elizabeth_mn: (seaside)
I just got the confirmation email from Costume College programming and my ceili dance class is a go!

It's scheduled for 9 am to 11 am on Saturday morning. 9 am seems crazy early to expect anyone to dance, but whatevs. I expect you all to be there!

Still not sure if I will dress up while I teach this class or just wear mundanes. I hate to miss a single moment of dress up, but it will definitely be easier to teach dance if my legs are free.
elizabeth_mn: (seaside)
I danced with my group, Mooncoin Ceili Dancers at this year's Irish Fair last weekend. This is the big Irish cultural event in the area, a 3-day weekend with every dance group, dance school, band, and cultural organization participating. Lots of music, lots of beer, a good time generally.

I've been attending the Irish Fair since I was a teenager, and I've been performing out there with Mooncoin for about 8 years. It's fun but also tough to be an adult dancer representing a social style of dance. We do not wear the flashy costumes with sequins and neon and we don't wear the huge curly wigs, like the school dancers do. Our dances are mostly couple dances, not originally intended as performance pieces.

I asked my HB to do a little video this year to share. Here are two (not quite complete) dances; the first is a traditional 2-hand jig danced by me & TJ, and then it cuts to a waltz I choreographed for Mooncoin. Oh, and you get to see the dresses I sewed in action! I shall refrain from making comments about either my sewing or my choreography. Music here is provided by the wonderful Twin Cities Ceili Band. Enjoy.

elizabeth_mn: (seaside)
Last night at dance practice I was reminded that I still don't have a solo step for our June performance in Iowa. Mostly my group does ceili dancing (the social style, as opposed to the more modern performance-based style) but this time we are doing a step-about as our finale, where each dancer gets 2 measures to dance a solo step, then we all finish with some hardshoe battering. A step-about is fun! But I didn't have a hardshoe step anymore. It's been about 10 years since I have been in dance classes, and I have forgotten a lot of the choreography.

So, YouTube to the rescue! I Googled "beginning hardshoe step" and here is what I got.

It starts out simple and gets a little more complex, but never crazy-hard.

Also this one. Love the toe hits behind.

I've also been enjoying watching these Howcast dance videos. I haven't used much from these, because most are a little advanced for me now (well, I used to be able to do back-clicks! Kinda.) There are tons of these with lots of little techniques.

So what I did this morning was to assemble step components from videos like these and from basic steps I already knew, practice them, and write them down on paper. I made them into little chunks of 2 counts, so with 8 counts to fill, I just shuffled the pieces around until I had an order I liked, making one cohesive step. NOW I need to practice my new step one hundred more times before next week's practice - the last practice before our next performance!
elizabeth_mn: (Default)
St. Patrick's Day ate up a lot of my time the past week, as I had extra practice and two performances with the dance group. Both went okay, though I wouldn't say they were stunning achievements for us. 

I currently have too many projects to make much progress on any one of them.  I did finish the rib section of my Whisper cardigan and have started on the 'skirt' part.

I'm halfway through my NF petticoat, but I got distracted by the idea of a new wool zip-front vest for my HB's b-day and now I am almost finished with that.

I'm also plotting my next knitting project, which is to be Scarlow from Knitty, a zip-cardigan for the man. Much yarn shopping has been done, and I think I've decided which ones to go with.

I have also been obsessing over finding a very specific (and apparently, obscure) knitting pattern I saw in an ad in an old issue of Knitscene.  I eventually wrote the manufacturer and they gave me a source to buy it over the phone. Phone shopping!  How charmingly old-timey!
elizabeth_mn: (Default)

I delivered the new dance costumes at last weekend's practice.  It's nice to have them done, but they really didn't feel as burdensome as the last set.  Of course, there were only 5 pieces this time as opposed to last time's 33.  Good news: our one male dancer asked us if he should wear his kilt for the performance.  Obvy, we all said of course!  He's got a shirt and vest now that matches our dresses, and with a black kilt, he'll be dapper.

[livejournal.com profile] katriniac got us a gig performing in her hometown of Maple Lake this weekend.  I'm anticipating chilly (we're performing outdoors) but fun.

Unrelatedly, everybody seems to be talking about Costume College.  Sigh.  I had really, finally promised myself that this was the year I would go, but my. . um, family situation has prevented that.  Oh well.  I don't suppose Costume College will stop happening any time soon, and there's always next year or the year after.  The best bonus I have for this is family living in L.A. that I can stay with.


Nov. 3rd, 2008 09:54 am
elizabeth_mn: (Default)
My weekend:

I danced and called all night on Friday.  Got home late, exhausted.

