A bookcrosser from New Zealand (yeah, like that wasn't obvious from the title). Which used to be the whole point of my diary. Nowadays its as likely to feature entries on quilting, cross-stitch, study, travelling, and life in general as anything bookcrossing related (ok, so the travel is generally bookcrossing related :-))
I was originally going to make a Friendship Star for this block, but a traditional Friendship Star only uses one fabric (other than the background), and I wanted to include at least one solid along with each print. So I decided to make it a Double Friendship Star instead.
For this block, unlike all the others so far, you have to cut out more fabric than you’re actually going to use, because you end up with quarter-square triangles with opposite handedness, so you have to make twice as many as you actually need. Well, actually, I think you could make it without the extra QSTs, by cutting individual little triangles to make them from, instead of starting from squares, but that would be really fiddly and involve a lot of bias edges, so I decided to just waste a bit of fabric and do it the easy way.
Because of needing the extra fabric, I couldn’t get the whole block out of one 10-inch square. Luckily a lot of the fabrics in the layer cake are repeated, so it was easy to find two squares of the same fabric.
For this block you’ll need:
Print: one 3 1/2 inch square and four 4 inch squares
Solid: two 4 1/2 inch squares
Background: two 4 1/2 inch squares and four 3 1/2 inch squares
Pair the solid and background 4 1/2 inch squares to make four half-square triangles, using the same technique as for the Shoofly block.
Trim the HSTs to 4 inch squares.
Draw another diagonal line from corner to corner across each HST, in the opposite direction to the seam, and pair each one with a print 4 inch square.
Because I was using a striped fabric, and wanted to make sure all the stripes ended up facing the same way, before I sewed the seams I folded the fabric over to double-check I had it oriented correctly (obviously, if you do this, unfold it again before you sew).
Sew either side of the marked line, cut apart, and press open.
This is where the handedness comes in. Each pair of QSTs will have one that goes anticlockwise print-solid-background, and another that goes clockwise print-solid-background.
Sort the QSTs into the two types, and pick one set to use. In theory you could just chuck the other set away (and in fact, you don’t technically even need to sew the second seam), but I kept them in case I want to make a second block out of them one day.
Trim the set of QSTs you’ve chosen to 3 1/2 inch squares.
Lay out the block and sew together as a nine-patch.
(I’m so impressed that I didn’t mess up the stripes. Despite all the checking I did, I was sure I’d still manage to sew them the wrong way round and end up with half of them pointing the wrong way…)
hat was a very busy week. Despite being a short one. And totally dominated by meetings. As I think I mentioned, Tuesday was our planning day, so that was one big day-long meeting, only interrupted by lunch (which we all had together at a nearby cafe – we did manage to avoid talking shop too much during lunch, though). And then at the end of the day we all went out for a drink together (which, again, no talking shop, but it was a long day!). It was a really productive day though, and great to get off campus and away from interruptions, and be in a really nice environment (we held the meeting in the beautifully restored old neo-gothic building in the Arts Centre where our School of Music is based).
On Wednesday, I amazingly had no meetings, so I was actually able to get some work done (mostly starting to work through the long list of action points that came out of Tuesday). Jacq had invited me to go to a Nerd Degree recording that evening, so as the weather was horrible (the forecast had been for snow, which never arrived (other than a light sprinkling on the Port Hills), but there was plenty of rain to make up for it) I decided to just stay at work instead of rushing home and then going back out again. Jacq was doing the same, so I grabbed some food from the cafe and went down to their office to eat dinner with them until it was time to go.
The show was, as always, incredibly funny (and incredibly visual – I have no idea how they’re going to edit it into a podcast). The theme was wrestling, and they had an actual WWE-style wrestler as the co-host. He stayed in persona for most of the evening (plus I think kept forgetting it was a podcast), so was doing a lot of posturing and demonstrating wrestling moves on the contestants, which was brilliantly funny, but yeah, wouldn’t translate to audio at all. In true wrestling style, there was much (fake) drama, with one of the contestants defecting from her team to the other “evil” team, and then later Jacq’s partner (complete with hastily-donned luchador mask) leaping from the audience to the defence of the poor abandoned contestant. This had of course all been pre-planned (the only performer who didn’t know what was going to happen was the one who’d been abandoned, which made it all much funnier as you could see him visibly struggling to figure out what was suddenly going on). Jacq and their partner had been discussing the plans in the car on the way, so I knew parts of what was going to happen (though not exactly when), which made it even funnier, because I could see how cleverly the defector was manipulating events to build up the drama prior to her defection.
