Professional Voice Talent, Amateur Actor and Knitter

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Time for the Fair!

I entered knitting in the HOT Fair again this year (my second entry). Once again we were limited to one item per category, so I entered the Twist & Shout in the knitted garment category, and the twelve-pointed ball, which turned out really cute, in the knitted accessory category. I originally meant to put a jingle bell or some other noise-maker in the centre, but didn’t think about it when I went to buy the stuffing, so it’ll have to go in the next one (I bought three skeins of the same yarn in different colours).

After I finished the ball, I started the Elizabeth of York pattern from Alice Starmore’s Tudor Roses book. I haven’t gotten very far though. It’s on hold while I work on my Hallowe’en costume for this year’s Masquerade Ball at the theatre. This year I’ve decided to go as Susan Sto Helit (Death’s granddaughter from the Discworld books); specifically Susan as depicted in Hogfather. To that end, I’m making a long, full skirt and a fitted vest (both black); I found a white shirt with a plain, stand-up collar at Goodwill, and some “Mary Poppins” shoes at Sears or Penneys (can’t remember which I was in). I need to find a white wig that I can paint a black stripe on and style into a bun and I’m going to borrow a poker from a friend who has a fireplace. I’m pretty excited about this year’s costume. 🙂

Rehearsals for Noises Off are coming along well. We have close to a completed set now, which makes things much easier. We’re re-using part of the Best Little Whorehouse set, but the stairs had been taken down, so the three doors downstairs were having to do double and triple duty (there are meant to be four openings downstairs and four upstairs).

Haven’t been able to do as much recording as usual. Had a cold a two or three weeks ago and now my allergies have started acting up. I was having to stop every other sentence or so, during my recording session yesterday, to clear my throat or rub my itching nose. I hate allergies.

Big shoes to fill

It turns out that the director from Little Shop will not be directing Noises Off! after all. Add to that, the new director has decided to do the show in dialect (British dialect, that is), and I ended up getting cast as the female lead!! This is a first for me. I will be following such greats as Patricia Routledge, Patti LuPone and Carol Burnett in the role of Dotty Otley. I know about half the cast, and they’re all really good actors, but I’ve never heard them do an English accent. First read-through is tomorrow. Really looking forward to it.

Just finished my first audiobook for a new publishing company called Iambik. The book was No Lease on Life by Lynne Tillman. All I had when I made my decision was what you can find on the amazon page, the first few pages and the publisher’s summary. It did sound interesting, so I went for it, though it would have been nice to have the whole book to glance through beforehand.

Still working on Sense and Sensibility for LibriVox. I’m about a third of the way through. And I’m about halfway through Edith Stein and Companions: On the Way to Auschwitz for Ignatius. I intend to get a fair bit more done on it today, as I have the day off.

I’m a bit more than halfway through my next knitting project (Celestine Sox). It’s a twelve-pointed ball. You start with a single point and then, on each successive one, you pick up stitches on the adjoining points, so there’s no seaming! Yay! The amount of seaming involved is why I’ve not done anymore stuffed toys since Toby. It’s also a single skein project, which makes my pocketbook happy.

Another FO

I finished the third baby item of the summer today. Whenever I go visit my mother, I always take the opportunity to go to the LYS near her work. Waco’s generally a nice town, but is sadly lacking in yarn shops. When I was there a few months ago, I found a cute pattern for a cabled hoodie, and I decided to do that for the third object, rather than a second one of the fair isle sweaters. The finishing on the pattern was a bit simplistic, I think to make it accessible to newer knitters, so I made some changes. If I’d read all the way through the finishing instructions first, I’d have made a couple more.

The pattern says to knit the five main sections (back, 2 fronts, 2 sleeves), then do the button and buttonhole bands on the two fronts, then pick up stitches on the fronts and back for the hood, then do a band along the front of the hood, then sew the seams. The hood is knit up to a certain length, then a third of the stitches are cast off on either side, and you continue on the middle third, then sew it to the cast off sides.

