Again, a relatively short list (for me – in some years I’ve got up over 150 books), but for some reason I just didn’t feel as inspired to read this year – probably because I was so busy with everything else. One big part of the drop in numbers is because I mostly stopped listening to audio books, because the library app doesn’t work properly on my phone. So I switched to listening to podcasts while walking to and from work instead.
Total = 63 books
The Bookshop by Penelope Fitzgerald (library e-book)
Well, that whole return to blogging didn’t last long last year, did it? And to be honest, this one probably won’t either. It’s mostly because vlogging has taken over a lot of the role blogging used to play for me, but also just that usual loop of it’s been so long since I blogged anything, it’ll take me forever to catch up, so it’s easier to just set it aside for a bit longer. And then suddenly it’s 2021.
So I’m not going to try and properly catch things up (other than lots of photos of craft projects, mainly just so I’ve got something to link to for my annual round-up of what I made last year… which is a bit redundant, because it means this post and the round-up post will almost be identical…) Life continues in this weird what passes for normal (as long as you don’t look beyond the borders) state here in Aotearoa. We’re (except in the border isolation hotels) Covid free, and life has sort of returned to normal, except for not being able to leave the country, and always being a bit on edge waiting for the next community outbreak to shut things down again, and anything that needs to be imported being horrifically expensive or in short supply (that part feels like being back in the Muldoon years!). But otherwise, it’s easy to forget that the pandemic rages on everywhere else.
The being on edge thing has kept me in Christchurch for the Christmas break – I’d thought about going down to Alexandra, but knowing how stupid people can get around Christmas and New Years, and the inevitable huge parties, I was a bit worried that if there was going to be another outbreak, it’d be during the holiday period, and very likely somewhere like Queenstown. And much as I love Alex, the thought of being stuck down there if we went back into lockdown wasn’t tempting – especially if I’d end up working from home for months again, with the terrible internet down there! So I’ve stayed at home and had a very quiet Christmas – which has had the advantage of having plenty of time to get on with some craft projects (and some video projects – for once I’ve actually got a bit of a buffer of scheduled videos, so I don’t have to be scrambling to edit a video every week!)
And talking of craft projects, here’s lots of photos, in no particular order:
The project I’m most proud of is Birb, the wall-hanging I made for my niece. It’s a portrait of her pet cockatiel, and I was working on it off and on since sometime in the winter. It was a bit of a last-minute rush to get the binding sewn off so I could post it down to her for Christmas.
I based the pattern (very loosely) on a quilt I saw online somewhere that had a variety of different birds in a similar style, though I ended up changing a lot of the details as I went along.
I made a pieced back for it, because I had a few half-square triangles left over, so I decided it would be fun to try and incorporate them into the back. Even though when it gets hung on the wall nobody will ever see those details, I really like the idea that the back is interesting too – it’s like including a little easter egg 🙂
I’m really proud of the quilting – it feels like it nicely shows off how far my skills have progressed over the last few years 🙂 And I had a lot of fun coming up with quilting designs for each component.
It’s also the biggest quilt I’ve completed this year (I have made a couple of quilt tops that are bigger, but they’re still sitting on the pile waiting for inspiration to strike to get them actually quilted). Everything else has been mini-quilts – probably because they seem more manageable at the moment.
One you might have already seen if you follow Yetzirah’s blog is the mini-quilt I made to celebrate reaching 100 subscribers on my YouTube channel. I had a little competition where viewers could suggest a quilt theme, and I’d draw one out and make it for them. Yetzirah’s name came out of the hat, with the suggestion of hearts and batiks. She’d just been converting her chicken coop into a writing retreat room, so I had that space in mind when I made it. A gorgeous NZ-made batik ended up being the central fabric, so I called it Tūī in the Henhouse.
It’s another one where I incorporated a spare block into the back, this time as a label:
A mini-quilt that didn’t make it onto my YouTube channel was the one I very quickly made as a wedding present for two friends who’d converted their civil union into a marriage and threw a party to celebrate. They’re both major Star Trek and LEGO geeks, so coming up with a design to suit wasn’t hard 🙂
And one that has already featured on my channel is a little Christmas tree that came from a rainy, I feel like starting something new, sort of day just before Christmas. I had a charm pack I didn’t know what I wanted to do with, so I just started playing, and this was the result:
Plus, I finally got round to finishing off the last of the Christmas mini-quilts I started years ago (I just checked – it was in 2017! That was when I finally learnt the lesson that making anything in bulk is boring, and I’ll give up half way through, so I really shouldn’t attempt it, no matter how much it seems like a cool idea to make loads of something so I can give one to everyone I know).
