And breathe

I’m so glad its finally the holidays, I feel like I might have a chance to catch my breath.

The last few weeks have been a whirlwind of busy. My head has been full to bursting of all the dates and information I needed to remember. This time of year is always kinda crazy with school stuff, but with two children starting new schools in september, this year has been mad. All the usual school events, sports days, school trips, fundraising activities, as well as leavers assemblies and parties and transition days for visiting new schools and the associated paperwork and thought processes involved in making sure nothing gets missed. I’m sure some things have been missed.

But we’ve finally made it to the end of term. We’ve said our goodbyes to school, teachers and friends, and cut the last tie to our old town. When we moved house last year, this was the worst case scenario – having to commute back to our old town for Pumpkin’s school until the very end of the academic year – but I think its actually been a good thing for Pumpkin in the end as he gets to leave at the same time as everyone else and participate in all the leavers activities. Personally though, I’m so happy to be done with the commuting and we’ll save a fortune in petrol costs! I can’t wait to be able to walk to school again in September!

Crafting, as usual, has taken a back seat. I have been working on the first button band, but I’m not happy with how it sits at the neckline and hemline edges. I’m currently debating whether it will block out or whether I need to frog and start again. Sigh. I think it may just need one extra stitch adding in at each end to push the ends of the row out to level with the bind off edge of the neck and hem. I dont have much experience of finishing projects like this, so any suggestions?

The veggies in the garden are coming along well, though something has started munching the mini courgettes.

Ive also had another audition and am waiting to hear what comes of that. Im expecting it to be fifth time unlucky, but ya never know!

Running is also continuing to happen. Today is the first time in several weeks that I’ve not been to the local parkrun. In seven runs I’ve got my time down from over 40mins to just over 33mins. I was really surprised by achieving that personal best last week! I’m still aiming for a sub30 by Christmas, just gotta keep the motivation going.

What’s life like for you right now?

Disappointment

I’m more disappointed than I anticipated not to have been cast in the latest show I auditioned for. I never expected to get a role, so I don’t know why that should be the case. Perhaps it’s partly that I didn’t lose out to the person I expected would get the role. She must really be disappointed! Two extra people turned up to the auditions too, which massively reduced my chances. And I don’t have anything else in the pipeline at the moment, which is a state of affairs that leaves me feeling rather antsy.

Still, the summer holidays are approaching and though in previous years I’ve found myself going a bit crazy during the long break, I think I’ve probably got enough going on to fill my time this year. I might even manage to finish my cardigan!

Veggies

It was far too hot to be out in the garden last week. Well, too hot to work anyway. So its only today that I’ve managed to actually get my veggies planted out.

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I planted two courgettes (near right and far left) two peppers (opposite corners) and the one in the middle is a pumpkin. The RHS website suggested sinking flower pots in next to the plants so you can water into them rather than over the plant itself to help the water get right down to the roots.

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My hanging basket tomato plant is doing well too. Can you spot the little pea-sized green tomato in there?

In other news, my running is going fairly well of late. I try to do two training runs each week of around 3.4k each, and I’ve continued going to my local parkrun on a Saturday morning as well. I’ve managed to cut 5 minutes off my time since that first week of mostly running with a bit of walking. I’ve set myself a goal, with some encouragement from my brother who is and has always been an excellent runner, of running a sub-30min 5k by Christmas. Something tells me that cutting off the next 5 minutes from my PB will be considerably more difficult!

It’s also audition time again this week. Last night we learnt the audition songs and the audition dance. Now I have to go away and learn and practise everything before Thursday. There are two girls going for each of the two female roles available, so the odds are reasonable but I’m going to have to put some work in beforehand. So if you see me round here again before then, tell me to get on with it!

 

Theatrics

Yesterday was my third set of auditions in the last month. I don’t think I’ve ever auditioned for so many things in such a short space of time before! I don’t think I’ve ever been quite so unsuccessful before either. I haven’t managed to be cast in any of them. The first two auditions were for plays. I’ve not done a play for a while, but I do enjoy them and was keen to be involved. Unfortunately, having quite small casts means that there is a lot of competition for roles, and these were no exception. I’m a little disappointed not to have got them, but not really upset.

