Leslie McNeil made this beautiful table runner using the Misty Morning gradient. I believe she made this for an embellishment class that she teaches. You can see lots more photos on her Facebook page. Yo can check her website for more of her beautiful art, see her teaching schedule and purchase patterns and art.
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!
12 books started and 10 finished this month.
There are two big disappointments among the books this month but the are well balanced with a lot of winners. All-in-all it was a great month of listening. As I look back over the list Id have to say that my 2 favorites are both non-fiction. I loved Spaceman and Indestructible.
What have you been reading? Anything to recommend?
If you have different opinions of any of the books I review I invite you to leave a comment. I know we all like different things and appreciate other opinions.
The Late Show
By Michael Connelly, Narrated by Katherine Moennig
This is a new Connelly series and features detective Renee Ballard. She is the daughter of a surfer who died surfing and she basically lives on the beach surfing during the day and working the midnight shift of "the late show". She ended up on the late show because she brought a sexual harassment complaint against her superior officer and was politically punished for it.
Blah, blah, blah.....fill in the blanks with cliche hardened female actions.
Connelly says that he wanted this character to be "fierce" and she is. She's also really stupid at times and she, seriously, lives out of her van camping on beaches. In this book she's picked up a case on the late show and she can't let it go. Her behaviors are believable in Harry Bosch because Bosch has decades of experience and a proven track record. Ballard doesn't. I sure wouldn't want to have to work with her.
If you are a Connelly fan this one is worth trying because the next Bosch book is also the second Ballard book. But I recommend reading this book (instead of listening) because the narration is terrible.
Written and Narrated by Mike Massimino
You know I usually hate books that are narrated by the author but I have to make an exception for this one. This book needed to be narrated by Mike Massimino.
You may recognize him from The Big Bang Theory. He's the astronaut that gave Howard Walowitz his space nickname of Fruit Loops. I seriously didn't know that he was a real astronaut! Turns out he made 2 trips into space to work on the Hubble Telescope.
This is one of the most interesting autobiographies that I've ever read and that explains the 4.8 (out of 5) rating that it has on Audible. This book isn't about engineering and technical terms. It's about the ambition of an individual who fulfilled the dream of a 6 years old boy from The Bronx. When you finish this book you hope for an opportunity to meet this man who, for a spaceman, is incredibly down-to-earth.
The Buried Book
By D.M. Pulley, Narrated by Luke Daniels
It's 1952 and Althea Leary is leaving her 9 year old son, Jasper, with her brother's family on a rural Michigan farm. Althea then disappears leaving Jasper a few clothes and a child's bible.
Life on a farm is difficult and there's no time to answer Jasper's questions. Instead he starts looking for her on his own. He finds her diary on the abandoned, mostly burned, house where his mother grew up and as he reads it he gets to know her better. His search for information leads him into some very tawdry and dangerous places.
I'm not yet sure how I feel about this book. I write my reviews immediately after I finish listening so that my thoughts and opinions are fresh. I picked this book because I loved The Dead Key by the same author. This one is so different!
I couldn't put the book down so it's well-written but it's very dark and depressing. The time period is depressing. The adult people around Jasper are doing their best and probably behaving very typical of that time period but I think she has given this 9-year-old naive boy a lot more maturity than he should have. It's not a bad tale at all, it's just quite dark. This is a book that you can judge by the cover because that cover image really sums up the overriding feeling of the story.
Beneath a Scarlet Sky
By Mark Sullivan, Narrated by Will Damron
This book came out last year and I've seen it on a lot of recommended reading lists. Usually that's a bad sign for me but I finally gave in and I'm glad I did!
This is a novel but it's based on the real life on Pino Lella. Pino was 17 years old and lived in Milan in the middle of WWII. As the Nazis took over Milan he was sent to Northern Italy to attend school. The Priest there is also running an underground railroad of sorts to help Jews escape over the Alps into Switzerland. Pino is one of the leaders of these expeditions.
That would be story enough on it's own but there's so much more. It's a fascinating story about a real person that's brought to life through the vehicle of a novel. I'm glad I read it.
The Inside Dark
By James Hankins, Narrated by Bon Shaw (aka R.C. Bray)
Holy cow, this was a dark tale.
Jason Swike was abducted 5 days ago by the Crackerjack killer. He and another abductee were able to kill Crackerjack and escape.
Jason is now a hero and a new book deal means that he will be able to pay for his son's expensive medical treatment.
