Shannon’s last ballet class

My ballet teacher Shannon’s last class one on Monday. She’s moving to Georgia for chiropractor school, which is awesome, but I’m going to miss her ballet class.   Her classes were challenging and made me think and learn, instead of some classes which I feel like are for people who were former dancers and merely want to go through the motions.  For instance, she handed out sheets with ballet positions and told us to memorize them as homework.  I felt a little resentful at first because I was taking this class for fun, how dare she expect that I spend my free time going over positions, etc.  But learning the positions has actually helped me a lot and I find that I enjoy ballet more when I can differentiate the difference between croise, efface, and ecarte.


Not dance related, but his is Gigi, a lovely senior Siamese at the shelter where I volunteer. She got adopted this week! (Growing up, I always wanted a Siamese)

Shannon always watched our technique and gave suggestions about form, timing, distribution of weight, etc.  I’m sure some people found the critiques disturbing, but I found then pleasant and useful because I am still learning and growing (even though I do wish I didn’t need them, but I’ve been more open to critiques as I get older.)  Her combinations were always fun and I tried to remember her last class so I can try them on my own.

Also, this post is delayed because I tried posting on my phone and WordPress didn’t save the text. Even when I published it. Yep.

Across the floor combination:

Sous sous to corner, balance back around
Sous sous to back corner, balance back around
Waltz turn x 2
Step, developpe front (opposite arm), chasse.
Step, developpe front (opposite arm), chasse.
Tombe, pas de bourre, pirouette.

Jump exercise: Tombe to side in plie, use foot only to Push off floor. Use feet to push off floor, not legs. Changement: cross thighs in air, create a picture. Same with assemble.

Saute, (fall through) glissade, saut de chat, sautee, (fall through) glissade, Grande jete

Always remember: don’t let the shoulders creep up, keep them down. Push chest through shoulders (like male ballerinas), neck long. Be conscious of where your weight is (usually should be ball of foot onto standing leg). Hold the position to create the picture line, not just bouncing back and forth.

Center (croise):
Raise front arm to 5th, raise back arm to 5th,
Tombe forward, lower arms as dressing back leg in
Developpe front, developpe side and hold
Fouette to derriere, promenade around
Fall through(windmill arms), back leg ronde de jambe to front in pliers, straighten

Center (croise): with big arms
Tendu front right croise x2, tendu back left croise x2, tendu side right ecarte x2 and hold out on second
Fouette to derrier front, pull leg to back, close.

(Can do reverse too)

“No matter what happens during the middle of the combination, if you stick the landing with enthusiasm, I’ll be like ‘YES! Great!'” ~ Shannon (ending with a glissade into a passe with flair)

No more making things for other people**


Fthagh ry’len eahd chagh… (Well, during Independent Bookstore Day)

Memorial day heralds my annual ” I’m tired of making things for other people!!!” meltdown.  I have usually been creating things for other people since thanksgiving:  Christmas presents, then presents for my sisters’ birthdays, then dad’s birthday, then costumes for convention season (80% for other people).  Not to mention all the baking I do for people’s birthdays, appreciation parties, and various holidays.

I’ve forgone the costuming for other people, but this year replaced it with being ill for a month and making scarves for a friend’s friend’s trade show booth.  I volunteered because “it’s just rectangles/sewing in a straight line, it’ll take no time at all.” Fast forward to two nights before she takes off for New York and ten sewing hours later…. I usually work with cotton, the scarves were a floaty polyester crepe de chine that shifted like crazy and that my sewing machine hated, plus ironing all the seams slowly so I didn’t melt the fabric.


See the scarves that these lovely people are wearing? Yeah, those ones. Two of the six I sewed together.  Scarves look nice though. (ganked from my friend’s facebook.)

I usually just make a mental note about this time of year, but thought it would be helpful to have a written reminder.  So in celebration of my start of selfish sewing/knitting season, I thought I’d post a showcase of all the things I made for other people in the last 6 months.  Woo.


That’s right, kitty, I’m having a breakdown

** for now.  Barring the sheath dress for my sister that’s been in my queue for years and the wool sweater for Art’s grandfather.  His grandparents have supported him a lot over the years.


This was “Year of DNA gloves.” Seriously, these pairs all went to separate lab friends and I have another in the blue not shown and another pair I made for myself below.

