Sunday, July 30, 2017

Yousician Guitar progress

Last night I finally made it through the Yousician songs Moon Hop (in pitiful fashion) and Don’t Rust Alone, to complete Cowboy Chords 5: F & Dm in Level 4.  I will now be working on “Unlock Level 5” for both the Lead & Rhythm paths. Seems I’ve been working on J.S. Bach’s Bourree forever (Lead path); I’m up to about 70% speed. Really enjoying that one, but it’s taking so long! Now I’ll be adding “Close My Eyes” (Rhythm path) to that practice routine as well.

Thank God for the new challenges every Thursday, to give me some new stuff to work on while I try to get past the Unlock Level 5 songs!

I also just got some of the Hal Leonard "Aerobics" music books.  I started with Bass Aerobics and Ukulele Aerobics last night.  I have Guitar Aerobics coming in the mail, and a couple of new violin books as well.

These are the new violin books.

The Fiddle Time Joggers book is recommended by Alison Sparrow of The Online Piano & Violin Tutor.  The Fiddle Time Runners is the next book in that series, and The Magic of Irish Fiddling is supposed to be suitable for beginners as well.  I do have a bit of a book problem!

With my violin, I've been working on a small piece of Folk Dance (a Beethoven piece) in the book Simply Strings Violin Book 1.  I'm also working on Jingle Bells from the same book, and My Bonnie Lies over the Ocean (a simplified version, downloaded from online).  I do feel like I'm making some progress!

Friday, July 21, 2017

Just back from PA

I actually had a 3-day vacation to Pennsylvania!  (Does it count as 3 days of vacation if two of those days included driving 7+ hours to get there and back?)  Regardless, I went and I had a great time.

I left on Tuesday, and drove to Reading, PA where I stayed in Candlewood Suites hotel.  I must say, I loved the accommodations.  Bed was lovely, the pillows were awesome!  (We have stayed at places with entirely inadequate pillows, in both number and quality.)  The room was great.  It had a small stove, some cookware and dishes, a microwave, a coffee pot, even an ironing board and iron.  I believe the only thing I used was the coffee maker, but I was delighted to have it at hand.

A high school friend, Lauranne, met me at the hotel.  We had dinner out, then spent some time getting her set up to learn some bobbin lace.  That was all for day 1.

Day 2 was our busy day.  We went over to the IOLI convention in King of Prussia.  What an incredible experience!  The display room was almost overwhelming.  The opportunity to see so many different types of handmade lace in person was amazing.  I found myself drawn to Tonder lace and Point Ground (as well as the Torchon of which I am so fond).  I didn't take many pictures, but I did get a few.

This is a piece of Paris Lace, by Helena Fransens.

The following three are all Tonder lace.  The threads are incredibly fine (I believe the person showing the lace said it was size 140.)

After viewing the display room (which was much larger, but those pieces were among my favorites) we spent a good deal of time in the sales room.  I came home with a few small things from Van-Dieren Bobbin Lace (some divider pins and some bobbin holders).  I also got a variety of bobbins from several vendors.

This photo shows the bobbins with a business card (from a bobbin maker/vendor) and a stick pen, for scale.

After our trip through the public spaces of the convention, we travelled to Kitchen Kettle Village in Intercourse, PA.  This is a little touristy outdoor mall of sorts; a bunch of different shops, a few eateries, etc.  We had lunch at the Kettle Cafe, where I had a turkey wrap (with fries), with a cheesecake burrito for dessert!

We also shopped for souvenirs, and took a carriage ride & farm tour.  Our tour guide was terrific, and told us a lot about Amish & Mennonite history & culture along the way.

Lauranne & I returned to the hotel to work on the bobbin lace some more.  She returned on Thursday morning and we went out to breakfast at a local diner.  After that it was all lace at the hotel until check-out time at noon.  The drive home seemed far too long and totally dragged, but fortunately I had audiobooks to distract me during the drive.

We take very few vacations; in fact, we've taken more this year than during our entire 23-year marriage.  They have all been long-weekend, or one-night-away, but it has been wonderful.  I was so happy to get home.  I missed my family and dogs so much!  (Amazing how the cats don't seem to miss me as much as the dogs and even the goats!)  I spent the morning so far catching up on stuff and still have a few more things to do before I can pull out my lace or cross stitch and get back to my regular activities.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Back to "Master"

So the last time I worked on "Master" (around March 23 of this year, apparently) I had just finished doing one color across ten pages (two full rows) of the chart.

I changed my mind about having that much going at once for a couple of reasons.  I was worried about getting "lost" on the chart, especially if the faint blue lines I have separating my fabric into "pages" gets covered by stitching.  I am also working on keeping track of what has already been done.  As I was finishing page 3 of "Migrant Mother", I felt like I was getting very good at tracking.  I'm using one page; I color one symbol with a highlighter, and color it in with a Sharpie when those stitches are done.  I have found I prefer orange and pink highlighter colors (makes it easier for me to see where I need to stitch next) and I'm using a fine-point purple Sharpie to color them in when done.

Last night I pulled this project out again and spent some time figuring out where I was, finding the floss (which has a Tyvek tag with the project name on it) and the chart print-outs (all in a large tote bag with some other stuff).  I finished the symbol that was already colored in to be done next, filled those in on the chart when done, and colored in the next symbol to be worked.  I am going to proceed by finishing one page at a time.

