Experiment complete

I pulled myself away from the birds for long enough this afternoon to bind my experimental quilt:

I “cheated” and machine-sewed the binding (otherwise it would have taken me weeks to hand-sew all that!), and there’s a few wee bits where it didn’t quite catch properly so I really should go back and re-do those parts, but I’m still calling it finished.

Right, someone find me a cat, a book, and a comfy corner – I need to test this thing out!

Lazy day

Ok, so I totally fail at family. I was talking to Dad this morning, and he mentioned that my step-sister had seen me at the Survivor Poetry event last weekend, and had said to pass on her apologies for not saying hello, because she’d been caught up talking to someone else so I’d left before she’d got a chance. I hadn’t even realised she was there – which is pretty awful, considering she was one of the competitors! She’d been standing right in front of me on stage reading her poetry, and I hadn’t even recognised her. Oops. In my defence, despite being technically family, it’s not like we know each other well – I’ve really only met her a handful of times, and that’s mostly been at big family events where there’s been loads of people, and it’s probably a couple of years since we last met, but it’s still a bit embarrassing, especially as she recognised me!

I’ve had a very lazy day today – it was lovely and sunny this morning, so I spent a fair chunk of it sitting in the sun reading, and another chunk playing on the computer because for once the study wasn’t impossibly cold.  Spring may actually be here!  (Although I’m not getting too complacent – Christchurch springs are notorious for starting off lovely and warm and then turning cold and wet just when you think summer’s about to arrive. But at least I can enjoy the nice weather while it’s here).

Tonight was the monthly meetup of the Christchurch bloggers – only a few people turned up, but it was a good night, full of interesting conversation (and best of all, Tartankiwi said that even though I didn’t win her challenge, she was very impressed by my efforts, and offered me the choice of one of her paper-piecing patterns as a consolation prize!  Now I’ve just got to choose which one… she’s got so many cool patterns in her Etsy shop.)

The pink butterfly

It took me most of yesterday and long into the night, but I managed to get most of the embroidery done that I wanted to add to the pink butterfly for my second entry to Tartankiwi’s Butterfly Challenge (and, yes, if you’re wondering Tartankiwi, all that pink is a blatant attempt to win your Rascal’s favour ;-)).

It could probably do with a few more flowers, and I’d wanted to add a few French knots to accent the swirls, but I’ve run out of time, so I’m calling it done.

Lessons learnt:

  • I am a lot better at cross-stitch than I am at free-hand embroidery.
  • There is a reason embroidery cotton comes in different varieties, and using the stranded kind that’s meant for cross-stitch doesn’t work all that well for making lazy daisy flowers, even if the colours of stranded cotton you had on hand were so much nicer than the crewel type.
  • See above point.  If you’re planning to add fancy embroidery to a project, you should go and buy the colours you want of the right kind of cotton in advance, so you’re not stuck using the wrong type when it’s late at night and you’re just trying to get it finished.
  • My embroidery skills get a lot worse late at night.
  • Using pink tailor’s chalk to sketch a design on the pink fabric makes it really hard to follow the lines.
  • When you don’t follow your sketched lines, embroidered lines have a tendency to go a bit wonky.
  • Actually, even when you do follow the lines there’s a certain element of wonkiness involved.  See point 1.
  • Very soon I am going to have to bow to the inevitabilities of ageing and invest in bifocals.  I can see perfectly well to sew if I take my glasses off, but then I can’t see the TV (and there’s still enough of the 12-year-old left in me who complains that sewing is BORING if I don’t have a DVD or something to distract me), so I end up trying to peer over the top of my glasses to see exactly where the needle is going – no wonder I woke up with a headache this morning.
The Tartankiwi


All of a sudden, August is almost over, which means in a couple of days it’ll be officially Spring. And, more importantly, it means I’ve only got a couple of days to finish my second butterfly, because the deadline for challenge entries is on Sunday night. I haven’t really had any time to work on it this week, so I’ll have to make a concerted effort this weekend.  Except the Writer’s Festival has just started, and there’s a few events I’d like to get to (although I’ve probably left it too late to get tickets for some things – apparently quite a few events have sold out already), and a little adventure I’m planning for Sunday, and a million other things I want to get done…  On the plus side, I’ve got the day off tomorrow, so as long as I can resist the temptation to over-schedule myself, I’m sure I can fit a bit of sewing time in somewhere.

