Sunday, March 8, 2015

A quickie!

Just a short post today, heading into the studio to work on a piece or two that's been languishing in Garageband on my laptop.

Thought I'd share what's inspiring me this week.

Last weekend I started exploring Ted talks, music-related ones to be specific. A few of my favorites:

Mark Applebaum keeps asking, is this music?

Michael Tilson Thomas goes through the development of notating and recording music

Maya Beiser, cellist, plays some freaking amazing multi-tracked pieces using her cello and her voice

And! We at Quince & Co are hosting a knit along on Ravelry for our 4th annual Scarves, etc collection, and though it doesn't officially start until tomorrow, I found myself with some free time now my Wending cowl is well on its way:

This lovely shade of Owl is Amethyst. 

Have a happy Sunday. xoxo

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Some belly dance love

Last night I went to the dance studio where I am learning belly dance to see the second night of their 4th anniversary showcase--it was so wonderful and inspiring. Though I didn't get to see Friday's performance, I spent some quality time on youtube this morning to check out belly dance fused with Celtic dance, Rwandan dance, and Martial Arts...and more of the styles I did see, theatrical belly dance, Egyptian folk dance, all kinds of fusion styles, and Chinese ribbon dance--all are fascinating. I had to really try hard to keep myself from grooving along with the dancers. We did get to dance though! My teacher, Rosa, got us in the audience up during the intermission to teach us an Armenian line dance. Super fun, she dragged us all around the (very crowded) room.

I get so inspired by the music that dancers choose for their pieces. I have yet to learn how to choreograph a specific dance to a piece of music for a performance, but it does seem to me that it's kind of like writing lyrics for a song. Most of my own music is written music first, lyrics after. Instead of adding words, melody, and harmony to the instrumental bed to expand the mood and feeling of the piece, you're adding a visual interpretation with movement, costume, facial expressions. And...the dancer uses movement to highlight certain rhythms--could be right with the percussion or something that complements or offsets it. As a person obsessed with rhythm, that's my favorite aspect of belly dance.

As I mentioned last week, this past September I collaborated with my friend Aepril (whose blog I visit almost daily) on a performance for the annual Occult Salem festival in Salem, MA. She is an extremely multi-skilled individual: she is a singer-songwriter, belly dancer, poet, astrologer, photographer, the list goes on. She wrote a few songs and poems that I played cello on, and for her I wrote a dance piece on my cello (using this fun piece of equipment), which was something completely new and fun for me. The experience of the dance and the music evolving together was really interesting, and something I think about every time I go to a belly dancing show. Maybe there's more of that in my future ;) I definitely cozied up to that Boomerang pedal, and now have hours and hours of crazy noises and loops I love with weird harmonies and fun rhythms...*sigh*.

One of the amazing parts of coming up with this performance was the fact that we live in different states, and all of our rehearsals except for the one day of show, were done via Skype. Yes, I said Skype. Also something completely new to me, even as a piece of technology, let alone as a way of rehearsing a piece of music with someone. To put this in perspective...I still have a flip phone, folks.

In knitting news, I totally cheated on my blog on Friday...once in a great while I get to write on my company's blog and share cool new knitwear designs I find on Ravelry that we didn't publish, but that use our yarn.

I haven't been knitting much lately, but I do want to get back to the idea of making this sweater (the pullover version--read the story about the sweater in this post), especially since now Quince has made the perfect color for me to make it in--take a look at Audouin (second to last color on the bottom row). Perfect, right?

Oh and...last week's show at Local Sprouts was such a great night, so much love, so many friends, so much awesome music. Really grateful for that night. Our South China set sounded so good with the extra special musicians joining us that recording those versions of those songs seems like a really good idea right now. Give us some time, we might just do it!

Sunday, February 22, 2015


There's not much I want to say here about the great loss that we (family, friends, and musical community at large) went through last year. The path of all our lives has changed--Dave's gift to us is that he comes with us in our hearts as we move forward.

In that spirit, here's what's new in the last year:

First off, my crafty pursuits have fallen way off the radar. And by that I mean, I only made one of these, this, this, this, one of these, this, one of these...hmm, the list goes on for a bit, so I guess that's not true at all is it? Still feels like a record low looking at the last 5 years.

Last July, I started taking belly dancing classes with this amazing dancer at her studio in Portland, which has become a fixture in my life that I don't think I can let go of. Did my first performance in December. I have to say...the scariest thing about the recital? Getting my makeup done. Two words: fake. eyelashes. Oops--three words: jail. Otherwise, everything about the night was incredible. One of my favorite performances? Heather, co-manager of the studio. I couldn't find my teacher's dance for this recital, but you can see Rosa and her supremely inspiring work here.

For the last few years, my mother and I--avid pedestrians and not great hikers--have become keenly interested in the East Coast greenway. Since we can really only do one long weekend's worth of walking per year, it's very slow going, but it is always a highlight of my summer. The first two years we did all of the off-road portions and some on-road portions of the Eastern Trail that runs from Bug Light in South Portland to Portsmouth, NH. This past August we went up to Machias to check out the 85-mile long Sunrise Trail, which according to the folks who take care of it, is "the longest off-road section of the East Coast Greenway". Pretty impressive for a walking trail that runs from Maine all the way to Florida! Neither of us had ever been to Machias, so it was a really new and wonderful experience for both of us. We stayed in a motel on the Machias river (gorgeous) and in addition to walking on the trail, we took some scenic drives through blueberry fields--some overlooking the ocean, some just rolling away as far as we could see. Photos next time, I promise!!

