Many of us have lost a lot of money (maybe only on paper so far) over the past month but we have gained a lot of time. Time is something that I am obsessed over. I constantly think about how I use my time. I'm absolutely obsessed with not wasting time. With no appointments, meetings or social engagements I have a lot more time and that means I'm doing a lot more reading while quilting, sewing and creating. I'm enjoying this time and trying to be positive about it and take full advantage of it.
To that end, I read 15 books in March. That's a record! My favorites were the first and last books that I read in March. The most important book that I read is Unaccountable.
I know you have been doing a lot of reading too. I'd love to hear you favorites of the month. Chris reads fantasy and SciFi so if you have any recommendations in that category that would be awesome.
The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell
By Robert Dugoni, Read By Robert Duboni
I've been seeing lots of recommendations to read this book and I finally decided to give it a try. I avoided it for a long time for 2 reasons. First, it's narrated by the author and second, he's a mystery writer so I wan't sure how he would be as a fiction writer. My worries on both fronts were unfounded.
This is a beautiful coming-of-age story about a boy born with ocular albinism which means that his eyes are red. His name is Sam Hill but the lighter side of the bullying he experiences is being called Sam Hell. If you do not like books with spiritual/religious undertones you will not like this book. But while faith is a big part of this book the story is so much more than that. It's about the struggles of life that everyone experiences and it's about the loss and recovery of faith, prejudice and racism. It's a special book.
By Candice Fox, Read By Euan Morton
I think I've found a new mystery series!
Sydney Police Detective Ted Conkaffey was in the wrong place at the wrong time and it ruined his life. He was accused of abducting a 13-year old girl. He wasn't convicted by the legal system but certainly by the public. He relocates to the remote area of Crimson Lake and is introduced to Private Investigator Amanda Pharrell, a convicted murderer.
She and Ted join forces to find missing author John Scully. As they investigate their own identities complicate the matter.
It was a good and unique story and there's nothing wrong with a book narrated with an Aussie accent.
By Ben Coes, Read by Ari Fliakos
Last month I talked about how tired the Walt Longmire series is getting. There's no real advancement of the characters as Walt ages out. Well, Ben Coes gets the importance of moving his characters along. It was clear in the last book (Bloody Sunday) that Dewey Andreas might be starting to wind down his career. One character that has shown up frequently in the books is Rob Tacoma, a former Navy SEAL and now an independent contractor.
This book is the first in the Tacoma series as he's hired by the CIA to avenge the deaths of two high-profile politicians who were assassinated by the Russian mafia. Like the Andreas books, it's action packed and we even get a visit from Dewey. Also, the narration is excellent.
It's not quite 10 hours (my minimum for buying a book) but it was available at my library. I'm glad I got it.
By Marty Makary, Read by Robertson Dean
I'm very fortunate to have found a GP who is very interested in a holistic approach to medicine. She researches and recommends treatments beyond traditional pharmaceuticals. She's also big on her patients learning and researching on their own and one of the things she recommended to me was the Podcast Peter Attia The Drive. Attia is an interesting and very smart person and he's hard to take in large doses. He is singularly obsessed with longevity and seems to rate longevity over living most days. I wouldn't have wanted him as my Dad or spouse. But some of his podcasts are really interesting and relevant to me so I pick and choose the ones that I want to follow.
One of his guests was Dr. Marty Makary and he was there to talk about this book. He's a surgeon who has worked in several of the best hospitals in the US. He set out to figure out why error rates and costs haven't down in the past 10 years and find the root cause to be the complete lack of transparency in the industry, especially with hospitals and surgeons.
One of the interesting things that they discussed in the podcast was free market medicine vs. socialized medicine. Makary believe that under socialized medicine that initially costs would go down considerably but that in the long run we would end up with something less than what we have today because cost containment would rule and thereby lead to massive rationing. His perspective was more thoughtful than my one sentence so I recommend listening to it. It made me think more deeply about my own opinion on the subject.
The book, however, deals solely with the lack of transparency in medical care and it's eye opening. This is one of those books that everyone should read but you should especially read it if you have a medical condition that might lead to surgery anytime in the near future. Some research beforehand would probably benefit you greatly.
Hum Little Bridie
By Jonathan Fredrick, Read By Ari Fliakos
This sis the second boon in the Cain City series. The series is set in a down and out town in West Virginia on the Ohio border. Cain City seems to be finally turning the corner and there's river development planned. Nick Malick is a private investigator working a case that is starting to involve two gangs and the power brokers of the city. At the center is Birdie, a young mother that Malick is trying to help leave her life of prostitution so that she can get her daughter back.
