February wasn't a terribly productive reading month but with the quilt show early in the month I didn't have as much reading time. So I'm calling this month quality over quantity. There wasn't a dud in the bunch!
What have you read this month that you would recommend?
Enemy of the State
By Kyle Mills, Narrated by Scott Brick
This is the 16th installment in the Mitch Rapp series and the second written by Kyle Mills. In this installment Rapp discovers that elements of the Saudi government are funding ISIS.
Kyle Mills has done a good job of replacing Vince Flynn in this series but this one didn't hold me as well as the last one. I think some of that has to do with replacing George Guidall with Scott Brick as the narrator. I used to love Scott Brick but his narrating style has become.....I don't know....arrogant? He narrates every book with an angry and arrogant persona that may or may not be appropriate. Hopefully they will bring back Guidall for the next one.
The Rival Queens
by Nancy Goldstone, Narrated by Suzanne Toren
If you live in the US and didn't specifically study history, you probably didn't get a lot of French history. At least that's my story. So when I saw this book on Audible I thought I'd give it a try.
This is the story of Catherine of Medici and her daughter, Marguerite de Valois. This is Renaissance France and it was full of political intrigue orchestrated by Catherine de Medici within her own family.
This book is very interesting and some non-fiction books read like fiction but this ins't one of those. You have to be a history lover to enjoy this book. But if you like history, this is a very interesting book.
In Farleigh Field
By Rhys Bowen, Narrated by Gemma Dawson
It's WWII and a soldier with a failed parachute has fallen to his death near the home of Lord Westerham. One of his daughters secretly works code breaking and the vicars son secretly works for MI5. They are asked to investigate.
This is part historical novel and part romance but the romance part is reasonable underplayed. I did not have high expectations but I really enjoyed this book. It moves at a good pace and has some interesting characters. The narrator has some criticism in the Audible reviews but I actually liked her. If you are going to listen to the book be sure to listen to the sample to see if the narrator's voice will bother you.
I liked it well enough to listen to another by Bowen.
Two Kinds of Truth
By Michael Connelly, narrated by Titus Welliver
#20 in the Harry Bosch series where we also get a good does of his half-brother, Mickey Haller.
As I was listening to this book I was also trying to figure out why I like this series so much and I think I've narrowed it down to a few things:
1 - Harry Bosch never does anything that seems out of character. I think it's difficult for a writer to get that right. Sometimes it would be easier to have the character do something totally different just to move the plot along. Connelly keeps Bosch in charater, which I appreciate.
2 - The storylines are mostly plausible.
3 - There's no magic. These storylines move along and develop. There are no major period of time skipped where we find out that the hero solved the crime in his sleep or tripped over evidence. Those kinds of books are written by lazy writers.
Harry Bosch is a reliable detective who does the dirty work. In this book he's trying to solve a cold case, a new double homicide related to Russian drug gangs and is caught up in an old case where he's being accused of planting evidence. As always, it's a great read and I love Titus Welliver (who plays Bosch in the TV series) narrating.
The Girl Who Was Taken
By Charlie Donlea, Narrated by Nina Alvamar
HS Grads Nicole Cutty and Meagan McDonald went missing from a summer beach party. Two weeks later Meagan stumbles out of a bunker but Nicole is never found. The book open at 18 months later and Nicole's sister is a forensic pathologist. A body come in that seems to be tied to her sister's disappearance. meanwhile Meagan has written a book about her ordeal to appease her parents but is working to recover her memory of exactly what happened to her.
This was a surprisingly riveting book. It goes back and forth in time between the period around the abduction and current day. Several candidates are introduced that might be involved but the ending surprised me. They didn't do a great job of explaining why the person abducted these girls but, in the end, that's not the important piece of information.
When the book started I thought he narrator's young female voice was going to annoy me but she was perfect for these 2 young female characters.
A Column of Fire
By Ken Follett, Narrated by John Lee
If you like historical novel sagas then you already know Ken Follett and have probably already read all of his books. To me he's as reliable as James Michener, Edward Rutherford and Bryce Courtenay.
