There still isn't much creative going on around here but I'm having fun anyway. We had 6 guests Tuesday night, 4 Wednesday night, lots of laundry Thursday and a friend from England is visiting for the weekend. I might get myself back into my old routine next week.
Meanwhile it's time for the monthly book report! It was a great reading month with 14 books. There were a couple of losers: The Lost City of the Monkey God and Pieces of Her. But there were more winners: Before We Were Yours, We Hope For Better Things and Sam Phillips. But the absolute winner of the month was Once Upon A River.
By Brian Andrews and Jeffrey Wilson, Narrated By Ray Porter
This the second in the Tier One series. These books build on each other and really need to be read in order. In the first novel John Dempsey went from Navy SEAL to a member of Ember, the nations most covert counter-terrorism unit. In this installment Dempsey and his team are on assignment in Iraq, Guatemala and finally, suburban US trying to stop a newly activated terrorist cell.
To say this book is action-packed is an understatement. It's along the lines of Jack Ryan and Mitch Rapp and is a good read. But do read them in order. Ray Porter is the perfect narrator for this most macho of macho men.
Where'd You Go, Bernadette
By maria Semple, Narrated by Kathleen Wilhoite
This book is way out of my wheel-house but it kept showing up on recommended reading lists and my local library had it. So I figured that I could take the risk on a free book.
Bernadette Fox was a revolutionary architect then she gave up architecture for being a wife to a Microsoft executive and mother to a very precocious daughter. She's now borderline agoraphobic. When her daughter insist on a vacation to Antarctica it's about all she can take and she disappears.
The story is told through a group of emails and letters that her daughter gathers in an effort to try to find her mother. It's a humor book, not laugh-out-loud like Carl Hiaasen, but still funny. There are great moments in corporate cultist culture, private school one-upmanship, neighbor fights and Seattle elitist nonsense. It was a fun read. The narration isn't the best but I just sped it up a little and that took care of any irritation.
Before We Were Yours
By Lisa Wingate, Narrated by Emily Rankin and Catherine Taber
I knew about Georgia Tann and her adoption scandal before reading this book because it was featured on Deadly Women on the ID Channel and I'm a bit of an ID addict. I think that the Wikipedia article is a pretty fair summary of the events and acknowledges that the horrid side of the story is truly horrid. But there were also children who ended up with better lives and that the idea of adoption as acceptable was due to her efforts. Just shows that nothing is ever all good or all bad.
Lisa Wingate has written a fictional story that masterfully explores all sides of the issue as told through one family of children. The story is told by Rill telling the children's story alternating with Avery, unknowing granddaughter of one of the Tann children, as told in modern time. It's really beautifully written and beautifully narrated. Rill was a great character, both as a 12-year-old and a 90-year-old.
The Lost City of the Monkey God
By Douglas Preston, Narrated By Bill Mumy
In a nutshell, this is a book about a group of scientists and non-scientists that used a technology called LIDAR to map jungle areas of Honduras and discovered 4 potential archaeological sites. They went in to survey one area and confirmed that it was ancient. On a second trip a couple of artifacts were excavated but due to safety no further excavation has been done. The Wikipeida article will give you the details. It's assumed that this is the mythical Lost City of the Monkey God/The White City/La Cuidad Blanca.
Douglas Preston is a writer for National Geographic and novelist. He's the same Douglas Preston who co-writes the Pendergast novels with Lincoln Child. This book is about his experience traveling with the group on the first expedition and it's a detailed log of his and the team's experience. There's a lot of background on the effort it took to get permission to fly over Honduras to do the LIDAR survey, the years to get permission to explore one of the sites and the logistics of planning that trip. There's extensive information about the poisonous snakes in the area and the tropical diseases they could catch. (I dreamed about snakes for 4 days after listening to this book.)
As it turned out they did pick up a tropical parasite, Mucocutaneous leishmaniasis, and about a third of the book is about this disease in all of it's gory details. The book might be worth a read or not. You really will get all of the info about the actual discovery with 30 minutes of web research. But if you want to know the effort and risks associated with archaeological work you might find this interesting.