There were also lots of quilted things that weren’t actually quilts. Like the cushions I made as a housewarming gift for another friend. I half-jokingly said I should make her some cushions, and asked her what colours she liked. When she replied “rainbows”, I immediately had the (slightly over-ambitious) thought that doing something with a bargello technique would be fun, despite the fact I’d never actually tried bargello before (when has that ever stopped me?). I used bargello for one of the cushions, and then used the scraps from it to make a complementary design for the other one.
I also made a couple of hot water bottle covers, one for myself, and one for my niece (yes, I do make a lot of things for her – she’s totally spoilt 😉 )
This very small mat was made at the request of Mum, who wanted something to put under her kettle to reduce the noise when it boils. Her request was for something very simple, and red to match her kitchen. But of course, simple is boring, so I ended up experimenting with an octagonal log cabin (with limited success – it’s really hard to keep the angles on an octagon accurate as you add to it!)
Mum loved it so much it didn’t actually end up doing the job it was intended for – instead of putting it under the kettle, where it would be hidden, she’s got it out on display, under the fruit bowl 🙂
Another request from Mum was for a cat bed for Raji. He’s been overflowing his existing one, so she wanted one slightly bigger. So I bought some fake fur and adapted a dog bed pattern:
I only finished it a couple of days ago, so I haven’t had a chance to get it posted down to her yet – I’ll do that once the post office opens on Tuesday. I’m looking forward to finding out whether it gets Raji’s seal of approval (Parsnips sniffed at it once, and hasn’t gone near it since).
In other non-quilting craft projects, I also made another big pile of bunting for the union, this time in Pasifika fabrics:
And of course, like everyone with access to a sewing machine, made many, many, many masks for friends and family (and a few for myself).
fter a couple of days of hiding away from the world, I was feeling ready for human contact again, so a couple of invitations yesterday came just at the right moment. First was to join Harvestbird for cake and afternoon tea in civilisation, before she heads off into the (relative) wilderness for a week with her family. We successfully found cake at Church Corner, and spent an enjoyable afternoon dissecting popular culture (and, in particular, the new Star Wars film, which I’ve also been debating the merits of with Nephew #1 via email, so I now really need to go and see it again, so I can properly work out which of whose arguments I agree with 🙂 ).
Next, Dana invited me to join her and some friends for dinner at Bao Bar in Riccarton. I’d never been there before, but was happily surprised by how good the food was. It’s one of those places that occupies the nebulous space between fast food and a proper restaurant – they have a liquor licence and offer table service if you’re sitting upstairs (there are buttons on the tables to summon a waiter), but also do takeaways downstairs. We shared some tasting plates (which included one of the few tofu dishes I’ve ever actually enjoyed) and dumplings, then tried a variety of “baogers” (bao buns stuffed with different meats), washed down with Champagne-style fizzy saki (which was very sweet, and very drinkable, though I could feel it going to my head pretty fast!).
After dinner we all went back to Dana’s place and played a rather chaotic board game involving a train robbery, complete with jumping from carriage to carriage, and the robbers all attempting to shoot and punch each other while stealing the loot and avoiding the sheriff. I think I ended up coming last, but it was still a lot of fun.
A couple of the guests left after the game, as they had to go home to relieve their babysitter. I considered leaving then too, as I had no particular desire to stay up to see the New Year in, but then someone suggested we could all walk down to Hagley Park to watch the fireworks at midnight, so I was talked into staying. It was only about 11 pm by then, so in the meantime, Dana’s partner suggested setting up their virtual reality gear for a game.
As everyone else had had a go on it before, they gave me the first go (which actually turned out to be the only go, because by the time everything was set up, we didn’t have all that much time before we had to leave to get to the park on time). I was a bit doubtful at first, because my previous experiences with VR a couple of years ago weren’t that impressive, but the technology has advanced very quickly – it was so much better than I’d expected. It really did feel totally immersive (apart from occasionally feeling the cable wrap around my feet if I turned round too many times), and definitely felt like being in a physical space. Even better, the controllers had amazing haptic feedback. Dana’s partner set me up on an archery game, where I had to shoot barbarians storming a castle, and it really did feel like I was knocking an arrow into the bow and shooting. I think I could have happily played that game for a very long time if we hadn’t had to go!
Just before 12 we walked down to the park, and got there just in time to hear the countdown and watch the fireworks. We didn’t go into the official party area, but just sat by the duck pond behind the stage area, which was where they were letting the fireworks off from, so we got a fantastic view (there were quite a few people there already with cameras and tripods set up – wish I’d thought to bring my camera along!). We sang Auld Lang Syne along with the crowd (and Mum, you’ll be glad to hear I even sang a verse of The Green Oak Tree (very quietly!) as we walked back through the park).