It's been 2 years since I read the first book in this series and I forgot how much I liked it. Fredrick puts you right in the middle of the seedy side of this town with well developed characters and environs. I hope there is a third int he series and that it doesn't take 2 more years to get it.
By Monica Hesse, Read By Tanya Ebe
This is a short book (only 7 hours) and I only picked it up because it was about events in Virginia. The Eastern Shore of Virginia is a very unique place that is still quite rural and has an agricultural economy. It's littered with abandoned houses, sheds and barns.
Between November 2012 and April 2013, Charlie Smith and Tonya Bundick went on an arson spree and burned nearly 80 structures.
This book chronicles the events and the people (including fire fighters and investigators) involved.It took some work to get it to extend to 7 hours. There's even a chapter on historical crime couples like Bonnie and Clyde that really isn't relevant to this story. If you are from Virginia or have vacationed in the Eastern Shore or like arson stories you might like this book. But you could just Google Charlie and Tonya and get all the information that you need.
City of the Lost
By Kelley Armstrong, Read By Therese Plummer
This is the 1st book in the Casey Duncan/Rockton Series. Casey murdered someone in her past and now she's told one too many therapists (why would you tell any of them is the logical question) and the victim's family is out to get her. Her best friend, Diana, is having trouble with an abusive boyfriend. They find out about a place where they can relocate and disappear forever.
Rockton is a place in the middle of nowhere Canada and it's where people go to escape forever and start over. Once there, Casey learns that her investigative services are needed to help resolve a recent murder. Yes, it's kind of a ridiculous plot. But it's not a horrible book. It's got action, killers, cops, romance and a few twists. It's not my favorite police procedural but I'm going to give the series a try and reserve the second one at the library.
Murder at Half Moon Gate
By Andrea Penrose, Read By James Cameron Stewart
I read the 1st book in this series last month and liked it enough to read another. These are fun murder mysteries set in Regency England. Wrexford is and Earl who is interested in science, not society and Sloane is a widow who took over her late husband's career of producing satire cartoons. She's "adopted" two street urchins, Raven and Hawk, who help her gather information and are instrumental in their crime investigations.
If you like the Anne Perry books you will like these. Good character development and witty dialogue. Raven and Hawk are great characters and add a lot of fun to the story. In this one a genius inventor is murdered. He's suspected of having invented a new steam-powered engine that will revolutionize transportation. Lots of other people would be interested in the patent for that.
A Cold Trail
By Robert Dugoni, Read By Emily Sutton-Smith
This is the 7th book in the Tracey Crosswhite series. If you aren't familiar with these books I recommend reading them in order. There are many references to previous books.
Tracey and her husband, Dan, are back in their home town of Cedar Grove while their Seattle home is being remodeled. Dan is an attorney and has agreed to help a local merchant sew the city for trying to take away his business. They are new parents and Tracey is struggling with balancing her identities of mother and detective. While in Cedar Grove she gets involved in a cold case murder. It turns out that both efforts might be related.
It's a good story but wasn't my favorite but I think the new mother angles will be interesting to most.
The Great Quake
By Henry Fountain, Rad By Robert Fass
The biggest earthquake in US history was the Alaska quake that happened March 27, 1964. It was a magnitude 9.2 and fortunately happened in a sparsely populated place. It killed 130 people and destroyed the lower half of the state.
But out of that came a lot of our knowledge of plate tectonics, tidal waves and the behavior of different soil during earthquakes. It's an interesting book but a lot of the content is about the people impacted by the earthquake and the scientists researching the aftermath. It especially gives a clear picture of how LITTLE we still know about the science.
The Third Victim
By Phillip Margolin, Read By Therese Plummer
Phillip Margolin is my favorite legal/procedural mystery writer and has been for a long time. He is probably the author that got me into the genre with his masterpiece, Gone But Not Forgotten. I didn't know who did it in that book until that last page. He is a master at writing a mystery puzzle.
I haven't read him in a while because is books are generally shorter than my 10 hour minimum for purchasing on Audible but I noticed that my library carries them and I was excited to start this new series.
Our heroine, Robin Lockwood, is a young lawyer who's just gotten her dream job with the best defense attorney in Oregon. She is immediately assigned second chair in the defense of Alex Mason. Mason is accused of murdering 2 women and attempted murder of a third. It's the third victim who has identified him. Adding to the complexity is the fact that Robin's boss is acting a little strange and seems to be forgetting things.
There's a bonus at the end of the audio version with an interview with Margolin. I've already got the second book on hold but I probably should read Gone But Not Forgotten again just for fun.
