several years, I've said to myself, "I should make a new apron."  I mean I HAVE been using Grandma's apron for 35 years!  Who knows how many years she used it?  Right before the 2014 fair, I went shopping for fabric.  No, I was not intending to enter it that year!  But the store was moving, having a sale, and I had some visiting relatives to help me choose fabric, and then a year to make my apron!  I could do this!

In the end I was having trouble deciding between two fabrics (I favoured one, everyone else voted for my second choice)  - decided to make two aprons!  A month or two later I had a much-experienced-with-sewing friend help me make a pattern from Grandma's apron, and figure out how to lay it out on the fabric (which I could NOT have done without help).  Great!  Two aprons cut out!  And moved out of the way.  The sewing machine was living in the basement and resided there until regular lessons finished in June.  Then, time to get sewing!  The living room was invaded.  For two months!  This included time waiting for  either our local Fabricland to restock their binding, or a trip out of town (thankfully Kamloops came through).

I won't relive the process, but there certainly were frustrations!  I had to call in my friend when even YouTube tutorials couldn't help me figure out how to sew in the gussets.  (Note to self: avoid any project with gussets in the future!)  After the first one, the second should have been a little easier.  Only somehow I still ended up ripping out something sewn on backwards!  Well, the fair entry was finished in time... in fact, with time to sew one more project (all straight lines ... that should be easy, right??? Stay tuned for that project! :-)).

And yeah, as well as being a figurative pain in the neck, there was the literal!  I mean, you have to get your eyes right down there by the needle, don't you?  Well, it seemed that way to me!

But in the end, I am in the happy possession of two new aprons!  Of course only one was entered in the fair.  I gave the fair people my original Grandma's apron for display, too, and this is how they set it up.  Oh yes, 3rd place white ribbon out of four aprons!

I chose to enter the brown one for the old-fashioned look.  Which is your favourite?  

And while the brown and green were in the fair, and I was frying something... I looked at those pretty birds, and my old T shirt, and the new apron, and my old T shirt.  Sigh.  The birdies stayed clean.

Swirling Leaves Wristlet

The stashdown continues!  The pattern for this Swirling Leaves Wristlet can be found HERE. Learning lots of new stitches from these patterns!  The only change I made to this pattern was to thicken the drawstring by slip stitching over my chain.  It did make it shorter, but still an appropriate length for small to average hands. I used a G hook for this lighter weight yarn.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Stashdown Cowls

Here are a few more Stashdown projects.  I made the Ice Blues Cowl first.  The original design, found HERE, called for 30 squares (in three rows), and I had 16 made before I decided to just stick with these 12 for a less bulky cowl that just fits over my head and scrunches around my neck - or could cover my nose, too!  So what to do with the four more squares?  Make the Midnight Lilac Cowl! 

I was running low on my navy skein when edging Ice Blues (I joined the squares with single crochet), so only did one row of double crochet on the edges.
Someone else in the Stashdown group mentioned edging the individual squares before joining.  I thought that was a good idea, so slip-stitched around each one on Midnight Lilac before whip stitching them together.  Finished the edge with two rows of single crochet.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Finishing the skein


And when you have just a little yarn left...

Another item in the crochet-a-long I joined was the "Almost a Slouchy Hat" found HERE.  I used the toddler size pattern, but changed the band to decrease faster to a smaller circumference (14") to make something like a beret for an infant.

This was the only appropriately sized model I could find on short notice.  Speaking of short... his toes won't even get cold!

In case you missed the earlier post with my Bubblegum Baby Jacket, the pattern is found HERE.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Bubblegum Baby Jacket

My latest Stashdown Crochet-a-long project is from the pattern of the Neapolitan Rainbow Jacket found HERE.  It uses an interesting, if a bit tedious, split half double crochet stitch.  Quite happy I was able to discover these matching yarns from my stash!  I just might have to make a matching hat now!

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

What? 27 entries?

