I've been very remiss in posting this week but it's our last week with our friends and we are taking advantage of our time together.
I have still been getting in some reading and finished 10 books this month and listened for 112 hours and 44 minutes. That doesn't include the time I wasted on my 2 DNF books for the month. My total listening time YTD is 365 hours and 15 minutes.
I'm happy to say that all-in-all it was a good reading month for me. Aside from the 2 DNF books there were only 2 books (Stolen Thoughts and A Good Day For Chardonnay) that I thought were OK. The rest I really enjoyed. It's a good mix of fiction, non-fiction and mystery so I hope you will find something you might like to read.
As always, I also want your recommendations for your best books of March.
The Personal Librarian by Marie Benedict - found it pretty boring. Belle de Costa Green is a fascinating woman and I think I'd prefer a straight-up biography to this book that painted her as awfully superficial
When Death Becomes Life by Joshua D Mezrich - I thought this was going to tell personal stories about people involved in transplants. I turned it off when he started a very detailed description of a transplant operation
Biohacked: Family Secrets - About the sperm donor business and how, with DNA services, people are finding their sperm donor fathers.....and other stories.
Twin Flames - The story of a bizarre cult that professes to match people to their "twin flames".
Void Moon (659)
By Michael Connelly, Read By L. J. Ganser
This isn't a Bosch book. It's an older book from 2009 and, frankly, I didn't enjoy it.
Cassie Black is an ex-con under probation and working as a car salesperson. She is getting her life straight when she finds out that the daughter she gave up for adoption is being moved to France. She concocts an insane plan to get her back.
After a stupid attempt where a bunch of equally stupid and bad people get killed, she makes a decision that was completely obvious from the beginning.
The void moon is a weak mystical/bad luck reference used throughout the book. It was clear how this was going to end from the beginning.
To The Bright Edge of the World (807)
By Eowyn Ivey, Read by a cast
This is a fictional story about the exploration of the new Alaska territory in 1885. Lieutenant Colonel Allen Forrester leads the expedition while his pregnant wife, Sophie, must stay at the Vancouver Fort for the duration. The book explores their lives while apart during the exploration and there are a lot of references to ravens and their mystical "powers".
There is a side story of letter and journals that have been handed down through the generations. The last remaining descendant of the Forrester's has sent the journals to a museum in Alaska and is corresponding with the museum curator who is reluctant, due to funding, to accept the items.
There is a good bit of mystical romance to this tale but it is well told. According to my reading diary, I read her earlier book, The Snow Child in 2013 but I don't remember anything about it.
Half a World Away (700)
By Mike Gayle, Read By Ksyi Ushe and Joanna Brooks
All The Lonely People by Mike Gayle ended up on my 2022 Top 10 list. It's one of my all-time favorite books and this book proves that Mike Gayle isn't a one-hit wonder. Those of you who are fans of Gayle please excuse me, I've only just discovered him.
This story is about Kerry Hayes, a single mother and house cleaner who lives in a tough area of London. She had a difficult upbringing, mostly in an orphanage. She had a brother who is 8 years younger but when they were taken into care they were separated. Noah was adopted and is now a successful barrister. Kerry has been writing letters to him through the adoption agency for years trying to find him.
Now that she's near 40, she hires a private detective to find him so she can get in tough. It sets off a chain of events that affects both of their lives.
This is another beautifully written story by Gayle. When you are finished with this book you KNOW these people and you want to meet them. If you read this be warned that you will cry at some parts.
I'm officially declaring Bryce Courtenay, William Kent Krueger and Mike Gayle as my curretn favorite authors.
Tunnel 29 (573)
Written and Read by Helena Merriman
This one is for you non-fiction fans and it's a fascinating tale. This is the story of an escape tunnel built under the Berlin Wall in 1962. About 20 young men spent 6 months burrowing a tunnel under the wall and helped dozens escape.
The interesting twist to this particular tunnel story is that it was funded by NBC (after the project was already started). NBC wanted to film it and show the escapees coming out of the tunnel. It was one of the first documentaries of it's time and you can actually watch the whole thing on YouTube.
There are some discrepancies between the documentary and book but nothing substantial that would take away from the true story.
Dead man's Grave (707)
By Neil Lancaster, Read by Angus King
This is the 1st book is a Scottish police series featuring DS Max Craigie.
The head of a powerful Scottish crime family is murdered by an old man following through in a century-old clan feud. Craigie and detective Janine Calder are sent to investigate. Once the motive is determined, Craigie and Calder are pushed to close the case but now there are other murders that seem to be revenge.
