I've talked about all of this stuff during the month so this is just a little wrap up[ post. I'll be linking to the RSC main blog.
My project is to make blocks from a hoard of repro fabrics and then to use those blocks to make 8 lap quilts from the last of my Great Grandmother's UFO projects. She made 8 big string stars that will be the centers of the blocks. Since I like to take pre-cut kits on my vacation to Maine, I will just be cutting out blocks each month and will take them with me in August to sew. I'm picking only 9-patch patterns in the hope that it will be easier to put these quilts together in the end. This month I cut 8 blocks in each of these patterns. They are placed on cardboard pieces that came with some glass time. They are going to stack really nicely for travel.
My other goal is to make a doll outfit each month for my SIL's granddaughter. She wrote me the cutest thank you note for this little nightgown and even gave me a A+ sticker!
There's nothing like a little positive feedback to keep you going. This is the start of a second outfit. I've got a hat cut out and probably need to make a t shirt to go under it.
The February color is yellow and here are the fabrics that I've pulled to start with.
I got a lot of sewing, quilting and spirograph done this month. I know that because I finished 14 books! I can't really name favorites, I read so many good ones. I can say that three of them are pretty much duds for me. Those are:
The law of Innocence
The Guest List
Don't Look For Me
That's not a bad ratio for having made it through 14 books, many of which I dug out of the Audible free section.
What have you read this month that you would recommend?
By William Kent Krueger, Read By Buck Schirner
This is the 11th book in the Cork O'Connor series. I'm happy to see that there are at least 6 more left for me to read because I really enjoy this series.
The books are set in Northwest Minnesota. Cork O'Connor is now a private investigator. The book opens with the whole family on a vacation in the remote Northwest Angle, the northern most part of the contiguous US states. A devastating storm hits that separates the group. Cork's daughter is stranded on an island where she finds an abandoned baby. Other people seem to be looking for the baby too.
Krueger is an outstanding writer. Along with the plot there's a non-intrusive discussion of God (both the Christian and the Ojibwe versions of God) and the use of God for good and evil.
Lily of the Nile
By Stephanie Dray, Read By Kyla Garcia
This is the 1st book in the Cleopatra's Daughter trilogy. It starts with the death of Cleopatra and the caption of her children. They are taken to Rome where they are at the mercy of the new Caesar.
The store focuses on Selene and her years in Rome. It's an interesting book but it didn't quite capture me the way her books co-authored with Laura Kamoie do. It wasn't a bad book but I never really felt connected to Selene or any of the other characters. I'm not sure if I'll read the remaining 2 books.
No Stone Unturned
By Steve Jackson, Read By Kevin Pierce
A couple of months ago I read Monster by this same author. It was true crime book about the hunt for a serial killer. I like true crime and really enjoyed that book so I was happy to find another by the same author.
This book is an older book that was updated in 2015. It tells the story of NecroSearch, International. NSI is a premier forensic investigative team that helps with crimes all over the world. They started in Colorado in the 1980's as a group of people interested in improving crime scene investigation. They were known as "the pig people" because they did their original experiments using pigs. If you like true crime entertainment you will enjoy this book. It kind of reminds me of the new sleuths who use the internet to solve crimes that the police can't solve, as was the case with the Golden State Killer.
The Anatomist's Wife
By Anna Lee Huber, Read By Heather Wilds
This is the first in a series and is along the lines of Anne Perry's William Monk and Charlotte Pitt series. I'm guessing it's set during the Victorian Era but that's mostly because I call everything set in an olden time as Victorian. It's not relevant, it's just a time of Lords and Ladies and formal dress for dinner.
Lady Kiera Darby is a widow. Her late husband was notorious for his anatomy studies and he enlisted her to do his drawings. As a result she learned a lot. She's living with her sister's family now in Scotland to try to get away from the nasty rumors. During a house party one of the guests is murdered. Kiera's brother-in-law asks her to assist the handsome rake, Sebastian Gage, to investigate the crime. It's not long before she is a suspect.
I had a little difficulty getting into the book. I'm not sure if it's the book or the uptight narration. It was a good diversionary read. Now that I know the characters I will likely read more of the series. The narrator gets some really bad reviews. I didn't think she was all that bad. She's not the best, but not awful.
Tear It Down
By Nick Petrie, Read By Stephen Mendel
I think Peter Ash is my new favorite hero. He's an Iraq war veteran and has mostly settled down with June Cassidy on her property in Washington State. This is the 4th book in the series and it's probably best to read them in order to get the whole backstory on all the characters.
