New Year, New Socks!

My New Year Socks are done! They are so sparkly and colorful! I feel like I am disco dancing when I wear them!

FullSizeRender (41)

(Beth laughs and laughs and then composes herself)

I have a Sylvi update, too. I have the right front done to the underarm :

SylviJan232017

I'll finish the right front tonight, sew it together over the next two nights,  knit the hood for a couple of nights, and then there will be The Petals. Actually knitting them won't be difficult if I can get them started. I think I can do it. Anyway, the whole thing should be done in about two weeks, maybe less. It will be pretty.

I have some stealth knitting, to borrow a phrase from Wendy Johnson. It is my daytime knitting at the moment. I hope to show you at some point in the future! It is why I am only working on Sylvi at night :)

Pogo

 

 

 

 


Ye Olde Christmas Season

I'm still knitting for Christmas. I had to stop for a couple days because Nicky bit my hand Thanksgiving Day; it swelled up bigger than Montana and hurt like the Dickens, but it has gotten better, and now I am back to the Christmas knitting. 

So, in an effort to distract you from the lack of knitting in my blog, I thought I would show you something I found. Did you know that if you go to the Library of Congress, select photos, prints and drawings for the format in the search box and type in "Christmas", you can look at a jillion Christmas pictures from the 1800s to today? There is everything from posters, old Christmas cards that somebody in government received, old photos, everything. There is just a TON of stuff. I spent a lot of time looking at it, and I only got through about 19 pages -- out of 113! Here is just a smattering:

Future Xmas 1896

Future Christmas 1896

1899

U. S. Christmas 1899

Stereo card print 1897

Photographic print on stereo card, 1897

Santa telephoning for more supplies1897

Santa telephoning for more supplies, 1897

(Some things never change!)

Red ross nursewith Xm deco 1910-1930

Red Cross nurse with soldier and Christmas decorations, sometime between 1910 - 1930.

Santa receives pilot's license from ASComm1927

Santa receiving aeroplane pilot's license from the Assistant Secretary of Commerce, 1927. (I am glad Santa is a safe and legal flyer!)

Wash xmas shopping Woolworths 1941

Washington, DC Christmas shopping at Woolworth's Five and Ten, 1941

Store window display 1940:41

Store window display, 1940/41

Christmas, it seems, is still the same as it always was. And that is reassuring! 

You may note that if you go to www.yarndemon.com, my 2014 Christmas Musical Advent Calendar selections will be at the top of my posts for the next 25 days; you need to download Spotify to play them, but it is free! 


Music

Finding new music you like is really hard. Too bad there's not an app that would pick out music I really like and store it in a music folder to be listened to later. (The same thing applies for new books I would like to read, but that's another blog post.)

Usually I spend an inordinate amount of time listening to snippets of Amazon's blues and alternative latest releases, cull out the truly awful, keep the good, then listen to them. That's the first cut. Then, while listening, I make the decision whether to keep it or not (or whether to buy it or not). Luckily, I pay for Spotify so I can just keep my playlists in the mysterious ether and never have to actually buy them, since I kinda actually paid for them, as long as I have Spotify, anyway.

I always worry that I'll miss something, discover the artist when they've gone out of print, just have a song or two to tell me what a sorry dumb-ass I was to miss them. I have some like that, songs that were perfect in the 90's, but I discovered them in 2011 when the band was long since gone, buh-bye, wish I gotten to know ya...oh well.

Anyway. Here are some artists you should listen to if you like blues and alternative like me:

Guy Forsyth, The Freedom to Fall - has a little country slant to it, but I like it. It's blues. Guy has a good voice and the guitar is excellent.

 

Simon McBride, Crossing the Line - this is more electric blues, with a killer guitar and a great voice. He writes good songs, or someone does (this is what I miss not getting the CD).

 

The No Refund Band, self-titled album - this is blues, and it's covers, and I think this is the only album they have out, but dang, their cover of Eleanor Rigby is worth it. I know what you're thinking, Eleanor Rigby is not a blues song ... until now.

 

Master Thieves, Nature of Gravity - this is alternative, with little playful guitar that pulls out riffs that tug at your heart. The lyrics are wonderful. You know when you hear a song and think, man, it's great how they said that? Yeah.