Actually, considering I can feel a niggling scratch at the back of my throat that’s probably the precursor to a cold (the mini-Harvestbird was sniffly last weekend, so I wouldn’t be surprised if I’d caught it off her), I probably should be sensible and have a quiet day at home tomorrow and get some rest.  But day off!  Festival full of interesting talks on!  Adventures to be had!  Yeah, we’ll see…


Films and playgrounds and shiny cats

It’s been a busy weekend.  Yesterday afternoon I went to another film festival film, The Tale of The Princess Kaguya.  A lovely animation from Studio Ghibli, based on a Japanese fairy tale.  As with everything Studio Ghibli, a visually wonderful film, plus it’s always so interesting to see fairy tales from other cultures – they never follow the structures that seem so right and natural to our Western-encultured eyes, and the embedded moral lessons are very different than you’d find in a European fairy tale.  A good reminder that what seems “normal” is very much a subjective thing.

Harvestbird and I had planned on going to another film in the evening, Is the Man Who is Tall Happy?, Michel Gondry’s documentary/conversation with Noam Chomsky.  The timing wasn’t going to work out for her though (because: children), so my revised plan was just to go on my own (how could I miss a film on Chomsky after I spent half of last semester debating the validity of generative linguistics?), but then I got a message from her on Friday saying that the film had just shown up on their <*cough* not Netflix because we can’t get Netflix in NZ and of course nobody would ever use a proxy to pretend to be in America and acquire illicit access that way *cough*> queue, so would I like to watch it with them at their place instead.

So a new and improved plan was born, and we spent a very enjoyable evening eating way too much junk food and watching the film, with the bonus that we could pause it for critical comment whenever the whole “Chomsky as Elder Statesman of Linguistics who must be listened to with awe even when he’s making pronouncements on things way outside his field” thing got too much for us.  Followed of course by long and in-depth (and only slightly whisky-fuelled) discussion on the film’s merits and philosophies.  It was a very late night!

Then this afternoon, Harvestbird, the elder mini-Harvestbird, and I went out to Tai Tapu to explore a promising crafty-type shop (which didn’t quite deliver as much as it promised, so I didn’t buy anything), followed by cake at the cafe and some playground time (during which I may have spent more time clambering around on the climbing frame than the mini-Harvestbird did… but only so I could help her build confidence, honestly! 😉 ).  A lovely afternoon – Mini-Harvestbird is always so excited to come on these “only for big girls” outings without her little sister, and Harvestbird and I got to continue our long philosophical discussion from last night.

Somewhere in there I even managed to squeeze in a little time to work on the next stage of my second butterfly.  A wee teaser:

And to add even further to the pretty:

I spotted him in a shop window as I was leaving the picture theatre yesterday, and couldn’t resist.  I’m not sure exactly where he’s going to live yet, so I’ve been auditioning him in various spots around the house.

Progress on Butterfly #2

Apologies for the awful photo – I finished sewing all the bits together quite late tonight, so I had the choice of either a washed-out photo using a flash, or a yellowish photo using just the light in the room. Neither came out great, but I’ve colour-corrected it as best I can. I’ll try and remember to take a better photo during daylight.

Anyway, this is not the finished product – there’s still more to be added… (mysterious cat is mysterious).

