Saturday, October 29, 2011

too good to pass up

On the way home from "emergency automobile inspection," (translation: taking the Explorer to be inspected after I discovered that E-Rex never did it because he thought someone might have said that they though there might not be, automobile inspection in NJ anymore.) I had other plans for today, but I didn't want to push grace any farther than it already had been pushed.   

On the way home, I  made a pit stop into the JoAnn store in Paramus because I had a moonlight madness 30% off everything, including sale items, card in my wallet and I thought it would expire on the  29th.  With snow in the forecast, I doubted that I would get out for a JoAnn run tomorrow, and if I did, it would probably be Interstate, not the Paramus location.

I found a few things that were Buy One Get One Half Off.  When I combined those bargains with the additional 30% off everything, my purchase total was just higher than 50% of the already discounted retail prices for everything.  That was nice.

Then, I went to Guitar Center for a book for one of my students.....which they didn't have.  That wasn't.

Friday, October 28, 2011

it's a waiting game

Our high school reunion party is scheduled for tomorrow night at 7:30, at the Brick House in Wyckoff.  I was not the school spirit type, but I have to admit that I'm looking forward to seeing some  classmates  I haven't seen since we graduated.  With the nor'easter heading right for our area and the height of it anticipated to be mid day, I confess being a little bummed.  Will the reunion be rescheduled?  I won't mind, but who's visiting from a distance that won't be able to make it on another date?  Is the Brick House booked for Sunday? 

I'll have to wait and see.   

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

cubics interchangeable knitting needle review

Not too long ago, I was thrilled to find that Webs, America's Yarn Store, began to carry a line of knitting needles made by Knitter's Pride.  Knitter's Pride also makes knitting needles for Knit Picks, which I have used for years. I have always had  2 issues with the Knit Picks needles: I wanted a second color cable, so when one knits circularly on 2 circular needles, one circular would have 1 color cable and the other would have another.  It would save a lot of double checking time. I also wanted the acrylic set to be available in any color, not only the crystal clear ones that are available.  They are difficult to use in some lighting. Although I had these small issues, I still used and loved the needles. I just wished for the improvements.

Well, fast forward to Webs' launch.  Not only are their cables black/charcoal gray rather than the  purple Knit Picks ones, but the acrylics are in an assortment of color keyed by needle size.  Great!  However, the best part of the launch is the inclusion of Cubics needle tips.  I have wanted to try the Kollage square needles for a long time but I already had a huge collection of the Knitter's Pride ones and the Kollage needles were pricier, so I stifled my yen.

I ordered 1 set of Cubics tips and some cables from Webs.  I have used them for a few projects and they are in my WIP Chocolate Cherry Spanish Dancer Shawl.   It's true that the square needles are extremely comfortable to hold and with which to knit.  I don't know if I'm simply suggestible or if it's true that stitches are more consistent with the square needle profile.    The Cubics tips are only available in a few sizes at this time.  I have since ordered 2 pair in the  3 most common sizes with which I commonly knit.  I'd like to see an entire size 4 - 13 set become available. Currently, the smallest size available is  6.

My overall review of these needles? EXCELLENT!  They're great feeling, are beautiful wood that is warm in your hands, produce lovely fabric, are priced right and have a no questions asked guarantee.  

les paul in mahwah

For much of the month of September, my "free time," whatever that is, was occupied with activities related to the grand opening of the incomparable Les Paul in Mahwah exhibit at the Mahwah Museum.

Les Paul was an extraordinary jazz guitarist and a genius who influenced 20th century culture more than any other single individual.  Virtually everyone's life has been touched in some way, by his inventions, if not by his music.

Because I broadcast the Guitar Technique Tutor Podcast every week, I contacted the exhibit coordinator, Dr. Charles Carerras. He was gracious enough to not only grant me an interview, but to allow me to see the exhibit before it was open to the public.  That first viewing was about a week before the official opening.  I was astounded by the scope of the exhibit.  Les Paul's workshop and much of his recording studio are literally in the exhibit.  Les Paul's 3 most infamous creations: the Octopus, the Lathe and the Log were all there!  At that time, they weren't yet in protective cases. It was like a dream.  The exhibit has 3 video screens on which to watch the old Les Paul TV show, to see Les Paul talking about how he created the Log, which was the first solid body electric guitar (made of a single piece of wood for the neck and body in order to increase sustain, and without any acoustic amplification) and to see Les Paul's creation/invention of multi-track "sound on sound" recording.  By appointment,guitarists can play one of Les Paul's guitars. through his amp, on a stage in the museum. Currently, the dates available are booked but the museum will be releasing some more winter and spring dates soon.  To say the sneak peak was exhilarating would be the understatement of the century.

Later that week, I attended a lecture by Les Paul's  friend and autobiographer, Michael Cochran.  It was illuminating.  Then, there was the tribute concert at Ramapo College.  The headliners were Lou Pallo, who was part of the Les Paul trio for years, John Colianni, a phenomenal jazz pianist, Bucky Pizzarelli, who I can't believe still has his chops, considering his advanced age, and several other great musicians.

I got to see the Gibson bus, because Gibson attended the opening weekend festivities and attended and video taped the grand opening ribbon cutting ceremony.

So, for a couple weeks, it was all Les all the time.  My podcasts from those weeks were titled, Genius and Les is More.