Actually, it was the year of fingerless mitts in particular.  (Well, the grey DNA ones are for me…)


Let’s break up the knitting with some sewing!  I made a laptop case for my labmate since she got a new $2000 lab laptop, but no case.  And it was getting scratched in her bag. Eeeeeeeeeee…… o_o


And I made a “Grad School Interview Survival Kit” bag for our interviewing undergrad, complete with plane reading. (She had never read Harry Potter before)

And I think that’s it for the sewing.  I really need to get back to that, I have a pile of fabric waiting for the several patterns in my queue.  Most pressing are Deer&Doe’s Zephyr dress (one in yellow, one black), Colette Patterns’ Wren in Rinoa blue, Deer&Doe’s Bleuet in Night Circus colors, Seamster’s leggings, my sister’s sheath dress (oh yeah…), and a few knitting project bags for my sisters.  And Rey’s vest because I’m going to Orlando this summer for a conference, which also means Disney World’s Star Wars corner.  And Harry Potter world.  One of my postdoc friends described Harry Potter land as a themed shopping mall that you pay $100 to get into.  He’s…not wrong… but I’m totally going to both.  Star Wars is more my bag, baby.

Ok, back to knitting.  Did I ever mention that I made wool blankets for my cats?  Because Alistair really loves wool.  And then we figured out that Morrigan liked wool too, but Alistar kept kicking her off…because he’s kind of a jerk to her.  He even does a Lemongrab impression when he plays with her toys.


Alistair’s blanket


Rebel Alliance Blanket. Because why not.


Morrigan on her blanket.

I also made one of my friends not one, but TWO pastel rainbow cowls last year.  The first one was knitted for her birthday since I didn’t buy enough yarn and the yarn striping would have looked psychadelic had it been crocheted in the round.  The second time I custom ordered more yarn, but in separate color balls so I could do a chunky crocheted version.  She wears both almost constantly.

One of the ladies in my Irish dancing class gave me one of her old pairs of hard shoes to practice with before I bought my own.   I made her this Celtic headband since it looks like her wedding ring.  And mine. We’re apparently wedding ring siblings!


I also knitted two cunning Jayne hats: one for Art’s cousin and one for my friend’s sister’s baby since they are all Browncoats.  For the record, Berocco Comfort acrylic yarn is a delight to work with.

Oh, and the friend above is rooming with me at the Orlando conference and Hogwarts.  We got talking about stuff to bring and she mentioned that she had been thinking about buying a Ravenclaw scarf at Emerald City Comicon.  I was too disorganized to meet up with her at ECCC, but loom-knitted her a book!Ravenclaw scarf.  I’m very snobby about scarves, especially Hogwarts ones and will make them for friends.  I already had the blue Cascade 128 merino superwash in my stash for ages, so I just picked up a “Pumpkin spice” skein.  Bronze is really hard color to do correctly, so this was the closest I could interpret.

I also made a really cute lamb toy for my friend’s daughter.  This is the guy who pimped out the C. elegans costume at the International Worm Meeting, so I wanted to do something in appreciation and offered to make his daughter a toy.  He wanted a sheep since that’s her Chinese zodiace sign…and I liked the design and texture of this toy.  And it’s my first amigurumi!  Now I’m eyeing this T-rex pattern and a Hobbes pattern….

Are we done yet?  …actually, I think so.  *phew*

*throws hands in the air* No more things for other people!  I feel like Persephone, except instead of the pomegranate seeds meaning months with Hades, I’m instead stuck in gift purgatory.  Not to say that I didn’t make some things for myself, but this is definitely over my 2:1 gift-to-me project ratio.


Aside from the grey DNA gloves and Zoe’s outfit, this cowl was the only other thing I made for myself during gift purgatory.  Yeah…. I did wear it a lot though!


Hair experiments

I have very long, straight Asian hair, which I am actually quite happy with and would not trade it for the world.  (Except for maybe if it was the same except red, like Ginny Weasley’s…)  But the first thing my friend said when I told him I was making Zoe’s costume was, “Man, she has GORGEOUS hair…”  Which, let’s be honest, Gina Torres is stunning and so are her locks.


Image from Black Hair Media

So…. I thought I should at least put some *texture* into my straight hair if I was to make a convincing Zoe.  In the weekends leading up to Emerald City, I tried out some hair experiments: supercoils, rag curls, and braids.

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Semi-charmed kind of life

Emerald City Comicon has come and gone.  I thought I was immune to the ConCrud this year, but was feeling sluggish all of last week until Saturday, when I went down hard for 3 days.  I’m still recovering, but feeling better as evidenced by my brain starting to plan my next sewing projects.  But first, hey look, its a costume event recap!  …kind of.  I forgot about taking photos of us in costume, so it’s just the one above and the one below, when Nathan Fillion made us laugh:


Nathan Fillion: “Hey, who are you guys dressed as?”  *we all laugh* *click*

Which I guess means that I’ll save the in-depth Wash & Zoe costume post for another day.  But I was delighted that Browncoats recognized that we were dressed as Zoe and Wash, so success! Instead, I’ll just say that we had a good time at Emerald City Comicon.  I caught some cool costumes, which will be after the cut, including my fave: a sweet Simon & Marcy.  I have to say, it was a delight to wander around once again and telling other people how much I enjoyed seeing their creations


Simon and Marcy!