By Dervla McTiernan, Read By Aoife McMahon
This is a debut novel set in Galway, Ireland. Twenty years ago Cormac Reilly was a new detective and was sent on a call where he discovered the dead body of Hilaria Blake in her dilapidated house. He took her 2 orphan children to the hospital where Maude disappeared and young Jack was put in foster care. Nothing else happened with the case.
Twenty years later Jack is found dead and it's ruled a suicide. His sister, Maude, who has just returned to Ireland from Australia, doesn't believe that it's suicide. Neither does Jack's girlfriend, surgeon Aisling Conroy.
I have mixed feelings about this book. It's a good story but there are so many subplots, twists and side stories that at times it's hard to track. It takes a little work to get through it. There's a great deal of suffering and pain all through the book. Everyone has skeletons trying to escape closets and it's a lot of work to keep the closet doors shut.
The narration was great. I do love a good Irish accent. I'll give the second one a try.
The Echo Killing
By Christi Daugherty
This is the 1st book is a series featuring crime reporter Harper McClain. It's set in Savannah GA and Harper works the night desk at the local paper covering the local crime beat. One day there's a murder of a mother that echos the murder of her own mother 15 years ago. Harper feels that she needs to investigate it herself because the lead detective seems to be purposely stalling. What follows is a series of stupid/illegal actions on her part to find the real killer.
I did not love this book. I didn't feel like most of the characters were well developed, especially the lead detective. Harper makes a lot of immature decisions so she's annoying. But the worst part is that I knew from early in the book who did it and if it's that easy it simply isn't a good mystery. I'm usually terrible at figuring out the culprit so if I knew then it wasn't much of a mystery.
The narration is really slow but speeding up the app fixed that. I don't think I'll continue with this series.
A Darkness Absolute
By Kelley Armstrong
This is the second in the Rockton series that I started earlier this month. I usually don't like to read sequels so soon. When I put this one on hold at the library is said I would get it in about 4 weeks. I think we readers are going through a lot of books during the quarantine so this one was available in about a week.
Rockton is the town where people can escape to if they need to get away from their "real" lives. In this one Casey and the sheriff's deputy, Will, get lost in the forest and stumble on a woman trapped in a cave. It's a Rockton resident that's been missing over a year.
In this area there are town people and 2 groups of people that live in the forest so that leaves a lot of room for distrust and mystery antagonists. Every person in the book seems to have an agenda and, therefore, they can always act out of character. The romance between the sheriff and Casey is a lot like a teen love story to me.
I said after the last one that I was unsure about this series. The books have GREAT reviews on Audible but they just don't speak to me.
When Time Stopped
By Ariana Beumann, Read By Rebecca Lowman
What a great book to end the month with. I wasn't sure that I was ready to read this book because it's a memoir of her father's experiences as a Jew in Nazi Germany. Her father eventually emigrated to Venezuela where she was raised never knowing her Jewish heritage.Later in her father's life she was able to start putting the story together and when he died he left her a box of letters and memorabilia that helped her research.
It's a really beautiful and lovingly told story and is was good to remind me that the times we are in aren't the worst.
Well, we are certainly on a wild ride right now. It's one of the many times in my life when I am so glad that I have hobbies. Not only do they keep me busy and productive but they keep me off the internet. Listening to too much news is not healthy for me. I hope you are able to keep your life as normal as possible. I'm trying to see this time as a unique opportunity to truly take every day as an opportunity to create without distraction.
I'm not a very social person. I love my alone time so in some ways things aren't very different for me. But I don't just run out to "pick something up" anymore and there are no more drinks with friends or quilt club meetings. We are all adapting to online and phone connectivity. Who knew that I could have a drink with a friend without combing my hair or even putting on a bra? II might get used to some of this! My Mom's apartment complex (for seniors) is on lock down. Yesterday I met her at the fence and tossed over some supplies. It felt like we were doing an illicit drug deal but that's our new reality.
Meanwhile I'm continuing my dyeing schedule and trying to get a lot of quilting done. Last week I got some new Stars fabrics made. These are all one yard pieces and they are perfect when you need just one color and more than a fat quarter. There are over 30 colors to choose from!
Many of us are busy finishing up quilt tops and if you need a special backing I can help! I make a lot of custom quilt backs in different patterns. Two of the most popular are gradients and monochromatic spirals. These are 108" wide and are $26/yard. You can send fabric swatches and I can match colors for you. Just contact me with your vision.
It was a great weekend of quilting and binding and now Penguins on ice is done!!