June knows that Peter is getting antsy so she send him to Memphis to help her friend, former war correspondent Wanda, work on her house. He arrives to find that a dump truck has been driven into the living room and no one knows why. Meanwhile a young, homeless musician has been roped into robbing a jewelry store and it didn't go well. He and Peter cross paths during his escape.
Just like the previous 3 books, it's action packed and the characters are vivid and interesting. I think there's one more book to catch up in the series and I'm going to try to hold off a month or two before I get it.
By Robert Dugoni, Read By Dan John Miller
This is the 3rd book in the David Sloan series. I like Dugoni a lot. I've read the Tracey Crosswhite series and Charles Jenkins too. Jenkins is probably my favorite series but this one is good too except that so many bad things happen to David!
Sloan is an attorney and has just finished a malpractice case against a doctor who may not have treated a child appropriately. The child later died of septicemia. Immediately after the trial someone approaches Sloan and says that he's responsible for the child's death because of a defective toy.
Sloan is then thrown into the cut throat world of toy manufacturers and it puts his family in grave danger. Very fast paced.
Feast of Sorrow
By Crystal King, Read By Simon Vance
I found this gem in the free section of Audible. It's historical fiction set in Ancient Rome. The most famous cookbook of all time is the first knows cookbook written by Apicius. This is the fictional story of the development of that cookbook but includes a lot of interesting facts from the period and weaves in all of the "known" facts about Apicius.
The story is told by the slave that he purchased to be his cook. He was told by the slave trader that this slave would make him famous. They both have a deep love of food and discovering new flavor combinations and recipes. Mix in all the palace intrigue surrounding all Roman rulers and you've got a really good story.
One of the fun facts of the time is the luxury and popularity of asbestos napkins!
Rider of the Purple Sage
By Zane Grey
This is another book that I came across in the free section of Audible. I'm trying to make full use of the free books. I've never read Zane Grey and I do enjoy a good Western. Apparently, this is the original version of the book. Originally it could not be published in his version because it addressed polygamy in the Mormon community. Audible has 8 versions of Riders of the Purple Sage but this is the free one.
What an outstanding book! I figure most of you have probably read it at some point but this 100+ year old book is new to me. The story is set in Cottonwoods, UT. Jim Lassiter has come to town to avenge his sister's death. The peaceful Mormons of this community are ruled by the tyrant Deacon Tull. Tull is also trying to take land and cattle from a single woman in the community. Great characters and perfectly narrated.
The Law of Innocence
by Michael Connelly, Ready By Peter Giles
This is #6 in the Lincoln Lawyer series and, frankly, it was horrible. Mickey Haller is set up for murdering one of his previous clients. It was easy to think he was guilty since the body was found in the trunk of his own car. Most of the book is the trial and it's a tedious mess of objections and sidebars interspersed with Mickey getting beat up in jail, Harry Bosch making some cameo appearances but not adding anything to the story and the pandemic! Yes, it's the first book where the pandemic makes an appearance and it's not handled very well. Sometimes people wear masks, sometimes they don't. Days go by without any mention of it and then, suddenly, lockdown. I feel like the book was written before the pandemic started and he went back and added in some token storylines around it. Of course if you are going to have a pandemic storyline you must have an anti-Trump story line. In this case we must prevent any Trump supporters from being selected for the jury. There was no point to that except for getting Connelly his woke gold stars. Everything about this book was annoying, including the narrator who must have hurt his vocal cords trying to maintain a fake deep husky voice for Haller.
By Rose Tremain, Read By Paul Daneman
Another book from the free section of Audible! This one is set during the reign of Charles II (1660) amid the delights of plague and the Great Fire of London (and we think we have it bad).
Robert Merivel is our hero. His father was a glovemaker to the king and, through him, he is introduced to Charles. For lack of a better phrase, he become unromantically infatuated with the King and will do about anything to be in favor. He's the King's fool for a while and then he is asked to marry the King's mistress but not consummate the wedding. In appreciation he is given an estate in Norfolk.
What follows is a series of bad decisions that leads to the loss of his relationship with the King, finding service during the plague and again during the fire. Robert is emotionally weak and immature but has periods of self-sufficiency and earned respect.
The book is historical fiction in the way that it takes place during the English Restoration and is built around some historical events. But the story is all about one's man quest to restore himself to some semblance of respect and honor. He's not the most likable character but his path is interesting.
