Darn It All part 2: even more darned

Got to class early, teacher is sitting in the lobby waiting for the other class to finish and get the hell out of our studio.
He says, “Hello! How are you doing with your shoe-sies?”
Yeah, the man said shoe-sies.
See, I think I’ve stumbled upon something important here: apparently the best way to win your elderly, somewhat crotchety, ballet teacher’s heart is to ask him how to darn your shoes.
Try it, Gentle Reader, lemme know if this theory is sound or what.
Anyway, I pull out a shoe.
Verdict is: stitching is good, length and close-together-ness of stitches is good, but the thread is not big enough. It’s double thread, he wants triple. He wants me to braid three strands to make a big fatty-fat thread for the next shoe. I mean, what he really wants is for the thread to have been heavier in the first place, and I’m wondering if he’s thinking of something more like twine, like, maybe cotton cooking twine or something. Like what you’d use to truss a turkey maybe.
But anyway, he’s cool with this shoe like it is, except he points out that I didn’t make it all the way to the edge of the box along one edge and the bottom, which as soon as he pointed it out it was screamingly obvious. Duh.
So my instructions are: shoe one fine as is, shoe two braided triple thread, get right to the edge.
And another cool thing: he points to the elastic bow at the front and says, “when you have this tied correctly, and it feels tight enough, cut the tails shorter than this, so there’s no loop, only tails tuck in. Then,” and he stretched the elastic flat and pointed at the spot where the ribbons attach, “sew through the elastic here. Right through the casing. This way, if the knot comes undone and disappears inside this channel, the elastic will still cup your heel, and all is not lost. You see! These little things we must pass along, person to person, or they are lost forever.”
And then he said, “Books cannot tell you these things!”
Ha! In your face, Books!
And then the other class got the hell out and we went in and got to work, and he stopped at one point to tell us all how people used to sew because there were no cell phones, all the girls would sit around sewing before class instead of doing their phone things.
He said, “Makarova, back when I knew her, would remove her ribbons after every performance and drape them over the back of a chair, then iron them and sew them again. People used to have more respect for their things”
And I asked, “after every performance?” while thinking, ‘holyfuck, did you just say back when you knew Makarova? I’ve, like, read about her!’
And he said, “Yes! Every time. Her shoes that she gave me, you can see the little threads where she snipped off her ribbons. Perhaps I will show them to you. They were her fouetté shoes”
And I said, “whu-Yes! I would love to see them!”
And he said, “She signed them for me, you know just for fun. I have a pair of Maya’s too. The kind of thing that should be displayed, but this is not my studio, aw well, ladies, let’s get back to work…”


About adultbeginner

Had my first ballet class Ever at the advanced age of thirty-two. Yikes.
This entry was posted in Ballerina Class, and other pointe-y stuff, DIY and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to Darn It All part 2: even more darned

  1. Alli says:

    That darning is, in a word, AWESOME-SAUCE.

    I love it! Though I consider myself somewhat ‘retired’ from pointe work, if I ever buy another pair of shoes, I’m totally darning them.

    It looks so professional and dancer-y!

  2. Big_Spiders says:

    Smirnoff, Smirnoff, Smirnoff… He is So Awesome.

    And, Yes!, to the old school of oral tradition, and experience vs. addiction to just regurgitating books. :)

    • Right! The Adult Beginner is soooooooo pro book, but for some perverse reason I absolutely love it when he takes pot-shots at book-learning, it’s just so funny

    • I know right? He sounds like a combination of some of my best teachers. What a cool dude. Love those Smirn-isms. And he totally has some mega-heavy and totally romantical former-ballet-life stories. I love how he’s always dropping these little hints about this or that.

  3. Sarah Dani says:

    I seriously envy you for having Smirnoff, nothing against my ballet teachers of course, but he sounds like he has so much history about the ballet world that we all need to learn. Better start interviewing him for a book AB!

  4. Jen says:

    AWESOME POST. You are such a lucky ballerina :D

  5. Acacia says:

    The shoes look wonderful! If (when) my time comes, I shall definitely darn my shoes. It takes them from bland, pretty satin to a lovely individual pair that are meant to work. You are so fortunate to have Smirnoff to lead you through the traditions and lore.

    • Yeah, neat huh?!
      All those little plus signs.
      And how Ruh-Diculously fun to darn the toe of some ballet flats? Like just little street shoes? Cu-ute!
      I mean, totally purposeless and silly. But darn cute!

  6. Diane says:

    Very nice stitches! So neat!

    It is so great that you are doing this, and that your teacher is telling you about it.

    Another way of doing it is to make a sort of “rope” out of twisting the cord until it is about as thick as (what?) the stem of a daisy or even a bit thicker. (probably depends on what kind of needle one has and how able one is about threading it!)
    Then, the way my daughters do it (I seldom darned my own; I got them from the company and they were not that expensive back in “the olden days”) is to first lay that twisted “rope” around the perimeter of the platform and sew it on there.
    Then they (sometimes) weave back and forth across the platform.

    I am sure you will get many many different ideas of “how to” darn pointe shoes; of course what works for some people need not work for others!

    Good luck and thanks for always writing about your experiences. :)

    • Just blows my mind that the thread/rope needs to be so thick! Kept worrying that I’d actually tear through the satin while trying to pull the giant needle and thread through. Turns out that stuff is pretty tough. Like a lot of ballet-related things.

  7. Pingback: O hai pointe shoes | Adult Beginner

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