Friday, July 20, 2012

Gosh darn it

I've not been on here yet in July. A lot has been happening in Real Life and I haven't been in a blogging frame of mind.

However, I have been in a darning frame of mind after getting some new pointe shoes at a bargain price on eBay. As a teenager, I was a Gamba, then a Freed girl for pointe shoes. Returning to pointe this year, I considered using my most recent, albeit a bit old, pair of Freeds. They are darned to within an inch of their life and "pancaked" with calamine lotion!

Despite the fact that they are still "blocked" enough, rediscovering my love of ballet meant that I also rediscovered my love of ballet shopping! And unlike when I was a teenager, I can now spend hours looking at Ballet Stuff online. I found some brand new Capezio Glisses on eBay at a lower price than I used to pay for Freed 15 years ago. They were very bright and shiny when they arrived. Another innovation is the change in ribbons: it's now standard to use elastic on pointe shoes and even to have special elasto-rib ribbons to protect the Achilles tendon. The elastic is brilliant for me because I have a high arch so my foot contracts when pointed and I used to frequently have the back of my shoe slip off in class.

This is what they look like post-darning and having been worn for weekly pointe class since the end of April.

As you can see, the Capezio has a very square toe, similar to the style of my old Freed shoes. These really suit my feet but... having read a lot online about Grishkos, I was curious about them, so when I saw a pair on eBay for just £9.99 I couldn't resist. I also tried something new with the darning. I usually just use chain stitch all over the toe and down towards the sole. Here, I used blanket stitch around the toe and then filled it with chain stitch.

This month, I decided that I wanted to return to wearing soft blocks for class because flats don't really make the feet work very hard. There was quite a limited selection online. I used to wear Freed soft blocks but couldn't see them on sale anywhere so instead went for Blochs, since I have been wearing their flats for many years. Stupidly, I bought a UK 4 rather than the UK 3.5 that I wear in the flat, so they are a bit loose. But I've been darning them too! Even the minimal blocking done to a soft block causes the satin to fray very quickly. Darning will hopefully elongate the life of these shoes... 

The soft blocks bizarrely cost a lot more than either pair of new pointe shoes, possibly because exam boards like RAD no longer insist on students wearing them for higher grade exams. To compensate, I frugally harvested some ribbons off an old and battered pair!

And just in case I haven't included enough photos of pointe shoes, here are the old and new ones that are to hand after my current sewing spree:

and the pile of old ballet shoes (and one pair of character shoes) that I found when I went looking through my stuff earlier this year.