Um, yeah.  I went a little crazy there.  But I've been crocheting for a year, so I already had zoodles of projects.  (Zoodles?) And they weren't all crocheted.  My compost (see... I think it was my very first blog entry here?) has been winning awards for a few years - now I find that a pretty easy category.  Baking muffins, not too hard.  I do enjoy making flower arrangements, and hey, last year my fairy garden took first place!  Wow, a big prize for 1st place pineapple upside cake - I've made that before... a while ago...  I am determined to make a grandma's apron - big prize on first place there, too, and I NEED a new apron.  I bought the fabric a year ago.  Oh, I can whip up a few more crochet projects - two more weeks!  And recycled denim?  How fun!  Did I tell you the last time I actually sewed anything? And I have a few unusual veggies - if there aren't too many entries I might win something. I was in some kind of manic state when I filled in the entry form.

So, yeah, I went a little overboard.  Everything took a little longer than anticipated.  But we have a small fair, so chances of winning are not too slim.  Last year I entered 8 items and each one won a ribbon!  This year?  27 entries (I signed up for 28, but didn't get one finished), 22 ribbons!  $82 dollars! (minus the $30 in entry fees, but that also got me free admission).  Not too bad if I do say so myself.  But I should point out that only 9 of those wins were actually ahead of other entries.  There were a lot of 1 out of 1, or 3 out of 3 entries!  In fact, my cake took 3rd place, and there were only two entries!  (The top stuck to the pan a bit - might have had something to do with it.)

But I had fun with most of my projects, even if there was a bit of hair pulling and a sore neck from sewing!

More pictures to come.  I hope I inspire some of you, the way that I was inspired looking at the fair entries in past years!


So, as if entering 27 things in our fair was not enough, I did the foolish thing of joining an online "crochet-a-long" where each week a new pattern is posted, and en masse, we crazy crocheters hook up new items.  It's fun to see the variety of items which develop from each pattern.  As this is working up to Christmas and may include gifts, I may not be posting everything I do... oh, and I don't think I'll really do EVERY pattern, either!  But here is this week's project, along with the hat I entered in the fair.

The idea of this crochet-a-long is to use yarn already in our stashes, so to have enough of this soft alpaca blend yarn to make a neck-warmer to match the hat was pretty cool.  The pattern was actually for a scarf, but variations are allowed!  We enter pictures of our work, and at the end, they randomly choose projects to win prizes provided by the sponsors.  The hat took third place in our fair ... of the three crocheted hats entered! :-)

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Video of the week: Pablo Casals playing for peace.

Students: What year was it, and how old was Pablo Casals on the recorded introduction of this?

And if you have time for the actual recording of the UN performance!... Do you hear a difference? (Besides that they do not cut the ending...) We can all hope to still be playing at that age, even if not in public!

More baby blankets

Here are a few more crocheted baby blankets.  I fell in love with the Baby Love design when I saw it, but I used yarn I already had for a new color variation. This one took 3rd place (out of three :-)) in our fair's Crocheted Baby Blankets class.

The pattern can be purchased (and seen in pinks) HERE.  The hearts are worked up first, linked and sewn together, then the blanket is worked in toward the center before finishing the outer side of the hearts.

And my most recent baby blanket is this - I just couldn't resist the super squishy soft yarn (Deborah Norville "Serenity") on half price!  And the chunky weight and V stitch works up so quickly - less than a week for me, and I really don't work very quickly.
Close to a pattern found on, but you'll need to be a member to find the "Sea Blue Baby Afghan".  I used four full skeins (109 yds) of Baby Yellow and about a half skein of Alaskan Blue (two stripes), to make it about 33 x 26.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Kept in stitches!

I know, I haven't posted my crochet projects for a while!  Partly keeping gifts under wraps, partly because my camera had some grudge and wasn't talking to my computer.  We've patched up that relationship now, and finally I had an afternoon to get a few pictures.  I took some at our fall fair, too, but the quality is something to be desired, so I'm not sure if I'll include any of those. We'll start with these...