Craigie and Calder find themselves investigating the murders but also possible corruption in the Scottish Police Service.
This was a fun read with a storyline that moved along quickly. However, if you are considering this one in audio format be sure to listen to a sample and make sure you can understand the heavy Scottish accent of the narrator. The only reason that I could listen to it was because I worked with a Scot many year ago and I eventually learned to understand what he was saying. This book might work best in paper.
Windigo Island (706)
By William Kent Krueger, Read By David Chandler
This is book #14 in the Cork O'Connor series.
The body of an Ojibwe girl washes ashore on the fabled Windigo Island. The girl ran away a year before with a friend and now there's a search for the friend. O'Connor is now a PI and has been hired to find the girl.
I generally really dislike fantasy and sci-fi elements in books so I was thinking about why I didn't mind the mystical elements (and there are many) in this series of books. The fact that I still enjoy these books I think speaks to the brilliance of Krueger's writing. He uses the mystical elements to honor the customs and traditions of the Ojibwe people whereas most authors use mystical elements and magic to lazily solve a storyline problem. At least, that's what I think.
I enjoy this series a lot. I love the characters and I love that the characters develop in each book. He also constantly introduces new characters, causes harm to some of the characters we love and kill some others off. It's kind of risky but it pays off in very rich stories.
Black Cake (722)
By Charmaine Wilkerson, Read By Lynette R. Freeman and Simone Mcintyer
This is a very popular book just released in January. It's supposed to become a Hulu series.
Eleanor Bennett has recently passed and has left history voice recording for her 2 children along with a Caribbean black cake in the freezer. Eleanor shares the story of how she born on a Caribbean island and escaped to an uncertain future.
I expect that movie produces will make this into a really interesting movie or series because the basic story is good. It's the telling of it that's a mess. It's so chopped up that it's really hard to follow. Some of the chapters are a few paragraphs long and there's no need to have broken up the story into so many parts. Overall I was disappointed in it because I did enjoy the basic storyline.
Stolen Thoughts (587)
By Tim Tigner, Read By Paul Michael
I thought this was going to be like a Michael Crichton book and it could have been. The premise is that a Stanford scientist has develop mind reading technology and is using it harmlessly in Las Vegas as a psychic. One day one of her customers tries to kill her.
She figures out that someone else had developed the same technology and is trying to get rid of her to protect their technology. Sounds good, right?
The whole thing fell flat for me. The professional assassins are inept, the scientist is deaf but seems to be able to hear at convenient times and the people trying to kill her are completely unrealistic. For example, they all live on the same floor of a building....50 year old people basically living and working together.
This is another book that could be adapted into a much better movie. At the end of this book you find out that the author eliminated 25 chapters from the beginning of the book. Thank God!
A Good Day for Chardonnay (728)
By Daryndra Jones, Read By Lorelei King
This is the second book in the Sunshine Vicram series. I read the first one in December 2020 and you can read that review here. The books definitely need to be read in order.
In this episode, Sheriff Sunshine Vicram has all kinds of skullduggery going on. There's a bar fight that might have resulted in murder, an annoying raccoon, an old lady who confesses to every crime and her teen daughter who is an escape artist and off on an investigation on her own.
These stories really aren't mystery books. I'd call them romance novels told through a mystery plot. It's very light reading so if you are looking for a good, easy beach read this series might be for you. It sort of wore on me after a while and although the book ended with a giant cliffhanger (major pet peeve) I will not read any more of them. It's just not my genre.
If you are inclined to try it out, I will warn you of one thing. There is a very graphic sex scene about 2/3 through the book. There's a lot of sex chatter and activity in the book, but I was quite surprised at the graphic details in this one part. I'm no prude. After all, I'm watching Bridgerton for the second time, but I thought this particular scene was over the top. If you read any reviews of this book, you will see this mentioned often.
They Came For Freedom (575)
By Jay Milbrandt, Read By Wayne Campbell
I expect that what most of us know about the Pilgrims is what we were taught in middle school around Thanksgiving each year. This is an in-depth history of the first Pilgrims. It talks about their persecution in England for deviating from the Church of England and their hardships on coming to this new land. In a time where we have refugees fleeing countries all over the world, this is a good reminder of our earliest refugees. It also does a good job of telling the stories of the various Native American tribes that first encountered the arriving English.
It was an interesting book but it's truly for the history buffs. It doesn't read like a novel or historical fiction. I was glad it was only a little over 8 hours and not my usual 10 hour minimum.
