Friday, 30 November 2007

Hard Work Hedgehog

It's Friday, and I would go out and dance, but I can't keep my eyes open.

I'd dance badly, and be delusional, and it's Not a Good Idea. I've had a hard week.

My computer's just played Que te importa que te llore and I practically burst into tears despite understanding nothing but the title and the tune.

Sorry, I'd like to dance tonight, and my feet are fine, but my head needs to rest.


Sunday, 25 November 2007

Arm steering

Steering with the arms. Of all the annoying things, I think this is number one, because it's so common, so tiresome, and so fundamental. It's a terribly easy habit to get into. It feels bad, and it destroys the connection, the timing, the fun. Following it is draining, and boring, and hard work. If you want to do an arm lead, go thou and do it properly, in salsa.

Some people manage to do it in close embrace almost as much as they do it in open. I think it comes from not having mastered how to turn your torso from the waist while leaving your hips for a moment where they were. In close embrace it could also be a logical result of not having mastered how to present your chest; if you can't do that, I suppose steering with the arms will seem necessary because you haven't got the connection you need.

I wish there was something, as a follower, I could do about it. It's on my list of things to ask. In a class, I've been instructed to take my hand out of the leader's left and put it on his shoulder to help with this, but I don't think that would work in a milonga. It might cause offence, or be misunderstood, or not be understood at all; and a I think a lot of people do this because they don't know any other way, so in that case it might cause embarrassing paralysis. So, unless I'm going to go on a personal campaign - and I don't think so - I don't think there's much I can do except whinge.

For the follower, though, and based on my personal experience; you have to have the right amount of springiness in your right arm. It sounds paradoxical but if you don't, he can end up having to use his right hand to give you useful signals that would otherwise come from his left, and that can scramble things a bit. And make sure you're happy with the other side of your embrace.

I don't know what other faults in the follower can create or encourage it. That's to ask. I wonder if we can make it happen with tall leaders by pulling them down?

It's not the same as just having hard hands. I know dancers who have a basically good body lead, but spoil it with hard hands that hurt. I think if you were trying to fix problems with the help of a teacher, it would be better to treat that seperately.

When the body lead is right, I'm hardly aware of the leader's hands except as a sort of protective circle. And my right hand that's holding, is just holding hands. There is a place for communication with that hand, but it's not where the lead is coming from.

I'm trying to list annoyances not so that it makes anyone feel bad but so that you know if you don't do any of them, and don't do any obvious unfortunate things like smell bad*, you'll be nice to dance with. Be sure you don't do this one, and you will be nicer to dance with than at least seven tenths of the dancers in London who can get round a floor without embarrassing themselves. Including a lot of people with lots of vocab and no idea.

*For the avoidance of doubt: smelling occasionally as though you'd fallen in the magic cauldron of Hugo Boss is not bad, it's just unintentionally-humorous and endearing. We all make mistakes.

Not Your Prawn Sandwiches

I went to a football match on Saturday. At the Arsenal. And I was in the Directors Box! As an official member of the Prawn Sandwich Brigade.

My Dad plus one had been invited by one of the directors who has done a lot of work with him. They get on well and respect each other, and it's complicated work, so I suppose that's why we were there. They have various lists and can invite whoever they like. Mr Director was rightfully proud of his lovely new stadium and took us outside to point out the design and details. It was delivered on time and under budget, project management at its best. Not like Wembley; but at Arsenal, you can get a sensible, definite decision about anything important by asking at most three people. I don't see how that could happen at the FA. And I know from experience that not having the senior people really in charge is what kills serious project management completely.

It seats 60,000 which I think is a good size. They can sell out every match and have another twenty-odd thousand in the season ticket queue. On the outside is the sponsor's name in huge letters - EMIRATES STADIUM - and their rather pretty logo in Arabic script, a pleasant sign of the peace of nations when everybody has the chance to get their heads down and concentrate on money. Inside, it feels big but not cavernous. There is an elegant curving roof with an uneven hemline designed to let the air circulate and dry the pitch. And I'm sure that works because in my seat, I noticed the smell of mown grass. Most of the roof is translucent to let in the light - good for the pitch (a very brilliant green, under pale grey sky) and nicer for the people.

The sound system is always audible, but never deafening. The big screens are of astonishing quality, but not at all distracting or intrusive. The noise of the crowd is beautifully focussed and intense; a very important point for a football ground, and the architects seem to have known what they were doing there, too. The floodlights are a very pure white. I noticed some nice and thoughtful details, like the silhouettes of trophies round the middle tier with dates, and the little perspex fences at the bottom of each stairway so that if you trip over on the stairs, you can't fall off the edge.