First, "The Little Caterpillar's" Owl Lovey and  Blanket. 

The owl pattern (without the blankie) is HERE.  And inspiration for the larger blanket is HERE. (Aren't those colors gorgeous!)

My spring teapot really needed a winter sweater.  This took 2nd in "Other household items" at our fair.  I followed the gist of the pattern HERE, adapting to fit my pot, and using THIS rose pattern and the leaf from HERE
I think I should also make my winter teapot a spring sweater.  Just so I'm not showing any favoritism.

And likewise, I now have one more Barbie to stitch for.  Here is Ms. Malibu Barbie in her new outfit.
I was looking for something to do with MIL's yarn, the fair has a category very few enter (Yay! first place out of one entry!), and my Barbies' wardrobes were seriously lacking - they were always borrowing Midge's or their older sister Barbie's things...  I mostly followed the directions HERE, with some adaptations for my "earlier model" bust size and artistic license.  Yeah, did you know they changed Barbie's figure!?  There was nothing wrong with her size before, she just had some weird, probably corset-inspired, rib cage deformity.

All right.  That's enough for one post.  Time to go feed my award-winning compost and run a few errands.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Video of the week: Watch the vibrato (Two Cellos)

I mentioned this to one or two of you this week, and came across the video again.

The Two Cellos ( Luka Šulić and Stjepan Hauser) play a Shostakovich Prelude.  They both have great vibrato, though it is very different.  Watch the way their hands and fingers move.  Yet it all starts back in the shoulder! That is not evident from watching them, but you can see that their whole forearms are moving.  In both, notice how relaxed their hands are. 

Student question:  In relation to the last note, when does the vibrato stop?

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Video of the week: Happy Together!

Just feels like the right time to bring this one back for video of the week!

Students, please tell me what your favourite scene or activity is in this video!

And remember - YOUR cello is not a stunt cello!  Don't try these at home!

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Video of the week: Ariel Barnes plays Bach

Canadian cellist Ariel Barnes and solo Bach. If you'll be in Edmonton, Victoria, Denman Island or in France this summer check out his concert schedule!

Enjoy here: The prelude from Suite for Solo Cello No 2 in D minor

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Video of the week: Land of the Silver Birch

Our newest group piece. Too bad we can't play along since it's not in the same key as this recording by Michael Mitchell. Still, it would be beneficial to listen to it repeatedly in order to learn and memorize it quickly for our recital on June 13!

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Video of the Week: Perpetual Motion Variation

No lessons this coming week, so use this video by Abigail McHugh Grifa for a short lesson to review and improve your technique on Perpetual Motion Variations.
Show me your improvement at your next lesson! (Q. Where should your left elbow be?)

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Vole in the compost!

I have to admit, when the furry little creature's back appeared scurrying through a tunnel I had uncovered in the compost, I squealed.

The husband is replacing fence posts, and one that needs replacing happens to be behind the newer compost bin I put in the garden last fall, necessitating a move.  I lifted the bin and had a nice form of mostly dry leaves left behind!  So I began by just grabbing arm loads to transfer into the bin in its new location.  As I worked my way down things were a little more sloppy, so I switched to a shovel with one hand balancing the load on top.  Almost to the bottom, and thank goodness I didn't spear him with the shovel!  Of course now I want that thing OUT of there, and out of our yard.

I've seen evidence of voles in our yard before - tunnels in the melting snow, or in the top layer of sod after the snow melted.  Several years ago, come to think of it, a similar episode of stirring up a creature in the bin... I guessed that time that that was enough, because I never found one in the bin again... until yesterday. I did see one slip under the fence when I was messing with the compost a few days previously.  I hoped he (she?) was just passing through, and that my presence was enough to discourage any return.

But this thing was very reluctant to depart it's partly opened tunnel.  Uh-oh... does that mean... Oh I HOPE there is not a nest of babies!  The shovel did finally encourage it to leave the tunnel and hide under some loose leaves in the compost pile next to where the bin was. But I was still reluctant to dig much more into what was left of the bin contents...