I intended to get these blocks done this weekend but time just got away from me. I did have some allergies to deal with Saturday so that slowed me down. Then we had to get the guest house open for guests that are coming this week, then yard work and laundry and I finally sat to sew yesterday afternoon. I got a few more rounds on the blocks and I am madly in love with this quilt! I can't wait to see it finished.
While our friends have been here I have been crocheting a lot as we watch TV together in the evenings. Laura and Chris watched Witcher and now she's making him watch Bridgerton. Watching his reactions is entertainment in itself! Ian and I moved our evening cribbage and backgammon games into the TV room so I can be doubly entertained. Ian is the master at cribbage. I've only won 2 rounds but, so far, I own backgammon.
Anyway, after game time I do some crochet and have mostly been working on my Moogly CAL blocks. I have to admit that I don't enjoy it as much as I expected but I am learning a lot of new techniques and stitches so I'll keep at it for a while. When I get the new batch blocked I'll share some photos.
This is Laura and Ian's last week so we have a lot of activities packed in!
This special art quilt comes from Susan Price. I'm going to let her tell the story:
"This quilt honors my father who fought in World War II, but he didn’t talk about it. I knew he was in North Africa and Sicily but wasn’t interested enough to ask questions when I was younger. When I was 24, he died at age 55 of heart disease. Fast forward 42 years to 2019 when my mother passed away. While going through her things, we found artifacts from his time in military service. They shed some light on his experience but also left other questions unanswered. A brief journal recounts basic training and his first combat in Sicily. What happened after that? What were his experiences in Germany and France? Where and when was he wounded? How did he meet the Barbera family? I wish he was able to fill in the missing pieces of those untold stories. I used the Barrier Island gradient as background and binding and love the way the colors tint the photo transfers done with Transfer Artist Paper. Other techniques include photos printed on ink jet fabric and text transfers done with textile medium on a cheesecloth substrate."
You can get to know Susan and her art/business partner, Elizabeth Gibson, through their blog, PGFiber2Art and their Etsy Shop, where they sell beautiful thermofax screens for your art. I have many of their screens in my collection and they also sell custom screens.
For sharing, Susan 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.
We're continuing to have a great time with our friends visiting. We took a hike one day, have done a little shopping and Ian had done a ton of yard work for me! It's not very often that you get a guest who loves yard work.
Chris and Ian go to work out every day, Chris and Laura cook together, Ian and I are working this giant puzzle and have championship cribbage and backgammon every evening.
Of course, Laura and I are also sewing.
Laura had her four block "A" blocks done and she's started her center "G" block.
I've started sewing the blocks together for the wedding quilt. I can already tell that I am going to love this quilt! I like the blue with the gray a lot.
This weekend Ian and Laura have a wedding to attend so I expect to get in a lot of sewing and also a lot of fabric ironing for the shop. The weather is supposed to be pretty crummy so it will be a good sewing weekend.
I finally got a couple of more veterans quilts to quilt! These were good to work on this week between other activities. Yesterday we did a nice hike. The weather was fabulous and it was great to be outside and get some sun.
Before we left I decided to put some sunscreen on my face. Came downstairs and reported that it was a waste of time because my sunscreen expired a year ago. Then Laura looked at her bottle and saw that hers expired in 2015!
At least our faces didn't peel off.
Here are the veterans quilts.
Both of these are made with more of the donated Benartex fabric. The fabric is a bit difficult to work with because it's so busy but people are doing really nice quilts by mixing it with solids and other prints.
I quilted both with my favorite star and ribbon pantograph. I've really gotten my money's worth out of this one! The thread is Innovatech. I really love that thread. It's my current favorite because I never have issues with it. I would throw out my current thread but as I use it I replace the colors with Innovatech. Aside from basic colors, I have a lifetime supply of thread!
I think that you all realize that my business is a tiny business. I make and sell hand dyed fabric simply because I love doing it. I pay enough attention to know that Gradients and Stash Packs are the most popular products but beyond that I mostly dye what I'm in the mood for. But when a gradient fabric sells quickly on a regular basis I try to pay attention. That's what today is all about. These are some of the most popular gradients that I allowed to get out of stock and now they are back!
Ann Jensen used Forest Canopy for the sky and water elements in her Humpback Whale pillow cover. She used Midnight for the whale.
Patricia Caldwell used Sundance for her Vitamin C art quilt. Almost all of the elements in this quilt are from the Sundance gradient!