There were 2 aspects of the book that I found humorous from politically correct/annoying people point of view:
There are a number of people who call themselves Honduras archaeology and anthropology experts. Those that weren't involved in the expedition did their best (and continue) to discredit the findings. It all reads like a lot of academic petty jealousy that I didn't find surprising at all. Also the local indigenous people cried foul as well. Suddenly when this mythical city might be found they claim ownership and, yes, racism. It can't be call the "Lost City of the Monkey God" because that's racist although that's how it's been referenced for hundreds of years. Now it's "The White City". But the book wouldn't have sold as well if it has been called The Lost White City. That might have been construed as racist although it refers to the white granite used to build the city.
Secondly, when talking about parasitical diseases he expanded into a general discussion about the migration of all kinds of diseases from 3rd World areas to 1st World areas (AIDS, Zika, Dengue and Leish) and, as required in our PC world, blames it all on climate change. Then he goes into great detail discussing each of these disease and how it's been documents that they all traveled by plane.....just like the diseases that wiped out the ancient people all traveled with Europeans by boat. Ridiculous.
Once Upon a River
By Diane Setterfield, Narrated By Juliet Stevenson
I don't remember which of you recommended this book but I'm very grateful. Diane Setterfield is not a writer. Diane Setterfield is a storyteller.
It's set in Victorian England around the River Thames and a pub called The Swan where storytelling is an art form. One Winter Solstice a man brings in a drowned girl that he fished out of the river. He collapses from exhaustion and the girl is placed in a back room. The local nurse, Rita, is sent for to care for the man. She checks on the girl a couple of house after she arrived and finds the girl alive. From there is woven a beautiful tale about life on a river and the people who inhabit the community. There are mysterious events, cruelty, love, pasts that want to stay hidden.....a little of everything. For me this book is the great storytelling of A River Runs Through It combined with some Dickensian characters and brooding and mystery from Jane Eyre. I enjoyed every minute of it and the narration is perfect.
Secrets to the Grave
By Tami Hoag, Narrated By Kristen Porder
This is the second in the Oak Knoll series and you must read the books in order. The storyline from the first book is an integral part of the second book.
In this one Marissa Fordham is brutally murdered and her toddler daughter barely survives the murder attempt on her life. Anna Leone, a major victim character from the first novel, is called in to be the child's advocate. As the Sheriff's office delves into the murder they find that Marissa had a lot of secrets, including who shoe really is.
It was a fast read with lots of twists and turns although it was easy to figure out the murderer early on in the book. There is a 3rd book in this series but the reviews are pretty universally terrible and few of the characters in the first 2 books are relevant in the 3rd. I will probably skip that one.
Pieces of Her
By Karen Slaughter, Narrated by Kathleen Early
I listened to this whole book because I wanted to see how Slaughter would wrap up the story, not because it was a good book. It was flat out horrible.
The story opens with Laura and her 31-year old daughter having lunch at a mall restaurant when a young mane comes in and opens fire. Laura subdues and kills the boy. Now her face has been broadcast all over television and news. Laura insists that her daughter leave town and sends her to a storage unit that is ready for an escape with car, identification and money.
That's probably a fine plot except that Andrea, the daughter, behaves like a clueless 17-year-old. She's incompetent to run her own life and proves even more incompetent as a runaway.It's a sloppy storyline written in a sloppy manner. For example, sometimes Andrea refers to her mother as Laura and sometimes Mom and she's mostly incapable of speaking to other people. She gets herself tied up in knots like a shy pre-teen.
Once we know that Laura has some sort of past that's come back to haunt her, the dialogue in the flashbacks is more 60's (calling cops "pigs") than late-80's when the events occurred. Even as a 55 year old, Laura, well educated and mild mannered still uses the term "pigs". It's completely out of character.
The book is beyond stupid and I can't believe they are making a movie from it. Maybe the screenwriters can fix it. Slaughter needs to stick with her Wil Trent series.