You can click on the image to go to the gallery page to read more about this quilt. I still need to make the label and then once we are allowed to socialize again, I'll deliver it to my sister-in-law.
The weather was quite nice here this weekend so Chris got a lot of outside things done. My allergies are insane so I stayed inside and quilted and did a little crochet and worked on coasters. I'm listening to a lot of books so the book post tomorrow is going to be long!
So far, though, we haven't been too horribly impacted but that is not the case for most people. I sent a donation to our local food bank but I'm working on another idea for a little fundraiser for them.
Mom lives in a retirement apartment and it's pretty much on lock down. I'm going to meet her at the fence tomorrow to toss over some paper towels and fabric.....you know, emergency supplies.
Patricia Caldwell brings us out inspiration this week with her biggest quilt ever. Everything Is Connected started with a custom dyed tapestry and she used the Crossroads Stash Pack for the rock elements. She used fibers, dyed yarns, fabric paint, tulle, wool roving, and gemstones of Picture Jasper surrounded by Magnesite sticks for the center of the quilt. She made it over a period of four months working on and off and it has over 1,170,00.00 stitches.
For sharing, Patricia received a 20% coupon for the shop that's good for 3 months! If you have made anything with my hand dyed fabric I hope you will consider sharing it in the Customer Gallery. The only rule is that projects have to be complete. It doesn't have to be made totally from hand dyed fabric, just include a recognizable amount.
The penguin is loaded on the longarm and getting quilted. I want to work on the binding this weekend and have it done Monday for a March finish. I forgot to take a photo so you'll just have to take my word for it being quilted.
The crochet project is moving right along. My goal is to have 3 sections of the variegated/ I haven't decided if it will get a border yet.
What I know for sure at this point is that I do not like Caron Simply Soft yarn. I'm so glad I've avoided stashing yarn because I'd be really unhappy if I had bought a lot of this yarn. It's really soft in the skein but it stretches like crazy and is splits.
I don't know if splitting is the right term but this is what I mean. This happens all the time and it's really annoying. I know I won't use all of this yarn on this project so I might have to do one more project to finish off the yarn. After that's done I'll explore some other types of yarn. Like fabric, there are TONS of options to choose from. Right now I'm trying to keep myself from doing a bunch of online yarn shopping. That would be really dangerous.
Back in the sewing room I found the last pile of strips (for now). These are cut offs from the Groovy quilts.
I decided to split them into color groups and make a set of rainbow coasters.
I do like having several projects going on at once. I can work on several in a day and I just move from station to station (or more accurately, pile to pile) to switch between projects. This weekend I'll primary focus on Penguins on Ice but will probably also work on postcards, coasters, crochet and maybe even start thinking about something new.
I hope you have a safe and creative weekend. Try not to watch the new too much. It causes way too much stress. Once a day is enough for me.
Yesterday was dyeing day so I didn't get a lot done except for dyeing. We've also spent a bit of time making sure we are stocked and able to stay in for over a week. We did take in my car for a recall repair since I don't need it and I figure the mechanics need all the work that they can get. I took along a Clorox wipe and wiped down the touched surfaces before I turned it over to them. I'll do the same when I pick it up.
We went to Kroger after that. I felt a little silly wearing gloves and one of my homemade masks in the store but I'm glad I did. People were not being nearly as careful as they should. Some guy was coughing in the potato chip aisle. Of course a month ago I would have never noticed! Chris did a Costco run and it was clear that they have put much more thought into how they are handling controlling everything. Our local Food Lion is doing a nice job too of keeping people spaced apart. But it was good to see the stores well stocked so maybe the hoarders are done for now and everyone else can get their supplies.
Remember Monday when I was playing around with the penguin scraps and made the one sample postcard? I decided to play around with the rest of the scraps yesterday.
I just started sewing the scraps together into chunks that will be big enough for postcards.
I sewed and sewed until all of the scraps were stitched into chunks.
All those scraps made 16 card bases.
I made up a little stitch kit that I'll work through between crochet sessions in front of the TV.
Now it's time to get the Penguins on Ice quilted and I'm contemplating making more masks.
What a great project to be working on at this time. I can't look at my penguins and not be happy. The pattern is called Penguin Party but I'm going to call this one Penguins on Ice. I'm determined to get it quilted and bound so it can be a March finish. I love the clamped shibori ice sheets. I think it looks better than just penguins floating on a background.
The backing is my new favorite swirl in the same blue as the background.
Here are the second set of coaster done. The strips were left over from the fabric for this Hunter's Star quilt. I used fat eighths and the the die left about a 3/4" strip of each fabric. That was enough to make a bowl and 4 coasters. I stitched them with a variegated Superior Rainbows thread in "rock" colors.