If I’d read through the finishing instructions first, I’d have done the button, buttonhole and hood bands as one piece. But I’d already finished the two front bands before I read through the hood instructions, and didn’t feel like frogging them. I did avoid seaming on the hood and to attach the hood band to the front bands (seaming is my least favourite part of knitting). I used this technique on a lace shawl to attach the outside edge to the middle section a few years ago. Instead of casting off the stitches on the two edges of the hood, when I got to that point, I knit to the last middle stitch and knit it together with the first edge stitch, then turned the work and knit back to the next edge and did the same thing, and just continued like that until I ran out of edge stitches. I did the same thing for the bands by picking up a few stitches on the top of the front bands when I started the hood band. Would have looked better if I’d done it all as one piece, but I think it looks better than sewing the seams.

And I found some really cute hippo buttons for it. 🙂

I’ve done a bit more work on the Twist & Shout jacket. After wearing it at work (where it’s freezing!) for about a week, I decided I didn’t like how the sleeves fit. They were too long, the arm hole was too big, and they were just generally sort of floppy. So I brought it back home, detached the sleeves, frogged them and re-knit them. I’d already done the smallest size of the pattern, so I had to wing it. I did them in the round (avoiding seaming, again!) using the Magic Loop technique, as I didn’t have any dpns in that needle size. It was the second time I’d tried it, but only the first since I got my knitpicks interchangeable circulars, and I really enjoyed the technique this time. The cable of these needles is much more flexible. I may never use dpns again!

Audition for Noises Off! tomorrow. Same director that did Little Shop. I get the feeling he doesn’t like me, because he has yet to learn my name. During the show he called me variously Donna, Margaret, You, and Nurse (I was in the dentist scene). Still, I’m interested in the show, and the worst that can happen is that I won’t get cast.

One day, two FO’s!

I finally gathered my courage and steeked the armholes of the little fair isle sweater. After that, all I had left was the collar. I’m quite pleased with it. 🙂

I also finally (finally!!) finished the Twist & Shout sweater from the Fall 2008 Knitty. I had to do the collar twice because I picked up too many stitches the first time and it came down too far on the left. Picture’s not too great, because I didn’t have anyone around to take a picture of me in it, and I was too impatient to wait.

Now off to Ravelry to mark them both complete.

My poor dog is confused

I’ve rearranged almost all the furniture in my loft and my poor dog doesn’t know what to do with it. She’s figured out where her bed is, at least.

I’d been thinking about doing this for a few weeks now. I have new housemates, and the one directly below my “office” (it’s an attic loft, spaces are designated by furniture arrangements) has been running the bathroom extractor much more than the previous one. The roof vent for the extractor is right above the office, which means that when it’s running, I can’t record. So I’d been thinking of moving the office to the space catty-corner from where it had been, which just happened to be the “bedroom”; unfortunately, it couldn’t be a straight swap, because there’s a column in the office corner that makes that space smaller than the rest of the corners, so I had to move three corners… bedroom to “dining room/spare bedroom”; spare bedroom to office, dining room to open space in the middle of the loft, office to bedroom.

While I was going to be moving stuff around, I figured I’d try to make myself a better recording booth. Several months ago I built a frame for a booth out of 1″ PVC pipe. It looked ok just by itself, but when I covered it with soundproofing blankets it got a bit saggy. It ended up being a glorified dog house for Lucy. Then I had another idea. Pegboard sheets (I can get 2′ x 4′ sheets at the hardware store) covered with acoustic foam tiles, attached in pairs with binder rings (which I had been using to hold up the blankets in the first booth). The tiles came at the end of last week, and I finished attaching them to the pegboards Friday afternoon. I used adhesive spray, but I think I’m going to have to go back with a hot glue gun, because a few have already come loose. I’ll need to test it first, though, to make sure it won’t melt the foam.

I started off with eight pegboards, which made a 4′ square. On the floor inside I laid four interlocking rubber mats (like you see in children’s playrooms), but once I had the four panel pairs up around it, and the mic inside, I found it a bit cramped, so I added the final two mats (which I’d been saving for blocking knitting projects) to make a 4′ x 6′ little room, and hung two of the sound-blocking blankets across the spaces between the pegboards.

