Monday, 25 June 2012

Good housewife

Well, I'm not really, neither good nor housewife for that matter lol. Anyway, my lovely DH and youngest DS have been coughing for a fortnight now and finally I got it. A week before the holidays. Yeah - not - well maybe still yeah, better than being ill in the holidays! I had just handed in another 86 reports on Thursday and Friday (on top of the 170 or so I had handed in a couple of weeks ago), so the pressure was gone and bang there I get sick! What this has to do with being a good housewife? DH has the week off because the school of oldest DS has an extra week holidays (they started earlier in than other schools in January) so naturally both of them were home, too. DH then asked if I could make a little something to keep our doors safe from the cats so as a good wife I naturally couldn't decline the offer to go quilting lol. A bit long winded way of saying yeah I got some sewing done today, aye?

We have four lovely cats. We have had cats for many years, some of them are silent, some of them talk, and often the smallest ones are the one that make the most fuss. Take Crystal, she still looks like a kitten though 3y old. When we watch telly at night, there will be a mighty bang and the door to the lounge nearly smacks into the wall from the force and in comes innocently ' Crystal'. With the heat pump going and the power prices as they are we don't like having the doors open for all the heat to disappear (as usual in NZ while our walls and ceiling are insulated - concrete floor - the windows only have single glazing and just lined curtains to keep the cold out). So this is my little prototype I made from more of my leftovers from my Stratavarious Quilt a few years ago:
I will try to get some black elastic, white was all I had at home. I think I might need to make two more, one from the bathroom, where the cat flap is, to the hall way, and one from the hallway to the family room.
In position on the lounge doors. None of the cats wanted to try it first, we'll see what they'll do tonight :-)
With still heaps of leftovers from the Stratavarious Quilt, I quickly made another cushion cover, too:
Bugger, I had taken photos of the progress and deleted them by accident! OOh, I think this pic is actually upside down, Blogger, what are you doing?!
If you look closely you might see Loopy Line quilting. It was on Leah's site recently, and I found it an easy and quick way to quilt the cushion cover.

Over the weekend I had blissfully ignored the children for a while and made progress on my other stripey project, using the leftover strips from the Stratavarious quilt (no, I am still not sick of the colours!). Now there is just the binding left to hand-stitch on:
I ended up with 20 blocks overall

Not much leftover of that original pile now!
This is the polar fleece backing I am using. It is a bit bluer than I expected but it seems to work well. Above some of the blocks, not pieced together yet - you can see where I had to fill in with some dark blue to make it fit
I have quilted it with big stippling and attached the binding but will stitch it on by hand. I'll post more pictures when I have finished it :-)

But now to some goodies I received - ATCs and some charm squares from Kat Bierma

Thanks heaps, Kat!!!!

Now wish me luck for my job interview tomorrow! I better go and make some preparation so I don't mess that up...

Happy Sewing!

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Change in the air?

[Here are some non-quilting ramblings about my life in general - feel free to skip this and scroll down to the 'interesting' stuff :-)] I have been wondering about this. I am not quite over the shock of the government announcing they are cutting my job, then capping the cuts to what would still have cut me, to then taking it all back. Their explanations for this have been very poor, the PM has said they didn't sell it well - which tells me that he sees nothing wrong with making me unemployed. Well, I didn't vote for him last time, and I surely won't this time!

At work our interim principal has been appointed, we might get to meet her Monday or Tuesday, so there comes another change. In the meantime I had been encouraged to apply for a job at another local school, but after much deliberation I decided against it - my life is too busy as it is right now - and sent the lovely people who encouraged my a polite email explaining to them why this was not the right decision at this point in time. One change I can't face right now. Have you been in this position before, where someone offered you sth., a job, and you felt you should go for it because it was so flattering to be asked, to be wanted? I have made this mistake twice, and both times I didn't enjoy the experience.

On top of all that I have been shortlisted for a job I had applied for weeks ago, outside school. I would love the position, from people that work they I have heard how supportive people are, what great PD you get, that there are opportunities to specialise etc. Unfortunately, that particular vacancy is only 0.6 - at least was when I inquired. Not enough money to pay the bills - but maybe I can find a top-up p/t or relief at school? The major change here would be no school holidays - real world conditions. How would I cope? How would my family cope??

"Nothing ever is quite perfect", a friend once told me, "you have to decide with which imperfections you can live." Well, we'll see if there is or isn't change in the air...

NOW ONTO THE INTERESTING STUFF

I have been sewing these little strips together, and this is what's on my design wall at the moment:
Current plan is to extend it to 5x5 blocks, which should make it approx. 55" square - big enough for a polar fleece backed throw for the lounge to go with the stripey cushion I made last month :-)

I've also been busy for Leslie's Handprinted Fabric Swap (see the button on the side bar). I screen printed, stamped and eventually dyed fabric. Here are some glimpses:
I had some trouble with the set screen print flaking off after I wet the fabric. I am wondering if this has to do with the pearl colour I mixed in?! Will have to ask Petra from Zigzag.

My first ever attempts of dying with Procion dyes - I really like the results (will reveal more after the FQs have gone off to their new homes). As my screen prints where in shades of grey and charcoal, they were harder to see on blue and purple, so next time I might use black for this instead - which might eliminate the flaking off, too?

Now I just need some envelopes and they will go off to their new homes - mission accomplished!
Have a good week and stay warm!

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Common sense prevailed (for now...)

The Minister for Education made a u-turn and abandoned the proposed cuts to teachers - phewww. A number of other undesirable (at least in my opinion!) changes are still on the table, but for the moment at least the common sense of parents and the education community as a whole have prevailed!

