In case you haven’t seen them before, these are the amigurumi figures I made of “The Treble Gang”. The characters are part of Uketropolis and live within the Ukulele in the Classroom e-books and the new Ukulele Funbook. They are made after the Sam Logan drawings created for these ukulele method books by James Hill and J. Chalmers Doane. I’ve had a number of requests over the years, so I thought I’d finally create a post about how I made them.
I learned to crochet as a young girl along with my mom and from about the ages of 8 to 12, I was making hats, blankets and even came up with my own pattern to make myself a “disco-purse” to wear to the roller-rink. I hadn’t done it in many years but around the same time that I finished my ukulele teaching certification and we lost our family dog in 2014, I got hooked again. I found it was a great way to work through my grief by keeping my hands busy in the evenings and getting lost in the counting and repeating of stitches. It really is a great way to relax.
Amigurumi is the Japanese art of knitting or crocheting small, stuffed yarn creatures and I discovered the technique from blogs and posts I’d seen on Pinterest. At the time, I was teaching ukulele in schools and decided my students would all get these cute Baby Ukuleles for the holidays, to hang on their Christmas trees or ukulele bags or wherever. So, that was the first pattern I tried and I got it from Eternal Sunshine on Etsy. I don’t see the Baby Ukulele pattern in her shop anymore, but you might be able to contact this creator and have her send you the PDF. That’s also the pattern for the tiny ukuleles they’re all holding in the photo above. That’s the only pattern I can’t find online anymore.
Once I finished that project, I thought it would be fun to crochet a Jose for myself, as a classroom mascot, since I already knew how to make him his own little ukulele. Jose the Dog was the original ukulele slingin’ chihuahua from the Ukulele in the Classroom series of books I was teaching with (they are free e-books now!) To make Jose, I found and used this pattern from another Etsy creator. I just modified his mouth and body slightly to make him look more like the cartoon character.
“To make Jose, I found and used this pattern from another Etsy creator.”
When I started working as the social media contractor for the program, naturally Jose got to come along with me when I’d follow James to events, concerts and his JHUI teacher training seminars that used to be held in Toronto and Vancouver. Jose was always game for a photo op with our teachers and followers. He even conducted our team in a music video.
Soon after, people started asking me about how to/where to get their own Jose and my response was always that he was “one of a kind”. But now that I’ve just completed making the rest of the characters in the new e-book editions and the Ukulele Funbook, I thought it might finally be time to at least let you in on how I made them and where one can get the patterns to make their own.
Sidenote: This is the pattern for the tiny Hawaiian shirt worn by Gus the Gecko. It’s actually a Free Ken Doll Barbie Shirt pattern I found on Pinterest that I hand stitched together.
I hope you’ll try crocheting and have as much fun as I’ve had making these over the years! Thanks to James Hill and the team for indulging me in using these creations to help promote such a great music education program.
Update: If you’re registered for this workshop, the sheet music and listening tracks are now posted. We’re ready for a full weekend of virtual music making! There are still a few spots left if you’re thinking about joining us: tinyurl.com/cyberlele
Friday Evening Concert
If you want to tune in to our free concert on Friday night, click here for the invite link! I’ll be performing for the first time in a virtual live event so I’ll admit I’m excited and a little nervous. Along with solo performances of some original songs and classic pieces, we’ll be playing as a trio in a pre-recorded performance as well. (I’ll post the video link here later)
Show up, strum along to popular songs (chords provided) and if you feel up it, maybe do an open mic spot.
After a weekend of workshops…
Our main goal is to have fun but we’ll also learn to fine tune our playing so we can create a video like this one. Mozart’s ‘Andante Grazioso’, performed by Eve Goldberg’s Ukulele Orchestra of Toronto. We will do the recording of the parts AFTER the weekend workshop. Hope to see you there!
I enjoyed it so much that I purchased the app at the end of the trial and I offered to put together another one for the orchestra which will premiere on YouTube this Sunday afternoon at 2pm EDT. It’ll be an arrangement of Mozart’s ‘Andante Grazioso’ created by Eve which we’ve worked on for 2 sessions of the Ukes of T now. We just had never had a chance to perform it live yet. (Plus, I’m a huge Mozart fan, so I really wanted to do this one, but that’s a long story for another post in the future…)
CYBERLELE ORCHESTRA WEEKEND
Next up for this summer’s virtual orchestra fun, I’ll be joining Eve Goldberg, Brenna MacCrimmon and Cynthia Kinnunen to teach a whole weekend of online orchestra classes, which will be followed by video montages of the pieces afterward.
I’m really excited to be a part of this event. Since it’s all going to be done online, I would really love to see some of my former students from Ottawa join in on the fun too! Below are the details and links for that event:
Cyberlele Orchestra Weekend Friday, Aug 21 – Sun Aug 23 – ONLINE
Join us for a fun and exciting weekend of ukulele ensemble! In this intensive workshop we will learn material arranged in parts for several levels of ukulele, including baritone. We will be working from sheet music and tablature. Material will suit players at skill levels from confident beginners to those with advanced skills (you should know and be comfortable with basic chords in order to participate). Group and sectional classes will help us explore repertoire, expand skills and work towards creating a virtual performance. Hosted by Eve Goldberg and Brenna MacCrimmon with guest instructors Chantal LeBlanc and Cynthia Kinnunen.
Registration fee of $160 CAD includes
2 days of instructional programming
3 levels of ukulele plus baritone section
a Friday concert
a Saturday campfire
technical support and trouble shooting throughout the workshop
digital access to class materials
opportunity to participate in a virtual performance.
I’ve been meaning to share this for awhile now. A student of mine from last term, Lise Gray, came to class one day with this nifty, crocheted ukulele strap. I had been trying for awhile to find a strap solution that doesn’t let the uke flip forward, scratch it or require drilling any holes into the instrument. This one does it all and is super comfortable to wear! She offered to make me a few for re-sale at Strings and Things and kindly shared the pattern with me.
I recently started to crochet again after my dog passed away last year. It’s such a great way to de-stress and relax and I do find so much peace while I’m working on a project. (It’s also a great way to keep your hands out the chip bowl in the evenings!)
I made a bunch in lots of fun colours before the holidays to give as little gifts for my younger students and they seemed to really like them too. A strap really frees up your focus when you’re trying to learn tricky finger positions without having to hold on to the instrument. If you’d like to make your own, the pattern is available for download from Ravelry here. If you’d like a ready-made one, let me know!
Registration for the next 8-week session of my Adult Ukulele classes at Brookfield HS is already started. If you’re a new beginner, the level 1 class can fill up quickly. If you’ve already taken 1&2 or if you’re an advanced player, please consider joining the level 3 choir. We’ll need at least 5 members to run this course. Find courses at https://e-connect.ocdsb.ca or call 613-239-2751.
Ukulele Level 1: Wednesdays at 7pm
Ukulele Level 2: Tuesdays at 7:30pm
Ukulele Level 3: Choir format on Tuesdays at 6:00pm
Register now for the next 8-week term of my Ukulele group classes at Brookfield HS. They start on April 21-22: Tuesday evenings, 7pm to 8:30pm for Beginner level and any returning students go to Intermediate level on Wednesday evenings, same time.
Beginner level: Come and learn the basics of the Ukulele and music literacy, all in one course.
Intermediate level: We’ll focus on playing more ensemble/choir pieces together, which will incorporate all levels of playing and acquired skill.
Now that was a fun way to kick off the new year! Here’s a great shot my husband took of our Ukulele Choir playing ‘O Canada’ at yesterday’s Ottawa 67s game at TD Place. Many thanks to the Ottawa Folklore Centre for organizing this event! I was very happy to participate and help to lead this beautiful group and also very proud that 2 of my young Suzukulele students and 2 of my adult students came too! There’s talk of another opportunity to play again, coming up in March.
In a TVO interview with Steve Paikin, Melanie Doane, says and does it all to promote the ukulele in schools. Grab a coffee. It’s worth the whole viewing. Favourite moments are describing her early lessons with dad (5:20), and playing the “Eliminator Game” (14:06) with her kids. Feeling very inspired after watching this. Congratulations to Melanie on releasing her new website USchool.ca yesterday. Check it out!