On Saturday, I drove to Hinckley to perform and teach/call dances with my ceili group at a wedding.  Ate cold sandwiches in the car for dinner while I played TMBG very loud to keep from falling asleep while driving.

Sunday I had another super-intense dance practice, as we have less than 2 weeks before the next performance.  Came home, slept for 10 hours.

So yeah.  I think I've slept off the exhaustion, but my feet are still so sore!  It was all worth it, though.  Lots of fun.

Today I just want to do a little mending and then start my new pink toile hoopskirt.  Still waiting for the boning to arrive, but I have the fabric and twill tape.  And I have pair of jammies to sew, the floor needs sweeping, and I really feel like baking something sweet.  Let's see how much I get to.

I did already clean the sewing room from the dragonfly dress's chaos, though.  A noteworthy feat, I think.
elizabeth_mn: (Default)
Sort-of bad news:  My buttons for the riding habit came on Friday, and they're so small!!  They're teeny.  They're like doll buttons.  They were supposed to be 1/2", but they are barely larger than 3/8".  I don't really have the time or money to get different ones, so I guess I just ought to use them and try to have better advance planning next time.  Oh, and I should also remember that the size given for buttons is only an approximation.  They're pretty and they're the right color, so I guess that's something.

Good news: a dear dancer friend's husband-to-be is an accordian player for a local Irish band, and he made me a CD of 111 tracks of Polka music!!  I've been trying to find good polka music for months with no success.  But finally, I have them!

They're Irish polkas, of course!  The only way to polka.  Irish polkas leap; German polkas lump.  And I think I could live quite happily in a Universe entirely free of tubas.

Irish Fair

Aug. 11th, 2008 06:43 am
elizabeth_mn: (Default)
I spent all weekend at Irish Fair, which was great. I danced with Mooncoin on Friday and Sunday, and on Saturday we had an hour of teaching dances in the ceili tent. After our last performance on Sunday, the man and I hung out in the hospitality tent for volunteers and performers with the rest of my dance group and had free drinks and snacks and listened to the bands play. The weather was beautiful; sunny, cool, and breezy.

Our dances went (mostly) really well. I think I am finally starting to get over my fear and nervousness about dancing on stage. I still had the fear, once in a while during a dance, that I would turn around and none of the other dancers would be there, or that they'd be doing something different than what I was doing, but mostly I felt confident about my dancing.

It's a little late for advertising, but the Irish Fair happens every year, the 2nd weekend of August, and it's all free, so if you're in or near St. Paul, MN, do check it out.

Now that that's over, I finally feel like I am returning to normal life (and sewing!).  I'm still trying to avoid being a slave to the Project List, so I'm just working on whatever I feel like at the moment.  Right now, that's a couple new aprons and a new (plain & practical) skirt, but my pocket hoops are still on the agenda somewhere.  And of course I'm still making progress on my sweater!

elizabeth_mn: (needlecraft)
I had such a trying day yesterday.  I had to drive out to small-town Wisconsin for a dance group photo shoot.  Basically we spent about 4 hours dancing while the photographer took photos and video.  We had to pose for about a zillion still photos as well.  I was exhausted by the end.  I'm still pretty tired.

I've been working on my pink mitten!  I've reached the end of the thumb gusset and put the thumb stitches on a holder, and I've continued about another inch up the hand.  I learned a new increase while I was doing the thumb gusset, yay!  I was a little nervous and confused about the part where the stitches go on the holder, I wasn't quite sure where/how to re-join the hand stitches, but by the time I got there, it made sense.  I think I might try to take a photo of it today.

Friday I finished two pairs of new flannel jammies (spaceships!) for the man and myself.  Other than that and knitting, I've been making lists (I'm very good at that, not that I actually do the things I write down).  Hopefully this week I can make the few new winter skirts I bought fabric for, complete the half-done pinstripe vest for the HB, do a little mending, and tie up some loose ends on a couple almost-done projects.
elizabeth_mn: (needlecraft)
Here's a few of the pictures of the group wearing the new dresses and dancing at irish Fair last weekend:

L1010076.jpg 07 mech picture by ashamanjababu

We had a good time dancing and there were no major mess-ups.  We performed on Friday and Sunday and taught a class on ceili dance on Saturday. The only thing that I guess I could say went "wrong" was that on one day we had a really rude, crummy announcer who kept basically insulting our group. In essence, he said that we are all old women who are only in this group because no one else will have us, that we aren't good enough dancers to be in the dance schools or in competitions -  that we basically suck at dancing generally.  Everyone in the group felt bad and was pretty angry.  