I guess what I need to do is get out there on a more regular basis and keep stirring things up.  But on top of the wish not to send the shovel through the gut of a rodent, didn't I hear that these little things are now carrying the Hantavirus, which is shed in their urine and feces?  Should I wear a mask when stirring up compost dust? 

Anyone have a cat for hire?  I won't be chasing the felines from our yard any more!

Video of the week: Brahms' Requiem

Have you noticed that we have been focusing on Johannes Brahms lately? We call him one of the three big B's in classical music. But do my students know how important he is to them?! 

I've told more than a few my cello history, and how, a few years after letting the cello go upon high school graduation, I attended a concert. Sitting in the back half of WWU's PAC Concert Hall, I heard the opening notes of Brahms' Requiem played by Whatcom Symphony Orchestra's bass and cello sections. I had played in this orchestra for about three and a half of my four years in high school. Learned a lot there from my more experienced stand partners and principal cellists!

But now I was in the audience on that hot June afternoon... or was it the evening concert? I forget. But I can't forget those opening low notes... Oh! An unexpected wave of emotion in those first measures! First the low chords with the bass, then the singing theme before the rest of the orchestra joins! Listening to a recording isn't quite the same as live music, but you can hear, here, what it was that tugged at my heart. Why was I in the audience and not playing the cello in that orchestra?! I don't know if it was that instant, or maybe into the 2nd movement or when, but it wasn't too long - I knew I had to play again.

Sooo... students, who knows, if it wasn't for Brahms, would I be playing my cello? Maybe, but I think it's okay to say that Brahms played a part in giving Salmon Arm a cello teacher. :-) I didn't know it at the time, but that concert may have also been the first time I saw my husband... or at least heard him. He was singing in the choir. But of course I didn't notice that handsome tenor... there were cellos! :-)

Students:  This video is the full work of "A German Requiem", over an hour long, and I encourage you to watch or at least listen to the whole thing (there are ads, but they can be skipped).  But if you can't do that, at least listen to the first movement and the beginning of the second (16 minutes). And you might want to turn up your speakers to make sure not to miss those first pianissimo notes!

Oh, and can you name the other two big B's?

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Video of the week: Brahms' Double Concerto

Here is just a taste of Brahms' well known "Double Concerto." Technically, this is his "Concerto for Violin, Cello, and Orchestra". This recording features Truls Mørk, cello; Lisa Batiashvili, violin; Sir Simon Rattle, conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic.

Students: How many movements are in this work, and about how long is it in full?

If you have time, I suggest you listen to recordings of it in full length!

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Blue and black or white and gold?

Okay, folks, I need some help, here.  The idea was, a baby blanket. Well, several, as most of you know.   This yarn was part of the several large bags donated.  It took me a few days to figure out what would match the rust colour, and I'm happy with the mix, but I'm not convinced it's something today's parents would go for in their nursery. If I were selling it, my question would be answered, but for giving it away...would it be more suited for an older population?  

The colours on my screen here as viewed from my standing-at-the-counter position are a bit washed out... the rust and antique blue are a bit darker.  More true if I were sitting at eye-level with the screen.  But I think either way, they are close enough for your opinion on whether they are suitable for giving to parents of a newborn.
Fido likes it! (And knew he wasn't supposed to lie on it!)

The blanket measures 38" square, and is based on (Link)Bizzy Crochet's (gorgeous!) Faeries Baby Sampler (Elizabeth Mareno). I substituted the star centre from this (Link)Amazing Star Afghan pattern, and made a few other changes, as well as using different colours. It took me exactly a month to complete. 
I know my readers are pretty shy about leaving comments, but you can do so anonymously, or send me an email. I really need some feedback!  And please don't just tell me I should keep it for myself, I have another one started for me, already!

Maybe I should have instead stopped about here for a pillow?  (Hmm - wonder if there is enough left to...)

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