Thursday, 29 May 2014

Stitchy Theatre Gifts

It's done.  The cast have taken their final bow.  The final curtain has fallen.  Emerald Little Theatre's  production of "The Bob and Al Show" had its final show last Saturday (24th May) and now I can breath again.  And sleep.  Oh sleep, how I have missed thee!

Scene from "The Bob and Al Show"
Turns out directing and producing an amateur theatre show takes a lot out of you.  Funny how quickly you forget.
Action shot!  More photos on the Theatre Facebook page
Don't get me wrong - I love it.  I enjoy hanging out with other theatre people.  I enjoy coming up with the posters and hall decorations and programs.  I enjoy painting the set and designing the props and costumes. (we're a really small theatre group!). I enjoy having something else to do in the evenings (apart from sit at home alone stitching).  However, after 3 months of rehearsals three times a week, two weeks of nightly rehearsals before opening night, 3 weekends of shows (Friday and Saturday), not to mention the extra rehearsals in between, setting and cleaning the hall... well, let's just say I think we all breathed a sigh of relief when the last patron left on Saturday.  And now we'll sit and chill and sleep... and get ready to start it all over again in July!

The Stitchy Gifts
Stitchy thank you gifts
I decided to design and stitch little gifts for the cast and crew as a thank you - after all, there were only 5 of them and it's something I enjoy doing.  The pictures were of quotes taken from the script - either favourite lines of the cast, or ones that related to the job of the 'crew'.   They haven't made it into the Fangirl Stitches Etsy store yet, but they'll get there - even without the play knowledge behind you, I think they still work.  Anyway, the team loved them (or at least said they did!) and I received a lot of really enthusiastic feedback and thank you's.  Apparently I've set the bar pretty high for the next director.

Can you tell the Theatre's colours are purple and green?

I've got one more to go - I want to stitch one for the Theatre Bar about mystery play audiences:
"You've got to give them just enough to keep them leaning forward and not coughing, but not so much that they figure it all out too soon and head to the bar bragging like arrogant little weekend Sherlocks."

No rush on that one - providing it's done by October, in time for the next play!

Happy Stitching!!

P.S. head over to my Facebook or twitter page to enjoy my collection of quotes - a couple are going up each day :)

Saturday, 24 May 2014

Light Bulb Moment

I had a massive light bulb moment this week - messy is okay!

My mother is going to read this and laugh her head off.  My bedroom always was, still is, and probably always will be, a disaster zone.  It is a complete and utter state.  The only time my room is tidy is when I have something I'd rather avoid more - like studying for exams or writing assignments, or... (struggling to think of more current examples).  I'm one of the last people to think about cleaning the house - I always warn housemates that I need to be told when we have to clean the house - I'm happy to pitch in, but it won't be the first thing I think about.  Even at 29, I still need a cleaning roster.  For me to have a light bulb moment about "messy is okay" will seem like such a contradiction in terms.  However my light bulb moment is not about physical house mess, it's about technology mess (technological? techno? virtual?)  

Trying out Google Glass
This week I've been attending the Inclusive Learning Technologies Conference 2014 (#ILT2014).  It's a three day conference all about inclusive, assistive technology for use with students with alternative learning needs within the school environment... sort of.  There was lots of information and demonstration on new software, new hardware, new ways to use iPads and smart tablets within the learning environment, new apps and ways to use them in the classroom, alternative access to tablets (switches for iPads, who knew?), and new ways of looking at the way we teach and educate children to make the most of the student's capabilities, their interests, their abilities, and include them as much as possible within the curriculum.  I'm not a teacher, so I was less interested in the whole "set up a blog for your students, set up your classroom" and more interested in all of the alternative access and alternative participation methods, and the ways to use ready available technology (be it apps, iPads, android tablets, Google Chrome, web-based systems, you name it) to support the students I work with so I can go back and inform and educate the teachers I work with on how to do all this stuff, and how to take advantage of it all and include their kids.  Plus there were just some really cool gadgets and toys to play.... sorry, research with.  (One of the Education Queensland presenters told us we weren't playing at Conference, we were researching!)  I got to trial Google Glass and eye gaze technology, see The Beamz in action, and drool over the most inclusive smartboards ever.  *sigh*

But back to my lightbulb moment

Kevin Honeycutt - picture from
The opening keynote address was by Kevin Honeycutt, one of the most inspiring presenters I've heard in a long time (there were a lot of inspiring presenters there, but Kevin took the cake). He was so passionate about his work, and about teaching, and about using technology with kids in school to include those students who find it harder to engage.  And because he was so passionate, he got everyone else passionate and inspired and worked up.  Before we'd learnt anything, I think the whole audience was going "yeah!  I want to go back to my school/s and do that!"  He was the sort of presenter I wish everyone could hear, everyone could listen to.  Thanks to the magic of Virtual Registration i am going to be able to share the presentation with the staff I work with.  Spectronicsc videoed a lot of the presentations so people could attend the conference virtually - perfect for rural/international teachers/therapists/parents etc - and one of the Advisor Visiting Teachers I work with bought a Virtual Registration so we can share at staff meetings etc, and so more poeple could attend without the travel costs etc.