Around the pitch itself is a narrow strip of the latest LED advertising. Mr Director said that in some European stadia they have ads where a car or something zooms right round the pitch, but they tried it and the players hated it so much they banned that sort of thing. I can see why - if you go to all that effort training your body and brain to pay attention to things that move fast along the ground, it must be horribly distracting. It would be like being a greyhound with rabbits going in all directions. So it just shows ads that move in place.

It's all done with taste. There's nothing pretending to be what it's not. Concrete is concrete and wood is wood and glass (or perspex) is glass (or perspex) and it's all there for a reason. We asked who the architects were, Hok Sport.

The directors' box seats 98 people at tables laid out rather like a nice restaurant, without feeling like a restaurant in the least. At one end is a bar in very nice striated stone, and when you come in they serve you a proper drink; I had a gin and tonic which was stronger than I expected. A nice lady takes your coat and points out where it's going before it magically disappears into the wall of hidden cupboards along the back. It's a remarkably well-designed, classy and comfortable room. The other long wall is glass, and glass doors, leading outside to the seats where you watch the match. They're padded red leather with the Arsenal crest and of course they have a magnificent view.

Another little detail; in the Ladies loos there is not only a bit of sofa where two or three women could sit down and deal with a problem, but also a long mirror with a shelf and some bar stools so you can fix your hair and makeup without getting your handbag wet or being in the way of people trying to use the sinks. It's cleverly worked in at one end, a top quality use of space - full marks to the architects there.

At the opposite end from the bar in the box is the food. You go up and collect a course then take your seat and eat at leisure. I started with some very nice little pieces of sushi, an oyster in its shell, and bacon and whatnot from the cold table, then I had the pink roast beef and two little Yorkshire puddings with carrot puree and crunchy green beans and a really delicious glass of wine. There were banoffee things in glasses like liqueurs to finish, but I just had fruit; fine strawberries (in November), raspberries and two kinds of melon, all full of their own flavours, the best of everything. Not your prawn sandwiches, I can tell you. I wouldn't expect anything less because this should be one of the finest stadia in the world and it's in a city where the best is available on demand, but just the same I was impressed - it's an extremely professional operation. And it finished off with a nice cup of coffee.

Mr Wenger appeared very briefly before the match and I shook his hand. My Dad hadn't expected to see him because of course he's busy with the players, but presumably he wanted a word with some of the directors about something; they're all thoroughly at work on a match day. He just shook hands and said Hello, pleased to meet you; he has a nice voice.

At half time they served up scones, cakes, coffee and tea. The tea was strong and hot and the scones and cakes were delicious.

I won't tell you much about the match because my opinion's of no value and if you want to know you can read the reports elsewhere. The crowd did its stuff but Arsenal were missing Fabregas and peppered the target end in the first half without really getting any shots on target. They left it late to score two goals and Theo Walcott was stretchered off. He's very good, but small for the English game. I wonder if the Premiership will just kick him to bits, like Ossie Ardiles. Perhaps he'll fill out, he's very young.

Afterwards Mr Director chatted to us again for a while and took us upstairs to show off the Diamond Club lounge. I don't know whether the name has anything to do with one of the major shareholders' connections to the London-Antwerp diamond trade or whether they just thought it sounded good, or both. But this is where you eat and watch if you pay fifty thousand pounds for your pair of seats in your first season, and twenty-five thousand per season thereafter. The food and staff are under the supervision of Raymond Blanc and there's an air of quiet busyness and luxury. It's marble and red leather and wood of various shades, with beautiful inscriptions and inlay work in stone and wood. There's a bronze head of Arsene Wenger, and a bronze head of someone else. In the wooden wall of the stairwell on the way up is a lovely inlay of diamond-shaped pieces in a golden wood like a a shower of rain, or a portrait background by Klimt; a thing of remarkable elegance and beauty.

The whole place seems slightly Art Deco, which Highbury was, without being retro; perfectly modern, luxurious, and comfortable. Everything of the best, but nothing vulgar, silly, or ostentatious, and no noise. Just the roar of the crowd, like a giant lion curled up in a giant basket.

And what do you know, there was Mick Jagger surrounded by numerous grandchildren in Arsenal shirts eating their tea. I thought he only did cricket, but there you are.

