That is the State of the Art

sondheim… as Mr. Sondheim wrote in “Sunday in the Park with George.” If you are a Facebook friend of mine, you know I’m preparing for a Sondheim revue to take place on September 4, 6, and 7 at the Area Community Theatre of Sharpsville (ACTS) in a neighboring Pennsylvania county. As part of ACTS’ publicity, I was interviewed by a reporter from the Sharon Herald by phone yesterday.

Let me preface this account by saying I’ve been sick as a dog since Sunday night. __As. A. Dog.!!!__ Three days of coughing and respiratory troubles and sinus pain and zero oomph. (“Zero oomph” is a medical term, you understand.) I had been in my pajamas since returning from urgent care and the pharmacy at 8:30 a.m. The first dose of Z-Pak was making me the tiniest bit better, but my voice was still gravelly, and my brain wasn’t clicking too well.

The reporter called about 4:00 p.m. One of the theatre founders gave me a heads-up that he was going to call, but I had no idea the sort of things he would ask. I fear I came off as the biggest doofus in the history of regional theatre! First he asked about Sondheim’s career and music. I’m sorry. I haven’t studied Sondheim’s body of work. I’ve been working my tushy off to organize and learn the music (including transpositions, transcribing the music into composition software where the sheet music wasn’t available in the key the singer needed, cutting and pasting so I’d have sheet music I could actually read, and making recordings of melody or parts or accompaniment to help the singers learn the music) while simultaneously preparing for two Cleveland Orchestra and Chorus performances and beginning a new job in a totally new “career” path. Oh, and trying to have the tiniest smidgen of a personal life.

I tried to talk about the complexity and difficulty of Sondheim’s music, where he changes keys four times per piece, and never into C or F or G major. The changes are always from five sharps to six flats and back again.

The reporter than asked how we chose the pieces on the program. Well, I don’t know. In the original plan, Anthony Ruggiero and I were going to collaborate on this program. He was the musical director, and we would work together, possibly adding another piano or keyboard or synthesizer so we could have full accompaniments without adding extra instrumentalists. But then Anthony got a job offer and moved to Florida. I stepped in as music director. I didn’t choose the music. I chose to learn the music!

There were more questions about the cast, the singers. Again, I’m new to the organization. I first laid eyes and ears on these singers in June. I’m still struggling to match names and faces!

Then he asked the kicker. Have you done lots of musical directing – what’s your experience. By this point, probably six hours into the 15-minute interview, I was struggling to keep words together. I vamp real well on the piano. I don’t vamp so well with words.

My career? I’ve been playing piano since age 3; I’ve been singing in choruses since age 8; I’ve been accompanying since age 10. I’ve got an A.A. in piano performance, a B.S. in computer and information systems, and a J.D. I’ve spent a thousand years sitting on church piano benches. I’ve been a bookkeeper, secretary, programmer, technical writer, legal writer and editor, database application developer, web editor-in-chief, ballet accompanist, staff accompanist at Walt Disney World, maker of beautiful-music-to-shop-by at Nordstrom, cocktail pianist at innumberable bars, …. Oh, and musical director of several musical theatre productions in the early 80s and a show in Tucson in 2006. This is not something I’ve done all my life. This is something I stepped into to help out a friend.

Ugh! Fear of failure!

I’m afraid this poor reporter may have gotten one sentence out of me that he could use.

In taking the Virginia Bar Exam four (or five—who can remember?) times, I learned I don’t really test well. Maybe those who don’t test well also don’t interview well. Could that be?

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

Summery Scarf

coralscarfCatching up on some older projects that haven’t made it to a blog post yet ….

One of Wolf Creek Yarn’s weekly newsletters in March grabbed my attention. In Northeast Ohio, we were still in the depths of a brutal winter, but the scarf shown in the newsletter sang to me of spring. The scarf is made of Berroco Lago yarn, a rayon/linen blend that gives the wearer accessory options for warm-weather outfits.

Wolf CreekI made a road trip over to Grove City to visit Wolf Creek for the first time, where I bought two skeins each of the colors Papaya and Passion Flower.

IMG_7167It’s an easy and fairly mindless knitting project. Cast on very loosely 30 stitches, then increase one stitch in the first and last stitches in every row until you have about 10 yards left, then cast off very loosely.So long as you don’t forget to do the increases, you’re good!

