Friday, January 22, 2021

Creative Ideas Friday: Try something totally new that you've always wanted to explore!

Happy Friday everybody, and I hope you are hanging in there just fine this gray January day! Despite the bleakness in the sky, I love January, and always find fresh inspiration and excitement for all of the potential that lies ahead for the year. This week, I thought we would focus on a more general concept for our Creative Ideas Friday: trying out something totally new to you that you have always yearned to explore!

Let's face it: these at-home pandemic times, depressing though they may be, present an ideal opportunity to finally tackle that One Thing you were always so curious about. We have more time with which to tackle them, and the availability of online classes mean that the risk of embarrassing yourself in public is pretty low. :-0 For me, that thing was learning to play the finger cymbals. Dun dun dun!

Many dancers learn to play the finger cymbals when they first learn to dance, but that was not my experience. So now I've been dancing and performing for over a decade, and had to Google how to even strap these things onto my fingers. :-0 My sister gifted me a pair of smaller finger cymbals (the traditional starting size), which is what I'm starting with. These beauties are from Turquoise International, well-regarded makers of cymbals:

Oriental cymbals, size 2 1/4 inches

I'm taking a 30 minute class each lunchtime, Monday through Thursday, and it is absolutely perfect for drilling a new skill like this! I started right after the New Year, and now have 3 weeks under my belt. I can honestly say that I'm a lot less bad than when I first started. 😂 I've learned 5 sounds so far (I hadn't even realized there were more than 1 common one!) and can play them in multiple simple patterns. The dancing at the same time part is still a work in progress, 😇 but one can't expect miracles in 3 weeks! I can at least walk around a bit while playing them, that's the first step, and incorporate in some basic movements in time to the rhythm that we're playing alongside. I'm learning SO MUCH about the different rhythms within Middle Eastern music, and I am absolutely soaking it all up! The ability to mute myself during class is giving me life. 😎 Again, the online format is such a low intimidation factor in terms of taking on something completely new!

As my obsession grows, I naturally started going down some YouTube rabbit holes. I found out how to sew the elastic on my cymbals, rather than relying on small safety pins. I also discovered how different sizes, shapes, and metals can affect the sound of your cymbals. I wanted to be able to compare my smaller cymbals with a larger pair (and thought the larger surface size might also make it easier for me to make some of the sounds I was struggling with, and I was right) so I treated myself to these beauties:

Saroyan large Grecian cymbals in brass

Saroyan is a renowned cymbal company, and there are sound clips on their site of all of their cymbals, and I spent a delightful few days listening to all of them multiple times. I found that the bigger cymbals make a deeper sound than the smaller ones, and that brass presents a mellower tone than the more high pitched silver ones. Dancers usually have many different pairs of cymbals for this very reason, depending on the environment in which they'll be dancing (indoors vs outdoors, how large a space, what type of music will they be dancing to) so that they can pick cymbals that will achieve the sound they want. I absolutely love the mellower sound of the brass cymbals, and these Grecian ones are my new bff, but at some point I'll almost certainly add a silver set to my arsenal. I am having SUCH a delightful time exploring this totally new-to-me skill, and am so glad that I embarked on it! I don't know when I will perform with finger cymbals, if ever (though it would be nice to add them to my possibilities for gigs, when those resume again) but regardless, I'm thoroughly enjoying the process and the healthy challenge that they present to me. I'm also learning so much about Middle Eastern music that I can translate to all of my dancing. I plan to continue with my classes next month!

In other creative news, I just had to share this new hat pattern with you that I am currently also obsessing over. :-0 It is called the Lotus Blossom Beanie, and the effect is absolutely stunning, wouldn't you agree?!

Pattern is Lotus Flower Beanie from BKnitsHandmade

There has been some talk in my crafting community about the price of this pattern ($11), which is more than hat patterns traditional cost. However, this pattern includes detailed photographs of the tricky lotus blossom technique, directions for sizes 6-12 months/infant through adult, as well as instructions for knitting it in either bulky or super bulky yarn. I'm already planning gifts for others with finished hats from this pattern too, so I do really feel like it is worth it! If you use the super bulky she recommends (although you could use any yarn you like), which is Malabrigo Rasta, you will get 2 hats by reversing the colors. Here is my first finished hat in a Valentine's theme:

I'm awaiting my order of gorgeous lush pom poms, and I have to share my new favorite pom pom shop on Etsy, which is North Star Stitches! I'm not normally a pom pom gal, but the featured photos on this hat really sold me on how a well coordinated pom pom really makes the design pop! For my pink/mint hats, I ordered a few poms to try in shades of blush, white and blue/green. I'm sooooooo excited for these to arrive! I'm going to be making a lot of hats this year, I'll share more about that endeavor next week!

What skill or idea have you always wanted to take a class on? I would love to hear about it in the comments!

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