Anyway, the whole afternoon was an extra special treat. I was super-lucky and I don't s'pose I'll get the chance again. That's what it was like.

Friday, 23 November 2007

"Why don't you dance like that at milongas?"

This wasn't asked of me - it was asked of someone else, in a class - and it just seems to me like a witless put-down.

To exaggerate hardly at all - dancing with one highly-skilled person you know quite well, for an hour, in private, to the same few pieces of music over and over again, with a clearly-defined purpose in mind, is not the same skill as dancing with seven different variously-skilled near-strangers for twelve minutes each, to twenty-one different pieces of music, in public, for the sheer adventure of it.

It's related, but it's not the same. And dancing socially is much harder. Never mind what you can physically do - these are skills of the mind far more than they are of the body, at least until they become automatic, and the mind has a lot more to deal with at milongas.

I my experience it takes quite a while before a matter of technique that I learn in a class becomes something I can deliver, dancing socially, let alone deliver consistently.

Matters of technique go through a gradual transformation over time from something I've done in class, made a note of, and thought about, to something I realise I ought to have done just then (oops), to something I remember to do sometimes, to something I do most of the time (unless I'm too tired, or having a bad day, or dancing with someone I too-desperately want to please), to something I do because I've forgotten how not to.

Each of those stages is positive progress. It's is not necessarily easy or quick. Sometimes it is, and sometimes it isn't. What else would you expect?

I imagine my progress in dancing as like looking through my camera - as very gradually coming into focus. And then perhaps I might work on tonality and depth of field.

Wednesday, 21 November 2007

At the bottom of the garden

Here is a postcard from my Magic Grandad, David Attenborough. For reasons of meaningless and irrational internal politics, the videos posted on YouTube by BBC Worldwide itself are of unwatchable quality, but fortunately other people post the same clips in a decent state.

There is no point in me describing this sequence to you. You just have to see it. Don't forget to retrieve your jaw afterwards.

You can buy the series here, unless your DVD player is Region 1 (includes the USA), in which case, here.

Monday, 19 November 2007


I spent about the last forty-five minutes of my regular class today rotating on the ball of my right foot.


We were doing colgadas and I more or less got it - not easy, but very exciting when it works.

I got the going off-axis, I got the going back on-axis, I was a bit puzzled about swinging the axis around and didn't quite get it but started to feel how it might go, and I didn't entirely get what I should have done with my free leg, although I think the answer to that suggested itself on the train home. On the way home I always scribble down a summary of what we did, what I thought was interesting or important, and whatever problems and solutions I encountered, so I can look back when I forget things. Just writing it down - explaining it to the notebook - helps me understand and make connections anyway.

I'm looking forward to next week's class when I can try again. With luck, my right foot will have stopped hurting.

Sunday, 18 November 2007

Playlist: Poema

I thought it might be interesting to make playlists of different couples dancing to the same track, just to see what they do with it.

Here are ten different couples dancing to Poema. There are couples here who are well known and couples who aren't, and I am not saying that all these performances (or demonstrations) deserve to be in the same playlist, or making any claims at all as to their quality. Feel free to add your own opinion in the comments.

Warning: Poema is a terrible earworm. Don't play this late at night if you intend to sleep.

It drove me completely round the bend when I compiled this.

Saturday, 17 November 2007


[Update 10th Nov 08: New, updated review here.] I went to Negracha tonight, so here's what it's like if you're thinking about it.

The Class: I skipped the class. It's Friday and the class is too early. The guest teacher was Pablo Veron and people who took it said it was very basic stuff. (Personally, I am right behind people whose names people know, giving classes on very basic stuff. It never hurts and a lot of people need to hear it from someone they respect. Not that they listen.)

What I thought of the DJing: I really enjoyed it. Nice sets, cortinas, including some really good old-fashioned stuff but with plenty of variety and memorable moments. Nothing boring or empty or tiresome; all of it made me want to dance. I thought the sets were well put together. According to the website the DJ tonight was "TANGO BOSSO" (what?). The previous time I went there I wasn't so keen, there were a lot of vocals and not a single track I remembered afterwards, a different DJ I presume.

Layout and atmosphere: the floor, tables, and bar encroach on each other severely. Bar staff walk across the dancefloor in the middle of a track. There are also two levels of raised platform where the sound system is with tables, apparently reserved but the plebs are allowed to sit on the edges. The main room is a nice room, rather reminiscent of a high-quality Victorian school hall. On the street side are fine tall windows and the platform; at the other end is the bar, and there are tables and chairs down the sides. The little downstairs "Nuevo" floor is cosy and pleasant but they don't usually have a live human DJ down there. Upstairs is crowded and noisy. I like the cloakroom at the entrance where you can leave stuff and change your shoes.