 

Beth Orton, Sugaring Season - Beth Orton has a new CD out after a long wait. She seems a little sad, not much is upbeat in this album, but her voice is distinctive and good. This album takes some getting used to, and I think I'll like it more after I listen to it a few times. The problem may be more with me than with her, actually.

 

Micah Brown, The Isle of Her - Micah Brown is the new Jack Johnson in my opinion, but nobody seems to have made that connection but me. He's got a voice like John Mayer, songs like Jack Johnson, plays a good guitar, has a little bit tropical flair like Jimmy Buffet, but he is definitely Micah Brown. I'll listen to this new album a lot.


Tricoter Machine

I used to hate my knitting machine, until I saw this:

 (The embedded video might not work for you; click the link below to watch it if it doesn't work.)

"Les Peaux des Lievres" by Tricoter Machine 

"Les Peaux des Lievres" translates into "The Skins of Hares" in Google Translator, but I don't think that's right. Wouldn't "Rabbit Furs" be more poetic? ::: shrug :::

Tricoter Machine is a Quebecois group from Trois Riviers, Quebec (about halfway between Montreal and Quebec).


Knit to the Beat

Knitting is helped by so many things, one of which is music. For people who like music (there are some who prefer the spoken word over music) it can lead you into a trance-like state, can make knitting something that is a drudge go by quickly, and it does the magic job of doing two things at once.

My husband bought me a collection of classical music that I wouldn't have thought of buying on my own: 100 Movie Must-Have Classics (he's a movie buff; I am not). It's a great collection of a hundred good classical pieces. I don't even recognize most of the movies they're from, but I gotta say, I love the music! I can get lost in that music while knitting.

100 Must-Have Movie Classics

When I was little, in kindergarten or first grade, for a music lesson they gave us drawing paper and crayons and said, "Draw what you think of when you hear this music." The music teacher played something from Peer Gynt, I think, so I drew a copy of the album cover; my sister (and my kindergarten/first grade teacher) played it all the time. The music teacher was amazed until I told him that. Anyway, what I mean to say is, when I am knitting, I can really hear the music, get lost in it, imagine what that world is like. I need the knitting to focus on the music. Knitting without music is just knitting (and sometimes better that way, like in most of my Cardioid Shawl); music without knitting is just music -- lovely and exciting, but I can't let go of myself the same way.

Another album I like and get lost in, that just came out in May, is John Mayer's Born and Raised, sort of a cowboy version of what he does best, and that is writing songs and playing guitar. He plays guitar like a bluesman. I thought the first half of the album was better than the second half, but that's just me.

Born and Raised

I also like Royal Southern Brotherhood, which also came out in May, by Cyril Neville (of the Neville Brothers), Devon Allman (son of Gregg Allman), Mike Zito (a rising star in the blues world), bassist Charlie Wooton and drummer Yonrico Scott. Devon's guitar sounds, at times, like he's Carlos Santana. It's a yummy CD. I hope they make many albums together!

Royal Southern Brotherhood


Rating Music

I've had an iPod since they came out, and iTunes to go with them. I've loved them lots and lots. But I just recently started to rate my music; five little stars to tell me all kinds of things that I never took the time to notice about my music.

Empty

That's how my Rating category has always looked -- empty. I never knew why people would rate their music. If I was a DJ or something, it might be different, but as I am not, it just seemed like a waste of time.

Enter the Smart Playlist. Smart Playlists make sense of the world for me. They're just short of a Star Trek scene, where the Captain says, "Computer, make me a playlist that blah blah blah blah!" and the computer instantly complies. (Actually, I think Siri does this now, on iPhones? Goosebumps.)

I have gotten into a rut of playing the same four or five CDs, so I made a playlist of all my unplayed songs (I have played them, but maybe in the car on a CD, or on anather device). I had about 4.6 days of them. Then I had it take out Spoken Word, Holiday, Jump Blues Shows, and a few others, and that brought it down to 4.1 days. Then I set it to random and started listening while I knit.

I noticed that I really liked some songs, and really hated others (don't drunk-buy a whole CD, let it be a lesson). I thought, I wish I could remember which songs I hated, and which songs I loved ... and that's how the Ratings all began.