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Hornpipe and ballet notes


Choose-your-own-adventure hornpipe:

Hop rally-right step up

Push click push click

Hop rally step back

Heel heel heel rally back toe

Turn-right heel front, hop into right kick butt

Hop rally-right step up

Push click push click

Pull back left, rally-right step up

Rally-right right-toe-toe left-toe right-toe rally-left step up


Ballet notes:

Waltz turn:  make sure back leg is really behind me, not off to the side

Piroette: more subtle bend in knees, otherwise to much springy momentum, plie weight is on ball of supporting leg so can instantly balance on it


Irish dance drill notes


Rally:  keep the rally foot closer to standing leg, figure out comfortable, consistent hop/releve height, will make rallies more consistent.

Lift-hop-down:  my standing leg is jumping side to side, keep landing straight down on line.  Keep feet turned out.

Heels: keep back for as close to 180° as possible, on toes.  Very crossed front toe, front heel (almost rolling, toes curled), back slight movement, just scoot along)


Getting back into costuming

As Emerald City Comicon is coming up, I’ve found that my enthusiasm for making costumes has come back. After going dormant for…4 years. No, wait, I did make one “costume” (Anya’s dress for a wedding, never blogged) and C. elegans costume for a friend, which was worn by a Nobel laureate, how cool is that?!?


…Is that…is that Craig Mello on the right?  Oh my glob, it is

Then my dilemma became: “Crap. What do I make first?” Because there all 3 that I want to make immediately: Arwen’s Chase Coat, Rey’s Jedi Steps outfit, and Zoe & Wash from Firefly.  Because Nathan Fillion will be at Emerald City, though Sean Astin will be there too, so we could do Arwen/Aragorn.  I asked my friends on Facebook and the consensus seemed to be Zoe & Wash, mostly seemingly because my friends like cute couples cosplay. (Didn’t offer to have Art dress as Aragorn though.)


The options: Arwen, Rey, Wash&Zoe.  I’m pretty sure Nathan Fillion will be clothed.

It might actually be a good thing to hold off on Rey’s outfit until the DVD comes out.  I did buy 2 wool jackets from Goodwill though, so I am looking forward to that.  Arwen has been in the works for like…7 years.  I have all the supplies and a plan, just never got around to making her Chase coat.

Still, Zoe & Wash will probably be the easiest because it will mostly be found pieces.  Art’s costume was easy: I found a good Hawaiian shirt.  Done!  Zoe is a little trickier, but I found most of her outfit and  I’m making her vest and shotgun holster.  I have a total girl crush on Gina Torres, who I won’t come close to pulling off her general awesomeness, but maybe that’s ok.  Gotta figure out her hair since I have not made a truce with wigs yet.  My friend suggested I try “supercoiling” my hair (like DNA!) to get that look, so I’m going to try this weekend.  (And maybe it will fit in the the Irish dance volunteer thing I have on Saturday.)


Wash: Done!  Zoe: Some assembly required.  Plus kitty.

For Zoe’s vest, I’m starting with Burdastyle’s 08/2013 133 dress…because I have this pattern already and I won’t have to start from scratch.  Especially with what I thought were princess seams, but are actually pointed side panels.  Yep, don’t want to draft those.


Burdastyle 08/2012 133 dress

As for props…I guess I should go buy some plastic dinosaurs for Art.  Zoe needs a shotgun or rifle.  I looked at prop guns and, wow, they are pricey (with good reason, for being handcrafted).  “Hm, these prop guns are expensive” soon morphed into “I now own 5 Nerf guns that I will be painting.”  Because I remember one of my friends from my archery club who repainted Nerf guns as a hobby.  For his “Humans vs. Zombie” marathon survival weekends.  Not all are for Zoe, just a Nerf shotgun that I found.  The rest are lack-of-impulse-control spoils from Target’s Star Wars Nerf gun series.  Heck yeah, I’m taking advantage of the new movie hype.  When else am I going to find a blaster for under $20?  (I do have a friend who’s legitimately concerned that I’m going to get shot by police, so the nozzles will sadly remain bright orange for now.  Unless I, hahaha, have any cosplay photo requests. Unlikely.)

So there it is.  I can’t wait for the weekend so I can work on this project.  I can’t right now becuase I’m supposed to be finishing up this paper.  And I really just want to get this paper sent out and over with.  Wow, I’m caffeinated.  Ok, back to real work.