In September, I went to one of my favorite places on Earth, Star Island, for a conference called "Writers in the Round"--this conference was born from a radio show of the same name broadcast at the Portsmouth Community radio station. It was a real eye-opener and really shook up how I think about writing songs and music. A fantasy weekend of only doing intense songwriting on a wonderfully stark New England island that was once home to a raucous lot of fisherman (you'd be surprised how I can go on and on about this 42-acre rock 10 miles out from the mainland)...magical.

I also did a set with my beautiful friend Aepril at this festival in September, which I will talk about in another post.

In the fall I started playing with this lovely violist, and we formed a duo called Vaga Sidera. We played some Christmas music around town, and are now gearing up for wedding season.

And tonight? Jeremy and I are joining up with some very amazing friends to play some music at Local Sprouts in Portland. We'll be joining up with some dear friends in Eric Schwan's long-running project Orchards; and then they (and Anna, said lovely violist) will join Jeremy and me on a rare South China set. It'll be a short and sweet show, Local Sprouts has great food and drink, it's a suggested donation kind of thing, so consider coming out!'s warm today--35 whole degrees forecasted as the high. Looks like it's the last bit of "warmth" we'll get for a while. Hope to get some good photos of the night to share, though I'm not promising anything. As you may know about me, even if I have a camera in my hand when out on the town, I am usually too busy enjoying myself to use it.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Tomorrow night, a show in the Biddo. And more knitting.

Yes. This Friday, the first day of summer, at the Oak and Ax in Biddeford, Hersey State will be playing a set with the amazing Vio/Mire (from Providence/Portland) and Laughing Eye, Weeping Eye (from Chicago). Show page here. We Herseys believe this is the first time we've played a show together since the O + A festival last September. (!) The thing I love about Hersey is that all of us in the band, 8 in all, are each songwriters--so whenever we play, we have a lot of songs to choose from. We each bring our own thing to the table and somehow magically make it all sound cohesive.

Here are some things that are in progress. I've been enjoying photographing my knitting first thing in the morning!

First, a log cabin blanket:
Started with some odds and ends I had around, but now it's getting serious(ly big) so time to step up my game. I would like to make this double bed-sized, but it's a square, so the plan is at some point to add just some stripes to either/both ends to make it more of a rectangle. It's fun (read: supremely dorky) to try and guess which yarns I will run out of first, and which colors the stripes will be.
 There's some Quince Lark in there (Bark and Twig), some Tess Designer Yarns left over from the Crocodile (by the way, that was a project from Knitted Wild Animals by Sarah Keen. Ridiculously cute stuff. Also made the elephant.), some Cascade 220 that I never used for my Master Handknitting course, also some Manos and Malabrigo in there. The pattern is from Mason-Dixon Knitting. It has inspired me to check out what other quilt patterns have been translated into knitting...more on that later.
My Caramel, in CEY Princess, which I've heard isn't made anymore. Bummer, because my Effortless is also in Princess (next time!) and it is so nice to wear. The fabric stays a little stiff in the knitting but relaxes and softens up perfectly after blocking.
As an aside, I will say that for a long time, I was a broke musician whose source of yarn consisted of the yarn I was paid in exchange for sample knitting, and any Goodwill sweaters I had the patience to unravel; so I really haven't explored fiber too much over the years. I can say the same thing about music, where I was so wrapped up in my studies as a voice major studying classical music that I didn't start getting into the great Indie bands of the 90s until a few years after I graduated in '98...but I digress. Suffice it to say that I feel I'm always just behind the curve. (Also, I'm the only one in my office that doesn't have 1) wellies; 2) toms; or 3) a smart phone.)
And this...? This is my first design that is slated to be published. I will say no more! Except two words: Chickadee. Lichen.

Monday, June 17, 2013

A Brown Bird Benefit and some Knitting.

I realize now that trying to play catch up is the exact thing that's keeping me from posting regularly. Well I'm here to share just a couple of things:
Thing 1
Jeremy and I are preparing a few old Brown Bird songs for this benefit. This will be a very sweet show. You might have seen my post a few weeks ago about our dear friend and former band mate Dave, who is currently being treated for Leukemia. The fundraiser they put together to offset the costs of medical care and not being able to work brought in nearly $68,000 with over 1600 supporters, which is amazing. We are happy to be a part of this. We have to play the old songs, because we don't do that crazy thing he does with the singing and the drumming and the guitar playing all at the same time, (not to mention the fact that neither of us play violin or upright bass) and also, more importantly...these are songs we've loved playing with him over the years. They still need support, so please please come! You can keep tabs on Brown Bird here.

Thing 2
Some knitting-related photos.
Here is an adorable stuffed crocodile I made for my friend's baby. I started this when he was born, in 2010. I mailed it in March. His little face just kills me.