I’d been telling the others about New Years when I was a child, and how we used to go first footing, and Dana was fascinated by it all, so I suggested I could first foot her when we got back to her house. It wasn’t a proper first footing, of course – I had to substitute a stick I picked up in the park for the piece of coal, and a couple of lollies I found in the bottom of my bag for the shortbread and whisky – but it’s the thought that counts, right? 🙂 In return, Dana gave me a traditional Romanian blessing with a leafy branch, so a successful cultural exchange of good wishes for the coming year 🙂
So it turned out to be a fun night, although a very late one – I was totally shattered by the time I got home! Talking of which, I think an early night tonight would be a good idea. So Happy New Year, everyone – I hope 2018 brings you joy.
I’ve been doing the year in first lines thing for a few years now – I think it was a post on Wondermark that gave me the idea? Anyway, the idea is to summarise the year through the first sentence of the first post of each month. As always, I’m cheating slightly by sometimes including a second sentence where the first wasn’t very long, or very interesting, and I generally skip posts that are just lists (like most of my 1 January posts…)
And the year in pictures is always a fun challenge, trying to pick a single photo that sums up each month. Sometimes that’s easy, but life events don’t always neatly segment themselves into months, so some months there’s too much to choose from, and others I struggle to find a photo (especially if it was one of those times when I just never seemed to get my camera out). And of course, sometimes it’s just a pretty picture, without any particular significance other than I took it that month, and I like it.
So, in case you’re not bored with lists yet, here’s two more summarising my year:
2017 in first lines
January: Emerging, blinking, into the light
No, your eyes are not deceiving you, I’m actually writing a blog post. And that can only mean one thing: I finished my thesis!!!!!
February: The new project
I finally made it to the fabric shop this morning, so I started work on my new project.
March: Scrappy bits
So much for my good intentions of regularly posting to my blog – that seems to have fallen by the wayside a bit!
This new quilt is definitely slower going than the jelly roll race one (mainly because the seams have to be pretty accurate for it to work properly), but I am making progress.
May: Quilts in progress report
With apologies for the terrible photographs – I keep forgetting that the lighting in the study in winter isn’t particularly conducive to getting colour-accurate photos.
June: Progress, and not so much progress
My plan to use spare half hours to sew failed the moment the really cold weather set in, because I’d forgotten just how cold the study can get in winter (for some reason to do with the way the hallway bends just before the door to the study, the warmth from the fire, which happily heats the rest of the house, never quite reaches the study).
July: Off with their hair
Those of you who know me in real life (TM) will know that for the past year or two I’ve been muttering about how one day I’m going to suddenly cut off all my hair. Well, one day arrived…
August: Films and Flight
I decided it was about time I got round to finishing off the Birds in Flight quilt (which I feel like I started about a million years ago), so I spent the weekend working on the connecting bits for the strip of birds to go on the back. I didn’t get it finished, but I made pretty good progress. At this rate I might even get it quilted this year…
(Spoiler alert: I didn’t)
September: Out and about in Wellington
Wellington was wonderful (despite the less than stellar weather).
October: Playgrounds and Poetry
Brother and family were up at the weekend to go to a concert.
November: Wisdom in overrated anyway
A week or so ago, I had a toothache.
December: Possibly not for the faint of heart
The conference went really well – our talk seemed to be well-received (my boss was in the audience, along with at least three other people I know as experts in digital archiving, and all were nodding at the right places, so I don’t think I said anything too stupid 🙂 ), and (once the stress of having to present was over with, so I could actually just relax and enjoy the rest of the conference) I met all sorts of interesting people, and learnt all sorts of interesting things.
2017 in photos
(Like I said, some months it’s obvious which picture to pick 🙂 )
(Yeah, two photos of me in one summary post feels a bit excessive, but cutting off my hair was kind of momentous!)
(I seem to have spent a lot of time photographing craft projects this year…)
So that’s my year. A lot of crafts, a lot of trying new things, a few adventures, a few revelations, a few new friends, a few successes, a few difficulties, but mostly a lot of learning and a lot of fun. Which is pretty much how life should be.
I started a new list this year, of the craft projects I’d completed. It was kind of an attempt to motivate myself to actually finish things, instead of always starting new projects then leaving them half-finished when some new shiny caught my eye, but also just because (like my reading list) it’s interesting to see where the year took me, creatively. It’s a nice reminder, too, of how my skills are progressing, and what each project has taught me.
Another year, another list of books. Quite a short list, really, considering I wasn’t studying this year, but I think somewhere over the last few years I’ve lost the reading habit slightly. (And yes, I’m aware that for a lot of people, reading 106 books in a year (even given my rather broad definition of what a book is) is an unattainable goal, but I’ve managed to get into the 150s some years, so it’s a major reduction for me.)