The museum director, has kindly extended a private viewing invitation to my students.  We have found a date when most are available, so in December we will have exclusive access to the museum, before the general public will be admitted on that day.  

Whether you're a guitarist, music lover,  jazz cat or kitten, tech buff, or a person who is fascinated by genius, visit Les Paul in Mahwah any Wednesday, Saturday or Sunday between now and the end of June, 2012.  After that, the exhibit will remain but be reduced in size, as some of the collection is on loan from the Les Paul foundation, the Grammy Hall of Fame and private collectors.

I could write about this for hours but I'll spare you. If you're interested, check out my podcasts mentioned above.

Here is the ribbon cutting ceremony (this video had audio when I posted it)

first spanish dancer

A few months ago, I completed another knitting project. The Spanish Dancer shawl, from Knitty.Com.

I have worn it several times and it always garners compliments.  For a change, I used the yarn specified in the pattern, which is a Claudia Hand Painted fingering (sock weight) yarn in superwash merino. The color I used for this, the 1st Spanish Dancer, is  called Mountain Sky.

Pretty?  Right?

It was a very simple pattern. Anyone who can knit, make decreases and follow simple, clear instructions, can make this shawl.

My 2nd Spanish Dancer is on my needles.  Several projects and the soon encroaching Christmas crafting crunch are looming.  I wish it was finished, but it can't be a top priority right now. :'(

cubixx2 photo link

Although the CubixX2 sweater was completed during the summer, I never posted the photo link.  I enjoyed the process of this sweater and it was cool and comfortable when worn.

bobbled hoodie

Ah, the storied "Bobbled Hoodie" by Tahki Stacey Charles Spring 2008 book, that I've been working on for a while.... It's done and I wore it several times last week. Every time I put it on, I smiled.  I smiled broadly, in fact.

I used stash yarn (which is my focus for the foreseeable future) rather than the yarn called for in the pattern.  I had gotten a killer deal on 2 bags of Wick by Knit One Crochet Too in Sea Gold, a blue, cream and goldish color.  As is my custom, after reading the pattern, I decided to knit the front and back simultaneously until they differed (past the beginning of the arm hole shaping.  I'm a bit paranoid about parts matching when I don't knit the entire sweater in the round, so once the pieces were different, I clipped a marker to every row on which I knit bobbles, so when seaming, I would have a very accurate joining guide.  I also knit the sleeves simultaneously.  If I had given it more thought, I would have knit the whole thing in the round.

The last step of the pattern before blocking and sewing together/weaving in ends, is to knit the hood.  I knit that miserable hood TWICE.  I triple counted my stitches  and both times the hood just didn't work.  

Having knit quite a bit of I-cord to lace through the placket, I decided to make an attached I-cord edge around the neck.  It would coordinate with the laced I-cord and also with the bobbles. 

Ah, but what to do about the name, "Bobbled Hoodie?"  That wouldn't do.  So, I call it, "Marie," in honor of Marie Antoinette, who also had her head chopped off.

chemo hats for Dottie

Last week, when I spoke to Dottie, she mentioned that now that she has no hair, the slightest chill in the air makes her head and the rest of her cold.  Well, she's surely dealing with enough adversity.  She said the silky scarf type head coverings she sometimes wears when she goes out don't really keep her warm. So, of course, I volunteered to make her some hats.  I had already purchased Simplicity 2494 pattern set of fleece hats, intending to make 1 or 2 of the designs for her. After looking at the  pattern pieces and instructions, I decided on one particular pattern that is a cloche. The others were more complex than I wanted to tackle.

Cutting the fleece to the shapes of the pattern pieces was a challenge that I overcame by making templates for the pattern pieces.  I'm sure there's a more precise way to do it than my way, but it sufficed.

I only made 1 of the fleece cloches because I wanted to be certain Dottie liked it and that it fit her properly.  That cloche was made on Sunday.

On Saturday, E-Rex was out most of the morning and afternoon. I had slated the day for cleaning, but because I was thinking about Dot's cold chemo head, I did a little stash diving, in  search of soft bulky yarn.  I found some oddments of  Lion Brand Homespun, from previous gift projects.   I grabbed a large crochet hook (I don't remember if it was M or N), started with a double loop, made 8 half double crochets, pulled the ring tight and increased the 8 hdcs every round to create a circle the size of the top of her head and then crocheted evenly until the hat reached the length I wanted.  It went so quickly, I started another one (At that point I was UIC: under the influence of crochet.  Knitters needing to make yarn things quickly are prone to this because crochet goes so much faster than knitting.) The second crocheted hat was made similar to the 1st one, but with single crochet rather than half doubles.  I think I made each hat in less than an hour.

After a little more stash diving, I found some Wool Ease in a mushroom-y color. I knit 2 watch caps in 1x1 ribbing. One, I made short for sleeping and around the house, the other, longer, for outdoors.

Monday, I reached Dottie (was unable to  on Sunday.)  We told her we were coming down to deliver hats.  She gave us a hat-shion show and I was so happy they all fit fine.  She loved the fleece hat, so now that I know it fit her and she liked it, I will make the same cloche in a cream color fleece and in black fleece.

Have a look at my photos in Flickr if you like: Chemo Hats

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