We Hope For Better Things
By Erin Bartles, Narrated by Stina Nielsen
Elizabeth Balsam, a reporter for the Detroit Free Press, meets James Rich and he asks her to look up a relative that she's never met to return a camera and some photos. She knows the photos are from the 1967 Detroit riots and that they have never been seen but she doesn't think finding her Great Aunt and delivering the items is worth her time until she is fired and suddenly has a ton of time on her hands.
She tracks down her Aunt Nora and ends up living with her for a few months in the 150 year old family home. While there she starts to uncover information about the history of her family and the home.
The Balsam family is white and the book unfolds a the story of race relations in 3 generations of her family, starting with the Civil War. The book is getting rave reviews and I think that's primarily because it pushes the buttons of topics that we are culturally fascinated with at the moment. It is well written and the characters are interesting and believable. The story line is mostly believable and there are quilts! The information about the quilts is surprisingly accurate. All in all, I enjoyed it.
My one disappointment with the book is that I felt that story was a little lazy. In every instance of inter-race relationships it was a well off white woman falling in love with a poor black man. I think that the subject could have been even more interesting if at least one of the couple was a white man and black woman. Maybe the characters all needed to be women to carry the story forward but I think the subject could have been explored more fully if, for example, the couple of 1967 could have been like the Loving's of Virginia. Regardless, I don't think this will appeal to feminists because of what the women gave up for love.
By Allison Brennan, Narrated By Eliza Foss
I thought I had found a new series to dig into, instead I found an annoying shallow main character. Max Revere grew up wealthy ins Atherton CA and is now an investigative reporter who looks into cold cases. You can envision her with her own ID channel show like Paula Zahn.
Max (Maxine) is home for one of her best friend's funerals. Although she hasn't seen Kevin in about 12 years, they were close friends in high school. Kevin was accused of murdering one of his other best friends and Max has never thought him guilty but he has never been able to get past the accusations from everyone else.
While there she begins to look closer into the death of their friend and into the recent death of a young architect on the same property. The plot was actually very interesting, it was the telling that got on my nerves. Much of the dialogue was awkward and Max's behavior was out of character for someone in her position. But I think that this book might be better reading than listening because the narrator was a very bad fit for the book. She made Max sound very ditzy and juvenile at times as if she was trying to read something gruesome to 4th graders in a way that wouldn't get them upset. I finally sped the book up to 1.25 just to get through it. It was easy to figure out who did it about half way through the book and then it seemed to take forever to get there.
Brennan is clearly a popular writer because she has several series and the books have rave reviews so she's worth a try.
Sam Phillips: The Man Who Invented Rock 'n' Roll
By Peter Guarlnick, Narrated by Kevin Stillwell
A few years ago I read Peter Guarlnick's 2-volume bio of Elvis Presley. I didn't even like Elvis Presley before I read that book but I developed an appreciation for his music, his talent and the way that he changed music. When i saw that Guarlnick had published a new book I had to read it.
Rightly, Sam Phillips was the first non-musician to be accepted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He did invent the new genre. He was also a fascinating man who worked with a lot of fascinating people. I loved ever minute listening to this book and stopped it often to go to YouTube to listen to specific performances, like Ike Turner's Rocket 88, the first Rock and Roll record ever recorded. If you are into music history, this is a great book and there's tons of supporting video and audio on YouTube. I even got to listen to some Howlin' Wolf.
By Jeffrey Toobin, Narrated By Paul Michael
I was only 13 when Patty Hearst was kidnapped and I remember hearing about it and the Symbian Liberation Army on the TV news but I'm sure I didn't really think about it much.
This book is a very thorough look at the events surrounding her kidnapping and the subsequent crimes committed by the SLA. What I like best about the book is that it's told from the perspective of that time and other things going on. California was experiencing so many citizen terrorist bombs and crimes that most weren't even making it into the news. There were also many "firsts" that happened is association with this crime, like the first use of a minicam to live-stream activity to television. It's a broad story of the time, not a simple exploration of Hearst and the SLA.
The book also delves into the life of Patricia Hearst and her family. Frankly, I don't think I'd liker her as a person very much. But the book was good and if you like non-fiction I think you will like this one.