The Tartankiwi


Part of the rules of the Butterfly Challenge was that you hve to add a link to a photo or blog post about your entry to a “linky” on TartanKiwi’s original post, so that everyone can see each other’s entries.  As a result, I’ve been getting a lot of comments on my Catterfly post, all gratifyingly complimentary.  One commenter even paid me the compliment of asking whether she could pin it on Pinterest.  So I can now officially say that my blog is pinworthy 🙂

I was very tempted to break my streak of daily blog posts tonight.  Not because I couldn’t think of anything to write about, but because it’s so %$&@ cold in the study.  I’ve spent the evening coming up with a series of excuses why I had to stay sitting in front of the fire and not come through here to the computer.  And my tablet doesn’t really work for writing anything longer than a couple of sentences – it gets all confused when faced with large text fields, and ends up randomly shuffling around what I’ve written if I try to blog using it.  Maybe I need to get myself a laptop (or a heater – that might be the cheaper option…)

Parsnips has not been having a good evening.  I’m giving a speech at Toastmasters next week, so I’ve been practising it out loud (yet another advantage of living on your own 🙂 ).  Normally she just ignores my standing there talking to myself (just one of those weird things humans do), but this speech has a shouty bit in it.  And I keep forgetting she’s in the room, so I go ahead and do the shouty bit in a shouty voice.  And poor Parsnips keeps thinking I’m shouting at her, and is obviously completely confused as to what it is she’s doing wrong to get shouted at, so just runs and hides under the table and looks worried until I coax her back out.  At this rate she’ll be on kitty prozac before I’ve got my speech ready 🙁

Music from the past

The International Film Festival is on at the moment, so I went last night to see one of the films on offer, Pulp: a Film about Life, Death & Supermarkets, a documentary about Pulp’s last concert, in their home town of Sheffield.

As well as being a great documentary (made by a NZ film-maker – it was weird hearing a Kiwi accent in the midst of all those Northerners), the music brought back a lot of memories of a fun time in my life.  I arrived in the UK pretty much at the height of Brit Pop, so my memories of that time have a definite soundtrack of bands like Pulp, Blur and Oasis running through them, but especially Pulp, because they were one of the very few bands on which my and H’s musical tastes overlapped.  We even went to see them in concert, at a music festival in Finsbury Park (25 July 1998 – I only know the date because I’ve still got the sketchbook I was using to sketch pictures of people in the crowd, to entertain myself while the lesser acts were on earlier in the day, and I’d written the date at the top of the page).

It’s nice to have those memories brought back, to remind me that the years I spent with H weren’t all wasted – we had a lot of adventures and fun times together.  It was only in the final few years where the bad stuff started outweighing the good.

But SO MANY ear worms!!!

I decided to have another go at Tartankiwi’s Butterfly Challenge.  The rules of the challenge allow two entries per person, and I’ve had a few ideas floating around in my head for something very different than the Catterfly (thanks Sherlockfan for the perfect name!).  So yesterday afternoon I had fun selecting fabrics and attempting to narrow down my ideas into just one.

I had to reject so many wonderful possibilities (though I may yet resurrect them – I can still make butterflies, even if they’re not for the challenge):

Decision made?

The Beast all set up and ready to go (I’ll probably set it up permanently in the study, but it’s too cold to work in there at the moment, so it has a temporary home in the warmth of the lounge):

Finding the nicest parts of the fabric to use for the wings:

Starting the paper-piecing:

For this one, I’ve simplified the original pattern quite a bit for the actual patchwork bit, but don’t worry, I have plans to complicate it again in the next stage. Watch this space 🙂

The Tartankiwi

Butterfly complete

That took a lot longer than expected (probably something to do with the number of unpickings and resewings I ended up doing, and not at all helped by changing my mind at the last minute about how I’d done the body of the butterfly (I’d originally used a lighter shade of grey to contrast with the wings a bit, but once I’d sewn it all together I decided it detracted too much from the cat face, so another session of unpicking and starting again)), but I finally have a finished butterfly that I’m mostly pleased with (the wings aren’t quite lined up properly, and there’s a bit where the fabric frayed from too many unpickings and I had to sneak in a tiny patch to cover it – probably not noticeable to anyone else, but I know it’s there…)

Well, sort of finished.  To be properly finished I’d need to turn it into something other than just a block, but the challenge was just to make the block itself, so I’m counting it as finished enough for now.  Maybe I’ll incorporate it into a proper quilt one day – just need to make a few more blocks to go with it…


The Tartankiwi