And here is a photo of the swatch that will become a sweater for my sister:
I'm working it in Chickadee by Quince & Co.--colors from the bottom up are Clay, Leek, Lichen, Clay again, Bird's Egg, Delft, Petal, and Chanterelle. Can't wait to get it started!

A few candids from some recent photo shoots I got to assist with. Keeping the garments organized, schlepping stuff around, holding an umbrella over Carrie so her camera doesn't get wet, running out to get coffee and snacks...and of course, enjoying the beauty of Maine! So nice to spend the work day on the beach (even though a few hours later it poured on us).
The top photo was taken at the Black Point Inn during the Knitbot Linen shoot. See some more candids of that shoot here

Sunday, May 19, 2013

The works of Lamb

I had planned another catch-up post about finished objects over the past year plus, but this weekend I decided that I wanted to instead tell you about my friend Dave. He and is fiancee are musicians playing under the name of Brown Bird. For over 10 years, Dave has written and performed songs as Brown Bird, and through the years, he seemed never to get too discouraged about the difficulty of making a living as a musician. Whatever he's done to make ends meet, no matter where he's lived, he always has he energy to devote to working on new ideas--his prolificness is matched by few that I've known. How wonderful it was when he and MorganEve told us over a year ago that they were going to be able to quit their day jobs and be full-time musicians! They have a great support team between their tour manager, Dan, and their label manager, Tom. They've been touring pretty constantly all over the US when not recording, and I'm so proud of their achievements.

Last Sunday Jeremy and I got an email from Dave saying that he'd been at a hospital in Houston, TX, for severe anemia. They'd done several tests with no results pointing to anything specifically wrong, and Dave's had more than several blood transfusions--they are home now, but still waiting to hear the results of a bone marrow biopsy. As you can imagine, they've had to cancel the rest of their tour, and Dave's expenses for the extended hospital stay and all his tests have been formidable. Double whammy.

To offset all the losses they've suffered and will continue to deal with as Dave recovers, they've set up a fundraiser, an opportunity for friends, family, and fans to help make soften the financial blow of both canceling their tour and being stuck in a hospital for nearly a week, and far from home. Not surprisingly, our sweet friends have already reached their goal of $40,000 in three days! They will likely need more support, so if you love Brown Bird and would like to keep seeing them out on tour and following their passion, and don't have all of their albums already, follow the link above to help them get back on their feet; and if you don't have all of their albums already, you can collect them all (well, almost) here and here (and they have other things for sale too!).

That's it. More about knitting next time.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Catching up

OK, everyone I work with is managing to keep up with their blogs, and I've missed mine terribly--so I'm trying really hard to get back into it. Here's a broad-strokes guide to my life since my last post:

Last February (2012) I went to the Fashion Institute to take a Knitting Instructor course, which was really great. I learned a lot. A couple of days after I got back, I had a meeting with Pam Allen at Quince & Company, and instead of hiring me to do some sample knitting, she pulled out a list of things they could really use an extra hand for: customer service, wholesale, sales reports and royalty statements, etc. (I thank my lucky stars that I had a friend who encouraged me to get in touch!), and would I be interested in doing all that. Furthermore, the space is shared with Knitbot, and would I also be interested in managing Hannah's wholesale and trunk shows and other odds and ends. Well. A job was born. In fact, the job I've been searching for since I admitted to myself that I didn't want to be a professional musician. And with the company that I wanted to work for--I'd had my eye on Quince since they launched in 2010. I mean, come on. Who does that happen to? (Seriously, I love to hear stories like this--please share!)

Since I've been with this team of amazing knitwear designers and creative folk, I've gotten into tech editing, which is basically why I was born into this world (other than to marry Jeremy Robinson). I love it. It's only part of my job and I've got tons to learn and practice, but it is definitely my favorite part. Also, I do a lot of proofreading, which I love just as much as tech editing.

Last summer I took a tech editing course, and this winter I started a course on sizing patterns. I learned how to make charts and schematics on the job, which is the most fun part of tech editing--kind of like playing a video game. All these classes include a crash course in knitwear design, because of course, a tech editor needs to be familiar with how a sweater is supposed to get put together--so they've kind of been like a gateway drug, and now I'm feeling ready to put some of my ideas into action. Right now it's like I'm standing at the edge of the rocky outcropping, psyching myself up to jump into some cold Maine ocean water. I'm nervous, people.

And of course, I knitted. And knitted. And knitted. And so on and so forth. There is lots more to share in this department but maybe next time, I have photos!

And I played some cello and did some singing. Definitely not nearly as much as in previous years, but a little performing and a little recording here and there. And the second record from Plains is done, which we plan to release later this year. The link provided goes to our first recording, which was live at the radio station down at MIT.

I won't say too much about this right now because it's still sinking in, but I am going to be teaching knitting classes, starting late summer. More details to follow.

How do I still have time to eat, sleep, and hang with my husband? Well...I don't know. Sometimes it feels like I don't do any of those things.

I feel like a bad blogger for doing a long and wordy post with zero pictures, will be short and sweet with photos next time, I promise. :)