I had a great month of reading in April! I had one DNF book but that's because it's a book that needs to be read, instead of listened to. That book was Einstein's Fridge by Paul Sen. It's a history of the study of thermodynamics written for non-scientific people like me. I've purchased the paper version but Chris grabbed it before I could start it. I expect it will be a beach read.
My listening time for April was 110 hours and 38 minutes. year to date it's 475 hours and 53 minutes. You can tell that I have my headphones on all the time!
I found a couple of new podcasts that I enjoyed this month:
Finding Genius by Richard Jacobs - Jacobs searches out experts in a variety of fields for interviews. Recent topics have been as diverse as controlling weeds, Parkinson's Disease research and improving employee mental health
Scamfluencers - This is for those of us addicted to the ID channel. It profiles various scammers.
Please let me know of any good books that you read this month so I can make my book wish list even longer!
The Songbook of Benny Lament (892)
By Amy Harmon, Read By Rob Shapiro
What a jewel of a book! I don't know how I found this book but if it was one of you, thank you.
It's December 30, 1969 and Benny Lament is doing a radio interview about is life in the music industry. Mostly the book is the story of his life but each chapter starts off with an interview question.
Benny Lament grew up in the Bronx and music has always been the most important thing in his life. It's kept him from following his Dad into the mob life with his uncle Sal. One day his dad takes him to see Esther Mine perform. He's mesmerized by her voice and confused about why his Dad is particularly interested in this singer.
56 Days (639)
By Catherine Ryan Howard, Read By Alana Kerr Collins
I think that this is the first Covid era book that I've read in that it's set in the early weeks of the pandemic in Ireland. Many reviewers commented that they couldn't finish the book because they couldn't handle a covid theme yet. This book really isn't a covid-themed book. The early lockdown is just the backdrop for the story. It didn't bother me at all and just reminded me how naïve we all were to believe our authorities when they said "two weeks to flatten the curve".
The story is about Ciara and Oliver who meet in a grocery store 56 days ago and start dating just a few weeks before covid reaches Ireland and the lockdown orders begin. Remember those good 'ole days when we were told lockdown would be only a couple of weeks? Well that's the premise for them deciding to live together during lockdown. Today, 56 days later, detectives arrive at the apartment to find a decomposing body.
I really liked the premise of the book. Ciara and Oliver, of course, are not who they portray themselves to be. Their true identities unfold and the story develops. The problem I have with this book is the telling. It jumps all over the place going back and forth in time and replays many scenes, almost word for word, from the perspective of different characters. The ultimate effect is of being dragged slowly through a river of mud before being allowed to get up and walk out to the shower. It was just too slow and too erratic and the ending was ultimately drab.
City of Saints and Thieves (673)
By Natalie C. Anderson, Read By Pascale Armand
This was a refreshing change of pace for a mystery. The story is set in the fictional town of Sangui City, Kanya. Tina and her mother came to Kenya as refugees from Congo. Her mother worked as a maid in The Greyhill home where Tina grew up and was friends with the Greyhill son.
When her mother is murdered in the home, Tina has to live on the streets to survive. She has a job as a master thief for the Goondas, a local gang. She's biding her time until she can get revenge on the man who murdered her mother.
This is a fast paced mystery with some really interesting characters. Aspects are ridiculous but I liked Tina and her mission so much that I couldn't put it down.
The Paris Library (713)
By Janet Skeslien Charles, read by a cast
During WWII the American Library in Paris stayed open because of the dedicated librarians. This book tells the story of that library in historical fiction format but with a lot of fact.
Where the book goes al little stray for me is the telling of it between 1939 Paris and 1983 Montana. Odile Souchet is one of the librarians. She eventually marries and settles in Montana. The 1983 story is centered around her young neighbor, Lily. I found Lily's part of the story to be not nearly as interesting and not tightly connected to the 1939 story.
It's still a good and interesting story if you like historical fiction.
