Tuesday, 22 January 2019

Make Nine Challenge 2019

On Instagram there's a challenge among crafters called Make Nine. At the beginning of the year, you pledge to create 9 items in the course of the year. I have no idea why nine in particular, except perhaps that photos of them look good displayed in a grid format. Apparently it's been running for several years, but this is the first year I've heard of it. I decided to jump on board in the hopes that it'll motivate me to be more creative.

The challenge seems to have originated in the sewing community, as most of the pledges I've seen seem to be for that craft, with a few by knitters. Being multi-craftual (if that wasn't a word, it is now!) myself, I decided to mix it up a bit. I also left many of the slots deliberately vague, as I know my own tendency to get bored easily and I'll have no idea what I want to do in a years' time!

Here's my pledge (explanations below):

1. a skirt - to ease me back into sewing after many years away.
2. pants - I’ve been dreaming about making pants from this awesome lightning bolt pattern fabric, so that will be my second sewing project.
3. top - once I’m feeling more confident, I’d like to make a top, either this fabric or something else.
4. my blanket - finish my art blanket for my exhibition coming up in May. Despite having several blankets in progress, one of which I started nearly 20 years ago, it’ll also be the first blanket I’ve ever finished.
5. knitted project - probably just finishing off something I’ve had on the needles for a while
6. enviro-helper - something good for the environment. I have no idea what yet!
7. vintage-inspired - again, no idea what yet.
8. new craft - I did a screenprinting workshop last month, so I could put that knowledge to use. Or something else with fabric.
9. photography workshop - I want to learn more about photography and developing film.

Happy crafting, whether you've joined the challenge or not!

Friday, 18 January 2019

Summer Reading List

I've suddenly become absolutely obsessed with reading again. For someone who's always been a confirmed Reader (with a capital R!) it seems a bit strange that I might go off reading for months at a time. There are so many other things that pull my attention though -- podcasts, Youtube, and even games, I have to admit! Plus, I think my attention span isn't as long as it used to be. So when I get the urge to sit down and spend half a day reading, I don't want to pass that by.

Sure, I've got a room full of books at home, but none of those seemed appealing. Unfortunately my local library isn't within walking distance like where I used to live, so I decided to check out their e-book collection. It's not a huge collection, but it has enough to pique my interest. There was also a link to Open Library, which has a huge collection of scanned copies of books of all kinds. Anyone can join for free. I signed up immediately, only to find that I was already a member! Open Library falls under the umbrella of Archive.org, which I'd joined years ago. Seems I'm also a confirmed nerd!

My current wave of obsession began when I (re)read A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. Several years ago, I decided to read it every Christmas/New Year as a personal tradition. (I don't really celebrate Christmas, but I do have a few things I like to do every year.) This year I read the e-book edition from Project Gutenberg with illustrations by Arthur Rackham. It made me want to read more Dickens and other books relating to 19th century England.

I logged onto Open Library and started Dickens' first published book: Sketches by Boz. One thing I love about Open Library is that many older books and even first editions have been scanned in. I chose the oldest edition I could find, to make my reading experience more interesting. In a strange way, I feel like I'm a little closer in time to the original readers of the book -- even though I'm reading it on an iPad.

Sketches by Boz, Chapman & Hall 1850 ed.

I haven't read much Dickens so far (only Great Expectations), and my interest in the area in general has been piqued, so my first reading list looks a little like this:


✽ Finish Sketches by Boz
✽ The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens - his second book
✽ Dodger by Terry Pratchett - set in Dickens' London, and Pratchett is wonderful (a library find)
✽ The Wollstonecraft Detective Agency series - a series of 4 children's books detailing the adventures of Ada Lovelace and Mary Shelley as children (in reality they were born 30 years apart, but the books bring them together to solve a series of mysteries). It also has a fictionalised Dickens as a child in it. (another library find)

I didn't pay much attention to the audiobook side of my local library's selection, because initially I thought I wouldn't have much chance to listen to audiobooks, but last week I realised I can listen to them while I'm doing crafts. Silly me! That opened up a whole different set of options. I started with The Cottingley Secret, a fictionalised account of the two girls, Elsie Wright and Frances Griffiths, whose photos of fairies in the 1910s took the world by storm.

The Cottingley Secret, as shown on the audiobook player.

It mentions more than once a book extant at the time: The Water Babies by Charles Kingsley. I decided to stop and read that book before continuing, to get a fuller experience. So my second list is:

Fairy Tales

✽ The Water Babies by Charles Kingsley
✽ finish The Cottingley Secret
✽ The Magic Pudding by Norman Lindsay - an Australian classic (from Open Library)
✽ The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern (from my shelves)
✽ Grimm Tales By Philip Pullman (a library find)

The Water Babies, Dodd, Mead & Co., 1916 ed.
Illustrations by Jessie Willcox Smith.

And, because I couldn't help myself, a third list:

Extras, If I Have Time

✽ Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery
✽ Books 2 and 3 of the Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, the first book of which I reviewed here (I'll be borrowing these from the library, too)
✽ The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories by Angela Carter (from my shelves)
✽ Fairy Tales by Hans Christian Anderson (I apparently own this book, according to LibraryThing, but I'll have to find it before I can read it!)

Also, I've re-discovered these resource websites, which may well prove to be handy:

Books Set In - choose a country, region or city to find books set in that location
Historical Novels - find historical novels set in your preferred time period. Some are also divided by location, genre and/or topic.
Which Book - use the sliders to choose variables such as Happy/Sad, Beautiful/Disgusting and Conventional/Unusual to decide what kind of book you want to read, and the Which Book tool generates a reading list based on your preferences.