On Thursday we were off-campus for most of the day again, this time at the NDF Regional Forum, an “unconference” for people doing digital stuff in the GLAM (Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums) sector. Another really useful day, but I wish it didn’t have to happen in the same week as our planning day and a long weekend – it didn’t leave much of the week to actually be in the Lab! Especially as Friday ended up being another day full of meetings, because it was also the first week of the university vacation, so all the academic staff who are usually busy teaching finally had time to discuss their research projects, which meant they all wanted to meet with us, and because we were off campus so much this week, all the meetings ended up scheduled for Friday. So yeah, I feel like I didn’t achieve much actual work this week, just a lot of talking!
Friday night was the LGBT+ meetup. I almost didn’t go, because I was feeling pretty peopled out after all those meetings, but I’m glad I did, because it was a really fun night. We went for dinner at Arjee Bhajee, the Indian restaurant on Riccarton Road, which I’ve often walked past but never gone to, which turned out to be really nice, and conversation ranged far and wide, from cosplay at Armageddon (the local science fiction convention) to the most ecologically sound way of disposing of a corpse. A guy I’d met through union stuff was there, so it was good to catch up with him too (and he lives over my side of town, so gave me a lift home afterwards, which was a bonus – catching a bus on Riccarton Road on Friday night is always … interesting).
And there was more social stuff yesterday, because I’d arranged to meet Jenette for morning tea, to say goodbye before she heads back to Ireland in a few days. Sad to see her go, but hopefully we’ll be able to stay in touch via internet (and she might get back to NZ some day – it sounds like she’s kept her options open for coming back if life leads her back in this direction). Anyway, it was great to have one last chance to catch up in person.
I had an attempt at videoing my day yesterday daily-vlog style. I’ve decided that attempting to keep my YouTube channel confined to a single theme was never going to work, so I’m just going to make random videos (on hopefully a reasonably regular basis) on whatever I feel like at the time. I haven’t edited yesterday’s clips together yet, but it’s going to be an experiment in whether I can turn a relatively mundane day (housework, going to the library and supermarket, doing a bit of sewing) into something entertaining. So that’s the plan for the rest of my morning: learning some new stuff about how the video editing software works, then see what I can apply to the random selection of clips I filmed. The process should be interesting at least, even if I fail at making the video itself interesting (if it never appears on my channel, you’ll know why )
Yet again, apologies for the lighting in the photos – even though it’s stopped raining (for now), the sky was still pretty overcast today, so it was pretty dark in my sewing room. I really should put a decent lamp in there… Anyway, the colours are way out in these photos. The “red” is actually quite pink in real life, and the blues are much brighter.
Print: one 4 1/4 inch square, one 3 1/2 inch square, and four 3 1/2 x 2 inch rectangles
Solid: one 5 inch square and four 2 inch squares
Background: one 5 inch square, four 2 3/8 inch squares, and four 2 inch squares
(I originally made a mistake with my calculations and made the 2 3/8 inch background squares 2 7/8 inches square, which is why they look a bit big below. Luckily, I was able to trim the resulting units down to the correct size once I realised my mistake).
I used yet another method for making half-square triangles, this time one which makes eight at a time. (Actually, it’s not strictly a new method – it’s technically just applying the two-at-a-time method to four squares at once, without cutting them up first. But it feels like a different method).
To make them, place the 5 inch solid and background squares right sides together, and draw diagonal lines from corner to corner in both directions.
Stitch quarter of an inch on either side of each line.
Cut the square in half horizontally and vertically, and along the marked lines.
Press each piece open, to get eight HSTs.
Cut off the dog ears, and trim to 2 inches square.
Combine two HSTs with a small solid and background block in a four-patch.
Repeat with the rest of the HSTs.
Now use the 4 1/4 inch print square with the other four background squares to make flying geese, using the same technique as in the Flying Dutchman block.
(This is about when I began to suspect I’d messed up the measurements, because the overlap between the two background squares was so huge. But I decided to continue anyway, and hopefully be able to trim them down later.)
