What I read in 2020

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

January (4)

February (7)

  • Children of Exile by Margaret Peterson (library e-book)
  • Unicorn Power! by Mariko Tamaki (library e-book)
  • Fire and Hemlock by Diana Wynne Jones
  • Children of Refuge by Margaret Peterson (library e-book)
  • Bed by David Whitehouse
  • The Watchmen of Ephraim by Gerard de Marigny (borrowed from M)
  • The Mercies by Kiran Millwood Hargrave (library e-book)

March (5)

  • Slumdog Millionaire by Vikas Swarup
  • Kim Reaper: Grim Beginnings by Sarah Graley (library book)
  • How to be Remy Cameron by Julian Winters (library book)
  • Alex in Wonderland by Simon James Green (library book)
  • All the Invisible Things by Orlagh Collins (library book)

April (5)

May (2)

June (4)

  • Into the Drowning Deep by Mira Grant (library book)
  • The Life and Death of Sophie Stark (library book)
  • The Early Stories of Philip K Dick by Philip K Dick (library audio book)
  • The Sunlight Pilgrims by Jenni Fagan (library book)

July (5)

August (4)

September (6)

October (10)

  • Transmission by Alex Bertie (library book)
  • I Wish You All the Best by Mason Deaver
  • A Beautifully Foolish Endeavor by Hank Green
  • GSA by Sophie Labelle (e-book)
  • Solutions and Other Problems by Allie Brosh
  • Nice Gender by Sophie Labelle
  • We Won’t Be Erased by Sophie Labelle
  • Camp Fabulous by Sophie Labelle
  • Gender Helpline by Sophie Labelle
  • Sex Ed for Everyone by Sophie Labelle

November (8)

December (3)

What I read in 2019 (85 books)
What I read in 2018 (116 books)
What I read in 2017 (106 books)
What I read in 2016 (92 books)
What I read in 2015 (112 books)
What I read in 2014 (93 books)
What I read in 2013 (129 books)
What I read in 2012 (128 books)
What I read in 2011 (133 books)
What I read in 2010 (137 books)
What I read in 2009 (150 books)
What I read in 2008 (154 books)
What I read in 2007 (123 books)
What I read in 2006 (140 books)
What I read in 2005 (168 books)

What counts as a book?

What I made in 2020

Projects completed in 2020.

I thought I’d had a pretty uncreative year, what with lockdown depression and everything, but although it was mostly small projects, I did actually manage to get quite a few things finished.


Chicken pincushion
And two more chickens
“Garden City” placemat


“Garden City” table runner
A chicken for Niece
And another one


March was busy, and then it got weird. So nothing really finished, but I did do a few quick sketchy things:

A cartoon I (badly) drew at a workshop with the amazing Sam Orchard during Pride week
A couple of sketches I didn’t hate from a life-drawing class during Pride week
A bear to hang in my window for the We’re Not Scared NZ Bear Hunt


And the bear was then joined by a couple of Easter eggs


A hot water bottle cover
and then another one for Niece


A lot of stuff in progress, but nothing finished.


Custom noticeboards for my craft room


An experimental mask
and when that worked, a few more masks
and then a lot more masks
Tลซฤซ in the Henhouse – a mini-quilt for Yetzirah, to celebrate 100 subscribers to my YouTube channel

September and October

Mostly making videos, but I did make progress on a few quilting projects


A pair of rainbow cushions as a housewarming gift for Karen
A Star Trek/LEGO mini-quilt as a wedding present for Marie and Angie
A huge string of bunting in Pasifika fabrics for my union


Birb – a quilt portrait of Niece’s pet cockatiel
A little mat to put under mum’s kettle
A Christmas mini-quilt for a Secret Santa gift
Christmas Tree mini-quilt
Finally finished the rest of the Christmas mini-quilts I started in 2017
A cat bed for Raji, mum’s cat

What I made in 2019
What I made in 2018
What I made in 2017

So it’s a new year

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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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 ๐Ÿ™‚ 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 Tลซฤซ 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 ๐Ÿ™‚

I had to Google the shape of the communicator badges on their shirts – I’m definitely not a Trekkie ๐Ÿ™‚

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 ๐Ÿ˜‰ )

This is my one,which started off as a mistake – I cut some of the pieces wrong for one of the blocks in the Sugaridoo quilt, so decided to use them for an improvised block, which ended up being a hot water bottle
And this is my niece’s – I basically just wanted an excuse to use that forest fabric ๐Ÿ™‚

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!)

I really love this fabric I put on the back – actually, I think I like the back more than the front!

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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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:

It ended up very puffy in the centre – hopefully Raji is heavy enough to sink into it, and not float on top ๐Ÿ™‚

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:

This is some of it hanging in the corridor outside my office – we had a competition in our building to decorate the hallways for Christmas, and our floor (which we share with the Pacific Research Centre) decided to go for a “Pacific Wonderland” theme.

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).

I had to make at least one with cats on it ๐Ÿ™‚

And finally for the completed projects, I made noticeboards for my craft room/study, so I can finally stop trying to stick pins directly into the walls: