Monday, August 27, 2007

Argyle sock and luscious yarn review

Hey everyone! I'm back here at school and so much has been going on! I'll be trying my darndest to be a good little blogger and post updates of the utmost important to our knitting and musical lives, but no promises for updates every few days. The updates I do have will be real gems, though, so you've got that to look foward to :D hehe

Today I've got my promised review of the yarn from my Minnesota ankle socks. Because honestly, can life get much better? *sigh* But before that, my very first argyle sock!

Mountain Colors Bearfoot: I didn't think that knitting socks could get any more glorious, but this yarn really did make it even better! While quite pricey ($21/350g skein at my LYS), a 25% off sale prompted me to splurge and buy this top-shelf (both literally and figuratively) yarn. And it must be said that I was not disappointed! The first thing you'll notice about this amazing yarn are the colors: all Mountain Colors yarns feature incredibly rich, bold dyes that are hand-painted on. The variegated colors are perfectly chosen with just the right amount of each color, while the more solid looking colors still have enough variation to keep them visually interesting. Made of 60% superwash wool, 25% mohair, and 15% nylon, it creates the perfect sock yarn: elastic enough to hold its shape, soft and luscious to make it a pleasure to wear (not to mention to knit with!), amazingly warm, and washable! The mohair creates this gorgeous fuzzy halo that makes it perfect for special occasion socks as well as everday wear ones. And it's the perfect yarn to use with a simple, basic sock pattern that really allows the yarn to be the star! This yarn is so amazing, I have to admit that I'll be willing to buy it even when it's not on sale. If you're looking for super-soft, really beautiful, extremely warm socks in unbelievable colors, look no further than Mountain Colors Bearfoot sock yarn :)

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Argyles and Schubert

Hey everyone! It's almost time for me to go back to school, and I have been focusing on enjoying myself and taking my last little bit of freedom left. Hope you have, too!

Today I'll be showing you a small FO: ankle socks for my friend who's moving back to Minnesota!! I love this yarn, so a review of it will be coming soon! (Click to enlarge)

And my most recent WIP, my very first intarsia project, a pair of argyle socks! Intarsia was extremely intimidating to me, and I almost cried during the first few rows because I was so stressed and overwhelmed by it. Once I calmed down and got a bit of a rhythm, doing this intarsia color work is pure joy!!! It's certainly nothing to be afraid of, and the results are surprisingly impressive, n'est-ce pas?

And as I return to school, I'm looking forward to one of the greatest joys I've experienced as a pianist: collaboration with other musicians!!! Unlike violinists, flautists, etc. many of the musical opportunities for piano are just in the realm of solo work. Pianists could go their whole musical life only playing solo works, never having to worry about full ensembles or even accompanists. At school, I've been given the incredible opportunity to accompany our choir and most of our vocalists, with the odd instrumentalist thrown in. And this year, my roommate and I are going to do piano duet work as well! I've grown so much as a musician through my collaborative experiences because I had to learn to listen actuely and active, concentrating on their diction, voicing, subtle dynamic changes, and interpretive style. And my sight reading has certainly improved out of necessity: when a vocalist has already memorized their piece and they hand you the music for the first time, you just have to go with it ;)

Mostly beacuse of the vocal accompanying, I've grown incredibly fond of Franz Schubert. He was a classical composer, but was way ahead of his time; in addition to all his other works, he wrote over 600 lieder (German art songs) and three song cycles before the age of 32. We're going to listen to Schubert's lied entitled Der Elkonig performed by the masters of lieder, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (baritone) and the incredible Gerald Moore (pianist). Truly amazing collaborative artists, performing one of the best loved lieder of all time.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Finally, FO pics!

Hey everyone! I've finally got what you've all been waiting for: pictures of my finished objects! I've been knitting feverishly for the past several weeks, and since we didn't have camera access for such a long time, I've got quite a bit to show.