Sure enough, my flying geese turned out way too big. But I was able to trim them down to 3 1/2 by 2 inch, so it worked out ok. (The trick to trimming them down, if you’re ever faced with the same problem, is to first trim the pointy end of the goose so that the point is quarter of an inch from the edge. Then trim the other sides to fit the required size, making sure the goose stays symmetrical.)
Sew each flying goose unit to a print rectangle.
Now lay out the complete block, and sew together as a nine-patch.
The second wet-weekend block I created is called the Sawtooth Star. This one has a much larger centre than the other blocks I’ve made so far, which was a nice opportunity to show off one of the large-scale fabrics from the layer cake.
To make a 9-inch finished block you’ll need:
Print: one 5 inch square (I fussy cut mine to centre on one of the big flowers)
Solid: four 3 1/8 inch squares
Background: one 5 3/4 inch square, and four 2 3/4 inch squares
I used the same flying geese technique as for the Flying Dutchman block, except this time the background fabric forms the geese.
Place a solid square on opposite corners of the large background square, draw a diagonal, and stitch quarter of an inch on either side.
Cut along the marked line, and press open.
Add another solid square to each, mark the diagonal and stitch on either side.
Cut along the marked lines, and press open.
Trim the flying geese units to 5 x 2 3/4 inches, and lay out the block.
It’s been a wet and miserable Queen’s Birthday weekend, so, apart from venturing out to buy baking supplies (so I could make muffins to take into work tomorrow – we’re having an all-day planning meeting, so I think treats will definitely be needed), and to go to Riccarton to see Solo (my first impressions verdict: it’s a fun enough movie that I can mostly ignore the bad bits), I’ve spent the long weekend at home. Which meant lots of sewing time. So two new Block of the Whenever blocks finished.
The first block is a pretty simple one, called a Shoofly. It’s similar to the Churn Dash, but without the bars around the edges. I was even able to use the leftovers of the 10-inch square I used for that block to fussy-cut a centre again, but I paired it with a different solid fabric this time.
I used a different technique to make the half-square triangles, though, to avoid the problem of bias edges. So to make this block you’ll need:
Print: one 3 1/2 inch square
Solid: two 4 inch squares
Background: two 4 inch squares, and four 3 1/2 inch squares
Pair each solid square with one of the larger background squares, right sides together, and mark a line from corner to corner. This is the same technique I used to make the quarter-square triangles for the Ohio Star, but this time I’m stopping when I get to the half-square triangles.
Stitch quarter of an inch away from each side of the line. (By the way, sorry about the poor lighting for these photos – I normally use the natural light from the window to take the in-progress shots, but it was such a grey day there wasn’t a lot of light coming in).
Cut along the marked lines, and press open.
Trim the HSTs to 3 1/2 inch squares, and cut off the dog ears.
And that’s all the components made.
Sew the squares together into a nine-patch, and you have a Shoofly block:
Sorry about the radio silence again. For some reason (I’m blaming the weird time zone in Spain and southern France), I actually got hit with a bit of jet-lag this time (normally I’m pretty good at avoiding it), and that combined with the usual post-holiday slump, and the grey weather, left me feeling pretty unmotivated since I got home. I’m starting to come right now though, and even felt inspired to do some sewing this afternoon (as you probably gathered from the previous post).
Anyway, I suspect this isn’t going to be a coherent blog post, just a collection of random paragraphs.
My sprained thumb is still pretty sore (not helped by the fact that I keep forgetting that it’s sprained, and over-using it). It’s fine for most things, but then every so often there’s something it just has no strength for – like turning on taps or doing up zips. According to the bit of googling I did, sprains usually heal in around 6 weeks, so hopefully it will come right soon (or, at least, it would if I could remember to look after it!)
On Friday night I went to the Free Theatre’s production of Tom Waits’s Alice. I’d expected it to be a strange play, especially because the Free Theatre has a reputation for doing pretty extreme things with their staging, but it turned out to be an even stranger experience than even the actors expected, when a member of the audience had a grand mal seizure in the middle of the play. At first I assumed it was just part of the play (it did sort of fit the scene, in a strange way), but it went on a bit too long, and then I realised that the actor playing Alice (who was in the middle of a monologue) was starting to cast worried glances towards the back of the audience (it’s a very small theatre), and eventually one of the other actors came out and stopped her, and they put the lights up so that the man could be carried out into the foyer (and, they told us later, taken to the hospital, which is only just down the road from the theatre). There was an unplanned intermission while that was all happening, so we were chatting to the people sitting on either side of us, and they both sheepishly said the same thing, that they’d at first thought it was just part of the play too.