The Runaway (695)
By Nick Petrie, Read By Stephen Mendel
This is #7 in the Peter Ash series and was an interesting development beyond the previous 6 books. One of the things I love about Petrie's writing in this series is that he avoids formula. In each novel Peter and the other characters, Louis and June, develop and grow. The interesting twist in this book is that the new character, Helena, is really the main character of the book. It's her story. Peter plays a major role but the focus is definitely on Helena. That has gotten a lot of criticism but I actually liked it.
Helena is 18 and all alone in a rural mid-western town. Her mother died in a car crash and the local deputy has Helena working for him for a pittance and for the "privilege" of living rent free in a run down travel trailer. One night while working at the gas station she sees the opportunity to leave town with a stranger. It can't be worse, right? Of course it can, and it is. Several months later when she is trying to escape she encounters Peter Ash on a highway in Nebraska pulling him into her nightmarish life.
When Brains Dream (547)
By Antonio Zadra and Robert Stickgold, Read By Bob Souer
I am fascinated by dreams. I have always had a very active dream life and I remember something from a dream almost every morning. My dreams are always in color. I often continue dream stories for several nights in a row. I often talk in my sleep and I used to be a pretty active sleep walker. Once, when I was traveling for work, I slept-walked my way to getting up, getting dressed, packing my suitcase and leaving my room. I woke at the elevator at 4 in the morning. It was not checkout day. It scared the daylights out of me. After that I made sure that I chain locked the room and found that sufficient to stymie my attempts to walk out in the hallway. I have woken in the morning many times fully dressed in bed. All that is to say, that I love my nightlife and love learning about what's going on in the brain while we sleep.
This book is a great intro to what we know, and mostly don't know about what and why we dream. It includes some background into early research, the pronouncements of Freud and Jung and really explains what we actually know and what we do not know. Mostly we really don't know very much except that we must sleep to survive and dreaming plays an important role. This book is an interesting look into current theories and research.
Flight of the Sparrow (660)
ByAmy Belding Brown, Read by Heather Henderson
In 1676 there was an Indian raid on the Massachusetts Bay Colony and one of the captives was Mary Rowlandson along with 2 of her children. She was held captive for 11 weeks and later wrote of her experience. Her book, Captivity and Restoration is probably the first "best seller" published in Colonial America. It's worth a read on it's own and is good to read along with this book.
Brown has taken that book and the very little knows about Mary and turned it into an interesting novel that explores the difference between the two cultures. Based on reading Mary's own account this novel is a nice story built around basic facts but it's still a very interesting story and I finished it off in 2 days.
A Hand To Hold in Deep Water (844)
By Shawn Mocher, Read By Elizabeth Evans
This is another book on one of the Chirp daily deal lists. It hasn't gotten much press and isn't broadly read. There are only 7 review on Audible. That's a shame because it's a really good book. I couldn't put it down. I felt like I was with the characters.
Willy Cherrymill owns a farm in rural Maryland and his stepdaughter Lacey is coming home with her young daughter. Tasha, the daughter, needs medical treatment at John's Hopkins. Willy and Lacey are close but haven't spent a lot of time together since Lacey left home. Both are still dealing with the disappearance of Lacey's mother and Willy's wife, May, 30 year ago. Lacey saw her mother leave with someone in a big red truck and that was the last time she saw her. There's been not one hint of her since.
Willy and Lacey (along with Tasha's father) try to focus on caring for Tasha while avoiding any mention of May. But Lacey becomes obsessed with finding out what happened to her mother.
This book is about a lot of things but the biggest thing for me was about the way that humans choose to make families. This is the kind of book that might be good for a book club discussion. There are a myriad of themes that can be explored and discussed. One of them is incest so be aware of that. But I think it's handled well in this story. It's only one of the threads explored in this lovely book.
Wild Swans (1635)
By Jung Chang, Read By Pik-sen Lim
This book is a classic that was originally published in 1991. This particular audio version was republished in 2015. If you decide to read it, get this version because the narrator is excellent.
