Thursday, December 31, 2009

Silent Night

Quiet!  Please....
No need to ask; my guests have departed leaving a vacuum of space and sound, and most of all, a time for knitting.

How little did I knit in the past month?  Very little.  I didn't finish the Advent Socks, but I created and finished a quickie "Little Miss Santa" in less than 24 hours.  I'll try to be more prepared for Christmas Eve NEXT year...  I'm not totally happy with my creation;  I used stash yarn of 100% acrylic (thick: lovely; touch: horrible) with trim in off-white wool.  The end result: Something that looked like it came out of a cedar chest from the '50's.  It worked with the red tights and black shiny shoes.  (Baby's first shoes!)

To accentuate the quiet, we have snow.  Several inches in the past 24 hours:  Wonderful crunchy snow.  The only sound is movement on the snow, of the occasional car, and a few footprints.  My own steps are shockingly loud as I move around the block with my dog. Tonight I awake to the glare of an almost full moon shining through the trees, making a beautiful scene.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Little Christmas Eve

The plans have been made and there's no looking back!  Christmas and the holidays are here!  In Norway we say today is "Lille Jul Aften" or Little Christmas Eve.  That should be fair warning that things that aren't done, won't get done, and we'll be fine!

Knitting has taken a serious backseat to sight seeing and eating.  Even the Ivories haven't been tickled a whole lot.  Remembering that I will be playing at least 11 familiar Christmas tunes on Christmas Eve tomorrow night spurred me to task by practicing yesterday and getting my ducks in a row this morning. (Getting ducks in a row is the technical term for putting my music in order so I can flip through a notebook instead of rearranging and looking for the next piece. Very helpful when there are more than 4 or 5 pieces.)  So that's my secret:  I feel organized!

Two days ago I made a trip to Bluff, Utah, to show the Norwegians the beautiful monuments of the area.  They were very impressed first with the long roads that disappeared into the distance.  We turned north then southwest and then west and at every turn they remarked how far and straight the roads are.  They've seen such highways in films but were amazed that they really exist.

When we got home that evening, the rest of the gang were beside themselves trying not to spill the beans about a surprise for the next day, and by early the next morning, with a little nudging, I looked at the front page of the daily paper and there was our little 6 month old granddaughter!  They had been to the library to see the sun come through a solstice window, and the cutest baby was there to play with the marking on the floor...  That's how we celebrate 1/2 year birthdays!

The Advent Calendar of socks remains incomplete.  The most I can hope for is 20 socks.  What are the chances I'll have 24 when I put it away for the year?  The answer:  none.

What are the chances that I will have a red shift ready for baby in 24 hours?  80% chance, or higher if I end the blog here!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Ready or Not

For the past month, I've been planning the perfect Christmas, expecting guests from Norway any day now.  Being semi-retired, and having so much time on my hands, I guess the dreaming got out of hand--reality is hitting hard.  I'm hoping to accomplish at least one project:  24 knitted socks for Advent.  See?  I haven't even gotten anything up on the wall, and it's already Day 9!  I'm a slacker... but I have a little person to smile at every day, and people visiting, and places to go, and music to practice and organize.

Here's what my Christmas socks look like this morning... grrr.  Something is going up today!  I have numbers on 1-7 and 3 without numbers.  That puts me even with tomorrow.  Needless to say, there have been no Advent surprises yet.  I'm just lucky that a 5 month old makes her own surprises every day.

"Even though I'm gritting my teeth so hard that you could crack diamonds between them...I like knitting, I think it's fun, and I really am relaxing."  Stephanie Pearl-McFee

Friday, December 4, 2009

Baby needs....