It probably says something about how weird the production was that someone having a seizure in the audience seems a perfectly plausible bit of staging. But it also says something about how deeply conditioned we are by “correct” behaviour in the theatre, that even once we all started to suspect it wasn’t part of the play and that something was actually wrong, we all still just sat there politely, not wanting to interrupt the performance.
The play eventually got back underway, and despite being weird, it was actually pretty good. Because of the interruption it was very late by the time it ended, though, so I missed the last bus – or at least, the last bus that would have taken me all the way home – I managed to get a bus as far as the university and walked home from there.
It turned out to be quite a dramatic night over this way, too. As I was walking along Memorial Ave, I was passed by several police cars going at very high speed with lights and sirens. And then a bit further along at Burnside High, there were alarms going off in the school, and a police car sitting in the shadows outside the back entrance, with an officer in the car watching the entrance very intently – I assume waiting for whoever had caused the alarms to go off to try and escape out the back way. (It turned out later that there’d been an arson at the school – as that article says the police are talking to “persons of interest”, I suspect the officer’s patience might have been rewarded.)
The rest of the weekend was pretty sedate in comparison. The only other strange occurrence (well, strange for Christchurch, anyway, where we don’t have many Jewish people) was a knock on my door last night from a person holding an unlit candle and asking if I’d lit my fire yet. He explained that he was Jewish, and that he couldn’t light the candle because of the Sabbath, but that he also couldn’t ask someone else to light it for him, he could only use a flame that was already lit (Yetzirah, I’m sure you can tell me if I misunderstood what he was telling me?). Hence him wandering around the neighbourhood knocking on doors in the hope that someone had a fire going in their house. I hadn’t lit the fire yet (it had been a sunny day and was only just starting to get cold), so I wasn’t able to help – hopefully he found a neighbour who’d felt the cold sooner than me, otherwise he was going to be in for a very dark night.
This block is called a LeMoyne Star. Well, sort of. A proper LeMoyne Star uses a horribly complicated sounding technique called Y-seams, which I might try mastering one day, but not today. So this is a cheat’s version, that (apart from the seams running through the diamonds) ends up looking exactly the same as a proper LeMoyne Star, but uses half-square triangles instead of scary Y-seams.
I used the same four-at-a-time method for making half-square triangles that I did for the Dutch Pinwheel. And just as for that block, all those bias edges made life a bit difficult, so I probably should have chosen a different method, but seeing as I needed four half-square triangles in each colour combination, it was the most convenient way of doing them.
What you need:
Print: two 4 1/2 inch squares
Solid: two 4 1/2 inch squares
Background: two 4 1/2 inch squares, and four 2 3/4 inch squares
Match one print square to a solid square, the other print square to a large background square, and the other solid square and large background square to each other. Stitch each pair right sides together with a quarter inch seam around the edges.
Cut along the diagonals.
And press open.
Cut off the dog ears, and trim to 2 3/4 inches square.
Lay out the block, and sew together as a sixteen patch, in the same way as the Dutch Pinwheel.
The final result gives a reasonably convincing illusion (as long as you don’t look too closely) of the block having been constructed with diamonds rather than half-square triangles.
I’m not 100% happy with my block – I didn’t think carefully enough about how the seams would lie, so a couple of the points ended up a bit bulky on the back, which could be annoying when I come to quilt it. But I really like the overall effect of the block (and maybe one day I’ll get brave enough to experiment with Y-seams so I can sew one properly…)
My bags are packed, my tickets are printed, the house is clean, and now all there is to do is wait a few hours until Lytteltonwitch and her son come to pick me up to go to the airport. Evening flights do have the advantage of not having to get up at eek-o’clock in the morning to be at the airport on time, but there’s a lot more sitting around saying “Is it time to go yet? How about now?”