Some reviewers love the narrator and some hate him. I got used to him but if you are thinking about listening to this I'd recommend playing the sample first to see if you like the narrator.
The Guest List
By Lucy Foley, Read by a cast
Back in October I read The Hunting Party by this author and I really enjoyed it so I quickly put this on on hold at the library. I have to say that this one was a bit of a let down.
The story is about a power couple (she's a magazine publisher, he's a reality TV star) having a wedding at a remote resort in Ireland. Everyone in this story has problems and many of then seem to revolve around the groom. They are an unsympathetic lot. It's not a bad story but it's EXACTLY like the Hunting Party. She has a formula and she doesn't deviate from it. If you have read one then you have basically read both.
Don't Look For Me
By Wendy Walker, Read by Therese Plummer
Molly Clark, wife and mother of 2 walks away from her life one night. She leaves a note at a hotel to not look for her. But, of course, that's not what really happened. Molly and her family have some heavy baggage for an accident a few years earlier. It takes a while for that to surface. But what you do know early is that Molly has been abducted and is being held to care for a 10 year old girl.
I should have never started this book because it's a psychological thriller and I really don't like those. This one gets rave reviews but I just hated it. Molly is so frantically overwrought that it annoyed me no end. Her alcoholic daughter searching for her was equally annoying. Was that the story or the reader? I'm not sure.
I read about the first hour and then just a minute or two of each chapter until the last hour. I just wanted to see how it ended. If you like the psychological thriller genre you might like this a lot.
The Indigo Girl
By Natasha Boyd, Read By Saskia Maarleveld
I don't mind the two previous "let down" books now because they were followed by my favorite book of the month. That's saying something because I ready some wonderful books this month.
The Indigo Girl is historical fiction but much more history than fiction. It's the store of Eliza Lucas. In 1739, at the age of 16 her father left her in charge of their 3 plantations in South Carolina. She was determined to make the successful experimenting with different crops. She planted oaks as a long term investment for ship building and she was determined to produce indigo. She knew of indigo production from her time living in Antigua.
I can't imagine any 16 year old today being mature enough to take on the pressures that Eliza had. Her plantation managers were determined to undermine her at every turn, her father was rapidly bringing debt on the farms to support his political aspirations and she had trouble getting honest help and advisement with growing indigo.
In the end she remains one of the most influential business people in the history of South Carolina. The book is based on a trove of letters that she left behind so we are given her own stories and relationships. Yes, she had slaves, but reading the book you can tell that slavery was destined to end simply because of the way that people like her treated them. She was one of the first to teach her slaves to read and write. To have that kind of foresight and conviction before the age of 20 is amazing.
The Desert Crucible
By Zane Grey, Read By Jim Gough
I enjoyed Riders of the Purple Sage so much earlier this month that I decided to finish out the month with the sequel.
At the end of RPS, some of the characters escaped and some hid in a valley in Utah. A disgraced young minister had heard the stories of the people left behind in Surprise Valley 12 years ago and he sets out to find and rescue them.
I'm loathe to even pretend to leave a review for a classic book so I'll just say that January ended on a great note for me.
January is turning into a good month for veterans quilts. I finished 2 more for a total of 6 so far. If all goes to plan I'll have 2 more by Sunday to finish out the month. I also finished a long tern crochet project this week.
These are the 2 veterans quilts. Betty made the disappearing 4-patch. I love how she arranged the grays in a gradient of sorts. Mom made the scrappy one. She's really trying to empty her bin of 2.5" squares but it doesn't seem to be working all that well! That's good news for the veterans.
I was tired of my 2 or 3 normal pantographs so I pulled out this one for a change of pace. I don't remember what it's called but it goes fast and creates some really nice texture o the back.
I also finally finished this crochet project! This is the most involved (and most expensive) project that I've done so far. I started this blanket in August. Per the pattern, Daisy Farm Crafts Crochet Ribbed Diamond, I needed 3 balls of the Bernat Baby Velvet. I went to Michaels and bought them. The pattern is worked in sets of rows to make diamonds. I have 8 sets of diamonds in the length of my blanket. Well, I got through one ball of yarn and was only through 1 set of diamonds. Something was really wrong! I had bought small balls, I needed big balls. Isn't that always the case? The balls are never quite the right size.
I put the blanket aside for a few months because I realized that to finish it, this blanket was going to cost over $45. That's a lot more than I want to spend for a donation blanket. But I also didn't want to have a partially finished blanket around as a UFO. I think it was in November that I pulled this out and decided to finish it.