Baby needs a new... bonnet!  Baby, it's COLD outside.  With our evenings turning to the teens, my knitting is put to the test:  My third baby bonnet is complete.  Tonight my granddaughter, unwillingly went out after dark.  She's here from Norway, 5 months old, and resisting the adjustment to our time zone.  Tonight we tried to push a few more hours towards MST, but the cold snap has us wondering why we have to roam around at the river's edge, following a trail of paper bags glowing with candles.  One reason is to hear the carols and the Trumpet Geezers; another is to visit with friends; hot chocolate isn't bad either, in fact that's a necessity!  It really is beautiful:  the city has bonfires for warmth, but babies adjusting to time zones don't care about those things.  

Three days ago I went to Ravelry and looked up the yarn, needles and number of stitches cast on so I could recreate the Lilac Bonnet I made for my granddaughter when she was 2 months old.  Now at 5 months, I bound off a little earlier than I anticipated to make tonight's deadline.  She wore it proudly, with warm head and ears, carried up and down the river's edge, trying to sleep.  We met several people who know her mother, so we were stopped and she looked out from the warmth of her mama's chest wondering about the craziness, and probably enjoying the exclamations of the adults at her perfect-ness.  

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Ivories and Ebonies

I play on more ebonies than ivories... That's what we organists do!  If you aren't an organist, you may want to skip the next paragraph, because it's going to be BOORRRing.

I am employed by the local Methodist church to accompany and perform on their organ and piano.  The piano is a mediocre Baldwin, but the organ is a wonderful Casavant built in 1984.  The Casavant builder is in Sainte Hiacynthe, Quebec, and I think they did a wonderful job of putting together a great sound.  Full organ is perfect for a church FULL of singers on Easter morning or Christmas Eve.  Otherwise, I get complaints about it being too loud (and without using Full Organ).  I know that I've interrupted some conversations, and caused some hearing aids to malfunction! What FUN!  

What is it like to be relied upon to lead and keep the service going?  I try not to think about it.  From June through September I was without leadership, relying on lay people to sing hymns, which was interesting every Sunday!  Now I have a fine leader who really leads... I have to watch! (Imagine that!)

December is probably the most stressful time of year: 
1.  Everyone wants to sing carols.  Well known carols that they only get to sing once or twice a year.  With organ, and everyone else singing away, and candles... You know the ones EVERYONE knows.  Unfortunately, there are a few minor places in these carols that written differently than many people "know" them, but you know, the organ is louder so it doesn't matter.  What DOES matter is the pipe organ when it's cranked up (and not necessarily loud) is an unforgiving beast.  How many times have I stopped playing but came a little too close to the keyboard below, where I've ever so slightly touched a key to hear a gigantic sound announced for all? Or a slip in the head when I've forgotten to push cancel and my foot has touched a pedal issuing forth a nasty blatt! It doesn't happen often but it certainly is memorable! (Last Sunday was one of those.)

2.  Organists usually don't play these popular carols more than once or twice a year.  So an untimely blatt is nothing compared to stumbling on a chord in a carol!  Dang... I hate that when it happens.

3.  Cantatas!  Yes, every church has the "special program" where who is the star of the show?  The director and choir, of course!  And who could bring the mood down to a grinding halt?  The accompanist, of course!  I try not to think about how much is riding on it.  In the past few years, I've been playing with other musicians who take on much of that burden, and can cover up a multitude of uncertain notes in my part.  But this year, it's just me!  

How do I do it?  How does one prepare?  I'll be writing about that in a few weeks, but I have to warn you... I'm not a pretty picture the day of the performance.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Before there was Thanksgiving

Maybe it's because I'm expecting my daughter and a baby very soon. (Remember that surge of energy you had before you delivered?)... I'm a bit crazy.  Maybe I'm stir crazy! (Give me 3 days and no job-related commitments) or... just crazy, my mind is running on fumes!

I'm tanked and ready to go--- Renaissance!  A month ago I committed to attending a friend's "Feaste" today, with the strong option of coming in authentic dress. This morning I went to the closet and pulled out my "matron faire" Renaissance costume.   Probably 10 years ago our chamber orchestra played a gig in costume, and I haven't looked at it since.  I just remember men keeping eye contact with me and that I requested the ladies to alert me if "an apple happened to roll out of the orchard".  