This book is the third in the Kingsbridge series but it's really a stand alone novel. There are some references to the previous novels but that's it. That's good too because the books came out so far apart it would be impossible to remember the others. This one is set in the 1500's during the reign of Queen Elizabeth but much of it is set in France. Coincidentally, Catherine and her daughter in The Rival Queens (above) figure prominently in this one. The focus is the clash between the Protestants and Catholics of that time. As always, the characters are well developed and the historical aspects are very well researched.
The narrator is John Lee and he's one of my favorites. I could listen to him reading a cookbook.
The fabric of the week this week is the Blue Sky Shades Pack and it's on sale 20% off through Sunday! Shades Packs are dyed when ordered so there's no limit to what you can buy. If you order multiple quantities it comes as one cut. For example, order 2 quantities for 1/2 yard cuts. Orders received by Wednesday morning (EST) will be shipped by Monday, March 5. Orders placed after Wednesday morning will be shipped March 12.
Sundance is back in stock!
There's a reason that I use the Sundance Gradient as my header background. It's one of the most vibrant gradients that I carry and also one of the most popular. Today it's back in stock!
I rarely buy commercial fabric anymore but then a week like this one comes along and I bring home 2 collections!
This first set of fat quarters were free! One of our quilt club members is a sister of one of the head designers at Henry Glass and she graciously offered/agreed/was coerced into doing a little presentation for our group about the process of designing and producing fabric. She was a wonderful speaker and was very open and generous with information. She shared the design, selling and production processes and brought along dozens of the design boards of various collections. We were awed by the number of collections that her team produces each year.
We also got some inside news on the ultimate fate of the Free Spirit and Westminster fabric lines that was very reassuring for Kaffe Fassett and Tula Pink fans.
At the end of the meeting she generously gave us some patriotic fat quarters. I'm going use mine to make new placemats for my patriotic holidays.
Then Friday we made our annual trek to Mid-Atlantic Quilt Festival. I usually don't buy much there but Anne and I have a favorite vendor: Usha at Handloom Batiks. I safely passed the booth once but then Anne went there and bought a bunch of stuff and found out about these vintage Indonesian Batiks that I had missed. Usha said her husband used to collect these Indonesian Batiks with so much beautiful detail. They aren't made like this anymore. She found 2 boxes of them in a closet in her home and didn't want them to be given to Goodwill when she dies so she cut them into half yards and is selling them. They were quite expensive but the fabrics are as exquisite quality as the prints are beautiful. I had to have some.
Specifically I had to have 10 of them! I've washed them and they only bled a little. The colors are beautiful and I came home and planned a quilt.
The pattern needed to be simple to show off the fabrics and I bought so much fabric that I can easily make a queen sized quilt. I found the perfect eggplant print from one of Paula Nadelstern's collections in my stash for the background and fortunately The Cotton Club still has it in stock. So that's ordered. I even ordered a ruler to cut the diamonds. In the next week or so I'll cut this out as another kit. It will be a good project to take on one of my vacations because most of my vacations also include a sewing machine.
The gem this week is a new one by Patricia Caldwell. It's called Through the Doorway and was made using the Red Sunset Gradient. Patricia is very generous sharing her work in process and you can follow her on her Facebook page.
If you have made anything with my hand dyed fabric I hope you will consider sharing it in the Customer Gallery. In appreciation you will receive a 20% shop coupon that's good for 3 months!
Today I'm off to Hampton with friends to go to the Mid-Atlantic Quilt Festival. Unfortunately I finished a project this week and that might reduce my self-control over buying new things. Either way, it will be a fun day.
I'll leave you with the Maine quilt that is my finish for the week! Clock on the photo to go to the page to see more photos and read the background about this quilt.
Yesterday after I finished dyeing I decided I'd get started cutting out Antelope Canyon because once this is cut out I can turn my cutting table into a mess again. It turns out that this one was much faster to cut than Stars at Sea and I got the whole thing cut out in a few hours. This one is based on 1 1/2" and 2 1/2" strips so you start by simply cutting a lot of strips.
The cutting and color placement instructions are really thorough so as long as you pay attention (which I didn't do a couple of times) you will get it all straight. As I cut the pieces I labeled then with the part letter.