It finished at about 30" x 33".
The pattern is worked in front and back post double crochet and the pattern is easy to follow after the first few rows. There are a few mistakes but this yarn is so forgiving that I didn't bother to undo anything to go back and fix them. Besides, it's a baby blanket that will likely have bodily excretions on it so a front-post-instead-of-a-back-post stitch isn't of any real consequence. What's important is how incredibly soft this blanket is!
It's really hard to get the color right in these photos but this one is probably closest. The faux-ribbed border is also just a series of front and back post double crochet stitches. Doing three of those stitches in each corner with this bulky yarn was a bit of a challenge bit it worked out.
I can't recommend Daisy Farm Crafts patterns enough. They are so well written and they have great tutorial videos to go along with. One of the gifts my friend bought me for Christmas was their lovely new book. I will make one of their gingham blankets soon.
You can see in this photo just how thick this blanket is. I'll likely not donate this one. It will be a good one to keep around for a gift should any of our friends or relatives have babies arriving.
I've already started the next blanket. I needed easy and there's nothing easier than a granny square.
My best friend and I finally exchanged Christmas gifts last week so I can now share the gifts that I made for her. I hadn't realized the habit I had gotten into of buying gifts for her as I shopped gift shops on vacations. I couldn't do much of that this year so I had to be creative. I was really stumped for a long time.
One day I was in the shower (where I solve most of my problems) and thought about things we did the past year and the biggest thing that came to mind was this project: her mosaic pizza oven. That gave me my sunflower theme and I was off and running. She has an outdoor screened porch so I thought that placemats and pillows for outdoor entertaining (or just lounging) might be good gifts.
I got out my Jacquard Color Magnet and borrowed this stencil from my friend, Marcy, to make some center panels for placemats. I absolutely love Color Magnet. The images are always so crisp.
Then I dyed 3 half yards with my own leaf and sunflower screen prints.
At the same time I dyed some lengths of denim in matching colors.
Starting with the pillows, I fused and the satin stitched two sunflower pillow covers.
I even had enough gold fabric to do piping. These should look pretty good on her outdoor furniture.
And I found these great sunflower buttons for the closures on the pillow backs.
The placemats were really straightforward. I made 8 and each one has the gold center strip. With another strip top and bottom. I mixed the blue, green and tan among the placemats.
I had dyed a mottled fabric for the backing and I used that for the binding. These were really a lesson in letting the fabric do all the work. The piecing design couldn't be simpler.
The best part was finding these vintage Corelle sunflower plates! The set is finished off with dyed napkins. I even found matching plastic flatware in gold, vanilla, blue and green to match the set. She's ready for her first outdoor cookout.
I had a lot of fun making these and she really liked them. At least, she said that she did!
She got me a bunch of crochet stuff including some books and a big project tote and she gave me some really cool things that she's printed this year. She's been busy carving stamps and now I have a tote bag and some bandanas with her designs.
Christmas in January is a good thing!
Today's post is going to be very brief. We have satellite internet and it rained all day yesterday. As a result, working on the internet was painful! So I'm going to quickly share my three bits of news with you and then sign off.
First up, the Succulents Gradient is back in stock! I've never had a gradient sell out on the day it's revealed until I released Succulents 2 weeks ago. If you wanted some and missed out, it's back!
Also back in stock this week is the Gray Skies gradient. This one coordinates with the Black Gradient. The darkest shade of Gray Skies is the middle shade of the Black gradient.
Fabric of the Week
The fabric of the week this week is the Malachite Stash Pack. Stash Packs have 10 fat eighths of very color textured fabrics. This one is ready to provide leaves and trees for your next art quilt.
Mom stayed with us this weekend but we didn't have any particular activities planned. She's been relaxing and doing some sewing, some reading and playing on her iPad. We pretty much did our own things and waited for Chris to ring the dinner bell.
It's a good life.
So I got busy on several projects. First I made about 14 pounds of soap. These will get unmolded later today and then will need 6 weeks to cure.
I got started quilting the veterans quilts that I showed you Friday. One is done and I'll get the other done one day this week when we have the wood stove going in the basement again.
I cut out another doll dress in pink for the RSC challenge. It would be nice if the February color is purple and then I could knock two color challenges out with one outfit!
Of course I worked on the floor cloths. I'm particularly fond of this design that got added this weekend.
