Ahhhhh…..  I just sat down with a nice hot cup of tea and feel inspired to blog. I love the Fall for many reasons and tea is one of them!  Yay for just slightly colder weather that makes me want to cuddle up on the couch with a cup of tea and my latest crochet project and/ or opera score.  I have been waiting for the weather to finally cool off to start my fall tea-fest and crochet marathon! The colder weather gets my crochet gears moving.  I already have almost 10 new exciting projects to start working on: another afghan (after I finish my current one), little amigurumi buddies (stuffed animals made from crochet), beanies, scarves, sweaters, blankets, etc… AND tea-pot cozies!  SO many fun ideas out there!!  After a little hiatus from blogging my mind and hands are ready to go, go, go.

Choice of tea tonight: African Red Bush– herbal tea by TAZO.  Sounds crazy, right? I know the first time I read the package my reaction was something like: “WHAT?! what is this?!” The ingredients are awesome: African rooibos (Red Bush), hibiscus flowers, lemon myrtle, lemon verbena, orange peel, rosemary, lemon balm, natural flovours and citric acid.  YUM!

Crochet project: little pink bunny for a friends’ baby girl.  Almost done! Pictures to come…

Opera score: Don Giovanni by Mozart.   Polishing the role of Donna Elvira for an up-coming performance in February. Donna Elvira is so batty– one of my favorite roles to sing! She makes me laugh. She is so determined to bring down the scheming seducer and have him for herself. I think some quality therapy might be in order for her…. Or maybe just a nice hot cup of tea!  Haha!

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I had a wonderful walk this morning. A beautiful day, though the sun does start to shine bright and hot even at 8:30 in the morning!  And the music of the day running through my head was “Marian the Librarian” from The Music Man.  We have been watching this musical in our home lately and the songs are just so much fun! This is definitely on the top of my list of great tunes to walk with.  I love the cleverness of the song and the totally funny situation that happens: The Music Man (Prof. Harold Hill) is trying to cozy up to Marian, the librarian, while singing to her in the library.

Here’s more info if you’re interested: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Music_Man

I love this song for the music, but I also love this segment for the dancing and choreography.  So smart and so much fun!!  I’ve spent many years as a dancer with just this style of dancing.  I have a very special place in my heart for song and dance just like this.

Ya know, I am almost ready to change my name to Marian because of how much I just LOVE this song!

Here it is:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AnFv29iPACc&feature=related

Crochet is a year-round sport for me, but in the Fall is an especially great time for starting projects.  This is a hat I began in last Fall in preparation for a Christmas present for my sis-in-law, Julie.  It was so much fun but took a lot of time to put it together.  It is made with a single crochet stitch all throughout the hat.  This makes for a more dense project and adds to the warmth of the hat.  I crocheted on a little flower with a button in the center to give the hat a little extra cuteness.  Loved how it turned out!

Here’s a little blue lap blanket I made a few years back.  I completed most of those squares on a trip to Florida.  Plane rides are great for making square after square after square after square…. yeah, there are 99 of those puppies all together.  Whew! I was glad when making those was over.  But then came the sewing!  This was my first project with so many little pieces to connect together.  UGH! I had a hard time with connecting them and vowed to never put together an blanket like this again.  Well…  two years after making that not-so-solemn vow I have completed an entire afghan made in similar fashion and I am currently working on a third.  Call me a little bit crazy, i guess.

   <—- This is Daisy who sometimes acts like a cat– snuggling into any afghan or crochet project she can get her little paws on.  This is one of her favs.

This was my first attempt of a ‘circles within a square’ theme.  I learned so much with this little blanket.  There are some inconsistencies within the squares but that’s the beauty of a hand-made creation, sewn together with a lot of love.

 I love to take walks.  Yesterday I decided re-connect with how much I love walking.   Its a great way to clear my mind and get moving.  And did you know…  Walking is a great way to practice singing, too!   Many other musicians can spend hours sitting and practicing their music on their instrument  but singers can’t practice on their instrument for hours in the same way a pianist or a violinist does.  We have to find other ways to creatively involve ourselves in singing without putting strain on our voices with hours of practice.  So… walking is one of my solutions.   When walking I am able to clip along at a cheerful pace while reviewing music or diction for an aria that I am studying.  Sometimes I walk along speaking the words of an aria to myself  to help with memorization without music.  Though walking and practicing this way is a little out of the social norm (I get strange looks from neighbors as I go along, muttering the text of an aria to myself) it does wonders for my singing!