Hospitality: Dire. No food. No watercooler or jugs. Normal-sized bottles of water are £1.50 and there are sniffy little notices against bringing your own. The other drinks are overpriced even for Holborn. Not only that, but someone has actually gone to the trouble, it appears, of cutting off the cold taps in the loos. Only the hot taps work. For sheer, grasping, hostile, sneering, inhospitable meanness, that's hard to top, and its barefaced offensiveness played a role in me going home at 11:30 instead of staying till 1:00 as I'd planned.

Floorcraft: when crowded, mayhem. The best you could possibly say for it the first time I was there is that it was about 60 to 70% anticlockwise, on average. Tonight it was less crowded, but otherwise much the same. Not a place to wear your best trousers, or tights costing more than £3. Lots and lots of bumps. Good leaders have to divert a lot of energy to partner protection. Followers need to be alert and keep their heels down.

Dancing: I got good dances and I've seen quite a lot of really good dancers here, and also lots of awful ones. I suppose the reasons why the good dancers go are that it's big and popular and everybody talks about it, so there are lots of partners to choose from, and it's open till 3am so you get a much longer session here than you usually would; and the better you are, the more you probably get out of that.

Getting home: Easy, if time-consuming, lots of night buses from Holborn in all directions.

Getting in: £10, or £12 with the class.

Website: Tells you when it's open, where it is, what's on, and how much it will cost. It's not that pretty but it does the job, that's all I ask. The style I'd place about 1997-9; black background, large bright lettering, centred text running down the page.

A bit after 11 I got a dance with MrTaiwan, who I danced for the first time at my usual place last week and I said was properly musical. We had a set of really dramatic tangos, and then Gallo Ciego, which is a piece of music I just love, and then a set of waltzes which were just so much fun. I was delighted that he wanted to go on dancing with me for so long, and I felt that my dancing got steadily better. He told me he was going home on Wednesday - such a shame.

As soon as I sat down again and looked around it occurred to me that this was decision point. If I left now I would be sure of getting the train all the way home, I would wait on a warm platform, and in thirty minutes I would be five minutes walk from my door. If I did not, I would probably have to sit in a virtual queue for another two hours and get kicked another twenty times and thrown around another ten, before getting another dance as enjoyable as MrTaiwan. There were one or two people there who would have fitted the bill and who do dance with me sometimes, but I didn't think I was high in their queues. And if I did not leave now, I would have to stay for at least another hour and a half before the night buses started, then wait for one in weather cold enough for snow, then sit on it for a full hour to get home.

There's a sliding-scale calculation there which it was interesting to watch myself making.

I stepped into the Ladies to cool myself down and think it over, and that was when I took offence at the cold taps not working, so I went.

MrTaiwan, if you're out there, I hope you get lots of great dances back home.

Wednesday, 14 November 2007

Blog to-do

I've been thinking that it doesn't really makes sense to fill up the tango part of this blog with detailed reports on my milongas and learning experiences. In posts where it's possible to tell where I must have been and when, my unwillingness to risk hurting anyone's feelings (or making myself look a fool) would mean leaving out nearly everything that's bad or tricky to deal with, and consequently everything remotely entertaining. I think it would end up anodyne and give a false impression. I often find the bad bits humorous or interesting, and they really contribute a lot to what I get out of my dancing.

So I think that if I have something waspish to say I will reserve it for a while and perhaps just describe whatever it was later, without mentioning any particular names or places. I haven't done fiction since I was at school, my mind doesn't work that way without a lot of persuasion, but perhaps I'll give it a go if it seems required.

I will do an occasional series on "Annoyances", the minor but tiresome and ludicrous things that I'm sure must happen constantly to everyone else as well.

And perhaps I'll do some brief descriptive reviews of the places I go to dance, with:

  • What the class was like or about, if applicable
  • Atmosphere and hospitality
  • Practical considerations, opening hours, how to get home
  • What I thought of the DJ'ing
  • Floorcraft
  • Anyone or anything interesting that turned up or happened
  • Where to find the website or schedule
And thirdly, I'll post some favourite tango videos one by one with what I like about each of them.

And if there's anything else on my mind I'll just say it, and see what gets comments. I'm vain.

What do you think?