Here is my project from's August Knit-along, where the project was anything cabled. I used a pretty cable called the Saxon braid, and I put it on a basic sock pattern. I'm extremely pleased with the results, but I've love to hear what you think!

Tea cozy and dishcloths from Lily Sugar 'n Cream cotton

Broad Street mittens

Bonus points if you can "Name that Chord"!

Now... you were here for the tears, the pain, and frog after frog of hours of knit. But here (can you believe it?!) is my first sweater!!!! It's the Lace Leaf Pullover from Interweave Knits. It's done with Cascade Pastaza on size 15 circs. Though I'm way too toasty for comfort in these pics, it was well worth it to show off my new pride and joy! I LOVE MY SWEATER!!!

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Sweaters and Liszt

Hey everyone! I have such exciting news to report: I've finished my very first sweater!!! It was such a learning experience, the biggest lesson of all being perseverance. But by now I'm sure you know the drill: no pictures yet because of camera issues, huge knitting FO post coming ASAP, yadda yadda yadda. *big grin*

I'll be going back to my university in about two weeks, so posts will soon be full of musical information I encouter there: questions from my new private students, problems and solutions from my piano lessons, techniques from my vocal accompanying. I'm really excited to have this blogging outlet to share some of my awesome musical experience at school. I also plan to gather up lots of knitting friends, work on charity knitting, and basically live life as a frugal, busy college student trying to fit knitting in whenever she can. It'll be great, promise!

But for now, let's go back to our friend, Marc-Andre Hamelin. As you recall, he was the technically brilliant pianist from my Medtner video (just a few posts back, if you missed it). Today we're going to listen to him playing some fabulous Liszt.

Franz Liszt was the premier virtuoso pianist and fabulous composer from the Romantic era. He took piano music to technical heights never attempt before, basically establishing himself as the Paganini of the piano, as well as quite the casanova. Women used to fawn over him, and some still do (... Okay, okay. I still do...) However, some people erroneously claim that Liszt's music, while demanding in technique, is lacking in musical interpretation. And that, my friends, is just plain ridiculous. If you're playing Liszt without feeling, then you're simply not really playing Liszt. J.S. Bach once said, "It's easy to play any musical instrument: all you have to do is touch the right key at the right time and the instrument will play itself." I'm happy to say that true interpretation of Liszt's music requires much more than simply playing the right keys at the right time.

Here is Hamelin playing Liszt's 3rd Concert Etude, called Un Sospiro. Things to listen for in particular are the challenge of bringing out the gorgeous melody above the beautiful runs in the background. Pay special attention to the gorgeous, deliciously smooth melody, which surprisingly is played using a different hand for every other note. You'd never be able to tell, the way Mr. Hamelin plays it. Pure magic, enjoy! :) Have a good day!

Thursday, August 2, 2007


Hey everyone! Pics will be posted soon (it's not my fault, I promise!) of my sweater progress. I've been knitting like a maniac on the Lace Leaf Pullover, and I've finished knitting all of it and seamed the sleeves. I'm just working on blocking the body and then I have to learn to seam the sleeves to the armholes. Also, I've joined the August Knitalong, where you are challenged to knit something with cables. I'm kind of creating my own sock pattern with some random cables I like. This is my first venture into creative knitting, and I'm having a blast with it!

So it's August, which means it's almost the end of summer. Soon we'll all be back at school, or at least the kids will, and back to the usual stressful, busy schedule. So I've been inspired by the KnittingHelp challenge, and I want to challenge all of you. This month of August, spend as much time as you can doing what you love to do. Enjoy the last little bit of freedom that summer brings, and I'm giving you full license (because I apparently have given myself authority to do this) to enjoy yourself without guilt! Spend an afternoon knitting something just for you, spend a couple hours playing whatever music you feel like, go out and play in the park, do whatever! Let's just all commit to enjoying the last bit of fun that August brings :) Have a great day, everyone!

And just for fun, a video entitled "Wooly Bullies" :D