IMG_0780I kept the Papaya scarf for myself and have worn it a couple of times through the summer. The Passion Flower scarf went to our lovely friend, Leslie. She selfied it for me from her cabin at Interlochen Arts Camp, where she teaches in the dance department each summer.

IMG_3107On both of these scarves, I felt the ends would benefit from having a little weight on them. For Leslie’s, I snooped around my jewelry-making and beading supplies and wired some beads onto a lobster claw clasp. For mine, I browsed all the jewelry vendors at YSU’s Summer Festival of the Arts, and found the perfect little pair of earrings that could easily be attached to the ends.

2014-08-11 12.26.23Now if I could only—again—have a neck that didn’t arrange itself in fold upon fold when I try to photograph a scarf, life would be perfect. Or perfecter.

It’s all relative, right?

(Okay, I’ll show you the neck photo. It shows off the scarf well, but not my old neck.)

When is a Uniform Not a Uniform?

turqinblueWhen it’s a great, beautifully constructed, Katherine Tilton Vogue top. My friend, Leslie, teaches at Interlochen Arts Camp during her summer breaks from the university where she chairs the dance department. My son, grandkids, and I drove up to Interlochen earlier this summer to visit her.

imageNow, anyone who has attended or visited Interlochen over the years knows there’s a camp uniform. Light blue shirts and dark blue pants or shorts (or, much mocked through time, knickers for the girls). When I observed one of Leslie’s musical theatre classes the first day we were there, I was horrified. No one who loves Interlochen as much as she does (she not only attended National Music Camp, but she graduated from Interlochen Arts Academy and now teaches at the camp every summer), should be wearing anything under than the pale blue that is standard. But Leslie, ever the non-conformist, was wearing a turquoise tope over her navy skirt. Say it isn’t so (cries the ultimate rule-follower)!

8817 FrontI’ve been sewing some for her lately. She received three tops and a mesh bag in which to pack all her electronic gadget adapters and chargers for her early summer teaching assignment in Turkey.

8817 Back viewWhen I visited her in June, I wore my very favorite of Katherine Tilton’s Vogue 8817, View A. Looking closely at it, she quickly stated she wanted one of her own. She tried mine on and—as expected, it was too large. I’ve found that if I cut things a size smaller but keep the length adjustments I’ve made, they fit her perfectly.

I found a lovely and oh-so-soft Interlochen blue (why don’t they just name it that?!) rayon jersey that, I believe, will be very comfortable in the Northern Michigan summers that are alternately hot and humid or cool and lovely.

8817 View A Neckline8817 Underbust SeamThis top was a dream to sew. The stars aligned and it went together perfectly. I didn’t pick up the seam ripper once. Just performed each little task in order and admire the ultimate outcome.

Disclaimer: The color is true in Mood’s screencap, and very dull in my latenight iPhone pics. And this shirt is much prettier on the body than on the hanger!

8817 Side Front Seam

The five individual garment photos: (L-R, Top-Bottom) Full front view; full back view; that beautiful neckline; flattering underbust seam; side front seam. (Patting self on back for excellent workwomanship!)

Leslie is always good about sending me selfies in her new garments that I create. I’ll add it here when I receive it, so stay tuned.

(And if you’re curious about the other garments I’ve made from this pattern, here are all the blog posts.)

Let the Destashing Begin

2014-06-25 16.23.20Or “Too Many Interests, Too Little Time”

I’ve been saying for at least a year that I need to decrease the amount of stuff I have. Two years ago (2012) I decided I was going to make a mosaic tabletop for the breakfast nook. I found a great stash of glass and tools on Craigslist and laid down $100 for it. I found the pattern I wanted and bought the plywood to do a sample, and that’s about as far as it got! :(

I stripped wood trim in the breakfast room that summer, hoping to get rid of paint and go to stain. But when I saw the “seam” down the middle of the door jamb between the dining room and the breakfast room, I realized that 1927 construction practices of upscale-ish homes dictated that more expensive wood went in the “public” rooms and the “family” rooms were relegated to lesser quality wood. Once I came to grips with the difference in the woods, I changed my plan for the breakfast room. Gone was the idea of creating a bar table—I had been pondering for a year and couldn’t decide exactly what I wanted anyway!. I found a lovely creamy/yellow/ecru/beige for the walls and a bright white gloss for the woodwork. Two years have gone by now, and that is still my favorite room in the house. Well, that and my office that the Jazzman created for me four years ago.