At the moment I am so busy at work that I barely get to sleep at night from all the unfinished work floating around in my head... I managed to get through a few urgent items this week, but this weekend I finally have to finish the remaining 45 reports for term 1 (I haven't started on the 200 for Term 2 yet!), I have to prepare my relief work and make my presentation for the ICT conference on Thursday and Friday (yay, another short teaching week for me!)

But on to more pleasant matters:-) As I mentioned in earlier posts, I have signed up to the ATC swap at the Quilting Gallery, and by Monday I will have sent off my four cards to my secret swap partner:

For the front I experimented with different techniques I enjoy: Top and Bottom left were created using leftover scraps / crumbs, ribbon and lace spread onto 2 layers of cotton-silk batting, covered with wash-away fusible and stippled with variegated cotton thread all over. Top right was a piece of the cotton drop cloth from the Jeanette DeNicholis Meyer Workshop in March on 2 layers of man-made batting, quilted with interlocking squares, seed beads added, and Bottom right is a Diane Gaudinsky inspired echo feather on a piece of left-over batik with 2 layers of cotton batting (I used this recently for my ironing tote).

That orange bugs me...
I decided to use hand painted fabric for the back and printed some of my details on it (cut a piece of Freezer Paper to A4 size, iron to fabric of same size and feed through your printer - didn't work perfectly every time but I got enough usable pieces).

I was actually harder to work with in this small scale than I had expected! Satin stitching the edges was the biggest issue, my zig-zag stitch is not very reliable, I need to get the machine looked at... I feel quite self-conscious about these cards, in the end I stuck to things I knew - but then somehow that's what an ATC is about, it's about what that person does. I am not sure that they are up to the expected standard, but looking at my explanation of what I did it sounds not totally simple... I hope...

Other than that I need to get my hand printed fabrics finished for Leslie's swap, here is just a little glimpse:
Sun Printing...

... but the paint must have been too dry before I laid it out into the sun because there were few mark in the paint...

but this one that my youngest DS painted turned out a bit better - faint but visible.
I am not going to use this for the swap but if you remember the pics of the back of the ATCs, I cut that rain bow coloured fabric up for it :-)
Tomorrow I'll meet up with some friends for a bit of quilting at one of the local schools - thanks Suz for organising this!!! I'll take my Startavarious leftovers and make some more of those logcabin variations, will see what it turns into (I need a finish for June for Sew it's Finished!

Happy Sewing!

Friday, 1 June 2012

Budget Cuts to Education

I have been very preoccupied (is that the right word??) for the last week because of the government's announcement to play with teacher:student ratios as part of their newly announced budget. While a few extra students per class don't sound that bad, the politicians [read bastards] in their wisdom [read stupidity] have decided to cut the funding for Technology teachers. So what does that mean?

In New Zealand, most kids go to Primary School from New Entrants - Year 6, then to Intermediate School for Years 7 & 8, followed by High School Years 9 - 13. At Primary School they are with their classroom teacher all the time, with 2h release time per week so someone else takes the class, sometimes for something special, sometimes just whatever is in the timetable for the day. At Intermediate School the system is similar, except that for some time every week or every fortnight the kids go to Technology - a specialist teacher in a specialist room teaching Art, Music, ICT, Woodwork, Cooking etc. This keeps some of them engaged with school, especially if they are not so academic, it provides a transition from the security of their classroom to the High School system where they change class rooms and teachers every period. It might even create a life long interest.

At Intermediate School, where I am employed as Technology Teacher, the government has kindly lowered the ratio from 1:29 to 1:27.5 - great at first sight. Except they neglected to mention that the current funding of 1:120 for Technology disappears. Nil. Zilch. Nada. So a school the size of ours (170 students, 7 classrooms, 2 technology teachers, 1 PE teacher) will have to decide if they want to have 27.5 kids in a class and their classroom teacher teaches them all subjects and to the level required at that age (it's called Curriculum Level 4). OR the school can raise the number of kids per class, cut one classroom out and employ a technology teacher instead. Average class size would be maybe 31. That is 31 tweenies with all their needs and quirks. If you want two tech teachers, so that you can actually follow your OSH guidelines that restrict your woodwork room to say 15 students (the other half goes with the second teacher and might cook for example), you will have to cut out another classroom, spread those kids over the remaining classes and maybe get to 35 students.

Lovely, aye? And all this in the name of improving education for the underachievers. So you can see why I have been slightly sidetracked lately? I have spent way too much time on Facebook et. al. I might need a second blogger identity to follow all those interesting blogs I have come across in my education system despair.

If they go through with this I am most likely out of a job. Together with hundreds of other teachers and new graduates I will be competing in a smaller job market (because jobs are being cut), teacher numbers will be capped at 2011 numbers for the next five years btw, so if you know anyone planning to get into teaching in NZ, tell them DON'T! If I have no position by the start of term 4 (mid October?), I'll have to give notice to pull oldest DS out of the private school he attends. The mortgage will get paid until end of January, but what after that?

But more importantly, the current government is wrecking an education system that has achieved fantastic results in international comparison. Your children and my younger boys will suffer.

If you feel as strongly as I about this, please contact your local MP, the Education Minister Hekia Parata or Prime Minister John Key and tell them what you think!!!

Got this off my chest - pheww!

I have been screen printing for Lesley's Handprinted Fabric Swap - and then realised that it's not due for a few weeks yet, glad to be ahead for once lol. But the ATC Swap due date is looking, so I'll get cracking on this on the long weekend - hurray (for the long weekend and for the ATCs!). I'll try to post some pics before the rat race starts again on Tuesday...

Happy Sewing!