This is how I rate my music: one and two stars for "non-effective" music, i.e., music that I don't like. I give one star to pieces of shit, or pieces that disturb me for some other reason known only to me. I give two stars to pieces that I don't like too, but they're merely boring or bad, not disturbing. Three, four, or five stars are given to "effective" music, music that I like. Three-star music is just plain old music, it's good, it makes me smile, but there is nothing special about it, other than I like it. I give four stars to music that has some feature that I really like, such as a guitar riff that I like, or clever lyrics, or mandolin playing unexpectedly, or a good drum solo, or a singer who can actually sing. It makes me smile a little bit more than a three-star piece of music. I give five stars to the cream of the crop; these are songs I just love. I want to hug them and kiss them and call them George and marry them and bear their children. Maybe they're just really, really good, or maybe it was the circumstance when I first heard them, or maybe they remind me of a time or place or person that was special. Mostly, I took my rating from the old Maine Educational Assessment grading matrix that I used the times I graded the writing part of the MEA's, and transferred it to music. Ta Da! Instant rating system.

Filled

As you can see, I have a long ways to go, but I will eventually have all my songs rated. Then I can make really GOOD playlists, good for me, anyway, hehe. 

Today I have an assistant helping me:

GraaceInBag

Who let the cat outta the bag??


And Now for Our Musical Interlude

I don't know about you, but I knit mostly to music. Audiobooks, lectures, podcasts, all make me squirm slightly, and I'm not sure why exactly, because I used to love having a story read to me as a child. It's been this way for a long time, too; I can't blame it on the stroke. Even television doesn't really thrill me. If it's good television, I don't knit. And when I do knit, it's only plain garter stitch or stockinette stitch with no increases or decreases -- that has changed since the stroke, by the way. I used to be able to knit anything when the TV was on, anything. Now I can concentrate on only the most basic things.

But music, I can do. I love to listen to music when I knit, and I love blues. I also love classical, Celtic, alternative, and a bit of old rock 'n roll -- not the oldies, the hardcore classic guitar stuff. I like big band swing too, that's really oldies. But mostly, I like the blues. They really know how to play their instruments. They write lyrics that exactly fit my mood. Blues doesn't have to be depressing: it's joyful, playful, beautiful.

Here are some of my recent favorites, in no particular order. They all are on Spotify, the whole album, for free:

1. Gov't Mule, The Deepest End, favorite track: "Beautifully Broken"

2. Robbie Robertson, How To Become Clarvoyent, favorite track: "Straight Down the Line"

3. McKnight & Bogdall, Zombie Nation, favorite track: "Red Wheel Barrow"

4. Canned Heat, Straight Ahead, favorite track: "Dust My Broom"

5. Steve Miller Band, Let Your Hair Down, favorite track: "Snatch It Back and Hold It"

 

I'm always up for new music, any kind. What's your top find? Heard anything good lately?

ShineyBluesGuitar

Photo Credit: "Shiney Blues Guitar" by Donna L. Weida

http://www.watercolor-online.com/DonnaLWeida


Back to Work (and Day 2 & 3 of vacation)

Sorry, I forgot to post Day 2 of vacation. Pretty much, it was just spinning and knitting. Oh, and there was a fire drill in the hotel. They warned me about it, so I left for a walk and missed the whole thing.

My Hanne Falkenberg jacket is done except for 1/2 the collar band and the two narrow sleeve cuffs. I got some lovely yellow Peace Fleece at Halcyon not too long ago, and I knit a mitten from it. I spun the 4 ounces of 50/50 merino & tencel fiber I got from Spunky Eclectic at the SPA in February, it is a pretty blue-green/yellow/brown color called "Aspen". It's shiny! It's really pretty, and I think the skein will become a Christmas present. I also went to Grace Robinson and got some sport weight 100% silk from Colinette in the pretty blue color "Lapis", which I have now half done a "Sea-Wool Scarf" from Yarn Forward magazine, issue #11 I think. It's a small version of a Faroe-type shawl, meant to be worn as a scarf, with long tassels that hang down from the 3 points. Its pretty. It might become a Christmas present too. I love it but I don't think I would wear it. I also don't know what to do with my Martini scarf; I love it a lot, but I don't think I will wear it. 

Even though I had to work yesterday at the store, I am still counting it as Day 3 of my vacation, because last night I went to a fabulous concert in Rockland at the Strand Theater. I heard Coco Montoya and Tommy Castro play some excellent blues! It was a rockin' event, and I loved it. Before the show, I went to dinner at Rustica, about 50 steps from the Strand, and had veggie lasagne followed by........

