New Projects

I’ve picked up three new projects on ACX recently. The first is the Maggy Thorsen murder mystery series by Sandra Balzo. I’m starting with the first book in the series, Uncommon Grounds. The finished book is due in April.

Also due in April is Poison in the Blood by M. G. Scarsbrook. This is a fictionalized memoir of Lucrezia Borgia. I’ve done the first chapter so far. It promises suspense, murder, romance. Should be an interesting read.

The last project, which is due in June, is Gunnora’s Dragons by Carol Dennis. I haven’t finished pre-reading it yet (the other two have been getting preference, as they’re due earlier), but I’m enjoying it so far. As the title would imply, it’s a fantasy novel.

I’m still working on my two extant LibriVox solos: Ten From Infinity (for the SFFAudio Challenge); and Navidad en las Montaรฑas.

In knitting, I’ve started a new lace shawl. This is my second, and my first in laceweight yarn (my previous shawl was done in fingering weight yarn, which is thicker and therefore easier for a first try). I’m doing the Skywalker Shawl by Laura Nelkin. I came across it when looking at online classes on Craftsy. Even though I’ve worked with lace a fair bit, I thought I’d try the Mastering Lace Shawls class, because I’ve never really learned how to do a provisional cast on, and I’ve always gotten tangled up when trying them. I still got tangled up this time, but I managed to get past that point. Perhaps I’ll practice again with a thicker working yarn, instead of laceweight.

We finished Gaslight last weekend. It went really well. The reviewer from the paper practically raved (for him), so I was quite pleased. The audiences also seemed to enjoy it. I was really lucky in the people who came to audition. I lost my leading man three weeks before opening night and had to re-cast, but even then, I was able to get someone really good, who worked his tail off to get all those lines learned. I really doubt the audiences had any idea (unless they were related to the theatre and heard about it through the grapevine) that he’d joined the production over a month after the rest of the cast. Chicago’s coming up in a couple of months. I’m thinking of auditioning for it.

Twins!

Just about six weeks ago one of my cousins had twin baby girls, Maisie and Annabelle. I only found out he and his wife were pregnant about a month earlier. He’s not the best letter/email writer. ๐Ÿ™‚ Anyway, I’ve been knitting steadily since I first found out. I decided to make them each a pair of the Hello Kitty pants. I had enough yarn left from the first pair to make two more, if I did the smallest size, though I ended up having to swap the order of the two pinks in the second pair, so I’d have enough of the dark pink to finish. I also made them each one of the Baby Arans.

Gifts for Maisie and Annabelle

I took a break from Maisie and Annie’s gifts to make something for a co-worker in time for her baby shower. The pattern is called the Eloise Cardigan. It’s quite sweet and girly.

Eloise Cardigan

I’ve joined a stitchers group at work. Not just knitters; crocheters, quilters, cross-stitchers, any kind of fiber art. Anyway, we’re making a basket for a silent auction and my contribution to it is a couple of pot-holders. They’re done in double-knitting, so each side is a mirror image of the other.

Pot-holders

I’m making another attempt at socks. My first attempt was a bit of a failure. I used a yarn with a bit of elastic in it. Since I knit at a pretty high tension, it made for very tight stitches and I gave up after the first few rounds. This time I picked a regular yarn, and things are going much better.

Socks

I just finished cataloging Anne’s House of Dreams at LibriVox. It’s a little sad to think that there’s only one more book in the series that I can record (Rainbow Valley). My next LV project is called Ten From Infinity by Paul W. Fairman. It’s my 6th SFFAudio Challenge book.

I’ve also just finished Song at the Scaffold by Gertrud Von le Fort for Ignatius Press. It’ll be my last Ignatius recording. They’ve decided not to continue producing audiobooks.

I’m directing my first mainstage show at the WCT (the other shows I’ve directed have been fundraisers, not part of the main lineup), Angel Street, which is the American title of the play Gaslight (made into a film of the same name with Ingrid Bergman and Charles Boyer). It’s been pretty chaotic so far. In the past the show in this slot would have had auditions and maybe a first read-through before the holidays, but wouldn’t have started rehearsals till after. This year, the board changed the schedule. The show goes up at the end of January instead of February, so not only am I having to schedule around the holidays, I’m also having to schedule around the two Christmas productions. Ack! At least I was able to get a good cast together.