Happy reading!

Saturday, 12 January 2019

My 2019 Planner

I really enjoyed having a proper planner last year, and I decided to continue the same. But which planner to get? I'm a bit fussy when it comes to the format -- no spiral bound, no ring bound -- which means none of the fancy planner 'systems' out there, like the Happy Planner, Erin Condren, etc. I decided that I may as well look at Smiggle again as my first option. Thankfully I was able to see images of the planners inside and out on their website, which saved me a trip to the shops, as the internal page layout has changed and I didn't like it. Which is a shame because the outer covers were glorious! This one being the most glorious of all:

The scenario was the same with Typo's planner and various other ones I looked at online. In fact, Erin Condren even has a hardback bookbound planner now, but it was a little expensive for me. (Australians pay 30% more for everything from overseas!) I was feeling desperate to secure my planner before the chance was gone (this was back in November, mind you!) so I decided to just go to my local shopping centre and look at the planners in person, hoping to find something that sparked joy.

Then the strangest thing happened. I bought a planner from the first shop I walked into, which happened to be Target. I wasn't even sure they'd be selling planners at all, but they had two Target-brand planners to choose from. I chose the sparkly pink one, of course:

I added the decal on the front; it's from Fox and Cactus, and the charm is from a stationery pack from Mockeri. And yes, I'm aware that the cover is almost the same as last year's:

I know that last year I questioned my choice of a planner that I can't whip out in job interviews, but my magpie-like attraction to shiny things kicked in and here we are! There was an insert with a sample page layout in the plastic wrapping, and it seemed fine, so I grabbed it. (More on that later!)

Fast forward a couple of months, and it was time to set up my planner for 2019! I'd been waiting for this day for a long time. When I opened the wrapping and had a good look at the inside, I was slightly perturbed. The page layout, while generally what I wanted, was a little perplexing. For some reason, Thursday has half the space of the rest of the days, while Saturday and Sunday -- which are often combined in the layout -- each have just as much space as the weekdays. Also, there's a monthly calendar for the current and next month on each page, which I really don't need. It's just taking up valuable space!

I'm a bit on the unicorn spectrum, so it took me quite a while to get my head around it. In fact, it took me nearly a whole day to set up my planner, I have to admit, what with the procrastinating and a couple of near meltdowns. But I did it:

The main layout change is the insert. I have an insert that I made up in Excel which lists my habit trackers, things I do every week etc. I glue this printout into each weekly page of my planner, to save me from having to write it all out fresh every week. Last week I stuck that in the top left corner, because nothing happens on Mondays anyway. For this year's planner, I thought I may as well stick it over the monthly calendars instead. It was hard to accept in my change-makes-me-freeze-up-and-freak-out brain, but logically it made the most sense. (Aside: I'm also currently re-designing the insert with some nice coloured icons and less stuff I don't do anymore, so future pages will look a little different.)

Suggested blog posts for the week are now in the top right corner instead of just under the insert where they were last year. (There's no room for anything under the insert now!) School tasks are moved to the left-hand side of Wednesdays (to remind me about Wizard Wednesdays!). To-dos are still on the right-hand side of each page -- boring stuff on the left side and more interesting/fun stuff on the right side. I've tried to represent more tasks visually with stickers and circles to colour in, because that's fun.

As for the rest of the planner, I went through and decorated some of the future pages with washi tapes and stickers, especially the significant dates (more decoration to follow, of course!):

I added some of the extra pages as I did last year, using some printables that I bought previously. These are pages where I can write down ideas, etc when I'm out-and-about:

Finally something a little new -- I added some information about different calendars that I'm interested in following:

If you're still reading, thanks for sticking with me until the end of this mega-detailed planner post! I've become a bit of a planner nerd in the last few years, and perhaps fellow planner nerds may find it interesting. More about my sticker obsession is coming up soon!

Thursday, 3 January 2019

Hello 2019

2019 feels like a really different year for me. I have no idea what's going to happen. My job finished up at the end of last year and I don't know what the next one will be like. The agency I go through (a specialist records management and archiving agency) has a different representative, and I don't know what kind of jobs he's going to pass my way.

In my other world, too, things are new. I have my first solo art exhibition booked in, in May. Will I get my art project done on time? Will I pull it off? Will it lead to greater public recognition? I really have no idea, but there's only one way to find out!

Usually at this time of year I'm very focussed on making goals and setting resolutions, but I've started to find it a bit overwhelming. I had my Life Square, which I wrote about last year, and my 7 Subject system, which is 6-monthly and follows the seasons. Not to mention my 101 Things in 1,001 Days list! I decided to combine the first two and keep the seasonal format. This means that the cycle is halfway through when New Year hits (as it runs from Spring Equinox to Autumn Equinox), so there's nothing for me to do, resolution-wise.

It feels a bit strange though, not doing something I've done for so many years. I'm already immersed in the middle of my goals, rather than diving into something fresh. I keep catching myself thinking, "this year, I want to ..." And there's nothing wrong with that, of course. I just don't want to fall into the trap of piling up more and more goals onto my plate until they're impossible to achieve.

So, instead, I thought I might play a little game. I call it More and Less. It is a game, mind you, not something to stress over, or to 'win' or 'lose'. This year I want to:

✷ read more ; play games less
✷ create more ; watch less
✷ eat more vegetables ; eat less sugar
✷ do more ; worry less