Yesterdays auditions were for a couple of non-singing roles in a musical. I felt quite ambivalent in the lead up to the auditions; keen to be involved in a show again, but not really that enthusiastic about this show in particular. I went along to the auditions just to see what happened really. I enjoy seeing how other people perform at auditions, and I felt like I gave it my best shot, but I was up against some very talented people, and this time was unsuccessful. It’s both a relief and a disappointment, which is quite a strange feeling.

I’m still keen to be involved in a show again soon, so I’m keeping my eye out for audition notices, and I’ll be going along to the previews for another musical tonight. There’s plenty out there, just gotta find the right role for me!

Garden pompoms

Isn’t it nice to have some sunshine again! I’m enjoying my garden at the moment, especially these pompom pops of purple chives which are right outside my kitchen doors. I do love alliums, and it’s still exciting seeing what my new garden has to offer me as the seasons progress.

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Knitting has been sorely lacking here of late. I am gearing up to do a tubular bind off of the bottom ribbing of my crazy stripes, but haven’t managed to summon the courage or find the time to dedicate to it properly yet. Soon, I hope.

Theatrics continue. I have auditioned for a play and got a recall, but am still waiting to hear whether I’ve been cast. This week also sees the start of workshops for the next full-scale musical production my local society are doing. It will be good to get stuck into something again soon.

I’m also trying to get back into running again. I did quite well at the start of the year, running fairly regularly and getting up to 3k routes, with the aim of taking part in a parkrun 5k event. I stalled at 3k though and life and (not wanting to cripple myself before) shows got in the way, as they do. So, after several months of not running at all, I did the sensible thing and just decided to go for it and do the parkrun anyway! Crippling yourself *after* a show is fine, right!? I didn’t manage to run the full 5k. There was rather more walking than I’d have liked, but hey, I made it to the finishing line in a reasonable time, and I can only get better, right!? Maybe having a time to beat will encourage me to put some work in!

 

In the spotlight

It’s show week once again. This time I’m behind the scenes, operating a follow spot, which is something a bit different. At its most basic level, its a pretty straightforward task; point the light at the appropriate actor and turn it on. But as the week has gone on, the more I’ve realised that there is a real skill to doing it well. It requires far more concentration and focus than I had appreciated (someone using their smartphone in the stalls during a poignant song was incredibly distracting) along with a good sense of timing and even a certain level of artistry.

I felt like I was doing a passable impression of a reasonable followspot operator by the end of the week, but I’d certainly appreciate another opportunity to hone my skills further at some point in the future.

I think it’ll be back to treading the boards for me next though, as I’ve got several upcoming auditions for a variety of shows and I’ll just have to see what sticks!

Don’t they fly!?

The years, I mean. WordPress kindly informed me yesterday that it was my 3 year anniversary here. That would have totally passed me by!

I celebrated by picking up my knitting for the first time in about a week. I only managed a couple of rows but something’s better than nothing.

I also went to a rehearsal last night. I’m itching to get back to rehearsing a show. But this one was for a show I’m crewing in a couple of weeks time. Backstage work is something I enjoy, and you still get the buzz of being in a theatre, but it’s not the same as being part of the cast who’ve been rehearsing for months and going out on the stage in front of an audience. So I’m keeping my eye out for other opportunities.

In other news, the cake is safely in the freezer and it remains to be seen whether it survives on the other side.

Roll on spring

 

The show is over. I miss it. We all had an absolute blast but I was utterly exhausted by the end of the week. I’m just about recovered now and the stripes are calling once more.

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The sunshine and the garden are also calling. I’m enjoying seeing what appears from the ground in our new garden. Spring bulbs fill me with joy and the blossom is beautiful!