I'm getting a little off track.

My light bulb moment (one of the many of the course of the conference) occurred during Kevin's presentation.  He told us that messy was okay.  That "perfect is the enemy of done".  That technology and classrooms should be messy.  That when we try to get things perfect, we give up and don't use the technology to its full advantage.  

Hard at... research
It is so true.  I will put my hand up and admit that I am one of life's perfectionists.  Again, not so much when it comes to physical mess about the house, but in terms of work, technology and presentations, I'm a perfectionist.  I like things to look good, to line up neatly, to read well, to look professional.  My filing cabinet is colour-coded, with all the files the same and the labels all matching.  I've bought one brand of containers so that they stack neatly in the cupboard with my resources (and I now need to wait for them to go on sale again so I can stock up).  I will spend more time on the look of a powerpoint presentation (learnt some good tips on that one at ILT2014 too) than on the content of my speech.  My handouts for teachers and my reports all look (in my opinion anyway) professional and consistent and tie together thematically.  It works for me - it's visually pleasing, not visually distracting (sensory OT stuff again), things are easy to find and easy to read, and I feel professional.  

However it also gets in the way.  Things take longer to do.  Particualrly with Fangirl Stitches - mostly because I'm inventing it as I go along.  I don't post blogs because I don't think I have the time to come up with some wonderful topic and to make it all look pretty and presentable and perfect.  I don't post on twitter or Facebook because i'm trying to come up with the perfect thing to say, the most appropriate business-related sentence or comment, trying to avoid the "posting for the sake of posting".

Messy is okay!

This week, I've realised that it is better to post something, and keep the website alive than to try and be perfect and have all of you (all 5 who read this!) loose interest.  To keep my Twitter feed updated than to loose followers.  To keep Facebook fresh than have people stop following. Another of the presenters, Lauren Hankinson, asked us "how often do you visit favourite webpage?  How often would you visit it if it never changed?"

So be prepared for more frequent posts (I know I've said that before, but this time I mean it!), more tweets, more messages, more fun, and more mess.  I'm inspired :)


Happy Stitching!!

Sunday, 11 May 2014

Happy Mother's Day plus a free pattern!

The second Sunday in May is Mother's Day in Australia, so happy mother's day to all the wonderful mums out there.
Ozzypip and I - Germany 2010

In particular, Happy Mother's Day to my own wonderful mum, Ozzypip from Ozzypip Quilts.  My mum is a pretty amazing person - she's very generous with her time, and volunteers a lot around the community, particularly for our Church - leads the singing, teachers RE (religious education), helps with the service at the Aged Care Home in town, was coordinator of the Sunday School.

With Ozzypip in Scotland, 2013

She's also on the committee for her patchwork group, used to be involved in the school P&C (when she still had kids at school), was a breastfeeding councillor for 19 years.  Most recently Mum agreed be prompt for the play I'm directing after the girl who was going to do it had to pull out due to a clash of dates - no small task when you consider the number of rehearsals we've been having lately!
Doctor Who Spectacular - 2014

More than all that though, Ozzypip and my dad raised four awesomely geeky kids, and put up with us quoting movies and books at every given occasion.  She and my father got me hooked on reading, introduced me to Harry Potter and Doctor Who, showed me the world of British crime drama, taught me the value of audiobooks on long car rides, and showed me how much fun theatre and musicals are.

At the Harry Potter Studio Tour -2013

She instilled in me the value of family, friendship and my religious faith, gave me the confidence to be myself and to know that I could succeed in whatever I wanted to do.  Lately she's been supporting, pushing, and promoting Fangirl Stitches, again showing me that I can do what I want to do if only I strive to succeed.  We've travelled around the world together, and she is my closet friend and confident.  Love you Mum!

To celebrate Mother's Day, I've got a free pattern for you:  the most amazing mum in the Harry Potter series - Mrs Weasley, who went down in history for her line "Stay away from my daughter, you bitch!"

Happy Stitching, and Happy Mother's Day!!

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

A Love of Stitching

I love cross stitching.  I mean, I really love it.  It's such an enjoyable, varied hobby.