It was still a good time, though.  I love dancing, even when there are poop-heads in the vicinity.
elizabeth_mn: (socks)
Our dance performance on Saturday went pretty well, with the exception of one dancer getting hit in the ankle with a guitar case 5 minutes before the performance.  She was bruised but basically okay, and even insisted on limping through some of the dances, but for the most part, we took her out and had other dancers sub in, which meant that I was thrown into a dance that I haven't done in months.  It went okay, though.  There was one more too-wide-neckline-almost-becoming suddenly-naked issue.  I told everyone that if they wanted me to do alterations, they can just bring their dress to next weekend's practice.  Not looking forward to that, but it does mean that I have this week all to myself!

I finished my pattern for the 19-teens-inspired skirt and cut out the dark red wool crepe last night.  I need to go get thread and button forms before I can start sewing it.  For the band of trim, I cut 4" bias strips of coordinating silk, and I'm going to wrap them around 2" bias strips of some kind of stabilizer.  I was thinking of horsehair canvas (mostly because I have some on hand already) but I'm wondering if the stiff fibers might not work their way out of the silk eventually.  I guess I'll just look at the interfacings when I go to buy thread today and see what they've got.  Maybe I'll use silk organza.

I really want to finish this today!  I feel like I haven't actually finished anything for myself in ages.
elizabeth_mn: (blue silk back)

So now it's time for the aforementioned complaints, or 'the inner workings of my sewing and design process."


Mar. 14th, 2007 08:32 am
elizabeth_mn: (Default)

Today I have a performance with the dance group, which means I have to hem my dress and put the sleeves on, sew the snaps on my cape, shower/wash my hair, get my shoes and crap together, and be ready to go when my ride comes at 11:30.  3 hours isn't very long - I hope I make it!

Yay for waiting until the last minute for everything. . .

Dumb news

Feb. 23rd, 2007 01:17 pm
elizabeth_mn: (Default)
I''ve just gotten a message from one of the other members of my dance group - it turns out that the Irish Music and Dance Association does not want us for Day of Dance!  So our performance is off!  We still have the St. Patrick's Day performance, of course, but still, it feels kind of crappy to be passed over - most likely in favor of yet another group of 12 year old girls in neon cardboard dresses and huge curly wigs from one of the dance schools, seriously, don't they get enough time?

(Just in case you don't know what I mean:  
Wigs:  http://www.irishstepdancingwigs.com/grainne.html   
Neon/cardboard dresses:  http://www.celticimage.co.uk/  
Yes, they really do wear those things.)

elizabeth_mn: (Default)

So, I feel like I am taking my first calm breath in 24 hours.  Yesterday was my dance group's 30th anniversary party.  I did manage to get up at a reasonable hour, around 8:00, but as soon as I was done with breakfast, I went out to buy pie pans, then I started baking cakes, and while the cakes baked I set the sleeves into one of the dance dresses and made the cape (a simple hemmed right triangle shape to drape from shoulder to opposite hip).  I baked 7 cakes in about 3 hours, then a couple of my group-mates came to pick them up so they could take them to the party space and frost/asseble them.  6 of them were made into a lovely 3-tiered, decorated cake, and the other was a sheet cake.  After they left, another group member and I made 6 vegan (with soymilk gravy!) vegetable pies for the dinner in about 3 hours.  Then I had to print dance programs, get the pies and dress and dance shoes, etc. togther, take a shower, get dressed, and scramble to get to the party on time.  I seriously did not stop moving from breakfast until I sat down in the car to leave. I really felt like I had lost an entire day.

But, the party was fun, if a bit stressful.  Everyone just loved my cakes and pies; I got tons of compliments.  Some of them were disappointed when I told them the pies did not have a recipe, I just make them from memory and experience. They are just a simple pie crust (flour, salt, organic vegetable shortening, water) with a filling of vegetables that have been sauteed and simmered in a simple gravy of soymilk and starch and spices.  The cakes both came from Nigella Lawson's book How to Be A Domestic Goddess, my absolute favorite baking book.  The tiered cake was a maple spice cake, and the sheet was a chocolate sour cream cake.  I did alter them both a little; I used sucanat, added a few spices, etc.  

Everyone thought the new dress was great, too.  There were a bunch of old costumes there form the history of the group.  I think the new costumes are much more modern, and less frumpy.  I'm glad the group agreed on a simple design.  I couldn't get the wearer to model the dress, so I didn't get any pictures, but I hope to soon!

We didn't get to do as many dances as we planned, but everyone was pretty tired anyway.  We did get to do a Fairy Reel, and the current members demo-ed our new polka set.  I think I got home around mignight.

Anyway, now I finally have a whole day to loaf and do nothing.  I'm really glad to be able to rest.  Throwing a party for 50+ people is a lot of work!

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