First the amazing part:  With outside help, i.e. my husband, the dress could be zipped up.  The frighteningly tight part is just under the boobs giving me wonderful support, and the rest is very comfy/roomy.  
Second:  I'm adding 3 inches of concealing fabric to avoid costume "malfunction".  Three inches!!  A lot to cover up, yes sir!  You know, older skin just needs a little...concealer.

So with my gown and head piece, and Kransekake in hand... I wish I had a lute...

There were musicians too.  The wooden "lur" was used to signal the many courses.  It was truly a "feaste" and good time.  Most importantly we spent many hours at the table and enjoyed the conversations, huzzah's, and revelry!  A strange planetary site occurred which gave our brains pause:  Two bright objects shot across the sky, one chasing the other!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Welcome to the aughts!

Welcome to the 00's...
Hi, everyone! Today I'm running on few hours of sleep, and I'm pumped!
In less than 4 days my house will begin filling up with my daughter and granddaughter of 5 months. For the past 3 months I've been following developments via short movies. I wonder how entertaining they are to my friends, but I guarantee that you'll chuckle at this one!

This is where YARN comes into the picture. I'm surrounded by projects that are in various stages. To get an idea of what I'm up to I've been conscientious about updating my Ravelry page. Some would even say I have an unhealthy obsession about it, but it helps me stay on top of things!

I was up late last night because a "friend" (up for discussion later) showed me a pair of slippers that came from somewhere in Russia by way of her husband's trip. Now that's a good guy, right? Bringing home beautiful handmade slippers! The catch is: I can't resist a challenge. Now to be fair, I TRIED (a bit forcefully) to coerce two fellow knitters to help with the challenge, but they were just too smart, I guess... They turned me down flatly. What was it? To re-create these slippers; in other words write out a pattern so someone else could re-create them. I don't know about copyright laws but I looked at tons of patterns (on Ravelry) and I saw nothing like them. Please let me know if it truly is published, but in the meantime today, November 25th, 2009 was the day I wrote out a pattern. Will it work? Maybe... Anyone want to give it a try? Here it is:

Slipper Socks from Russia

Use Aran/Worsted weight yarn, and US #8 needles.

Cast on 26 st.

Knit 4 rows of garter stitch, and 12 rows of stockinette.

Knit 16, k2tog, turn. *Slip 1, p6, p2tog, turn, slip 1, k6, k2tog, turn* Repeat * to * until all stitches “live” (all stitches have been picked up and knitted).

At end of last knit row pick up 10 stitches along the side of piece. Turn and purl back. At end of purl row pick up 10 stitches along the side of piece. (27 stitches)

Continue stockinette until slipper is 3” less than the length of finished foot. Start toe.

Change to contrasting color and use short rows to taper toe.

Knit to last stitch. Wrap and turn (W&T) See below. Purl back to last stitch, W&T. Knit to one stitch before previously wrapped stitch, and next stitch W&T. Wrap stitches on each side until there are 8 “live/unwrapped” stitches in the center.

Next row (tip of toe) * knit 3, slip 1, k2tog, pass slipped stitch over [psso] (3 stitches=1 stitch, double decrease), knit 3, unwrap one stitch by knitting wrap and stitch together. Wrap next stitch (this will be the second wrap making it a “double wrap”) and turn. Purl 8, unwrap next (purl wrap and stitch together), wrap next stitch (dbl wrap) and turn. *

Repeat * to * until all stitches are unwrapped.

Continue in pattern (using double decrease in center: sl1, k2tog, psso) and pick up one stitch on each side in every other row on slipper side. At top of cuff, pick up last stitch and begin bind off row. At end of row pick up one more stitch from top of cuff and bind it off with last stitch of row.

Tuck in ends!

Good luck with it. I hope to hear from someone about their success or adaptations.
And Happy Thanksgiving!

I'm joining the blog world, and wonder if anyone really comments on things.


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