 After I’m done practicing and concentration on the technical side of whatever my brain is working on, it’s time to stride along at a steady, even pace.  And who better than to walk with than Mozart? Here is one of my favorite Mozart selections of all time– and an excellent walking choice!  The trio “Soll ich dich, Teurer! nicht mehr sehn?” from Die Zauberflöte.  I love how the music effortlessly rolls along.

There is a little dialogue before the music starts between Sarastro (the High Priest), Tamino (the prince), and Pamina (daughter of the Queen of the Night).  A little description of the clip:  Tamino agrees to go through trials which means departing from his love, Pamina.  Basically, parting is such sweet sorrow! So sad. But don’t worry– they all live happily ever after by the end of the opera.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t_enRkhqZ1I&feature=related

Bravo, Mozart!

When beginning on this crochet adventure the past couple of years I mostly stayed with smaller projects.  Scarves, hats, and little teddy bears were what I would spend my crochet time on.  It’s great to start a project and have it done within a couple of hours!  But then I decided to make a blanket for my Mom and follow in the footsteps the great women around me.

I fell in love with the crochet afghan very young.  There was always something warm and cozy to snuggle with around the home made by either a grandmother or a great-grandmother.  My very first afghan that I owned was made for me by my geat-grandmother when I was about 11 years old.  It is a treasure I keep with me to this day.  Pretty much, I saw one she had made for another family member and selfishly exclaimed, “I want one!”  Luckily, for me, she was kind enough to make me an afghan.  I love it!  And have since learned how much work and time goes into creating one.

I found it only fitting to make my first afghan for my Mom.  She has given me so much.   It was a surprise for her for Christmas time and was so much fun to do.  It has a raised lattice pattern on the front and is smooth on the back.  It took me almost two months of working on it every night to complete the afghan.  I adjusted the pattern a bit– changed it from the size of a lap throw (3 1/2 feet by 5 feet) to a full afghan size (5 feet by 7 feet or so).  I should note that my family likes their afghans a bit larger than standard!

My mom loved it when she opened it Christmas day.  It was a good start on my path to creating afghans.  I keep up with other little projects here and there but always keep an afghan going.  Next up… one for my Dad!  🙂

Peek-a-boo!

PS. There was an unexpected peek-a-boo game during the afghan photo shoot with one of the cutest little people I know.

I had an audition for a local opera company last Saturday.  I feel it went fairly well.  One can never know what the audience is thinking, or if the pannel of judges might be actually considering you for a role with their company.  I’ve come to think of auditions more like farming.  Most of the time I am the farmer, tilling the soil (working to get to an audition) and simply planting a seed (being heard).   It might take a few weeks to see some outcome or sometimes it may take years.  And the mysterious part is that you don’t get to plant the same seed every time you audition!  Again, WHO KNOWS what your judges/audience/critics/artistic directors are thinking?!?!  I’ve decided it’s not my place to know at all.  It is only my job to be the farmer and plant my singing seeds and do my best for that day.

 

Sometimes (like last Saturday) I feel more like part of a group of cattle rather than the farmer planting seeds.  Every soprano I saw on Saturday was auditioning for the same part.  I heard 4 sopranos sing the very same aria I was planning on singing right before my audition!  It’s almost laughable.  In these situations you need to be able to stand out somehow.  Some stand out by wearing cute shoes or a brightly colored dress.  I’d rather standout with sincere acting and expressing the earnest desires of the character.  Being a lyric soprano has it’s challenges, for sure.  This is the most common voice type for sopranos.  The role we were all auditioning for was Juliette of Romeo et Juliette by Charles Gounod.  The role can be sung by a lyric coloratura, to a lyric soprano, to even a fuller soprano voice.  AND THEN…Casting Juliette also depends on who will sing Romeo.  UGH!

Auditioning is an art form in itself: how you greet your audience/audition panel, what you wear, how you prepare you music for the accompanist, how you walk, expressing confidence, performing accurately, showing your personality and artistry to a group of strangers–and maybe a video camera–  in 5 minutes.   Whew!  That really is a lot put together all in one place.  Fortunately, through training and years of practicing these things I feel confident with this part of the audition process.  But then there is always the other pile of unknown variables: what does the room feel/sound like, how well does the accompanist follow my singing, are there any carpets or chords I could potentially fall over… OK–Maybe that’s not a common variable for all to worry about– but for me, a definite concern.  I have tripped into a room so many times, it’s embarrassing!

