Wednesday, May 26, 2010


First of all, I would like to thank all of you for your kind and enthusiastic responses to my trip to Bali this summer!  Sometimes I forget that developing myself as a human being is just as important as developing myself as a musician, and I shouldn't feel guilty about this trip because I know that it will help me in both areas more than I can even begin to imagine.

It would appear that the weather here in Wisconsin is doing its best to act as a primer to what I will encounter when I set foot in Indonesia in July.  It has been in the high 80s since this weekend, even hitting 90 on Sunday (with equal amounts of humidity: 80-90%).  And poor Margene is down there in Utah getting snow - it just doesn't seem right!  I've been checking the weather in Bali every day lately and it seems that the sweltering heat we've had here the past couple of days is about what it's like AT NIGHT in Bali.  As I write this it is about 1:30am in Bali and the weather is 88 degrees Fahrenheit with 90% humidity.  Remind me to sleep in the fridge...

This weather (which I will try not to complain about - I chose to complain about the winter and I can't complain about both) is not very conducive to knitting.  The last thing I want to do is cover my lap with wool as I sit out in the sun.  Instead of knitting (even lace makes my hands sweat - I know, gross!), I've been spinning!

See?  I even managed to finish something!  This wool was gifted to my last year by the generous Anne, who hand-dyed it in what she described as sort of a Black Watch Plaid colorway (I still have the original email, I didn't want to risk forgetting what it was!).  Blues and greens - my favorite!  I measured this yarn at 21wpi, which just is not true.  It's a solid fingering weight, teetering into sport weight at times.  I have no idea about yardage though.

I should probably mention that I started spinning this last June.  Seriously, I worked on it for 11 months! 11 months to spin 4 oz. of beautiful hand-dyed BFL.  That's just ridiculous.  One day I'll own a spinning wheel and I might be able to do things a bit more quickly...

I made a 3-ply yarn for the first time.  At this point, pretty much every spinning project I do is a first time for something because I'm so new to it.  Anyway, I took the big length of wool and split it into three shorter lengths, thereby unevenly distributing the hand-dyed colors (one strip had a lot of dark blue, one had more green, and one more white-ish) and then I split each of those strips lengthwise into 6 skinny strips.  Totally random, because I had no idea how better to make it work.  Hooray for finishing something!

Now I just have to finish the school year.  Next week is my last week of classes, then I have finals and then I graduate!

Of course, I'm never too busy to notice those things that so often get overlooked...

...they may be weeds, but I still like them.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


The odd thing is, I didn't tweak this photo at all.  The tulips really were glowing like lightbulbs...

I rarely do a random post like this, but I feel like I have several unrelated things I want to share/talk about.

Thing 1:  I haven't been knitting very much lately.  I think it is mostly due to the fact that I have three current projects on the needles - my Autumn Arbor Stole, my Evenstar Shawl, and the Cubism Afghan.  In my mind they all seem to be such long-term projects that I have little motivation to work on them.  I feel that because in any given day I can hardly make even the smallest dent in any of them, it's not worth my time to do it.  I know, I know, my logic doesn't really make sense, but that's the way I feel.  I long for a project in which I can see visible progress from day to day, but I would feel guilty starting anything new knowing that my brother's blanket isn't finished.  A quick fling with some colorwork would be so nice, though...

Thing 2:  In four weeks I will officially be a college graduate.  This does not freak me out or make me feel nauseous.  On the contrary, I am very excited to finally be completing my undergraduate career.  I would be lying if I said that it was smooth sailing (though as most of you only know me through this blog, it would be difficult to guess.  It's interesting to look at my life through the lens of my blog - noticing what I've included and what has been omitted), but I did enjoy my time here.  This might be terrible of me to say, but I'm not even sad to be leaving some friends behind when I move to Pittsburgh.  I don't say this to mean that I don't cherish them, I say it because I've learned over the years that the friendships that truly matter don't disappear when you leave.  They're always only a phone call, an email, a road trip, or a plane ticket away.  I'm not sad to be leaving my friends behind because I know that they'll still be present in my life.

Thing 3:  This is really the most exciting thing, and the main reason for this blog post.

A month ago, had you asked me what my summer plans were, I would have told you that I would be returning home to spend my summer broke and unemployed, counting down the days until I move out east for school.

Well, plans have changed...  Instead of spending my summer in Minnesota, I will be hopping on a plane and flying out of the country for the first time!  I will be flying abroad to spend a month at an intensive summer music program.  No, I'm not going to Vienna or Paris or Italy.  In fact, I'm not even going to be studying Western Classical Music at all!  This summer I will instead find myself studying the traditional performing arts of Bali in Indonesia!!!

You see, I'm currently taking a class on the performing arts of Bali and I think it is absolutely fascinating!  It is taught by an ethnomusicologist who has spent a great deal of time in Bali herself studying the music and culture.  Her husband, in fact, is a famous Balinese dancer and musician who now leads the gamelan gong kebyar ensemble in which I play here at school.  I applied to a summer institute in Bali and was one of 35 people from around the world accepted to come to Bali to study with a professional gamelan, as well as famous dancers and musicians from around the island.