I had a little strip of the binding fabric left over to use as a bow. I'm getting a bit of a head start on gift making for the year!
We quilters are generous people and with every crisis we search for a way to help. When I saw all the social media talk about making masks I was dubious. There's no way the homemade masks could be what our health professionals needed. So I went to the source and emailed my own primary care physician to ask her opinion. Well, I was wrong! She immediately asked for some for her office and for some of her doctor friends. They are well aware of the limitations of these masks but they are perfectly suitable for some (non-viral) situations and help the N95 masks last longer.
If you are considering making them contact your local doctor, nursing home, veterinary office, hospital....to see if they need them and to see if they are looking for a particular pattern. Make sure that where you are sending them really needs them. I made a second set with ties (because I ran out of elastic) for a nurse friend and her hospital. In hindsight I think the ties work best.
This is how I spent the last 2 days and I'm grateful for my stash of fabric, elastic and seam binding (ties).
Now I'll get back to my projects which involves a bit of online shopping. For those of you who need to do a little online shopping I have a little gift for you.
I usually do a summer vacation store wide sale but I wanted to move it up since we are all on "vacation". I do wash my hands thoroughly before packing orders and I'm the only staff.
I hope you are safe and comfortable with your families. I know we all have a long road ahead and our help will be needed by our fellow citizens for months to come. Quilters are generous people and we will keep making and giving as long as it's needed. While I wait for more mask orders or for something totally different, I'll get back to making and quilting veterans quilts.
I'm purposely not talking about the virus and sequestration and all that goes along with this. My sewing room and my blog are my escapes. But I am thinking of all you and hoping that you and your families are safe and comfortable. We're doing great here. Like many of you, being away from other people isn't exactly hard times for me.
I tried out several different options to add length to my penguin quilt until I found these clamped shibori half yards in my shibori bin and thought that I might be able to make "ice" for the penguins to skate on. The clamped fabrics have more white in them than the penguin bodies. I got the first sashing done and I like the look. I'll proceed on and get the other sashing rows and outer borders done.
Several people recommended another row of penguins. That was an option I considered but I'd ahve to make 5 more faces and I just couldn't bring myself to do it.
I'm just thinking that it might be possible for this to be a March finish!
While I was cleaning off the cutting table to work on the sashing I started playing with the shibori scraps. They are so pretty! They could possibly be placemats combined with the leftover light blue backing fabric. But I decided to try a postcard first.
Some hand stitching seemed to be in order and I found these candidates in my collection of embroidery threads.
I sewed together enough strips to cover a 4 x 6 postcard base but didn't fuse it to the postcard base yet.
I stitched on some circles with Perle cotton. I do realize that the circle motifs don't really fit in this assemblage but I was in the mood for circles and really just trying to decided if postcards were what I wanted to do with these scraps.
All I had to do to finish it was to fuse it to a postcard base, fuse on a backing and stitch around the edges.
Yes, I'm please with this and I'll make postcards with the rest of the scraps.
Baby penguins! Look at that cute little heart penguin.
Here are all the penguins arranged the way the pattern calls for. I'mm look at them a little and see if I have them all in the right place. Then I have to figure out how to make it longer. The patter size is 60 x 66 which I find to be pretty useless for a quilt to use. I like something closer to 60 x 80 for a sofa quilt. I don't know what I'll do yet. I might add some sort of shibori border top and bottom or just make the sashing rows wider. That's my problem to solve for the weekend.
I've also made more progress on the baby blanket. I've added the first of 4 sections of the variegated yarn. Yes, I do realize that the purple doesn't really "match". I went to 3 stores looking for the right color to use as an accent. Purple turns the variegated blue and blue turns the variegated purple. I finally just picked the purple and hope that repetition will make it all OK. It's a donation blanket to it's fine. I do not like this yarn so I want to try to use it all in this blanket so I never have to use it again. I'll take a photo and show you next time why I don't like it.
To finish out the week it seemed like a good idea to make start another set of coasters. Why not?
I have this pile of scraps left over from the Hunter Star veterans quilt. That quilt started with fat eighths and I used the Hunter Star Go! die. That left strips that are about 3/4" wide, perfect for wrapped coasters. It's hardest for me to toss hand dyed fabrics so this pile has been on a shelf for a few months. (I think we have a hint as to why my sewing room is always so cluttered!)
I love how these fabrics look in the coasters!
I've got 2 done and hopefully enough fabric for 2 more and a bowl. This is going to be a really pretty set.
I think I have enough things to keep me busy this weekend!
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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.