It is a history of 20th century China told through the lives of three women in one family. Jung Chang's grandmother had her feet bound and was given to a warlord as a concubine. Her mother was a Communist and Jung was one of the first people allowed to attend school in a Western country. It's a long book at over 27 hours but it's worth the read. You will find parallels in our current cancel culture. There's a lot to think about and explore in the ways that communist and socialist ideas are presented to populations and how we see these tactics today.
I decided to schedule one more post before I left for Paducah. I won't be posting again until this weekend for the April book post. Today I'll show the progress on my 3 crochet projects.
I got the tshirt past the underarms and am working on the body. I think it fit well enough to keep going. At this point I'm about 1/3 through the second ball of 4 (I think). This is linen stitch so it goes pretty fast even though I'm using a G hook.
I'm on the 2nd of 7 balls for my brother's blanket. This is about 50" wide and will be about 60" long, a nice snuggle size. This is going to get pretty hot to work on so I don't know how quickly it will be finished. He isn't going to need it anytime soon so I can take my time.
This is the baby quilt. This is another really easy pattern and is the project I took with me on the trip to work on in the evenings. These balls have a lot of yardage and I'm still on the 1st of 4 balls.
I think I might start using some project markers so I can gauge my progress each week......because that's how I turn something relaxing into a competition with myself!
I just could not leave town knowing that I had more binding to do when I got home. When I travel I have to prepare a lot of my food to take with. Between kitchen sessions I focused on getting this done.
I am thrilled with this quilt! This is the second Antelope Canyon quilt that I've made. I really like this pattern by Laurie Shiffrin. I do not know the couple this quilt is made for very well. But I made a quilt for the groom's sister and wanted him to have one too. I searched their registry to come up with the color theme.
The quilt is made of 4 blocks. 4 very big blocks!
I used 8 steps of the Black Shades pack and 4 steps of Indra for the fabrics. The background is the lightest shade and I used a controlled random pattern of 6 steps of black for the arcs.
I quilted it with the Woven Wind pantograph. I love this one because it keeps the quilt nice and soft and it's really fast to quilt.
The groom is an avid hunter so I selected a winter camouflage print for the backing. I know that if they don't like the front of the quilt that they will love the back!
I do not worry about what happens to my quilts once they are gifted. I don't like to gift them with any sort of responsibility. I will let them know that if they want to let the dogs play on the quilt that I'm OK with that.
I'm happy to end April with this big finish!
It was a very busy weekend with yard work, washing the car and lots of other chores. Washing the car was kind of a waste of time because it's covered in pollen again but at least I got it vacuumed and the windows cleaned for our trip.
I also got to see my favorite kids Sunday and was able to tale this little dress to Ella. The tutorial popped up in my Youtube channel last week and I just had to make it. Norma does nice tutorials for doll clothes and this dress was really quick to make up.
I don't like taking things to Ella without taking something for Eli. I found a spare tshirt from the ones I bought for his Christmas gifts do I dyed it this week and then painted it with a parrot stencil. That turned out to be perfect because he has seen a parrot that afternoon at the local farmer's market.
Their Dad and I taught them how to play Go Fish after I got myself totally dizzy spinning Eli around outside. It was a fun visit.
While I was dyeing gradients I dyed more of the vintage napkins that I have. The cross stitch cocktail napkins were pretty grungy but they dyed up great! The dark blue ones have an embroidered element that I thought would show up but apparently that thread is cotton! These will be fine to pair up with some future placemats. I am not opposed to making a set of 3 placemats or dyeing another odd napkin for a set of 4.
Glass bottle slumping is continuing. I can run the kiln once a day. One program takes several hours and then I have to leave it several more hours to cool down. I've given a couple of bottles away already and I had a couple of experimental failures but, by the time I'm done, I'll have plenty to give to the family at the beach.
I've turned 3 corners on the wedding quilt but I don't know if I'll finish it before we leave tomorrow afternoon.
This week's inspiration is courtesy of Karen Edwards. She made her Sunset quilt with the Sunshine and Shadows Gradient and Dunes, Canyonlands and Oceana Stash Packs. She embellished the piece with machine embroidery.
For sharing, Karen 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 weekend is here and my first order of business is to spread a truckload of mulch today. It's supposed to get into the 70s today so my car might even get washed too! But I started this morning getting the second set of bottles out of the kiln. I upped the top temperature for this one and I did get better definition on the slump on the tree image. The blue bottle is a Bombay sapphire bottle and the dark brown one is a Bailey's Irish Cream bottle. I got a little bit of kiln wash transfer on the Bailey's bottle that I cleaned up with vinegar. I started a new set up this morning with a little lower temperature to see if it helps with the kiln wash transfer.
This week I also finished dyeing this custom quilt back for a friend. She wanted pale shades of Carolina Blue. The color isn't quite accurate in this photo. I think we picked a color that's very true to Carolina Blue.
I'm also making progress on the wedding quilt binding. I do a couple of thread lengths every morning and I'm about 60% done. I'll keep plugging away at this.
Usually in the afternoon I get some time to sit and sew half square triangles. I'll need 90 big squares and 90 4-patch squares for a veterans quilt so I have a long way to go. It's nice sewing to do while I'm listening to a book.....right now it's a really long book!
This is what I expect my weekend to be like. I hope you have a great one too.
I keep a firing log for my glass kiln so I know that it's been almost 3 years to the day since I used the kiln.
The last thing I fired were fish for my mosaic backsplash behind my dye sink. I think I got away from doing glass was because I was doing the mosaic and you can only have so many hobbies at one time! After the mosaic I got involved in a long project to make the Spirograph floor mats. You know how it goes, the further away you get from doing something the easier it is to ignore it.
But glass has been nudging me again, so I cleaned off the workbench (a monumental chore) and decided to warm up with some bottle slumping to see if the kiln even still works.
I prepared 3 bottle molds, cleaned the bottles, crossed my fingers and started the kiln. Halleluiah! It works!
I was in the basement dyeing so I could keep an eye on it and verify that the temperature and timer were working properly, and they are. I don't know much about brands of kilns. I bought this one off Craigslist many years ago and bought it because it was available locally and cheap. It had been abandoned in a house and the new owner just wanted to get rid of it. But, right now, I have to say that I'm pretty pleased with the Evenheat brand.
This morning I have 3 well-slumped bottles! I was surprised at how quickly it all came back to me. The kiln programmer is kind of weird and not-intuitive but it only took me a few tries to remember that the START button doesn't start it. Starting it requires SEG ENTER SEG. I'm still not sure exactly what the START button is for but I think it has something to do with doing a delay start, something that I would never do. Anyway, I got it to work and have 3 bottles done.
I'm not particularly keen on doing bottle slumping but I've had this bin of bottles in the basement for at least 3 years and I'm going to do as many as I can tolerate between now and the family beach trip. I'll take all of the results to the beach to give to the family. Then I'll get back to working with the pretty glass.
I've got the bottles selected for the next batch and I'm going to try a new program with a higher temperature for these. As soon as I get back from lunch and errands I'll get these cleaned in the kiln. Notice the bottle on the left looks like it has white paint on it. That is devitrification wash. It helps to keep the glass from getting hazy when it's fired. Sometimes it works really well and sometimes only a little. I put it on the glass either way.
It's nce to be playing with glass again!
Yesterday was a big day for me. Do any of you remember that I used to do some glass fusing? I barely remember it myself! I miss it and I decided it was time to clean off the glass workbench and get back to it. I'll start with slumping some bottles to test the kiln. I ran a brief test yesterday just to make sure it will heat and everything seems to be in order. The workbench is now clean and organized again so stay tuned for updates on that front.