Actually, it’s a good thing we weren’t leaving this morning, because there was a huge storm in Auckland overnight, and they had to shut the airport. And the first leg of our flight is via Auckland. Luckily though the winds dropped enough this morning that they re-opened the runways, so all is clear for the flight (though that first flight might be a bit bumpy – there’s a decent southerly blowing in Christchurch as well (and it’s raining and hailing and bitterly cold – winter has arrived with a bang), so I suspect there’ll be an interesting amount of turbulence.)
I’m sure I have been doing all sorts of interesting things since I last posted, but everything seems to have been pushed out of my mind by the whole I’M GOING TO FRANCE thing. I know there was a day of playing Lego with the mini-Harvestbirds (we built a shop for princesses to work in. It sold ice-cream and toffee apples. Because why wouldn’t it.), and I went to another recording of the Nerd Degree with Jacq and their partner (who was one of the panelists, which was cool), and an attempt at a Dog Boy viewing (except the person with the DVDs wasn’t available, so we watched Hot Fuzz instead), and lunch with people, and “we should catch up except I’ve run out of time, so maybe when I get back” with other people, and generally a very busy few days.
Oh, and the Tiniest Cucumber actually grew! Not much, but huge compared to the last photo I took of it. So given that winter is rapidly approaching so it probably wouldn’t get much chance to grow any bigger, and that I’m going away for a month, I decided it was time to pick and eat it.
I can report that:
There was barely enough of it to make a mouthful
It tasted like a cucumber (though a little bitter still – probably needed a bit more sunshine (or at least a greenhouse) to get properly ripe)
It smelt like the cucumberiest cucumber ever – totally amazing!
The other tiny cucumber has also made a brave attempt at growing, but only at one end. One end of it is still the size it’s been for weeks, but the other end has fattened up and become quite spherical.
I decided to leave it on the vine as an experiment. By the time I get back from France, it will either have grown properly, or the entire plant will have withered up from the cold. But no matter what, at least I’ve proven that, against all likelihood, it is possible to grow a (very small) cucumber from seed in a small pot on the doorstep in Christchurch. Just don’t expect enough for a salad…
My experiment with vlogging seems to have been well received (although I did get a few comments that it was very long – I totally agree! I had to sit through the whole thing many many times while I was editing it, and it was way too long!). I even had two people subscribe to my YouTube channel! (Does this make me a proper YouTuber now that I have actual subscribers? Only about 999,998 subscribers to go before I can give up my day job…).
As a result, I’m going to try and film a few more vlogs (much shorter ones, I promise!) while we’re in France. I found an app that will let me do the editing on my phone (it can’t do as many fancy things as the one I was using on my computer, but can do the basic stuff), so that in theory I’ll be able to edit and upload videos as I go, which means they won’t end up in that infinite pile of travel photos and blogs I’ve never got round to editing/uploading from previous trips. No promises though – I may be having way too much fun just experiencing travel to want to document it. But keep an eye on my YouTube channel just in case
And for your amusement in the meantime, here’s a video of Parsnips I made while testing out video-editing apps:
I really have been trying to take it a bit easier and look after myself, honestly! I even took a couple of days off sick last week to get over the worst of this cold (though it’s still lingering a bit – I feel fine, but my voice is still really scratchy). Of course, the temptation to use the long weekend achieving all the things was very strong.
After work on Thursday night I went out for dinner with the LGBT+ meetup group that I met during Pride week. They seem to be a really friendly group of people, so I think I’ll keep going along to their meetups (once I get back from France, at least – the next couple of meetups are while I’m away). It feels like time to start expanding my social circles again, now that I’ve stopped going to Toastmasters.
Friday I did spend reasonably quietly (enforced by the shops being shut for Good Friday) – after getting the housework out of the way, I spent most of the rest of the day just sitting outside reading. See, resting!
Saturday, however, was a getting things done day. First stop was the supermarket – normally I try and go on the way home from work, but having been off sick I hadn’t had a chance, so I was running out of everything. Of course, I managed to mistime it so that I had to wait half an hour for a bus (or take a different bus and have a long walk with heavy bags at the other end, but see trying to rest as much as possible), but it was a nice day and I had a book with me, so that wasn’t too much of a hardship. It did mean that pretty much as soon as I got home and got the groceries put away I had to dash out again, because I had a long list of things to get done in Riccarton, plus I was meeting a friend for afternoon tea.