2013-02-13 08.16.142013-02-23 18.05.57While I was involved with the painting, I also consulted with my interior designer about window shades for my office. When she was here with sample books, we talked about the breakfast table. She showed me some work done by a local consortium of Amish woodworkers and I fell in love. I could choose the exact size, the leg style, the top style, the wood on the top, the wood on the legs. And I could get exactly the chairs I wanted and upholstery that pleased my finicky eyes. That table and chairs are now my favorite furniture possession. Well, that and my 1915 Steinway Model A.

But once that table was in place, I had no more need for all that glass. I loved the mosaic class I took at Ochoa Stained Glass when I lived in Tucson. I loved the glass tabletop I made for an art deco cocktail table. But I also love hot and warm glass work, pottery, wool felting, beading, fabric dyeing, sewing, …. Basically, I love learning. And after two years of walking around six boxes of glass hogging a portion of the garage floor, it was time to let the glass go.

I took the afternoon yesterday to brush the dust off all the glass, reorganize it, and post it on Craigslist. I put a price of $75 on it, although the Jazzman thinks I’m too generous. (I told him I watched it languish for months on Craiglist before I bought it, and just wanted it to go-go-go.) This morning, my inbox held a query from a potential buyer. I don’t want to jinx the sale, but she’s scheduled to come by tomorrow morning (driving an hour to see/buy this glass).

I believe this is just the impetus I need. I released a bunch of glass rods yesterday to a local lampworker who will make good use of them. I have set aside some felting materials, ready to post on eBay. I’m hopeful that, by the end of July, I’ll have pared down my sewing room.

Ah, the luxury of being able to walk through a workspace without watching every step I take!

P.S. Ta-Daa!! All gone. Clean garage. (Picture showing that spot where the glass used to be!)

2014-06-27 08.05.42

A Present to Myself

2014-06-21 16.42.12I have pulled Katherine Tilton’s Vogue 8710 out of my stash several times and contemplated making it, but it always lost out to a repeat of something I’d already done. Then last week I ordered a bamboo rayon/spandex stripe from Hart’s Fabric and decided I wanted to try the horizontal vs. vertical stripe scheme. Once I prewashed the fabric and felt how soft it was, I couldn’t wait to cut into it, hoping to finish the top to wear to a Saturday multi-birthday party at some friends’ cottage on the shores of Lake Erie.

I love this top and want more of them!

Here’s the review:

Pattern Description: Semi-fitted, pullover tops have topstitching details. I made View B: forward shoulder, top mostly cut on crosswise grain, bound neck edge, long sleeves, stitched hems.

Pattern Sizing: Y(XS-S-M), ZZ(L-XL-XXL) I cut L, which tends to work for me on most Katherine Tilton designs. I’m thinking I might have had to go up a size – or this would have been a snug-fitting top – if I had done the front and back vertical instead of horizontal. As it is, I love the fit. Just love it. Did I say I love it?! :)

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Yes, except for the horizontal/vertical switchup.

Were the instructions easy to follow? Y. On the side front, I pressed to the side and topstitched 1/4″ from the seam. On the side and armhole seams, I did double-stitched seams. I interfaced the hems with tricot fusible and used a double needle.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? I loved the flair in the “skirt” – although I added to the flair with my drafting when adding the 2″ to the length.

Fabric Used: Bamboo rayon/spandex knit – like buttah! – from Hart’s Fabric.

2014-06-21 16.42.31Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: I’m 5’8″ and find I always need to add a couple of inches to Katherine Tilton’s tops. Because of the shaping in the front and side front, I ended up tracing from the large at the “lengthen here” lines out to the XXL at the hem. Because of this, I got a fuller, more twirly top that is great over skinny pants. The combination of this soft, supple fabric and the fuller hem is a dream!

As I was cutting – in a hurry and not referencing the pattern – I cut the stripes the opposite of how Katherine envisioned them. My front, back and sleeves are crosswise stripes. Only the side fronts are lengthwise. I think I like this better than the pattern illustration. (I’m also very proud of how my stripes matched. (Patting self on back.))

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? Yes and yes!

Conclusion: I made this to wear to a group birthday party for which I was one of the honorees. What a great birthday present to myself!