This is page 1 right now, with the light blue I finished last night - top left corner, framed in by faint blue lines.  The project is being done on 20-ct "Easy Count" Aida, purchased from Heaven & Earth Designs.  I love this fabric!  I may have to order more of this for future projects.  (Migrant Mother is being done on 18 ct Aida that I marked my self, with blue wash-out fabric marker.)

Sunday, July 16, 2017

A Little Cross Stitch

I was working on Stillwell Bookmark #2, with spiders, and the spiders were not behaving so the lace is in a time-out for now.  I am going to Pennsylvania the week of July 17 anyway, to visit an old friend, get her started with bobbin lace, and visit the IOLI Convention.  I'm sure that will prove enough enticement to get back to the bobbin lace.

In the meantime I picked up a cross stitch piece again.  This is Migrant Mother.  The chart is from Artecy Cross Stitch, based on a Depression-era photo by Dorothea Lange.

The first two photos are from the last time I worked on this in early May.  I had done all of the black and one or two other colors all the way across the top row first, then decided to finish each page individually.  I was worried about getting lost otherwise.

Page one was done, and page two was about half done.

Working on the mother's face.  The gray at the top indicates the edges of page 2.

After I picked it up again for this round.  Finished the mom's face, working on filling in the rest of page 2.

Page 2 done!  Embarking on finishing page 3.

Down to two colors on page 3.  One is the block at the top that needed to be filled in; the rest is the scattered stitches in the hair, which will be all one color.  I no longer need the charts at this point; all I have to do is fill in with the correct color of DMC.

Down to one color!  Just need to fill in the rest of the boy's hair.  After that I think I will be going back to the other cross stitch I have in progress.

This is the other piece I have in progress.  According to the date on the photo, I last worked on this around Dec 30 of last year.  The chart is "Master", from Tilton Crafts Cross Stitch.  It is based on a piece of artwork by Tsuneo Sanda, but I believe the chart is retired.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

One done, next one ready

Yesterday I had enough lace time to finish a project!  I was working on this one for a while (more than a few days).

Yesterday I finished it, and left it to "rest" on the pillow overnight.  This morning I took it off and it is now blocking under some books.  This is Bookmark #1 from Alex Stillwell's pages.

This morning I started setting up for Bookmark #2, from the same place.  She has 3 bookmarks I will be doing before I move on to the next set of projects, which will probably be from Jan Tregidgo's "Torchon Lacemaking" book.

I may also consider going back to some previous projects to see if I have the skills needed to complete those yet.  I have one roller pillow with a project that was proving too difficult, and two borrowed roller pillows with projects I couldn't do.   My skills have improved a little since then, at least.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Lace & Violins

A few more pictures.

These two arrived yesterday.  The Mainly Lace Bookmark Collection is a comb-bound self-published book that I ordered from the U.K.  (They have a free downloadable bookmark pattern on their webpage.)  I bought just the first Bookmark Collection because that one is Torchon, and that's what I'm working on right now.  Book 2 concentrates on other types of lace.

The Torchon Lacemaking book is a library book, requested through inter-library loan.  I have this one in Kindle format, but that makes it difficult to see the correct size of the patterns in the book.  I need to print out a few patterns in order to properly size the patterns I print from the Kindle version of the book.  One thing I saw on another book was a scale line - the line next to the pattern was supposed to be 10 cm when printed.  That allows the user to increase or decrease the size of the print-out as necessary to achieve the correct size.

The next two photos were taken at the Renaissance Strings shop when I picked up my violin yesterday.  Such beautiful violins!  I looked at several violins yesterday, but did not think to ask if he had any other t-shirts for sale.  I'll have to check on that.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

My violin is home!

My violin is back! Huge thanks to Jim Robinson of Renaissance Strings in Nottingham, NH for the wonderful work!  I brought the Cecilio violin to him yesterday, and he had it ready to go this morning!  He replaced the tailpiece (and fine tuners), replaced the strings with Dominants, put a new bridge in place, and got it all set up correctly.  It sounds so much better now, and I am delighted to find I have such a resource so close by.

Renaissance Strings has some gorgeous instruments for sale as well.  I will definitely start there next time I am looking for an upgrade.

I also found out that I have a "string tube" in the awesome ProTec case that came with this violin!  My instructor had one in her violin case when I was there this week.  It is for new strings.  Instead of leaving the new strings coiled in their envelopes, you uncoil them and store them in the string tube.  That way they have a chance to relax and are safely stored until needed.  I didn't even know until today that I had a string tube in this case!  Now I'm just waiting for an order from FiddlerShop, which will include a new rosin to keep with this violin.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

New used violin

I picked up a used violin on Monday that was fairly inexpensive.  It is a Cecilio CVN-600, and it is gorgeous!  Unfortunately it was not well cared for.  It had extensive rosin build-up on the fingerboard and under the strings between the fingerboard and bridge.  The pegs seem to be slipping, and I think the strings are wrong; the A string is as thick as the G string, and I believe those should be reversed.  The fine tuners were cranked all the way down as well.  I think it might benefit from a visit to a luthier, for possibly a sound post adjustment and maybe a new bridge.

My violin instructor said the tone is good, however (despite the incorrect strings) and it came with a shoulder rest and a fabulous ProTec case that probably cost close to what I paid for the violin itself!