Sunday, January 25, 2015

Video of the week: The Wild Cellist

My friend, Corbin Keep, aka The Wild Cellist, will be performing and doing a cello workshop here next month (Friday, Feb 20 - details TBA)!  Here's a preview of some of his non-traditional cello technique(yes, he also has a background in guitar!).

Students, rather than a video related question this time, please choose a composer to research and write a report about.  Let me know whom you have chosen at your next lesson.  Please make time to write this sometime in the next month, if possible.

Happy Hugs blanket

I've finished my third blanket - no, actually fourth, if you count the one I made about 30 years ago, and I don't remember ever experiencing the same emotional reaction from any of my arts or crafts before.  It just made me HAPPY when I worked on it.  And after it was made, when I looked at it, or hugged it. :-) It was hard to part with this one.

More or less, this is a scrapghan.  Did I have any yarn on hand I could use for a boy?  A big skein of warm, milk chocolatey brown which was originally meant for another project, but I changed my mind on... and I had smaller skeins of  other colours... blue, yellow and orange from the thrift store, red from many years ago Christmas project, probably.  So, I started.  Hmm.. Would be nice to have green.

And then I heard from a woman undergoing yarnaggedon!  Someone was moving and brought ALL THEIR EXTRA YARN to her, since she knits for charity.  But it was way more than she can use, so she had a yarn open house.  Bags, and bags, and bags... HUGE bags. And bags.  AND BAGS!! So, yes, I found green.  And purple.  And we won't talk about the rest, but maybe there was more...

So... this was born.
I didn't follow a written pattern, but went by Pinterest pictures.  There are free patterns to be found (search "crochet block stitch"). But, lazy as I am, I made up my own rules. I mean, who enjoys switching colours?  I think my method was successful, so I'll 'splain it here.

I didn't cut the brown until the body of the blanket was finished and I was working on the edging.  For every other row, when a new colour was added, I just put it in place using a standing single crochet stitch, one stitch from the edge (turning chain), and then tied off one stitch from the other edge.  Then to go on  to the next row in brown, once I figured out that the edges were scrunching a bit, and the math in it hit me, I did a chain four rather than a chain three, and at the end of the brown row I tried to make sure my last double crochet was nice and loose.  To make up for not having the colour row in the edge stitches. Hmm.  I suppose I could have triple crocheted there.  But my edges tend to stretch and sag, anyway, so it worked out without the triple crochet.

At the end, I only had coloured yarn tails to weave in, and the nature of the stitches made that quite easy, really.  Overall, it was a pretty easy pattern to stitch, and it took me just over a week to do this one.  I used a 6 mm hook with the worsted yarn, making it go a little faster than a smaller hook.  Uh, well, I actually did the first row with a 6.5, then, because I forgot, switched to a 6.  See that ruffly effect at the bottom?  :-)  So I also used a 6.5 to do the last row, too, and the sides in double crochet.  Then I decided on a tighter slip stitch to finish, and used a 5 mm, and that seemed to take care of that ruffle, anyway, and gave it a nice firm edge.

For a baby?  Really?  Well, they did suggest getting away from the pastels... not that primaries are in right now, either.  But apparently brown is... I made it about 30 x 36, so it might last into the toddler years or even longer as a lapghan.
 Here you can see that the back doesn't look much different from the front. 

Not even a week, and I miss it already.  I started another one in a darker brown with lime green and baby blue, and also have a pink and grey variegated one on the hook.  Stay tuned.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

I'm hooked

It's been years. YEARS. Until a few months ago, I hadn't touched my crochet hooks or raw yarn ... probably since my dear son discovered scissors, in conjunction with the huge ball of yarn I was using to make my sisters slippers. Yeah, he's in his 20s now.

But seeing my friends and relatives knitting and crocheting, and all the yarn crafts at the fall fair... I told myself I should crochet again. I mean, I entered flower arrangements, baking, COMPOST (that's a tough one!)... why not some needle arts? And then, my arthritis resulted in fewer minutes behind my cello... I think I just needed the creative outlet. When have I had the yarn bug bite before? Usually when I wasn't playing my cello. And THEN, a call went out for baby blankets! Well, there you go.  That, and Pinterest.

The arthritis did cause frequent breaks, but I learned that using a lower tension on the yarn made it easier on the hands. And, thankfully, maybe it was the supplements, one hand improved. Had a corticosteroid shot in the other, and it improved, too. Or maybe it was the chocolate and fruitcake. I don't know, but they are not too bad right now. Maybe it was the crocheting! :-)

Here are the first two blankets I made. The first one is made with two "Great Value" skeins of Bernat Chunky in "Wedgewood" which worked up very quickly in a V stitch with a double crochet border.  I think it was about 30" x 30". The second one is made with white and pink pompadour yarns. The pattern can be found at Modern Grace Design, but I had trouble following her directions at the ends of the rows... I ended up with something that worked, but I don't think it was the intended design!  I think I adapted the number of stitches for the finer yarn, as well.

Stay tuned for pictures and details on blanket number 3, what I might call Happy Hugs...

Friday, January 16, 2015

Video of the Week: The Two Grenadiers by Schumann

Here is a good teacher demonstrating this piece from the Suzuki Book 2 repertoire, WITH ACCOMPANIMENT. For any of you doing regular listening to Suzuki repertoire via You Tube, please make sure there is a piano accompaniment so that you are also familiar with the harmonies, counter melodies, etc., as can also be heard on the CDs or iTunes downloads. And good quality speakers are a really good idea, too!  It's a good idea to run any regular (repeated) You Tube Suzuki listening by me, as there are some with mistakes.  Yes, even we teachers make mistakes! :-)

Students: Please come to your lesson prepared to tell a story for this piece(you may write it down if you like). You will probably need to listen several times (here or on your CD), unless this has already been on your daily listening for a while.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Video of the week: Popper Requiem for Three cellos and Piano

"Amit Peled and two of his students from the Peabody Institute, Hans Kristian Goldstein and Paula Cuesta performing David Popper's Requiem for three cellos and piano as part of the second "Cellobration" program for the Spencerville Evensong Concert Series."

Current day cellists this week!

Students Q: What is a requiem?