One of the things I love most is the way I can just shut out the rest of the world while I stitch - it's a way of switching my brain off.  I can focus on my stitching - on the counting, on the pattern, on the repetitive nature of bottom-to-top (left to right) bottom-to-top (right to left).  It doesn't matter what else is going on in my life - whether I'm stressed about work or Theatre, whether I'm angry or annoyed or upset, whether I'm lonely or sick or happy or excited - as soon as I start stitching that all goes away.  It's amazing how much stitching I got done when I was stressed about my job overseas, or when I was meant to be studying for exams!
Stitching in progress
Another thing I enjoy is that it keeps my hands busy.  From a sensory processing point of view (I'm an Occupational Therapist) I'm getting tactile (touch) and proprioceptive (joint movement) feedback while I stitch, which means I can sit still longer.  I'm not one of those people who can sit down and watch TV or watch a movie without doing something else at the same time - not enough sensory feedback to remain alert!  I'll get all edgy and twitchy and want to move around.  Unless I'm exhausted or have a massive headache.  So I tend to stitch or play on the computer or iron (pfft - as if!) or something.  Usually it's cross stitch.  I get really fidgety in the cinema too - love going to the cinema, but I just wish there was enough light to stitch by!  I had a house-mate once who was very similar to me - she'd take her knitting to the cinema and knit while we watched the film.  I've also been known to stitch during meetings or conferences - again, it's a way of keeping my hands busy so that I can concentrate on what's being said.  Don't knock it - it sounds bizarre and contradictory but it honestly works for me, and for a lot of the kids I work with.

Cross stitching is light and portable - packs away in the suitcase nicely without taking up too much space or adding too much weight.  With snips or pendant cutters, I can even take my stitching on the plane!
Clover's thread cutter pendant - portable and safe to take on the plane.
And so much more stylish than an empty floss container!
And I don't get car sick when I stitch.  This really is a bizarre one, and one I can't explain, even with sensory processing.  I can't read in the car.  I can't sit in the back of the car when we travel on winding roads - in fact I often need to be driving because the front seat is not better.  I've been known to get car sick when there are too many speed bumps in a row.  Yet I can stitch without any worries.  I can read a pattern, find my place on the material, stitch and count, thread needles, identify colours, and all the other things I need to do while riding in a car.  It was such a lightbulb moment for me when I realised I could stitch in the car.  Finally I had something to do to while away the long hours we spent in the car on family holidays.  My mother's family were a 2 day drive away (and I mean 2 days -  18 hours of straight driving, or 1450kms south, spread across the two days); my father's family were 7 hours north (over 650kms north).  We spent a lot of hours in the car as kids, travelling to see family, or driving around Queensland on camping holidays.  For years there wasn't much I could do in the car except listen to music or audiobooks.  Once I knew I could stitch, those drives passed so much faster!  I probably fought a lot less with my brothers too, although you'd have to ask my parents about that one.

All this without even getting started on the variety of patterns (themes, size, colours), the fabrics, the threads, the adaptability, and the options of designing your own patterns!
Day of the Doctor in progress
I really do love it.

Happy stitching!!

Sunday, 4 May 2014

May the Fourth Be With You

Happy International Star Wars Day.  May the Fourth Be With You.
Go Yoda
Life's been very busy lately, and I have barely had 5 minutes to breath let alone write a blog post or design a new pattern!  I've managed to find a few minutes today on International Star Wars Day to sit down and update you.

The main reason life has been so hectic lately is that I've been directing the play for our local amateur theatre group, The Emerald Little Theatre.  We've been in rehearsals for the last three months, and opening night is next weekend.  It's gotten very busy the last three weeks with extra rehearsals, painting and building the set, locating props and trying to get my cast to learn their lines!  We are a very small theatre group (about 10 members at the moment).  Where most theatre companies have someone in charge of set design, someone in charge of sound and/or lighting, a backstage manager, a prop manager, a costume person, etc, in our theatre group this all tends to be the responsibility of the director, producer and cast.  Added responsibilities.  Add that to the fact that this play is a cast of three, and two of those are co-producing the play with me and you get where I'm going.  I have to keep reminding myself that I volunteered for this.  We've been in rehearsals every night last week, and will be every night this week.  With only 3 people in a play that runs for 110 minutes approximately, they've got a lot of script to memorise each and it's taken them (a lot) longer than expected to get there, but I think we might finally have it.
Promo picture for The Bob and Al Show
I do enjoy it.  Really.  My stress levels have been a little (read very) high this last few weeks, but it is all starting to come together.  Opening night is less than a week away (minor freak out) but I know that as soon as the play is over, I will be itching to start on the next one.  One really good thing to happen this week is that I've had three different people approach me to express interest in joining for the next play, and another person who has volunteered to paint the sets for the next play, which is amazing.

I've been back at work for four months now, slowly getting my head back around the role.  The referrals are starting to come in this term for Occupational Therapy, and without a physiotherapist at the moment, there is a fair amount to do.  This term is shaping up to be pretty full on - there are four public holidays this term, plus I am away for 5 1/2 days at conferences - which makes nearly 2 weeks out of a 10 week term where I am unable to visit students in schools.  That's okay - we'll get there. :)

So between Little Theatre, work and church, there hasn't been a lot of spare time for anything else.

I have managed to design a couple of patterns lately.  One was a birthday present for a friend who has over 100 pairs of shoes.  The pattern is now available from my Esty Store
Cinderella's Shoes
The other one I am very excited about but unable to share yet.  It is a gift for another friend, but she won't be getting it till the end of May so I have to keep it under wraps until then.  You'll just have to stay tuned.

That's it from me.  I'm off for an early night.

Celebrate Star Wars in style my friends!

Happy Stitching