But it seems that the story isn't quite over and his life is about to become even more terrorizing.
It's a very interesting premise and the story really held me but it could have benefited from some tighter writing. For example, the killer is called Crackerjack because he whistles "take My Out to the Ballgame" but how would anyone know that because ALL of his previous victims are dead. But if you like dark psychological thrillers you might like this one.
The narration is really good and Bon Shaw is actually R.C. Bray, someone who has narrated several of my favorite books. If you want a good chuckle you can read his post about why he uses Bon Shaw.
The Providence Rider
By Robert McCammon, Narrated by Eduardo Ballerini
This is the 4th book in the Matthew Corbett series. It's early 1703 and Matthews #1 nemesis, Professor Fell, is in Matthew's life again. He is forced to go to Bermuda to meet Fell and do a job for him. He encounters all sorts of dangerous and interesting characters as he tries to protect himself and his friends while doing Fell's bidding.
If you like the Corbett series you will enjoy this one. But that said, I'm probably done with this series. #5 is a quite short book and the reviews indicate that it ends in a big cliffhanger that's picked up in book #6. Cliffhanger books annoy me. Preston and Child did that in one of the Pendergast series books and I never read another.
But this particular Corbett book is well written and well narrated.
Caesar's Last Breath
By Sam Kean, Narrated by Ben Sullivan
Last June I read one of Kean's other books, The Tale of the Dueling Neurosurgeons so I looked forward to delving into this history if air.
Kean takes us back to the earliest studies of air and atmosphere and takes us through the fascinating history of the discovery of each of the elements of air. There are also a lot of side tracks, for example, the development of the nuclear bomb.
While I thought the pure science part of this book was interesting, he, like many modern authors, just cant' keep political issues out of it.
(Spoiler alert: Our only hope is to emigrate to other planets.)
But aside from that last chapter, I found the book interesting but with a writing style that might be too clever by half. Although, with a science topic for those of us who aren't scientists that might be a bonus.
The Midnight House
By Alex Berenson, Narrated by George Guidall
This is the 4th nook in the John Wells series. Wells is a CIA agent who has saved New Your City from being blown up, stopped Russia from setting off bombs in 2 US cities and the only CIA agent too infiltrate Al Qaeda.
This time he's called to DC to investigate the murders of members of an 11-member interrogation team that had operated out of a secret location in Poland called The Midnight House.
The story jumps back and forth between activities in The Midnight House over the 2 years it was active and the current investigation into the deaths of the team members. It's fast paced and full of twists.
I'm enjoying this series and I'm happy to see that I'm not even half way through it and that George Guidall is the narrator for the entire series.
Blood and Thunder: An Epic of the American West
By Hampton Sides, Narrated by Don Leslie
I like a good history book. I don't like history textbooks and this reads much more like a textbook than a "reading" book. If you are into Southwest history you might find it interesting. But if you really are into Southwest history I bet you have already read other books that are more interesting than this one.
Take my review with a grain of salt though. It's got GREAT reviews on Audible. Personally, I couldn't finish it.
The Song of Achilles
By Madeline Miller, Narrated by Frazer Douglas
Well, here's something that doesn't often happen to me: two books I disliked in a row! I think I picked up both of these on sale.
This one is a retelling of the story of Achilles. I generally enjoy Greek myths retold in language that I can pronounce. This one, however, diverts so far from the Illiad that it's absurd.
In the original mythology Patroclus is older and wiser than Achilles and named as one of Achilles "henchmen" and is a adviser to Achilles. In this book they meet as boys and Achilles selects Patroclus to be his friend. Patroclus is physically and emotionally much weaker than Achilles and isn't wise at all. He follows Achilles around like a lap dog. The story is really a vehicle for creating a love story scenario between Achilles and Patroclus. It appeals to our modern-day tropes and obsessions but if you know the Illiad I think you might not be a fan of the portrayal of Patroclus. I was disappointed.
Silence in Hanover Close
By Anne Perry, Narrated by Davena Porter
After the last 2 books I needed something reliable and chose #9 in the Charlotte and Thomas Pitt series by Anne Perry. We're back in Victorian England and Thomas Pitt is asked to investigate a 3 year old burglary/murder case that was never solved.
It's a great, reliable Anne Perry story and Charlotte and her sister, Emily, have major roles in this one.