Limoncello

...... limoncello for dessert. I was introduced to limoncello on one of the September knitting cruises this year by Mrs. Krueger (of the Alaskan Mrs. Kruegers), and it is yummy. It will knock you flat on your ass in about 10 miliseconds, so you have to be careful, you have to really really really sip it. And when I say, sip it, I mean SIP IT. Slowly. Take a small sip, savor it, swallow it. Do not sip again until the burning in your throat goes away!!! It took me 20 minutes to drink that little glass of limoncello, but I could still walk afterwards, so I count that as a win. And I knew I had about 4 more hours before I would be driving, so all was well, don't worry. 

Things are pretty slow at the store, but I am trying to be positive. As in, "I am positive I am not making any money!!!" Heh. Hopefully things will pick up. The yarn store part of Unique One is actually coming along pretty well, but the sweaters are woefully under-inventoried. Susan and Tracy and Stephanie and I are knitting as fast as we can, but it takes a while to make the sweaters in amounts that really show. I have to get through a backlog of sweater orders from this summer, but as soon as those are caught up, I will start making stock for the shelves and then you will see an improvement. I wish I had more inventory for Christmas, but whatchagonna do. All I can do is keep on as best I can. 

Happy knitting, and I promise not to write such long blog posts again for a while.


iTunes Geekiness

I just found the most awesome thing :) 


One of the things I don't like about the iTunes store is that if I wanna play all the song previews from an album, I have to stop every 30 seconds and click the next song to play the preview. Stopping every 30 seconds seriously inhibits my knitting flow, ya know? 

So I have installed a cool applescript that will automatically play all the song previews for an album, and I don't have to lift a finger, I just listen and knit. It's awesome. And, I find that listening to all the previews of the  songs in a row gives me a much better feel for the album overall, as a whole concept, since it flows together better. 

You can get the script HERE.

You can get iTunes HERE, but better yet, you can go to Wild Rufus in Camden and buy music there, and support a friend and his family :) 

My Life Is Complete

Behold the power of the blog!!!

A few days ago I asked for help, as a desperate need to own the theme song from Hockey Night in Canada had consumed my soul.... I had looked and looked in vain for it, all over the internet. And lo, faithful reader Petula Darling came through for me with 4 (count 'em, F-O-U-R) different versions, which she kindly shared with me! She is a goddess. And I do feel bad that after listening to one of the versions, she had to pour bleach in her ears because of the horror of it. (It did sound pretty bad; I swear you could hear the polyester leisure suit the singer was wearing, LOL.)

So in case any of you have not been fortunate enough to have grown up watching Hockey Night in Canada, here is what you have been missing:

Hockey Night in Canada Theme Song
Hnic


Re-arranging the Furniture

I've been moving stuff around on the blog. As you may have noticed over on the left margin, I've gotten rid of the "On My iPod" list in favor of a list of my favorite songs, constantly updated courtesy of Pandora.com. Under the list of songs is a link to Yarndemon Radio, which is a station I created on Pandora and which plays music that I like. Ostensibly. (Some of the artists I chose; some of the music played on the station is chosen by the Pandora software, based on the analyses of the Music Genome Project. You can make your own radio station. It's easy! and fun! I did it; you can too.

I think it's cool.

Thanks go to Stacy, who Must Get a Blog SOON since I appear to be talking about her all the time and could be linking to her.

So, unrelated to the entire rest of this post--
From the Off-the-Wall Department....here's a list of my 5 favorite things today:

1. Pandora.com.
2. Cute Bento boxes.
3. Camilla the Hen.
4. Wearable Animal Heads.
5. Food Sculpture.


Clever Norwegians

I drove down to Saco today to look at this year's line of Dale of Norway sweaters. It was actually a nice drive, and Saco is a nice town. The people are very friendly there.

Just to make it clear: this is the Dale of Norway sweater collection, not their yarn line. Dale has an impermeable barrier between the two parts of its company. The sweaters are gorgeous, ranging from very traditional styles like Setesdal and Fana, to more modern designs. It will be tough choosing the styles for Unique One to carry this year. The new sweaters will be arriving during the summer, July, I think. I've always loved this line because of the Norwegian knitting tradition and because of the high quality of Norwegian wool from which the sweaters are knit.