I’m quite chuffed. I need to get a small table, and a second monitor to go with the secondary keyboard and mouse I already have, so I’ll be able to leave the laptop outside the booth, but still be able to read off the screen, and control it from inside. And maybe a little stool instead of the chair.

RTFM, eejit!

I really should read knitting patterns more carefully before I start. When I started the little sweater, I decided to do the pullover rather than the cardigan because I saw that the cardigan involved steeking, which I didn’t think I was ready for yet. If I’d read more carefully, I’d have realized that the armholes on both the pullover and cardigan are created by steeking. Eek! If I’d noticed this before finishing the body, I’d have adjusted the pattern to take that into account, but it’s too late now (the sweater’s already terribly behind schedule and I don’t fancy frogging the body back that far). So, I guess I’ll be trying my hand at steeking after all. Toes crossed, and all that.

I also feel like an eejit because I made the second sleeve two inches too short! The pattern calls for increasing two stitches every fourth row until you get 78 stitches. That took me 68 rows on my counter for the first sleeve. When I started the second sleeve, I got my rows and stitches mixed up and stopped increasing at 68 stitches, and didn’t bother to confirm by glancing at the pattern before I started the finishing off rows. *sigh*

They look much better now that they’re even. And I’m going to be very pleased with the final product if the whole steeking thing works out.

So cute!

I’ve finished the little dress from the Dale book, and it turned out soooo cute!! I’m really pleased with it. I bought some little pewter clasps online to use as buttons.

The shower is next Saturday, so it’s pretty good timing.

I’ve started the next project. I was originally going to do one of the sweaters as a cardigan and the other as a pullover (the pattern has instructions for both), but before I started I read through the cardigan pattern and saw that it’s knitted in the round and then steeked. I’ve never done steeking before, and while I do want to try it, I figured a gift item wasn’t the best test piece, so I’m going to do two pullovers instead and save steeking for another day.

I’d be twice as far along, only I realized a couple of rows below this that I’d mis-read the pattern and was starting the rows in the colour-work graph at the wrong place (I’d started the first one in the right place, but then was going to the far right at the beginning of each new row, instead of back to the same starting place), so I frogged it and started over. Much better now. The one thing I don’t like about this pattern so far, is that there are a couple of rows that involve three colours of yarn. It’s orders of magnitude tanglier than just two.

At LV I recently finished The Sky Is Falling by Lester del Rey, another sci-fi story. My next project is What Katy Did by Susan Coolidge. I’d wanted to do it a couple of years ago, but someone else started a solo version before I could get to it, so I put it off and did What Katy Did at School instead. The other project has since been completed, so I feel like I can do mine without stepping on anyone’s toes. 🙂

Recently watched the new-ish version of Sense and Sensibility (I think it was part of that Austen series they showed on Masterpiece a year or so ago, but I missed it then). I really liked it. Well enough to buy a copy for my library. None of the others in the series impressed me that much, and I will keep faithful to the earlier versions I already own (P&P w/ Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle, Persuasion w/ Ciaran Hinds and Amanda Root). Not to say I no longer like the Emma Thompson version of S&S, though.

We’re doing Gypsy at the WCT. I tried out for one of the stripper roles, but got cast as Miss Cratchitt, the secretary in the New York scene. Should be fun… I’m onstage for two scenes at the end of act 1, and the rest of the time I’ll be able to read, play cards, relax back stage. Reminds me of Christmas Carol. 🙂

Snow day!

We had a pretty good snowstorm last Tuesday, two to three inches. The weathermen thought the temperatures were going to drop below freezing overnight and make for difficult driving (around here, everything shuts down when there’s ice on the roads… our cars just aren’t set up to drive on ice, and our people just get stupid when trying to drive on ice, so it’s just safer to keep as many people home as possible), so the university shut down a bit early and sent us home. On our way out, while cleaning the ice off the cars we played around in it a little. A couple of girls built a snow bear in the bed of one’s pick up (sic ’em bears!), we had a minor snowball fight, and I made a tiny snowman from the snow on E’s hood.