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Dagenham Dress

This was going to be a series of work in progress posts, but since it all progressed rather quickly and to a deadline, and injuring my wrist at rehearsal a couple of weeks ago made typing difficult, it’s ended up as a fait-accompli post instead!

I’ve been rehearsing over the last few months for a production of Made in Dagenham. It’s set in the 1960’s and is based on the true story of the women workers of the Ford factory in Dagenham who went on strike for equal pay. It’s a fun show with great music and of course it requires lots of great costumes in keeping with the 60s era. My character in particular needs several different outfits and since the wardrobe mistress has her hands full costuming everyone else, I offered to have a crack at making a dress for myself.

I’ve never really sewn a garment on my own from scratch before. I did a bit of dressmaking as a teenager, though only simple skirts, and always under the tutelage of my mum. My mum and I also worked together to make my wedding dress several years ago. I’ve wanted to have a go at something a bit more ambitious ever since I got a sewing machine for Christmas a couple of years ago, but until now had only ever done simple mending jobs, or basic projects like my crochet hook roll and Pumpkin’s pencil case.

So, after a little bit of procrastinatory research, I decided the only this to do was to bite the bullet and throw myself into it. A trip to the local fabric store and I was equipped with pattern, fabric, lining material and a zip.

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I was a good girl and put the fabric straight into the washing machine when I got home. Then read the pattern properly and realised I would need a few other things. Cue another hasty trip to a different haberdashery shop for interfacing, carbon paper, tracing wheel and a rotary cutter.

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Since I was between sizes, I had a go at grading the pattern out at the waist and further at the hips. I made a toile out of the lining fabric to begin with to check the fit and ended up adjusting the grading a fair bit. The red line above shows my first attempt.

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Tin cans make excellent pattern weights!

 

I spent a long time laying the pattern out and tracing it using the carbon paper and wheel. I still took a big deep breath before I started cutting it. (Rotary cutting wheels are awesome by the way!) There were quite a lot of moments throughout the project where I found myself starting to question each new step and whether I was doing it right or was going to risk messing up what I’d already done. I just told myself to suck it up and get on with it. I’m not always very good at doing that. Often projects sit and linger when I can’t quite bring myself to do the next step for fear of messing up.

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Once I was happy with the toile I moved onto the main fabric. I thought it could be a big challenge having to do all the pattern matching, but in fact having the lines to keep me on track really helped.

Sewing the shoulder seams would have been easier if I’d fully unpicked the lining after using it as a toile. I did have to unpick it all eventually, otherwise the construction wouldn’t have worked. Pulling the whole thing right side out through the shoulder straps required some mental gymnastics, but was easy enough. I would need to think through the seams allowances better if I was doing it again, in terms of which way they lie and trimming them better before flipping it through, as they ended up being a little bulky, but that’s just how you learn, right!?

Inserting the zip was a similar story. I’ve only done a zip once before – on Pumpkins pencil case – and never an invisible zip. The first side went in fine. The second side took me a couple of attempts and then when I flipped it round I discovered it was twisted anyway, so I had to unpick that side again and reposition it before stitching again. Fortunately it went in right first time after that and I was very pleased with the pattern matching.

This was the point at which I fell over at rehearsal and sprained my wrist, so the dress rested for a week before I could get back to it. But with the show looming I had to push on. I basted the sides together and my wardrobe mistress kindly helped to check the fit and mark the hemline and it was fairly straightforward after that, just a little slow.

The hem was the bit that I procrastinate over the most I think. With everything having gone together so well up to that point, I really didn’t want to mess it up at the final hurdle. I pinned and repinned and basted and pressed and eventually took a deep breath before chopping off the excess length. I hand sewed the outer fashion fabric for a neater finish on the outside and machine stitched the lining.

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I’m incredibly proud of the finished garment especially given it’s the first time I’ve made something like this, and to wear it onstage and pretend it’s a designer outfit is a fantastic feeling. I’m absolutely loving doing the show too. I got my nails done last week to help me get into character as well. So unlike me, but they complement the dress perfectly! Here’s to more successful sewing!

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