For now, I have an update on all of the new crochet projects.
First is the tshirt. This is my first garment ever and I should have picked something with a looser fit but I'm going to continue on. I took out about 6 rows of the yoke and upsized to a medium. I'm back at the armhole again and it's better but not perfect. I'm supposed to have 5 chains to connect the front and back yoke but I think I'm going to add a few more or add another couple of rows to the yoke. Knowing my luck this yarn will stretch like crazy and this shirt will be baggy, but I'm going to continue on and just see how it goes. The yarn splits a little but it doesn't bother me. It's so soft that a little splitting is a small price to pay.
Next is the blanket that I will probably give to one of my brothers. I want to make a blanket for each of them. This is the same yarn that I used for Chris' blanket. I'm almost through 1 of 7 balls. This one will be a bit smaller than Chris' but is will still be about 48 x 60ish, It will be plenty big enough! I'm using the same pattern from BagODay with a K hook and it's speeding right along. It's all double crochet and chains.
The fan stitch baby blanket also got off to a fast start. I think I'll take this on our trip to Paducah to work on in the hotel at night. I'm not even half way through the first of 4 balls of yarn but it still moves along pretty quickly even with a H hook. Nothing but double crochet in this one.
I might side track all of those for an evening to use these yarns because a cute American Girl doll dress popped up in my YouTube feed last night. It would be a fast little project and I think Ella would move it.
That's all for now. Today is dyeing day and, hopefully, bottle slumping day too!
I will be away April 26 - May 1 getting inspired at the AQS Paducah quilt show (as a visitor, not a vendor). Any orders placed during that time will be shipped May 2.
New Stash Pack
Stash Packs have been extremely popular lately and I'm having to work very hard to get some back in stock. I always try to keep two green-themed packs available at all times. The most popular version is Spring Greens. Spring Greens is made of all bright, yellow-based greens reflective of early Spring foliage. This one makes me really happy!
Each Stash Pack has 10 fat eighths of fabrics in a variety of color combinations and color texture. I love them for scrappy style quilts but I think most people use them for elements in art quilts. You can use them any way you want!
Each Stash Pack has 5 streaky fabrics and 5 mottled fabrics. Here are larger views of 6 of the fabrics. There are so many possibilities for fussy cutting applique or landscape elements.
Fabric of the Week
Staying on theme, the Fabric of the Week this week is another green Stash Pack. Malachite is a collection of grayer greens and would be a great complement to Spring Greens to add a lot of green variety to your fabric collection.
This weekend started off as a weekend of chores and this was the biggest one. We love having a woodstove. It saves us a lot of money in the winter. But it's messy! I'm lucky that we have this in the basement. I know that people still heat homes with woodstoves and I don't know how they keep their homes clean with an active woodstove. I sweep every day but at the end of the season it takes several hours to clean everything up. I hate doing it but I'm glad to have it all tucked away for the fall. Because I don't go near this corner except during fire season, I didn't notice that the chimney sweep left their drop cloth last year. I have it ready for them to pick up tomorrow.
After that and a few other chores, I dyed some quilt backs for veterans quilts. They are soaking now and I should be able to load a couple of veterans quilts later this week.
Finally I got around to some sewing. I pulled some light gray fabric and cut a bunch of triangles and started sewing some blocks together.
I'm using my Brother machine and was having trouble with the beginning ends jamming into the throat plate. I decided to try some different needles to see if it made a difference. These needles made all the difference! I will now keep some of these in my supplies to use for piecing.
I'm not sure how I will use these blocks but Mary sent me an idea of alternating blocks with 2" and 4" HST blocks like this. This would make a nice veterans quilt top. Mary has all kinds of great quilt ideas for charity quilts. If you aren't familiar with her, check out her blog. She has a great library of free patterns on her sidebar.
I also made some progress on starting all of my new crochet projects and will share those later this week.
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In Bloglovin you need to search "Colorways By Vicki Welsh" to find the blog.
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.