Woohoo! I am now certified on the TechShop embroidery machine! Our practice to prove that we'd mastered the teaching was to make these cute little patches (the photo is slightly larger than life-sized), which I promptly gifted to one of my ever-deserving housemates. :)

The embroidery machine is surprisingly flexible, even though it can take forever for it to work through the programmed stitching. However, the instructor mentioned that it is perfectly acceptable to set up the run, then sit next to the madly stitching machine while you're working on something else on your laptop or tablet. Also, I've been assured custom stitching is both feasible and easy to do once the stitching program has been learned, so that's next on my to-do list for costumery. Things are progressing nicely!

I don't think I'll include learning the custom elements of the embroidery program as a first, though, since I'm counting this class on how to use the embroidery machine. Instead I hope to count my first good piece of custom work as a first. I suspect, with some glittery thread, that really nice hip sashes could be made for belly dancing! I'm also going to study this machine to see if I can use it to help with the planned Sarmatian clothing I want to make. Some of the decorations appear to be like the Central Asian shyrdak rugs, where many differently-colored pieces of felt are layered, then careful cut-outs are made in each layer, which create colorful contrasting patterns. I want to check out whether I can use the embroidery machine to outline and hem the edges of where the felt needs to be cut away.

So! If you have any interesting patches you want done, let me know? I'd like to experiment with some cool patterns to embroider, and I'd love to work with friends. Contact me! :)

ATS Belly dancing again!

Yesterday I had my second lesson, which gave me a good idea of how far I still have to go — simultaneously walking and chewing gum have nothing on this! :) At one point I realized I just didn't have enough brain function to track my steps, my hip swaying, my zill work, my arm movements, and follow the leads of my dance partners! At points like that I just mentally dump as much as necessary so I can at least follow along — so I simply concentrated on "reading" my dance partners' somatic cues, and roughly following their steps and arm motions.

Fortunately Natalia and the other instructor (who will be there only temporarily, since apparently Natalia has some surgery coming up) are incredibly patient and encouraging, and I'm really enjoying this. I'm also excited that Natalia is talking about a very small performance for us all to participate in, sometime in the future. She's talking mostly family and friends, I think, and she reassured us the dance performances would be suited to our current levels of skill. I laughed and thanked her, since I was the only beginner there for that lesson.

I get the feeling, though, that she and the other instructor sort of half expect me to be more scared and/or unwilling. Maybe they're used to women who are mentally not in their bodies at all? I'm no great shakes myself, but I am at least used to public performance in a variety of formats. As I used to tell a friend of mine, after being in hunter-jumper horseshows where the other competitors were likely all determinedly willing me to fail… giving a speech or performance in front of a friendly crowd (whether ten or 100) is fun! :)

In closing, and while this has nothing to do with belly dancing per se, I should note I was amusedly startled by the other instructor, whose name I cannot recall just now. She's short and slender, dances beautifully, had her long blonde hair in ponytails — and consequently reminded me strongly of Babydoll in the movie "Suckerpunch"! Kind of neat. :)

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