Oh yes, and we're not mentioning the half-finished Dale of Norway I am "knitting" -- started over a year ago. Okay? Okay. Go over to Amazon or iTunes and listen to Of Montreal's song, "Oslo in the Summertime". It will take your mind off my unfinished Norwegian project. And if you like that song, I also highly recommend Of Montreal's song "Wraith Pinned to the Mist and Other Games", which has nothing to do with Norway, although it does mention Antarctica. Have fun. :)


Oh Geez! and I'm out of control

Oh geez, I wish I could go to Bonnaroo this year! Most of my favorite musicians will be there, from Tom Petty to Mike Doughty to Andrew Bird. But, I can't go (even if I could afford to go). It butts up against the end of the June Knitting Cruise, which butts up against the Summer TNNA show in Indianapolis, which butts up against the rest of my life.

I started a new project yesterday, and actually I also started another new project four days ago, but in the I'm-hiding-it behavior of a true addict I neglected to mention anything about these things. If you don't admit you're doing it, you're not really doing it, right? Heh heh.

The first project is a crocheted scarf. The object of this game is to use my utterly fabulous new ebony crochet hook I snagged from Grafton Fibers at the Spa. It's a bobble pattern found in Vogue On-the-Go Crocheted Scarves, and I'm using 3 skeins of Frogtree Alpaca fingering weight:
Bobblescarf And The Gorgeous Hook: Ebonyhook

The second project is a cashmere scarf, a kit I also nabbed at the Spa, from Springtide Farm. Yes, these are the people who have the famous goats that strutted through Manhattan with supermodels on the ends of their leashes, promoting cashmere for Saks Fifth Avenue. Let me just say, their cashmere is totally TO DIE FOR. It makes you never want to knit with anything else ever again. *sigh* And Unique One doesn't even sell it. *SIGH* Here's a pic:

Cashmerescarf

Okay. Well I also started a sock with a bran'-spankin'-new yarn we just got from Tahki/Stacy Charles called "Dream". I fell in love with it because it looks like miniature guernsey wool. The company means for you to use it double, on a size 8 needle, but I'm going with a single strand on size 2's, making a sock from my Gansey Socks pattern (a pattern I hand out on the knitting cruises). The yarn is 80% wool, 20% acrylic or nylon. It feels kind of like a wool crepe, so it isn't really soft, and it isn't really itchy, it's just kinda different. I think it will make a cool-looking sock for summer. It feels kind of like cotton, but it's kind of stretchy, too. It is odd and therefore, I love it. Look for it in the store.

Well, all right. I also brought home some Diasantafe yarn to make another summer sweater. More about that later. And I also talked to a friend yesterday about casting on Vivian Hoxbro's Rainbow Jacket. This is getting embarrassing.

In some form of redemption for my knitting soul, I did briefly consider working on my over-a-year-old Dale of Norway sweater yesterday, to the point that I actually located the bag it is in.

You know that old song. "Call Me Irresponsible....."


iTunes, Coldplay, and a Warm Fuzzy Feeling

Not knitting related, but I'm always up for a good cause: over on iTunes, Coldplay has an EP called "Fix You". iTunes, Coldplay, and Capitol Records will donate 100% of the proceeds from the sale of this EP to the American Red Cross' Hurricane Katrina Relief and the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences' MusiCares Hurricane Relief Fund.

Pretty classy.

It's only $2.99. I must say, I'm enjoying it in the earphones right now. :)


Stop-Action Knitting

Check out the music video for Steriogram’s song “Walkie Talkie”! I can’t believe how many hours it must have taken to produce it all, let alone animate it. Even if they used a knitting machine, it would still take a long time to piece it all together. What a job. I love it. Great New Zealand band, too.

from an article about the video:
"Everything in the clip is knitted: from the band’s instruments, to their recording studio and even the film camera that Gondry uses in his cameos role. Sound waves, tape reels, film rolls and other little details are all represented by wool and yarn. The outside world doesn’t escape the woolen treatment either - cars, trees and buildings are all knitted."

A piece about the making of the video is here: http://steriogram.com/. They show knitters literally knitting up the items in the video while it’s in production.