Tuesday, 13 November 2007

Baby Picture 2

Since the first one was so popular, here is another extra-cute photo of my friend's new baby. This was in August so she must look quite different by now.

Monday, 12 November 2007

Slippery stuff

I had a really good class today. I wasn't struggling like last week. Most of it was similar material but I sorted out some problems.

Tip for gentlemen, however; if we're going to do colgadas where you take my weight and I have to hold on to you and lean a little bit away, please avoid really tight modern-materials t-shirts that make you as slippery as a bar of soap. It's a bit alarming, and you may get dug into with fingernails if we make any little mistakes.


Sunday, 11 November 2007

Gizmos, a boost, and learning volcadas

I know it's the middle of the night, but I'm winding down after my milonga and if I lie down I won't go to sleep.

I had a good night tonight at the Crypt, which was a bit quiet till at least 22:00, maybe because a lot of people were watching the fireworks at the Lord Mayor's Show (and also it's Diwali and there are a few late Bonfire Nights still catching up, so it's been pretty noisy after dark recently). I also had a reasonable night yesterday; I try and get a dance on Fridays now. I've reached a standard where just getting there and getting danced with doesn't use up so much emotional energy as it used to, and a Friday night dance makes the weekend seem longer by almost a day.

One person tonight said something curious to me. "You don't tolerate any of these nuevo gizmos, do you?" I'm not aware of not tolerating any kind of step, as such - although I can get a little prickly if people call out instructions, hurl me around violently, stamp on my toes particularly hard or are more impertinent than I feel they have a right to be. But I have no idea what nuevo gizmos are. Presumably, that was the problem. I'll look them up one day, perhaps.

My last dance tonight was a real treat. It was with someone I'd never met before, who asked me just moments before I'd otherwise have left. I'd been watching him earlier, and I was astonished when he asked me; I chalked that up as a win before even starting. Properly, totally musical; just lovely. And versatile, too. After our first tango Paul decided to play three tracks of something completely different, so we danced to Nat King Cole. He laughed a lot and adapted the style very nicely. I'm not quite so versatile but I did the best I could and I think I did OK. Then one more tango before I had to scamper for a train.

That gave me a real boost.

Which was good, because I was struggling all evening at my regular class this week. Everything was slightly wrong, too fast, too slow, turning not enough, turning too much, overcompensating in all directions. I was probably just tired, physically and mentally. Not my ideal day for a bit on volcadas at the end. For my friends who don't know what that is, you have to lean all your weight on the man and leave your feet behind. It looks very impressive and feels great when it works, but it can be quite demanding physically. Luckily I got a little tutorial with Paul, otherwise I would have been stuck.

I can do it, though, and I know I've done it at least once or twice in social dancing, just going with the flow, and had no problems. I think it's much easier to do if it makes sense in the context of the music and if you've already been dancing around in close embrace with the man for a little while so that you've got comfortable and trusting. I find it very, very difficult to do cold, especially when I'm tired as well. I'll see how it goes next week. Ladies, how do you get on with this?

Thursday, 8 November 2007

The Stravinsky Project

My friend Dan very kindly gave me some tickets for a dance performance at the Barbican. It was called The Stravinsky Project and choreographed by Michael Clark, who apparently is an iconoclast, although that's a bit meaningless if like me you haven't a clue what the icons looked like before he broke them.

I took M, who knows about dance, and my sister N, who knows Who People Are in the Arts.

I have absolutely no notion about modern dance. If there's no story, I have no idea what to watch for. It was in three parts and this is what I remember.

Part I
After some thought I decided that I should listen carefully to the music and put the dancers in my peripheral vision so I could see them as dancers making musical shapes rather than as specific human beings making apparently meaningless gestures. This worked very well for everyone except Extra Tall Woman, who was too compelling. It started with a woman waking up and doing some yoga. Then there was a man in a plastic box, who was interesting to watch, and some visually fascinating things with reflections. I liked the way the audience got reflected in the mirrors as a wall of darkened shapes, and it gave me another way of watching the dancers as well. There was a beautiful pas-de-deux at the end.

Part II
A couple of people who know these things had advised us to skip Part II, but I like The Rite of Spring as music and I said I should form my own opinion. "Don't worry," said N, "you will!"