I managed to get everything done in Riccarton with the minimum of stress (well, apart from the usual long weekend, the shops were shut yesterday so everyone’s in a panic that they’ll never be able to shop again, the mall is totally packed sort of stress, but that was to be expected). The trickiest bit was trying to find a birthday present for Niece – I did brave a few of the terribly pink and demanding-of-gender-conformity toy aisles, and even visited that temple of tween consumerism Smiggle (where I was both disgusted and slightly impressed by the cleverness of the way they display their prices – or rather, don’t display prices for most of their stock. None of the items have individual price tags, but are instead listed on (very small) sign boards on each shelf, making it near impossible to match an item to its price. The only solution is to take the item up to the counter and ask for the price, which I’m sure is the downfall for many parents, because by the time you’ve got the over-priced pencil case your child is begging for to the counter, it’s going to be difficult to tell the child that no, it’s actually too expensive. The psychology of it is brilliant. The ethics, not so much.) In the end, I had to retreat from all the pink glitter, and took solace in Whitcoulls, where I found a copy of Go Girl, Barbara Else’s new storybook about exceptional NZ women, which seemed a much more palatable choice of gift (to me, anyway – I suspect Niece would have preferred the pink glitter unicorns in Smiggle).
After all the shopping, I met up with Jenette at Coffee Culture for tea and cake, and lots of really interesting conversation. But why is it I always seem to make friends with people just before they leave the country? She’s moving back to Ireland in July, and seeing as I’m going to be away until May, we won’t have a lot of opportunities to catch up before she goes. Oh well, it’s still nice to meet new and interesting people.
Dad had messaged me to say they’d be passing through Christchurch on their way south from Nelson, and that he also was on a birthday-present-buying mission, so I’d arranged to meet him at the mall once he got to Christchurch. I’d thought I’d need to kill some time waiting, but Jenette and I had talked for so long that the timing worked out perfectly – I just had time to race in and buy myself new gymshoes and then it was time to meet Dad. He was much more decisive than me about present-buying – we went into the kids’ clothing department at Farmers, he picked out a couple of items of the correct size off pretty much the first rack we saw, and I reckon we were out in the carpark again within about 5 minutes. That’s the kind of shopping I aspire to!
Shopping accomplished, we picked up Stepmother and Stepsister, and (after being enthusiastically greeted by all of Stepsister’s dogs – she only has three, but somehow they always seem like a lot more than that!) we went over to a pub in St Martins for dinner. A pleasant end to a very busy day.
Lytteltonwitch had proposed a road trip for Easter Sunday, and texted me to suggest Kaikoura. It turned out she had an ulterior motive, because the town had recently been yarn-bombed, and she wanted to document it to send to her European yarn-bombing accomplices. I didn’t mind though, because I haven’t been up to Kaikoura since their earthquake, and I was interested to see how things had changed, and in particular the changes to the seashore (where the seabed has been uplifted by several metres in some places). Plus our road trips are always fun, no matter the destination.
Despite there still being a lot of road works, Kaikoura was full of tourists, and seems to be well on the way to recovering from the earthquake. The damage to the land itself is still very visible in places, with huge scars on the hills from the landslides, but the town itself doesn’t seem to be greatly changed. The yarn bombers had been hard at work, and pretty much every post and railing (plus a park bench and a bicycle!) had been decorated, so we had a very slow walk along the main street while Lytteltonwitch took photos of them all.
In the rush to get organised to leave first thing, I’d neglected to take my big camera, so while we were wandering around the shore I was experimenting with my phone’s camera (see above). This led to experimenting with the video, which led to joking about being a vlogger now instead of a blogger. So we proceeded to film a “totally professional” vlog, which lasted all the way back to Christchurch (and was over 2 hours long, and used up all the battery power and almost all the memory on my phone). Which I then spent most of today trying to cut down into something of a (slightly) more watchable length (ok, and playing round with adding silly title cards and stuff as well). Don’t think I’ll be giving up blogging for vlogging in a hurry (though it might be fun to try it again occasionally – I definitely learnt a lot from the process of making this one (mostly what NOT to do )) – it takes even longer to edit a vlog than it does for me to edit all the photos for a blog entry!
For your viewing pleasure:
Sitting at a computer all day editing video counts as resting, right?