Saturday, September 29, 2012

The 39th Birthday Skirt

What did you do this year on your birthday?

I'm betting you didn't wake up and think: "I know! It's been almost 20 years since I sewed anything. I think I'll make myself a skirt!".

That's pretty much how my day went and it was delightful. I am not good at long term craft or sewing projects. Over the years I have tried knitting, long stitch, tapestry, latch-hook, cross-stitch and other such lady-like accomplishments. In Year 8 I made some macrame owls that my mother insists on keeping in her laundry. They are truly garish. But when I was first at uni I did used to come home in the holidays and sew clothes. Dresses mainly, because I can never get dresses to fit me in shops. Lately I've been looking for skirts for summer and just found nothing. This might be because I live in the regions and our shopping is limited. It might also be because there aren't many skirts around. I don't know.

About 5 years I bought my own basic sewing machine. At the time I was keen to try patchwork. The fiddliness of that totally tried my patience and the machine has sat in the cupboard ever since gathering dust. A few years ago I covered it with a tea-towel but that was all the attention it received. Until today.

Sadly, the only place in town to buy material is Spotlight which is like a giant bargain basement. After my parents finished mocking me and what they perceived to be my hopeless sewing abilities, I dragged my mother along to find a pattern and some material. I wanted to simplest skirt pattern available - preferably A-line. Anything with a zip got the flick. I will attempt that later. We chose this:

Elastic waist, no zip, various lengths. The lady on the packet looks happy so how hard could making the skirt possibly be?

Then after much deliberating I decided on a dark patterned material (in case I made a dreadful hash of it), bought some thread and took it all home.

I got the sewing machine out of the hall cupboard, gave it a dust, switched it on and hoped for the best.
I was fine with the cutting out of the pattern and the material. I decided not to worry about the fancy-schmancy bow, because bows and I don't really get along. I read all the sizing and decided to cut the biggest pattern and just do bigger seams if needed. And hey, whaddya know... I have a skirt. I only ran into trouble once - when the bobbin ran out of thread and I couldn't remember how to fill it. But (and here's my sewing tip of the day) if you Google filling bobbin Janome MS 2008 some lovely instructions appear through the magic of the internet. My mum helped me with setting the waistband casing to thread the elastic through but I did all the sewing myself. I cheated on the hem and zig-zagged it on the machine because I hate hand-stitching and this was just an experiment. Two and half hours later....ta da I had a skirt.

And it's not just any skirt. It's the 39th Birthday Skirt.

I'm going back to Spotlight tomorrow to buy some slightly heavier material as I think it will hang better. I'm also going to get this for Christmas.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

watching people think out loud really isn't that interesting

I've managed to watch some interesting television lately, despite the best efforts of our TV stations to fill their schedules with rubbish. First of all though, here are some things I am not watching:

House Husbands - looks awful
The X Factor - no explanation needed
Puberty Blues - not interested
Big Brother - seen one Big Brother seen them all
First Tuesday Book Club - Jennifer Byrne is a bit too smiley for me to cope with on a Tuesday evening. Sorry.
The News - any channel - it's all too depressing.
The Gruen anything - A panel of smug, unfunny people....pass
The Chaser anything - I don't find them funny....sorry...clearly I'm unAustralian
Randling - I have tried. I have watched the episodes with Anthony Morgan because he's funny, but the actual show is a bit of a slow, tired fail - crochet merch excepted. There's lot of good talented people who I am usually a fan of but watching people think out loud isn't actually that interesting.
Q and A - despite the fact that I'm usually out on a Monday night there is no way that I will watch this contrived version of some kind of Jerry Springer yuckness. (You can take that comment as a comment too by the way). Putting people on a panel who don't agree with each other in the hope that they will disagree in public isn't really trying very hard is it?

That's quite a long list isn't it? Clearly, I'm quite harsh and judgemental. Here's what I have been watching.

Call the Midwife - wonderful British drama based on a true story. I loved the first two episodes so much I downloaded the book and have finished it. Miranda Hart is fabulous as the clumsy, posh midwife who can't ride a bicycle.

Doctor Who - no justification required. For all your Doctor Who needs go to Circulating Library.

Rockwiz - the best music quiz show on Australian television ever. Julia Zemiro is outstanding, the Rockwiz orchestra is fantastic, Brian Nankervis is a genius and the guests and audience panel people are fabulous. Highlights of this season which finished last night? Mary Wilson from the Supremes and the cover of The Weight last night.

Smash - yes it started promisingly enough but has turned into a soapy-opera about putting together a new musical in New York about Marilyn Monroe. Still I am persisting because I love watching rehearsals - real and fictional.