 

Though it has it’s challenges, auditioning is the only way for one to be heard by a company.  And though I am part of the large throng of sopranos competing for the same spots, we are strangely all in this audition mess together.  So why don’t I just throw in the towel, stay at home and crochet all day?  There’s a part of me that just needs to be a farmer and plant seeds.   So bring on the Audition Season!

PS– Random:  Ever listened to ‘A Bit of Earth’ from the musical The Secret Garden? One of my favorite Musical Theatre songs! I sing it practically every time I sit down to tend my own garden.  check it out : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JRQrfOS8Qig

So after my first experience with crochet I took a very long break of about 13 years before picking up a crochet hook again.  I had fun exploring other crafts like cross-stitch and stamping — and of course diving deeper into the performing arts with a huge focus on singing and dancing.  It was not until being pregnant with my first child did I get the very clear thought one day of: “I need to learn to crochet!”  So I set out to make my little one a baby blanket.

I had a couple of  practice pieces before seriously setting out to start the blanket.  The first was an exploratory piece.  I bought a crochet hook and some very cheap yarn from the dollar store and tried to make something happen with what I remembered from long ago.  I was proud of my small sample and brought it into a ladies group that was teaching lessons on yarn crafts.  My friend leading those interested in crochet commented upon seeing my sample: “I don’t know what that is–but it’s not crochet…”   Though I didn’t really know what she meant I wasn’t discouraged by her comment.  I learned later that I was just slip-stitching over and over again which creates something that looks more like knitting than crochet.  My friend taught me a few simple stitches and set me on my way.   THEN my next practice project was supposed to be a scarf.  I made a few mistakes (think potholder…) but decided to press on to finish the project even though it looked a little odd and very NOT rectangular as intended.  Thankfully, my very honest sister–bless her heart– told me that it looked like junk and laughed at it.  Actually, we both laughed because she was right!  It looked like junk.  I undid the awkward parts, practiced making even rows over and over again and then the scarf was a success!

Onto the baby blanket!  OK.  First trial is choosing a pattern.  So many choices!  But I chose something that I thought was beautiful and within my range of crochet knowledge.  Little did I know, the prettier the pattern, the more complicated the skill.  The blanket I chose was on an Intermediate level!  YIKES!  But I decided to reach for the stars and go for it.  The pattern is a combination of clusters and shells in alternating rows.  I chose a sweet sport yarn (lighter weight) and worked it together with a 4.25mm hook for a delicate blanket– soft and sweet, just like my little girl would be. It took a long while to finally finish but I am so happy with the end result.   It’s been a GREAT beginning to my love of crochet.  🙂

   Modeled with a heart pillow.

Here’s another view with a close-up of the stitches:

Since this is a blog about singing and crochet I thought I’d start at the beginning of each. But which to write about? And really, where to begin? I have loved both singing and crochet since a young age. Both singing and my experiences with crochet have helped form who I am as a person– I think that’s why I love them so much!

Ok. I’ll start with crochet. I was taught how to crochet by my grandmother, my Mummu (Finnish for Grandma). I was around 10 years old. She decided to teach me how to crochet a square potholder. Should be simple enough, right? Well, some how I managed to make a trapezoid! I was SURE that I was diligently counting the same amount of stitches per row but still– the result was a trapezoid. My 10-year-old heart was crushed and I remember tossing the project aside, distraught, and probably ran to my room and cried about it. Then, my angel of a grandmother came to my rescue and restored my damaged world to peace. She came to my room a with my trapezoid potholder beautifully crocheted into an apron for my doll.  Mummu had added a top to the apron with straps to tie around the neck and the back, added a pocket, and bordered it with an accent color. I was amazed at what she had created with my failed potholder! Her skill and creativity (and kindness) showed me how to make the best of any situation– When life gives you a trapezoid, make an apron! I love her for that!

I have a vivid picture in my mind of the apron she crafted out of my first attempt to crochet. I’ll have to make one as I remember it now that I have the skills and experience under my belt. Yay! — new project! 🙂 Pics to come…

This is an exciting beginning! A chance to stretch my wings in a blog format. I look forward to adding more and sharing some of my crochet and singing adventures here. YAY!

LiisaDavila

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