By John R. Bruning, Narrated by Brian Troxell
It's books like this one that make taking risks on Deal of the Day books worthwhile. I probably wouldn't have found this gem any other way.
It's the story of Paul I. "Pappy" Gunn. It's not about his career as a Navy Chief and naval pilot in WWI and it's not about starting Hawaiian Airlines and Philippine Airlines after the way. That would have been a life well lived.
This book is about the heroic work he did during WWII as a Captain of the Army Air Force modifying airplanes and flying missions in the Southwest Pacific Theater while his family spent 3 years in a Japanese Internment Camp in the Philippines. Gunn really did change the course of WWII with his work and earned a Silver Star, 2 Distinguished Flying Crosses, Legion of Merit, Air Medal and NINE Purple Hearts.
It reads like a novel and was a great book to end the month on.
I needed a birthday card for my nephew (and several other male birthdays coming up this year). I try to avoid sending flowers and glitter to the boys that aren't into flowers and glitter. So I riffled through my stash of sun prints from last summer and came up with these.
This is the stencil I used to sunprint these cards. I can't find that particular stencil online but I found these, some of which will work just as well. These were some of the most successful sunprints that I did last summer but I've been completely stumped as to what to do with them.
There's nothing like a deadline to fix a creative block.
I decided on adding a moon behind the trees. There was a time when I would have done that the hardest way possible like cutting out the background and putting a fabric behind the holes. But I've learned a few things from my friend, Estelle, like how to mask designs.
I cut a circle out of an index card. (There are 2 circles because I cut this with one of my Go! Cutter dies and it has these 2 circles next to each other.)
By putting the stencil back on the fabric to cover the tree I could place the circle over that and apply some other color to the background.
The other thing I've learned from Estelle is to practice! When we used to do our technique exploration days I would always start with a big piece of fabric and an idea. Meanwhile Estelle would start with some small scrap and test her idea first. It took a while but I eventually caught on to her methodology and that's what I did here.
I thought I wanted the background to be done with Shiva Paintsticks but you can see here that all that did was jam up the crevices in the stencil. Painting turned out to be the right approach.
I tore the sponge off of a cheap paint brush to use as a daubber.
Voila! A moon! The only problem with this approach was that there was a gap between the circle cut out and the fabric because of the thickness of the stencil. The result of that is that my moon isn't a perfect circle and this was the time to remind myself that this is a postcard and it's good enough. In hindsight I might have gotten a better result if I had placed the circle against the fabric and the stencil on top of that. This is one of the things I love about working on postcards. They are great lessons for learning new techniques or improving my skills and I get something productive in the process.
After I fused the trees to the postcard base I then spent a long time thinking about what stitching I could add to the card. I feel like I'm cheating if I don't add stitching but I just couldn't think of anything to add. I finally realized that they are done as they are. A black stitched edge finished them off.
No need to just make one. Nine is better!
I'm enjoying documenting all of my Spirograph-like motifs on my quilt. In many of these photos it appears that the stitching doesn't show well. Trust me, they do show up. The thread is very shiny but the camera is flattening it out.
Last week Carolyn asked what I'm using to mark the circles. I use a mechanical chalk pencil like this one. Most of the chalk marks come off with the stitching but the rest will wash out easily.
Let's get on with today's marbles:
This one is hard to explain. I marked 15 points on the outside and 15 points on a small center circle. Using the circle ruler I connected and outer point to the corresponding point on the center circle and the stitched to the next point over on the outer circle. At the end I connected the center points with a small circle. I'm not totally thrilled with the outcome but I"m treating this quilt as a sampler so this design stays with all of the rest.
The fabric of the week this week is the Maize 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 April 2. Orders placed after Wednesday morning will be shipped April 9.
Gradients back in stock!
If you are new here you might not even know that I do mosaic. It's been MONTHS since I worked on this wall. But after my dyeing session last Wednesday I was listening to a good book and decided that I need to get back to this. Plus all the materials are really getting on my nerves on the other side of the basement. They are taking up too much space so they need to get stuck to the wall or disposed of.
This is where it was when I left off in October.
I got 3 more beads done and go the background filled in a little more. I make myself do some background every time I work on the wall so that I'm not left with a ton of boring white at the end.
There's a lot left to do but I'm determined to get this done this year. This section is right next to "The Great Wall" in my longarm room.
I think I'm motivated again to work on this and see it done.