When we got home we discovered that the weight of the snow had bent the poles of the canopy we’d put over my scooter. 🙁

I’m going to have to see if I can find something with stronger poles.

Busy days

About a year ago, I bought Lucy a new bed. It lasted intact for about three months, I think, then she started ripping out the bottom and strewing the fluff everywhere. It got a little more ripped one time when she was staying with E’s dog, Huxley. I think they decided it was a tug toy.

Poor bed.

I’d had it on top of my bedside mat so she wouldn’t be sleeping on the wood floor, but it just wasn’t pretty. I kept intending to make a sort of quilted bottom for it, to replace the torn one, but I never got around to it. Last weekend I happened to be in Tractor Supply Company and saw a pretty nice sheepskin-ish bed for not too much, so she finally has a bed with a bottom again.


Today was a beautiful day! After weeks of cold, rain, sleet, snow (yes, sleet and snow in C. Texas!! Not constant, but still), we had a warm, sunny day; warm enough for t-shirt and shorts, during the warmest part! A perfect day for a little yard work.

About eight years ago, our next door neighbours planted a few bamboo shoots along their back fence. Needless to say, there’s bamboo everywhere now. Last spring I was going out every two or three days to cut down the new sprouts that were coming up all over the yard.

I’d been meaning to thin out the thickets along the back fence for ages; there’s a rosemary bush back there that’s completely hidden in the thicket, and a pretty little tree that’s all but surrounded, but it was hard work with a hand saw, so I never did too much.

Until today.

Another thing I bought while I was at TSC last weekend was a reciprocating saw (cashier had the nerve to ask me if it was a Valentine’s present. Hmpf! Yeah, sure, Valentine’s present to myself, maybe!). We now have a mountain of bamboo in the yard.

E and I are planning on using some to make gardening stakes (for tomatoes and such). Not sure what we’ll do with the rest. If you’re in Central Texas and could use some bamboo, drop me a line!! Free to a good home! 🙂

The back fence looks much better now. You can get to the back gate without resorting to a machete, you can actually see that there’s a tree back there, and there’s still enough bamboo to provide shade and privacy.

Gosh, look, there’s a door back there! And a tree!

The brown patch in the middle of the bamboo is the poor rosemary bush, which is half dead, but we’re hoping, if we trim it back and stake it down a bit, it’ll re-root and grow back this spring and summer.

E also suddenly remembered that she had a picnic canopy that was sitting around gathering dust, so she offered me the use of it so I could have semi-covered parking for my scooter. Great fun putting that up, because by that point, the temperature had started dropping again and a fairly brisk wind had picked up. Always the best time to put up tents, when it’s blowing a gale!

Finished recording the latest Ignatius book today. Just need to proof-listen the last section and upload it. Those long sections were a challenge, though, even divided up into three recording sessions each.

Rockin’ the new ride!

So New Year’s Eve I was getting ready to head out to Beth and Marcel’s 4th yearly karaoke bash when I found that my car wouldn’t start. My poor car is fourteen years old, and it’s been going downhill for the past year or so, dying at intersections, juddering, etc. Now, it’s dead. It might be resurrectable, but at fourteen, I really don’t want to put more money into it. On the other hand, I’m not quite ready to buy a new car right now. I’m trying to pay off my school loans, and getting further into debt isn’t part of my plan. So, instead of a car, I got me one of these:

Granted, mid-winter is probably not the best time to start riding a scooter, but I’m still having fun. 🙂

I recently finished my recording of Dayspring by Harry Sylvester for Ignatius Press. It’s already up on their website, and I’ve started a new recording for them, The Eternal Woman by Gertrud Von le Fort. It’s considerably shorter than either of the other two books I’ve done for them, and I’m nearly halfway through already. The only difficulty with it is the length of the sections; only four of them but two are about 20 pages and the other two are upwards of 40. That’s over an hour of recording for those last two sections. I’ve had to divide them into three so that I don’t blow out my vocal chords.

I’m also currently recording The Sky is Falling by Lester Del Rey for LV, another scifi, since I had such fun with the Mack Reynolds one I did for the SFFAudio Challenge.

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