I could have danced all night…

Just two more weeks of rehearsals for My Fair Lady. I’m feeling pretty confident at this point; nowhere near as panicky as in past musicals (so far I’ve only woken up with a start at 4am once). The set is pretty much complete (it helps that it was a nice, simple one); most people are off-book; props are pretty much done; I haven’t been paying much attention to costumes, as I already have mine, but hopefully they’re close to done too.

I’ve recently finished three more audiobooks. I just finished Sense and Sensibility for LibriVox. I finished a critical edition of Mansfield Park for Ignatius about two months ago, but my contact was on maternity leave, so it’s only just been published. I also published the main text of it (with a bit of editing to make sure it conformed to the absolutely-for-sure-public-domain version on gutenberg) on LV. And I’ve just finished the second book in the Chronicles of Valonia series for Iambik. The first two books in the series (The Jewels of Valonia and The Golden Casket and the Spectres of Light) will be released in Iambik’s first SciFi collection. Will post a link once the collection is published.

I’ve started working on Poor Banished Children now; and I’m about a third of the way through my SFFAudio challenge book, The Big Time. I’ve also picked up my poor, neglected Spanish solo, Angelina, again. And now that I’ve started reading it again, I’ve remembered why I lost interest in the first place. Although the story is interesting so far, the author doesn’t seem to have ever heard of the rule in writing, “don’t use a big word when a simple one will do”. His prose is flowery, verbose, long-winded, and simply not meant to be read aloud. He gives me fifty fits every time I sit down to read a chapter. He also spends a lot of time in long descriptions of places and events that have nothing to do with the plot (JRR Tolkien has nothing on this guy).

Housekeeper, not flower-girl

I got cast as Mrs Pearce in My Fair Lady. I can live with that, especially since the person who did get cast as Eliza was the only person at call backs who didn’t make me cringe inwardly at least once on accents. And the director has said I can use whatever accent I like for Mrs P. She’s totally going to be Welsh! ๐Ÿ™‚ I wanted to do Welsh for Mrs Clackett in Noises Off, but the director nixed it, so I’m excited that I get to try it out this time.

I might get to re-use the costume I made for Trial by Jury, which I introduced in the persona of Queen Victoria. It’s plain and black, with just a bit of lace at the neck, so it might work for a housekeeper. I’m offering it to the costumer anyway so she can decide. What I say is, it’s one less thing to have to make, which, with a large cast, is an important point.

As I have a few minutes

Went to CA for Christmas to see the family. Got to see my sister-in-law and older nephew for the first time in a couple of years. They’ve been at work the last couple of times I’ve been by. I decided to drive, as renting a car for the week ended up being about the same price as a flight, and this way I’d have more independence. The day itself was quite nice, though my brother wasn’t able to join us, as he was called away to work. ๐Ÿ™ So I drove up to Palmdale to pick up my sister-in-law and my younger nephew (older nephew was going to his girlfriend’s… first time for any sort of major celebration!!), as my sister-in-law doesn’t drive on freeways. We also had my mother’s housemate’s son and his family. He and his wife had their second baby four days earlier, so we weren’t sure if they were all going to get to come.

Got to see Voyage of the Dawn Treader while I was in CA. I was both pleased and disappointed. Most of the elements of the book are included in the film (e.g. all the islands they visit), but they’re out of order. And the whole main plot of the film (green mist, seven swords), is entirely new. I enjoyed the film for its own merits, but it’s not a particularly good adaptation, in my opinion.

Working on a new project for Ignatius Press… a critical edition of Mansfield Park; the full text of MP, some contemporary opinions that Austen herself collected, and various criticisms. For Iambik I’m doing a book called Getting Sassy for their Crime collection. It’s about a woman trying to get the money to keep her mother in a nice assisted living facility who resorts to kidnapping a thoroughbred racehorse’s goat companion (the title character, Sassy). Also still working on Sense and Sensibility for LV, though since both of these projects are due quite soon, it’s not getting as much attention as otherwise.

I had been planning on stage managing Barefoot in the Park starting next month at the Civ, but I just heard that the original director has stepped down, and I don’t know if the new guy will want me or if he has someone else in mind. I don’t really mind either way. If I do it, I get a bit of extra cash, if I don’t, and I get a role in My Fair Lady, which comes right after it, I wouldn’t end up doing two shows in a row.

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. ๐Ÿ™‚

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.

Yay! Stage!

As of Sunday night we finally get access to the theatre. Woo-hoo!

But we’ll have less than one week to pull costumes, set pieces and the remaining props, record light and sound cues, and practice the chase scene. Gah!

Not to mention finish learning lines. Eek!

Deep breaths, deep breaths.