The lovely woman who wrangles the writers at Supanova, Ineke, is a crocheter. A few years ago she made some fabulous, whacky Futurama hats for us. I adopted the Zoidberg one. This year she made amigurumi critters. When asked what I’d like, I suggested a sea turtle, since they eat jellyfish (long story there).

I think there was some frantic hooking between the Supanovas. When I arrived in Perth she presented me with this adorable guy:

In the meantime, I’d got to thinking that I ought to make a thank you gift in return. The first Supanova was in Sydney and we stayed a few extra days, and of course found ourselves walking past Tapestry Craft/Morris & Sons. The ground floor level, where all the cross stitch and embroidery products are, was suddenly more interesting than the yarn filled basement. I had an embroidery project in mind for my gift – perhaps a small pendant – then I spotted cross stitch mobile phone case kits.

It’s very likely I did cross stitch as a child, but I can’t remember. Still, it’s all about squares, be they crossed or pixels. So I bought some graph paper, googled for images of Ineke’s favourite Futurama character, and only needed to acquire two more colours than what I had for the projects I’d taken with me.

It was a lot more addictive and a lot slower than I expected, and I had to be very sneaky at snatching stitching time to get it finished by the last day, but I made it:

Of course, it meant I didn’t get much work done on the embroidery projects I took with me, but I was having too much fun to care. However, my eyesight has suddenly deteriorated a little, so I’m worried that all this stitching is the cause. I do most of it of an evening where the lighting isn’t fantastic but, well lit or not, working close is bound to have an effect.

I’m already rationing the time I spend stitching so be nice to my back and hands. Perhaps a good light is all I need. It can’t hurt.

A Week in New Zealand

We just returned from a week away. Some writerly friends arrange a writing retreat each year, and this time it was held at the new home of one of the couples – a big property in New Zealand that they’re planning to turn into a retreat hosting business. I had already decided it was going to treat it as more of a holiday than time for writing before the RSI struck, because now that Paul is going to photography school we can only travel during school holidays. Also, we didn’t make it north of Auckland when we visited in 2008, so it seemed like a good opportunity to cover that end of the country.

Our hosts’ new home even has a waterfall:

The first day trip we did was to the Kauri forests. It’s almost impossible to convey a sense of scale in photos. They’re huge:

The second trip was to Cape Reigna, the furthest north you can get by road:

And stopped by Ninety Mile Beach on the way back:

Our third was to Russell and the Bay of Islands:

All these photos were taken on my iPhone, whereas Paul took a ‘serious’ camera’. I did a little sketching, first of our host’s house:

And then their dog, Buffy:

It was great to see this bunch of friends again. They live far from me, so I tend to only see them at conventions or the retreat. We’re all writers so there’s a fair bit of writerly discussion and debate with a good mix of opinions and interests to spice it up. Along with lots of stirring and laughs, and a fair bit of overeating.

The end of the retreat was pretty much the end of my time off. It’s been a strange ‘holiday’. A lot of what I’d like to have done was scuttled by RSI, and I suspect I’ll have a nagging feeling I wasted the break when I look back. With that in mind, I’m relieved I organised to spend some time away from home.

It’s a shame, but I really do need to get out of the house in order to have a proper break. I guess it’s a down side of working from home. I can’t help checking websites and Twitter, and unless you tell people you’re not going to be home on your holiday they’ll still contact you about work.

A week away from the computer, craft, housework, cooking, etc. seems to have given my right hand and wrist the rest it needed. It feels a lot better, though the true test will be when I get back to work on Monday. I have some changes to make to my book by the end of the month. If I get through that without the RSI flaring up, things will be looking promising for the future.

Happy New Year

Paul and I just spent a week away, heading to Adelaide via Mount Gambier and back again spending a night in Halls Gap. We saw the New Year in with friends holding a musicals themed costume party, me as Sarah from Labyrinth and Paul as the construction worker from the Village People movie.

2011 was the year I gave up on LJ and started writing LJish blog posts here as well as craft posts. I began the year over at LJ with this list of things to achieve:

Work Stuff:
Writing The Book
Going on tour
Finishing, polishing and editing The Book
Bringing together ideas, writing a proposal for and selling the next series
Writing more short stories

Non-work Stuff:
Honing my drawing/painting skills (start life drawing classes)
Continuing making things and learning new skills (craft and art)
Reading more (or listen to audio books when my back is too stuffed for reading)
Walking more
Spending less time sitting at the computer making my back worse

Wow. I actually did nearly everything. The only item I’m not sure I achieved was walking more. It’s not that I didn’t do any walking though.

So what else did I do in 2011?

* Finished watching all of the films in the ABC Top 100 Films list except for Wings of Desire, which I still haven’t been able to get hold of.

* Was transfixed by the QLD/NSW/VIC flood news footage.

* Used up most of my silk painting materials at a Craft Day.

* Had the paving finished off, which was effectively the last bit of the big renovations.

* A week or so later a picture rail fell down and our lounge flooded.

* Opened an exhibition, at which a chat with the curator of the gallery about “contemporary with a small ‘c’ versus contemporary with a big ‘C'” that sparked lots of thought about art and whether I really fit with the art group I was in.

* Tried Ethiopian cooking.

* Tried a few printing methods and decided it was waaay too messy.

* Rearranged the workroom and decided to call it ‘the studio’. (Name didn’t stick though.)

* Was transfixed by the Christchurch quake news footage.

* Saw Hawkwind with Paul (and liked the support band a lot).

* Culled my cd and dvd collection.

* Culled my to-read pile down to 130+ books.

* Got my stash down to ten kilos.

* Got all my unframed art framed, updated the gallery site and managed to sell some work.

* Was transfixed by the Japan tsunami news footage.

* Launched a friend’s book.

* Was ‘filler’ at Supernova. (As we writers are next to the Big Stars.)

* The neighbours arranged to replace the fence and ‘fix’ the retaining wall. Then a tree branch fell on the fence. And the garden bed started washing through the holes in the shonky wall repairs…

* Had to say a final goodbye to Peri Peri, my 19 year old feline companion of 16 years.

* Finished making the pattern for and sewed up two sets of robes for characters from my books, photographed friends wearing them and started doing character sketches.

* Signed up for The Sketchbook Project.

* Adopted Slinky.

* Decided I wouldn’t start a BA in fine art, which is just as well because…

* Got RSI and had to give up knitting.