Saturday, December 19, 2015

Hammered Dulcimer Cover

About five years ago I discovered a new difficulty with my right hand while playing the piano. I went to a hand surgeon, but he could see nothing wrong. Two years later it was worse. I had difficulty reaching an octave (8 notes), where before I had been able to easily reach 9 notes and could stretch to 10. I was beginning to have trouble playing even three-note chords. Then, with a little help from the internet, I diagnosed myself: Dupuytren's contracture. It tends to run in Scandinavian families, and surprised not the next hand surgeon I visited, who, when he learned I was Swedish, agreed with my self diagnosis.

Piano playing for fun and pleasure had become an exercise in frustration and pain. I decided to learn a new instrument. I wanted to take up something that not everyone played, because thereby I could more easily become an expert. Haha. I decided on a hammered dulcimer, since it didn't involve breathing (problem: asthma; recognizing myself as a mere mortal is so difficult. I decided not to renew my so-called skill with the clarinet or trombone) or as much finger dexterity as many other instruments.

So I perused eBay and bought a hammered dulcimer from a man who had purchased one for his grandson for Christmas. The grandson had been begging and begging, and then decided in November that he wanted a keyboard instead, right after his grandpa had bought him the HD. So I got a good deal, though not a steal, on a brand new Songbird 16-17 chromatic HD.

My hammered dulcimer

Living on a dusty farm, as I did in 2012, I knew I needed to protect my instrument from dust. I covered the HD with a towel for awhile, but it wasn't pretty.

I decided to quilt a cover about the time a friend invited me to go and peruse the National Quilt Museum in Paducah, Kentucky. It was a super experience, the beautiful work so inspiring, after which we went shopping at Hancock's of Paducah, and I found just the music-themed fabric I needed. It was soooo tempting to buy more, but I resisted. Sometimes my buying resistance is too strong.

Hammered dulcimer cover
I made a wonky music-themed cover, and quilted a big treble clef right in the middle of it, meandering and looping elsewhere. It is reversible, should I want to turn the cover over for a quieter look. The other side is all one piece:

HD Cover, reverse side
What I learned while making this cover:
  1. I trimmed this quilt to the shape of the hammered dulcimer. Next time I would leave it as a rectangle and let the corners hang down. The weight of the corners would more likely keep the cover from slipping and let it drape better.
  2. Next time I might use flannel as batting instead of the 80-20 I used, which turned out to be a little stiff and not as drapey as I would like (see #1.

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