I've been flummoxed by this big circle with the star motif and made myself finally deal with it. First I added a ring around the star and that made the final design easier to choose. It was that star that was holding me up. It's lacy and small enough that trying to put a design behind it might just create a confusing blob. The ring fixed that problem.
Here it is all done and I'm happy.
Both of those designs are on this floor cloth. I'm getting soooo close! Only a few more designs to add and then I'm done.
I finished the weekend with some crochet during the football games. It's hard to tell here but I'm on the border! This one will be done soon and I'm glad. I'm getting a little tired of working on it. But I can't wait to share it, it is a pretty blanket and very soft.
Later this week I'll finally be able to share the photos of the gifts that I made my best friend for Christmas. We exchanged gifts last Thursday. I just need to get the photos edited. My main goal for the week is to make a lot of progress on the floor cloths, finish the crochet blanket, work on the Summer Sunset quilt and quilt some veterans quilts.
Back to the floor cloths! The Sharpie markers are bothering me so much that I can't work on them every day. But I'm getting close to being done.
This is a new motif that I made using the snap together shapes. After I drew it I knew it needed some elements colored in. Here you can see the difference between plain (top) and colored in (bottom).
Here it is finished. Very funky and I really like it.
Then I did the medium sized motif on the small floor cloth. It will have a larger motif behind it.
One more added to end this session. I love how the 2 different circle motifs joined to look like one.
Here's that one on one of the large floor cloths. There's still some space to fill but I'm over halfway done! The other two have even less free space.
I finished the day loading 2 more veterans quilts. I only have 4 at the moment and will likely have all of then quilted this weekend.
I hope you have a great and creative weekend.
I've got another set of star points done. Only 2 left to go.
I've got both quilts arranged differently now so I can start to think about how I want them finished. The big start is arranged with red for the center.
The little star is arranged with gold as the center. Do you have a preference? I think I do but I'd love to hear your thoughts.
I also cut out the next doll outfit that will be included in the RSC for pink month.
I've been working on a little bit of everything but the most noticeable progress from the last 2 days is the floor cloths.
This new motif too FOREVER because of having to work it under 3 other designs and having to change holes on the gear and move it 2 spaces every time around. There is a mistake but I don't think it's noticeable enough to "erase" it and start over.
Then I added this design and I did make a a mistake that had to be erased. Erasing here means painting over with a tiny paint brush. This one was particularly complex to draw to get under and through the other designs. I had to go very slow.
This is after fixing the stray mark and coloring in part of the design.
Here's that last design added to the small floor cloth that will go in front of the refrigerator.
Here's one of the long ones with it's new design in place. I really feel the end in sight now.
In other news, I got a photo of Ella happy with her new doll outfit so I'm cutting out a jumper and hat. I think I'll try to do a couple each month along with the Rainbow Scrap Challenge colors. January is pink. I, thankfully, don't have a lot of pink fabric but at least this one has pink in it.
The next set of star points are underway too. Soooooo close.
Before we talk Shibori, I wanted to mention that Succulents will be back in stock next week. I've never had a Gradient sell out in one hour of the newsletter going out, until now! But if you missed it, I'll have it back for you next week.
This week there's new Shibori, starting with the Gosen Stash Pack. The Stash Packs have 8 fat eighths of Shibori fabric. With this pack I attempted a wide variety of color effects for water, reeds, sunsets and grassy fields. Let your creative imagination run wild.
It's one of the rare times when I have 2 Shibori Stash Packs available. There are a couple of the Shibata pack left.
The fat eighths of Shibori have the pattern going across the 1/2 yard width of the fabric. Each fat eighth measures approximately 9" x 19". There is a light side where part of the fabric is overlapped on the pole. When working on my Shibori Moons quilt I discovered that I could use that effect to get 2 very different moons from each fabric.
There are also some new "full size" pieces. Each of these is 1/2 yard wide. Each listing has a full size image of the fabrics. You can check them all out here.
Fabric of the Week
Shibori fabric always first makes me think of water so I had to stick with the water theme for the fabric of the week. This week the Monterey Bay Gradient is 20% off through Sunday. This gradient is perfect for an underwater adventure quilt but would also be great for stormy skies.
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I'm Vicki Welsh and I've been making things as long as I can remember. I used to be a garment maker but transitioned to quilts about 20 years ago. Currently I'm into fabric dyeing, quilting, Zentangle, fabric postcards, fused glass and mosaic. I document my adventures here.