I don't have a customer project made with Salt Marsh yet but you have purchased so much of it that I expect to see a project soon!
Fabric of the Week
The fabric of the week this week is the Morning Glory gradient. It's 20% off through Sunday. Irma Lubbe used this in her art quilt, Morning Glorified.
This weekend was mostly about cleaning up the yard. We made a good dent by getting all of the sticks picked up. That chore alone has taken a couple of weeks and we have enough fire kindling for all of next winter. I also got up a wheelbarrow overfull of magnolia seed pods. Magnolia trees are such a pain. Between the leaves and seed pods they produce a ton of trash. Ian, our visiting friend, loves doing yard work (lucky me!) so he trimmed a lot of shrubbery. If the weather permits we'll do a ton more this week with my brother's electric trimmer.
But Laura and I got in some sewing too.
Laura got her first two blocks made. Her piecing is perfect!
I made mastectomy drain bags. I basically use the pattern that the local charity provides. It worked fine for my Mom when she had her mastectomy. That was how I discovered this charity in the first place. The pattern is perfect for fat quarters because I could get 3 out of each FQ with only a 2" strip left over.
I did make a different kind of strap with a strap attached only on one side a loop on the other. This way the strap can be adjustable and tied off to the loop. I had a roll of red grosgrain ribbon that I used up for some of them.
I made 21 all together, 3 each from 7 different fat quarters. With the serger these come together quickly. I like making these. It's a great use of fabric that I'm not using. I have a pretty significant stash of red/black/white fabrics so I expect there to be more of these.
I also got 2 veterans quilts loaded on the longarm and will have then done by Wednesday.
Ann Jensen is back this week with a newHawaii-inspired pillow cover. Her pillow covers are hand appliqued with batiks and gradients on a gradient background. She is masterful at fussy cutting the gradients to get just the effect that she wants. She used Dreamscape for this piece.
For sharing, Ann 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.
With our friends here my schedule is totally out of whack....in a good way. I finally have someone to play Cribbage and Backgammon with in the evenings, and I have someone to sew with. This week I've also had a few errands with Mom. So there hasn't been much sewing or crochet.
I'm cool with it because I'm having a great time. But I will show you what we are working on between other activities.
What I want to be working on is the Antelope Canyon quilt but the blue fabric is still processing. I didn't want to start anything big so I pulled out some fat quarters to make some mastectomy drain bags. I had a roll of grosgrain ribbon that I was able to cut for half the straps. I'll get started sewing these today before Laura and I head to happy hour with friends.
Laura and Ian come here often enough (during non-lockdown times) that they leave some clothes and things behind. I had totally forgotten that the last time they were here that she had started cutting out this quilt. It's been in my guest closet for 2 years and I didn't remember at all!
It turns out that we had made good notes so she was able to start cutting and sewing right away. I don't know if she will get the top together while she's here but I expect she'll take it home this time to finish before she changes the decor in her bedroom again.
This weekend I hope to get the mastectomy bags done and get the blue fabric cut for the Antelope Canyon quilt.
This blanket is for our friends who are visiting from England. Actually it's for their anticipated granddaughter who is due in July. The mother picked blue because she's decorating the nursery in navy blue. it finished to about 33" square.
This is my second gingham blanket and I do enjoy making them.
This one gave me a bit of challenge though. I intended to make this pattern from Daisy Farm Crafts. That's exactly what I started out doing. The stitch is the herringbone half double crochet. I got about 16 rows in and realized that it would not work for me. This stitch has an extra twist of the wrist on ever stitch and after 2 evenings I realized that I just would not be able to do it. It was too painful. So I decided to use the chart for the pattern but do the blanket in single crochet like this pattern.
The border is 1 row of single crochet and 3 rows of alternating front post and back post double crochet.
I love the look of the finished blanket but is is heavier than I wanted. Having to use 4 weight equivalent yarn makes this a great floor blanket for the baby. It's not going to be a cuddle blanket.
I'm cool with that.
Here are all of the details:
Yarn is I Love This Yarn Sport Weight, held 2 together throughout. I'm very happy with the yarn. It's soft and easy to work with.
White, 4 - 5 skeins
Soft Blue, 3 - 4 skeins
Navy 2 - 3 skeins
Hook size 6.5mm (K)
Pattern for the layout of the plaid: Crochet Pink Plaid Baby Blanket
Pattern for the stitch directions and border: Crochet Nine Square Gignham Baby Blanket
Chain 105 with 7mm (L) hook
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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.