Thursday, March 20, 2014

My precious

It took me a ridiculously long time, but I have my very own piano at last!

The time was finally right, now that we no longer live in a student flat, or a leaky mouldy cottage, or literally up a hundred steps. :p

Our online searches led us to an apprentice piano tuner who happened to be restoring an old German piano, and was willing to sell it for a very reasonable price. Apparently the piano had been water-damaged and completely unplayable, but after restoration it looks and sounds lovely. It has a nice 'round' tone and nice clear bass notes, and it's louder than the English pianos I've played in the past. There's still a little bit of sanding and beeswax-polishing left to do, which I'll tackle myself.

Click to enlarge!

I spy four spots where the candle-holders were attached...

Lots of nice Art Nouveau-style decoration :)

It's been a long wait - since I moved away to uni in early 1999, I've been relying on an electric keyboard, which has been fine for getting me through singing practice and (back in the day) uni assignments. But for playing piano music I need the real thing, inconvenient though that is...

I did my Grade 8 piano exam during my break year before uni, and my playing has been getting steadily rustier ever since, although I'm sure the decline has been slowed by holiday piano-binges at Mum & Dad's. Hopefully now I can get some of my fluency back. I actually practised scales today! Voluntarily! 'Teenage Me' would be astounded. ;)

My aim is to play every day, so I'll need to acquire some more sheet music to keep it interesting. State Library ahoy!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

New pattern: Bushwalk Beanie

My newest hat design is out! The Bushwalk Beanie is a cute-and-cosy lace hat with a pattern of fern fronds all around. Needing only one ball of Zealana Kauri 4ply, it's lightweight and happily economical.

When designing the fern lace for this hat, I was inspired by the familiar ponga tree - you can see its fronds in the photos above. I recently found out there are around two hundred different kinds of fern in New Zealand. Impressive!

Zealana Kauri yarn sets off the fern frond lace perfectly - it's slightly fuzzy, and gives a nice amount of body and definition to the stitches. A blend of merino, possum, and silk, it's luxurious and eco-friendly too.

From Zealana's website:
"Since its introduction to New Zealand by fur traders in the late 19th century, the non-native brushtail possum population has reached staggering proportions largely due to the lack of natural predators that would otherwise maintain an ecological balance. The consequences of their rapidly increasing numbers are many, including damaging impacts on New Zealand’s native flora and fauna."
Choosing to use possum-blend yarn supports efforts to control the pest possum population, giving our native wildlife a better chance of survival.

  • fern frond lace  
  • decorative crown decreases
  • nice wide ribbing at the brim 
  • tidy tubular cast-on (optional)
  • easily adjustable sizing of length + circumference 
  • both charted and written instructions
  • lightweight and folds flat 
  • one-skein project

The pattern download for the Bushwalk Beanie is available on Ravelry

All photos in this post are by an awesome photographer by the name of Jos, who also happens to be my Dad. :)
Go check out his website at Jos's Photography & Framing.