A few months ago Marcy won a pack of shibori fabrics in one of my giveaways. I'm thrilled that she was inspired to make something with them right away. She made this specifically for a Fiber Art show in Charlottesville, VA where it will be on display through June.
Halcyon challenge- Halcyon defined as a blissful moment and a mythical bird evoked “listening to a favorite piece of music" — the Firebird Suite by Stravinsky. It just so happened that the album cover had a beautiful mythical bird (probably more like a Phoenix, but...), which I wanted to capture. It also just so happened that I had a small batch of Shiboori fabrics from Colorways by Vicki Welsh, and I thought I could bring my bird out by using my version of thread painting. As she became more visible, she showed herself as a sacred shield, and I hope that I have done her justice.
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!
You might remember that in February, while at Birds of a Feather, I bought this rayon batik and pattern while under the peer-pressure influence of my friend. Like the batik fabrics I cut yesterday, I didn't want this fabric sitting around too long. But on further investigation I didn't want to make this top because it has a long zipper down the back and I don't like wearing things with long zippers. I'm all about comfort in my life now.
So off to the web I went and found this pattern. I love tunics and thought this might be a pattern that I could make over and over. If this goes well, that long tunic, View D, could be the ohly thing I wear this summer over leggings.
While I prewashed and machine dried the fabric I made a muslin. I used to make garments all the time and fitting was a big deal for me. I'm narrow in the back than my bust size needs and I'm short. So muslins are a must. Plus it let me practice with that gigantic 5/8th seam allowance!
I remember when I started making quilt I thought that skinny 1/4" seam allowance was insane. Now the 5/8" seems almost wasteful.
The hardest part of the whole thing was getting the batik fabric folded on grain. You can see on the top pattern piece where I made the bust alteration.
I even got to use my serger for exactly what I bought it for - finishing seam allowances!
From making the muslin to hanging it on this hanger took only about 3 hours. You can't see the seam details here but I love how it turned out. It fits great and is flattering. If you scroll back up to the pattern photo, I made view A. I'll shorten the next one a bit, but otherwise I love it.
Here's the front hem detail. For the next one I will change the neckline finish to a facing but otherwise, I'll be able to simply cut and sew.
You will not be surprised to hear that I have a small stash of garment fabrics that I kept and this gradient silk is one of them. I think it would look great in this pattern.
I think this Ikat would look great with black in the long view D. I don't really need new projects but the speed and low cost of these would make my summer wardrobe really easy!
With the new fabrics that I've bought into the house lately I wanted to do something with the fabrics instead of just piling them into the fabric cabinet to be found again years from now. Plus I need some projects stockpiled for my monthly sewing days and for 2 vacation trips.
These Indonesian batiks are some of the fabrics that I bought recently and I want them in a quilt for my bed by next winter. I absolutely love them.
A few weeks ago I played around with some designs and settled on sashed diamonds....which isn't going to exactly be easy. When I did the original design in EQ I didn't pay attention to the dimension of my diamond but when I printed the template I also realized that it was going to be a total paint to cut out too.
Instead I went straight to Quilter's Apothecary and bought their 60 degree diamond design rulers. Then I redesigned the quilt with this size of ruler. (I also removed the paper from the back of the rulers before I started cutting.) That's how I got the layout above with 77 diamonds. That means I need 8 from each of my 10 fabrics.
I wanted to get the best use of the motifs in the baitk so I first cut out 8 diamonds from paper and then arranged them on the fabric to 1) make sure I could get 8 diamonds and 2) get the best use of the motifs on the fabric.
Yes, it did leave some chunks but we know that's just another project, or 3, in waiting.
I should also mention that I starched all of these fabrics before I cut them. Too many bias edges to control so starch was a must. Here are my 80 (3 extra) diamonds. Oh, this is going to be a pretty quilt!
I bought this purple fabric for the background and, yes, I did soak it before I starched and cut it and, yes, it did bleed. I got all of the sashing and binding cut. I'll cut the borders when I'm done with the center. This is going to be a bed quilt for me so I'll make the borders to fit exactly the size quilt I want. If that means that the borders are different width, I'm going to be fine with that.
And then there's this! I see maybe a lap size quilt, some placemats and postcards. Lots of possibilities....for another day!
I'm steadily making progress on my marbles. As you might imagine it's tedious work that also requires a lot of focus so I generally work on it about an hour at a time. I also do my share of ripping out stitches when things don't line up quite right. But it's fun and I'm keeping at it. Here are 6 more:
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.
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