Gardening Australia - yes, they had a bad time after Peter Cundall left but with Costa and his giant beard in charge of things this is lovely viewing.

Repeats of Friends - I know. It's hopeless really but anything is better than the news.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

The size of an envelope

I cried on Tuesday afternoon when I arrived home from work. All because of the size of an envelope. I shall explain.

When you enter students into music exams in the AMEB they do their exam and then you have to wait for about a week and half for the AMEB to process the results in Brisbane, put their certificates together and send them back to you in the post with the comments sheet. On Monday afternoon I arrived home from work to see the great big A4 envelope stuffed into my letterbox. This was it. The results. I had 10 students sit exams and one of them sat for her AMus.A diploma which unlike all the other exams is basically a Pass/Fail exam. It is a recognised Diploma examination and requires a very high level of technical ability and musicality. So when I saw the big white envelope my heart started to race as I got out of the car. I didn't even wait to get inside. I stood on the footpath, ripped it open and madly flicked through all the reports looking for the AMus. report. It wasn't there. What a let down. It must still be on its way. Maybe they do something special and magic with that one I told myself. Maybe she didn't pass. Who knows what the hell happened. WHY WASN'T IT THERE? Anyway, all my other students passed so I dutifully went inside and read their reports and then phoned their parents. They were all happy. Another restless night. I went to work on Tuesday and tried to forget about the postman until I got home. I drove in the driveway and immediately noticed that there was no big white envelope. Phew. I was off the hook for another day. I didn't have to open anything with trepidation and worry. But, wait a minute. What's this? A small, ordinary sized envelope from the AMEB sitting in my letterbox. What the hell was this? Where is the big A4 envelope with the certificate inside. That's it then. She failed. I was a failure. The previous year of endless lessons, discussions about Bach, Mozart, Chopin, the history of the piano, etc etc etc, the extra lessons, the worrying about musical maturity, the questions about whether I had chosen a suitable program of pieces washed over me. I walked towards the front door feeling sad and opened the envelope. I looked at the section where the examiners wrote the result. It said "AWARD". Sorry? I looked again. "AWARD". Not "NO AWARD". She passed. I burst into tears in my lounge room and stood there for a good five minutes sobbing. No wussy little tears running down my face. This was full on crying the like of which I have not experienced for many a year. I rang my mother and was unable to speak. "What does the report say?" she asked me. "I don't know...I can't see to read it". It's a wonder she understood what I said.

Why was the envelope so small? Because they don't send out the certificate for the AMus.A. You get invited to a graduation ceremony to receive it. How was I to know that? I haven't had a student sit for an AMus. exam before. The opportunities for this in a regional area are few and far between. Usually by the time students get to this level they are ready to leave town and go to university. It might not happen again for many years.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

tales of domestic goddessery

It seems like Sunday is blog day here at The Spiralling Shape. Except for last Sunday when I spent the morning with my little piano chickens at their exams. There were tears, laughs and mild panic....and that was just me. Needless to say I was happy when the weekend was over. I took two days of leave from work to catch up on everything that I hadn't done on the weekend. These things were two assignments, one workshop preparation and the basics of domestic goddessery which had been ignored for far too long. I got so much done from home rather than being at work. It was peaceful. I could concentrate and focus for the first time in a long time. I could make cups of tea when I wanted to. Lovely. A few more days and I might have even gone into my much neglected garden or cooked a cake or something. We shall never know.

The rest of the week was a blur of assignments, panicked students at work and entering data into multiple spreadsheets. You know, the fun stuff. I was very much looking forward to Saturday and it didn't disappoint. My mum and I had a coffee in town. Then we went to meditation for the first time in weeks which was lovely although I nearly fell asleep. Then I came home and did fall asleep for three hours on the lounge. Delightful. This was followed by fish and chips for dinner at the beach with the parents and sister. We also had a store-bought ginger cake roll which was quite yummy. Then I came home and did all my washing in between watching the Paralympics and listening to the TunnFM RequestFest. The wonderful Mr Tunn played two of my favourite songs and I followed the other request action on Twitter.

Surprisingly the domestic goddess activity is continuing today. I have been and bought food, remembered to put the bin out for the morning, and now I am cooking meals to restock the freezer. There will be lamb and chick pea curry and some kind of random vegetable stew situation that I just make up the recipe as I go along. It usually turns out okay. I know I'm not actually following the Nigella Lawson guidelines of domestic goddessery but you take what you can get.

I shall spend the afternoon marking a couple of assignments, doing up a marking guide and catching up on my weekly library study activity.

Then, and only then, will I watch the new Doctor Who on iView.