If you're curious what the music sounds like, this Youtube video (sorry, I don't know how to actually embed a video into the post) is a good example of what gamelan music sounds like, with the added bonus that you get to see one of the traditional Balinese dance forms!

While on the island, I will get to attend music, dance, and drama performances, as well as temple ceremonies.  I'm particularly excited to see a shadow puppet show and a mask dance.

Although I won't be studying Western Classical Music, I'm considering this both a study abroad to continue my musical education and a graduation present to myself.  I know I can learn a lot from this trip and I am eager to arrive to begin my studies.  I am already taking several lessons a week on the different gamelan instruments in addition to the weekly ensemble rehearsals hoping that I will be well-prepared for my time in Bali.  Through my class I am learning not only about the performing arts, but also about the culture, history, traditions, and lifestyles of Bali.  Of course, I will be sure to take plenty of pictures while I'm there to share with you all when I get back.

Some may think it's unwise to take a month off from studying clarinet right before beginning grad school, but I think this is going to be an invaluable, once-in-a-lifetime experience and, to be completely honest, I sort of need a bit of a break from "classical" music.  (Don't tell anyone I said that, though.)

I am very excited to be experiencing Bali in this way.  However, I have mixed feelings about the idea of being a "tourist".  I don't like the idea of viewing another culture from the outside, with a camera in one hand, a map in the other and a fanny pack around my waist.  I'm glad that I will be spending my time with many Balinese people, eating home-cooked meals, experiencing not only their culture, but also sharing stories about my own.  I will, for the most part, be experiencing true Balinese culture, and not simply the "tourist culture" that is so prevalent on the island.  I really can't ask for anything better.  Now I just have to keep my fingers crossed that I won't come down with a crippling case of culture shock! (...or food poisoning.)

P.S.  Is it weird that I haven't bought my plane ticket yet, but I've already planned what knitting projects I'm going to bring?  Do you think they have any good yarn shops in Bali?  I wonder if they even have sheep...

Monday, May 10, 2010


I'm happy to share with you all that I have not been cursed with any more major misfortunes since my key/toilet incident and I am beginning to think that my luck is on the rise.  My ankle was healing nicely, and I now have a key for my room again, and for those things I am thankful.

Sometimes, however, we do have a bit of control over our lives and I have to say that I've sort of screwed myself this time.  This past week I had Thursday and Friday off from classes as our mid-term break, and it happened to be perfect timing for several reasons.  The first being that my little sister is in a circus and I was able to drive home to see her show on Thursday night.  It was really fun (and quite frightening) to watch the circus! - she does the trapeze.

I was home long enough to snap a picture of my latest creation before heading off on the second part of my weekend adventure.

I wish I had taken better pictures before leaving, but as it is I snapped this one while running out the door, so it's the one that you get.

If you can't tell, that is a knitted pear.  I mentioned Salihan Laugesen's Perry the Pear pattern on my podcast a while back, and she sent me the pattern for free as a thank you!  I definitely recommend checking out the pattern as her pear looks much more adorable than mine.

I used Brown Sheep Cotton Fleece held doubled for the body (in the "Willow Leaf" colorway) and I think US size 7 DPNs, but I didn't actually ever check the size, so I'm not positive.  This was one of those grab'n'go projects.  All I knew was that I wanted a sufficiently tight gauge for a stuffed toy, so I wasn't too preoccupied by the yarn or needles I was using.  I also used little scraps of Cascade 220 for the stem, mouth, and leaf.  I substituted this leaf pattern because I liked the shaping details a bit better.

He may be a bit frumpy, but he served his purpose, which was to act as a quick knit to contrast the other more long-term projects I have on the needles.  (Let's face it, I needed something to show all of you wonderful people).  I was going to stuff him with some really horrendous novelty yarn I have locked away, but I was afraid it would peek through, so instead I cut open an old pillow and used its innards to stuff him.  I have some Cotton Fleece in two other shades of green and am toying with the idea of making a couple more pears to add to this one, but I haven't decided yet.

Oh!  Back to how I screwed myself.  The second part of my weekend adventure was that it just so happened that my three very best friends and I all happened to have this weekend free.  Seeing as how one of us is married, one is in grad school, another is doing the "real world" thing, and I am living in a completely different state, we don't get to hang out very often.  We jumped at the opportunity and decided to spend the weekend at the Wisconsin Dells!

I re-f*ed up my ankle on a waterslide (it was totally worth it!   ...the first time), but other than that it was really fun!  We have a tradition of going on water-themed vacations (water parks, canoe trips, lazy rivers, etc.) and they are always a blast.  I am so happy that I was able to spend time with my friends again and I reeaaaallllly needed a break from school (5 weeks left!).  The screwing myself part came when I got back to campus and was instantly ambushed by the mountain of unfinished homework that I happily ignored all weekend.  This week is going to be a bit of a stress-fest, but it's the price you have to pay, right?