Laying it out helped me make sure that I cut the right number of pieces and I has missed a couple. I'm really happy with how this is going to look and I think it will go together pretty quickly.
Stacked and ready for the project bin.
I have plenty of extra fabric in case I screw something up and I'll gut the gradient for the borders after the top is together. I'm excited to work on this but it will wait until Stars at Sea is done first.
In a couple of weekends the next sewing days with Country School Quilters will roll around and I don't have a project to work on.
I had been wanting to make a sample quilt using the Color Wheel fat quarters. At the Birds of a Feather conference Anne won a basket with this pattern and it seemed perfect. I like to go to sewing days with my projects already cut out and that's what I set out to do Sunday evening. If you look at the pattern you can see that the quilt is worked in sections so that's how I decided to cut it out.
The pattern also uses a special ruler but I didn't want to buy a ruler for one pattern. Instead I use Electric Quilt to print out rotary cutting instructions for the block in ever size (4, 6, 8, 12 and 16 inches). Yes, I could have just taken notes but didn't trust myself not to make a transcription error.
The pattern calls for 6 or 8 fat quarters (I don't remember) and I have 10 so I knew I had plenty of fabric and knew I could get the binding out of this fabric too. I cut 2 strips off each fat quarter for the binding first. As I was cutting the blocks I also cut a few 2 1/4" wide pieces that I can use before I start sewing to test my seam allowance. I test the seam allowance with every quilt.
You can see the sections clearly in this photo and this stack of pieces in one section. I needed to keep the sections together.
I used plastic bags for the sections and labeled each one. After a few hours of work I had everything cut out and I have enough leftover fabric that I can recover from a mistake if needed.
I'm officially ready for sewing on March 9. This quilt will only take a few days to put together so while the cutting table is clean I'm going to cut out and kit up the Antelope Canyon quilt. That should have me set for a few months of sewing days.
Some of my favorite fabrics in the shop are the Galaxies. These are the most highly-textured fabrics that I carry and are made as part of my ice dyeing process. All of these are fabrics are 2 yards or more so they are perfect to be a feature fabric or border for a quilt.
This week they are on sale 20% off through Sunday!
Just use coupon code GALAXY20 to get your discount.
I just used one of these are a border for my sunprinted Maine quilt (left) and I picked another one (right) as the feature fabric for my next quilt that I'm cutting out this week. maybe a Galaxy is just what you need to build your next quilt around!
I even took lots of photos to document my progress. I just didn't have time to edit them before I left for my annual festival of mammogram this morning. But I can report that I got the Maine quilt finished, a bunch of new fabric for the shop ironed and these 4 veterans quilts quilted. Then I allowed myself to start cutting out a new project. Hurray! I love a new project.
For now, though, I only have the veterans quilts to share.
I picked up all of these (and more) at the Country School Quilter's meeting Tuesday and wanted to get 4 of them done so I don't get too far behind. I don't remember who gave me this one but she apologized over and over for poor piecing. While it had a little fullness here and there it was really easy to tame with a wavy crosshatch and I think she will be pleased with how it turned out.
This one and the next 2 are from Karen. She's one of our most prolific piecers. She shows up every month with 3 or more completed quilts or tops. This time she had 5 veterans tops and 2 kids tops made since last month! Almost every quilt she makes is donated to either the veterans or to a local hospital pediatric ward.
Karen said that this month she was trying to empty a bin of reproduction fabrics but that after she got the 5 tops together she found another bin of the same fabrics! Who knows what she'll show up with next month.
Here are the 2 backing fabrics that I used on these 4 quilts. Now I can get back to my "Lost My Marbles" quilt.
I settled on the Woodgrain pantograph by Lisa Thiessen for this quilt. I'm using a medium brown Highlights thread so it's not going to show at all. For this quilt I really wanted the fabrics to be the show and the quilting is really just functional.
I got it started last night and might get it finished today.
Meanwhile there are signs of Spring. We saw the mallard pair on the pond last week and the geese were visiting today. Nesting will start soon.
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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.