February 2007


I begin to suspect that I am getting a reputation for the Wrong Thing.

I don’t mind people knowing that I’m fast, and I don’t mind their knowing that I can come up with a hell of a good show on a very light budget. (Well, I do mind that last, but the five-figure costume-budget shows are hardly breaking down my door, so I work with what I get.)

I certainly don’t mind being known for innovative problem-solving, at least to a point. But the problem that I am repeatedly being asked to solve leads to what I am calling “the convertibles”. These are outfits that make me wish I was a designer who cannot sew – a breed that I customarily deride, along with anyone else who has ever had to make the infamous cloak that has no fastenings, or the quick-change from something like a squat dwarf with a cape to Elrond.

But, when I start dealing with the convertibles, I wish that I could just sketch them off and foist them on some unsuspecting cutter. “Here, you should be able to do this one with those little loops for roman blinds, and a weighted pouch.” Then I’ll sit back and have my coffee while waiting for the kudos.

It started in Psycho Beach Party: “We need a dress for a 60s beach party, but it has to be a Siamese Twin Act dress. And it has to tear away, because they get pulled apart when Chicklet goes crazy. Oh, and Chicklet’s part of the dress also gets torn off, so it has to tear right off, and cover the shorts and shirt she’ll have under it. Did we mention the reason she goes crazy is that the dress is red? The script just has them in a red dress, but that’s dumb, she would go mad right away, so we thought that if the dress turned red halfway through the act, it would make more sense. So we’ll just work it into the number, but they need to be able to pull a string or something and the dress will turn into a different dress which is red. And tear-away.”

That’s still (thank goodness) the worst of them. But currently there is a 16th century musician – who only gets ONE piece of costume to identify him as such, that’s the way the show is designed – and whatever that one piece is has to turn inside out and identify him as a friar. Then there’s today’s project: The late 19th c. party scene in Dorian Gray where an entire dining room full of titled people in evening dress have ten seconds to become sailors, prostitutes and opium addicts in a dockside tavern, without ever leaving the stage. My vision for it is like the building of the barricades in Les Miserables – such a simple change, but so incredibly neat it made me want to cry. Great idea, except the time it takes to make it happen fast is also making me want to cry!

I don’t have pictures of any of that yet – you’ll notice in time that it takes me forever to get relevant pictures – but here’s one of Lord Henry Wotton’s wife, Victoria: (From the book – “her dresses looked as if they had been designed in a frenzy, and put on in a tempest”)


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What I want to be doing right now is knitting. What I am doing is making a parti-colored lozenged clown-themed doublet for Benedick in Much Ado about Nothing, but I wish I was knitting.

Knitting is soothing.  It’s meditative.  I am an obsessive counter – I count buttons, inches, scoops of coffee, beads, nails, steps when walking… it can get  intrusive.  But when knitting, one is supposed to count.  I can count stitches or rows or pattern repeats over and over again, the numbers changing as I progress (or reassuringly staying the same, as is appropriate) and it doesn’t get in the way at all – it’s actually helpful!  My mind slows down, and while my back-brain is rolling ideas around and making plans (that’s what it’s for, after all) my forebrain is allowed to count happily and focus on nothing, which keeps it out of the way of that mysterious back-of-the-mind idea centre that’s really doing all the work.

Right now knitting is the best means of relaxation I’ve got – due to our end-of-winter plumbing issues, a relaxing bath is right out, and since I’m not allowing myself to wallow in a good novel right now (or even a bad novel) the only books I grabbed on the last trip to the library were nonfiction – mostly about knitting.

I have got a sweater on the go – a very simple ‘poor boy’ style in a gray tweed  blend that I picked up (for 99¢!) at the Goodwill.  For some reason, the last time I was there they had huge piles of yarn.  I didn’t go completely nuts, as I’m trying to get a handle on my portion of the Incredible Yarn Stash, but I did feel it was my duty to help out.  Conveniently there was just enough of this tweed to make a simple ribbed sweater for spring/fall or as an underlayer in the Great Cold Time, and also conveniently, I’d been wanting one of those.  In gray.  I love it when a plan comes together.

What the hell, not only does it demonstrate my complete inability to think for myself, it gives me an excuse to avoid working on this inexcusably cold afternoon.

Seriously though, I have for some time been thinking about getting myself a quasi-professional presence on the web that does not involve frilly underwear (if you don’t know, don’t ask) or chickens. Well, maybe chickens. You know, giving myself some facetime for the things that I actually like to do/would prefer to be known for.

And, in my own defense, this cannot possibly be a knitblog. Although I do knit, it is far from the only thing I do and isn’t even the thing I do most of. No matter what my husband says. This is, at best, more of a craftblog – perhaps at worst a stuffblog. We’ll see how it works out.