The Rite Of Spring started in the dark with no dancers. I was happily imagining insects and dripping icicles and whatnot to go with the music, then the dancing started and I lost it a bit. I think the first thing was with everyone in leather kilts. I enjoyed Purple-Suit Woman and her slightly erotic dance with Purple-Suit Woman's Man, the only bit that included any specifically meaningful gestures, apart from the bouquet-throwing in Les Noces. The animated loos were odd, especially the one with two swords or ski poles. The brief confrontation between Loo Man and Green Man was mildly intriguing but didn't last long. Green flower people appeared and did something ingenious, then I think the Loo Man took off the loo and reappeared in black shorts and did a long, powerful solo which was interesting to watch because you could see all the muscles in his back; I kept thinking it would be very instructive for an artist or anatomist.

Part III
I really enjoyed Les Noces, perhaps partly because I get vocal music a bit more. The music is loud and dramatic and sounds a lot like Russian church music. This was the bit that Dan was in, hidden away under the stage playing one of the four pianos that do the job of an orchestra. The choir was on stage, the soloists in front of the stage, and the stage was done up like a black-draped One-Party meeting hall.

A sort of giant art-deco striped egg appeared, which I took to be symbolically a limousine, and Extra Tall Woman got out very ceremonially with her toes sharpened and a fur cape on. I suppose she was the Bride. Then most of it was with the dancers all in nude-suits with lines on that vaguely suggested things wedding guests might possibly wear, and they did a lot of things that vaguely suggested interdependency. Some bridesmaids threw small bouquets rather dismissively into the audience, or in one case the orchestra pit.

At the very end Extra Tall Woman reappeared right at the back dressed in a really interesting Aran-style textile that I think was supposed to represent either a Russian wedding dress, or a giant penis, or more likely both. Looking at the picture on the programme, it seems more like crochet than the knitted Aran pattern I thought it was when I saw it, but I'm not convinced the picture on the programme is the same costume. On the other hand, why make two?

And then the bells went bong for quite a while with her standing there en pointe, and that was the end.

M said it was absolutely wonderful, and N seemed to like it too. I think we were very lucky to get tickets as apparently Michael Clark is very important and lots of people want to go. I was glad I'd gone, it would never have occurred to me to go without being invited, and a lot of it was interesting and beautiful.

Just in case you're thinking of going, the website says "contains nudity", but it doesn't. This is completely false advertising; there's no nudity at all. What there is, is lots of beige lycra. But don't let that stop you if you're into modern dance.

Good Afternoon

May I point out that YouTube is the best way of wasting time since 1999. From the Department of the Best Telly Ever, the first part of this clip is David Attenborough being interviewed by Parky - in the early eighties, I suppose.

For those who can't see it I'll provide a transcript.

"Suddenly, out onto the track, about seventy or eighty men, suddenly jumped out of hiding and ran down towards us, brandishing spears and waving knives. And - to say I was alarmed was putting it mildly. What actually happened was that I walked towards this screaming horde of -men, and I - I stuck out my hand, and I heard myself say - 'Good afternoon!'"

Of course he did. What else could David Attenborough possibly have done? He is my Magic Granddad.

I'm going to try to find you the one from Life On Earth where he delivers a line written by Charles Darwin - the one about the entomologist's mind.

Hello friends of Tangobaby


Tangobaby mentioned me in her post today. So thank you Tangobaby and hello to all her friends! At least some of this blog will be about my experiences dancing, so do pipe up in the comments about your own.


Sunday, 4 November 2007

Bad sacadas

One of those little annoyances is misjudged sacadas so high they actually disarrange your knickers.

People aren't trying to be sleazy, they do it because they've got no idea where you are. Unless you verbally protest, they don't even know they've annoyed you.

I bet the men who learned this the old-fashioned way (only with each other) never made this mistake. Not more than once, anyway. In fact I find it hard to imagine how they'd do it even once, but what do I know? I have no information as to how men negotiate such things between themselves, away from the female gaze.

While you have that image in mind, here is Oscar Casas explaining what you need to know.

The only thing I would add is that the silicone-elastic bit of hold-ups, if you knew where that was, would be a pretty good guide to "too high".


I've nearly finished the pair of sleeves, except for the ribbing, but I think it's too tight across the shoulders. It's tight for me, and N is slightly broader, if anything.

I can't think of a fix. I'm going to have to pull out two-thirds of it, including all of the difficult bit, and do it again. I discussed it with Puddock and she suggested steeking, but that's something I've never done before, it could go horribly wrong, and it doesn't really go with the pattern or the materials.

This is what you get when you insist on designing for yourself rather than following a pattern, so I can't really complain. I should have checked earlier and I've only got myself to blame.

On the other hand, trying it on has shown that the design itself is really nice.