By Tina Fey, Narrated By Tina Fey
I picked this book to listen to on our drive to Hatteras and it's a good driving book. It's mostly an autobiography told through some very funny stories from her life. It's not offensive or political and was just what we needed to keep us entertained for 5 hours.
The Emperors of Chocolate
By Joel Glenn Brenner
When I'm on vacation I like to read some paper books on the beach so I periodically buy some that are recommended and keep them in my travel bag. On the family beach vacation I pulled out this one. It was recommended by Carole after I listened to and reviewed the Hershey biography. This book is about the Mars and Hershey companies and their competitive and shared histories.
The book was published 20 years ago so the information is missing contemporary corporate history but it's still a very interesting read. Lots of fun facts about the development of chocolate products for war times, the development of the M&M (Mars and Murrie) and about the fight for store shelf space.
The Hyde Park Headsman
By Anne Perry
This is the 14th book in the Charlotte and Thomas Pitt series that's set in Victorian London. I bought this book in paperback because it's not available in audio format so I'll buy used paperbacks to fill in the series.
Thomas Pitt is recently promoted to Superintendent of Police and is investigating a series of decapitations in Hyde Park. It's a good light read.
My transition back into a normal schedule is going slowly but that's all OK because it's delayed because we have guests. We had some of Chris' high school friends here last night as they all prepared for a big fishing trip today. Instead of sewing I made brownies and helped Chris get dinner prepared. We had a fun evening telling stories and reminiscing.
I did squeak in a bit of hand sewing so I could finish off this set of moons. Each moon takes about an hour and a half to stitch.
I love all of them but this is my particular favorite of this batch. I love the orange with the black. if I counted right in the last post I now have 41 done and 31 prepared and ready for stitching. Now I'll switch back to the vintage flower blocks for a bit. I probably won't post tomorrow because our guests will still be here but maybe I'll have something to share by Friday.
Last week while my blog was posting about Flora's quilts I was actually spending a lot of time staring at this. It was my family's annual trip to Hatteras, NC. This was the view from the house deck and we had perfect weather all week. I got to spend a lot of time on the beach walking and reading.
But someone of Scots-Irish heritage can't spend too many hours in the sun so I set up a little sewing space outside our bedroom and worked on my 4th of July quilt.
I got the rest of these sections done for the center blocks of the quilt. I think I'm ready to start working on the border blocks, unless I decide to make a queen size.
We all love our annual get-together and I hope we can keep doing it for many years to come.
We got back Sunday and I spent yesterday washing cars and doing laundry. We have lots of company coming today so I'm slow getting back into gear but I should be mostly back to normal by Wednesday.
Ann marsh brings us the feature quilt for this week. She made this quilt to act as a headboard for her bed. She used various Shades Packs for her bargello strips. She had lots of challenges with this quilt from longarm service issues to the back bleeding. But she stuck with it and it turned out beautiful!
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.
Since I'm thinking about Flora this week I thought I'd share some of her other quilts that I've finished for her.
Like most quilters, when she died she left behind several UFO projects. Some were sets of blocks (Mom still has a set of Double Wedding Ring blocks from her) and some were unfinished tops. Mom had a Trip Around the World hand quilted and I quilted these 3 tops. I used a Baptist Fan on this Maple Leaf quilt. I really like this quilt a lot. I don't remember who got it but I think it went to one of my Mom's cousins.
This is the Dutchman's Breeches block and maybe the 2 that are now on my quilt were rejects from this quilt. She had put sashing between the blocks but I wanted sashing around the edges too. I easily found a yellow to match but had more trouble finding vintage blue. I think the bright blue was leftover fabric in her stash and I found the dark blue to finish it off.
I did some custom quilting on this one because it was the nicest of the three and I wanted to gift it to my Aunt. She took it but wasn't really happy.
She wanted this quilt instead because many of the fabrics in this quilt were from her clothing. Of course we traded quilts and the Dutchman's Breeches went to one of their cousins.
If you think that Mom and I have now finished off all of Flora's UFOs, you would be mistaken. I have 8 of these stars. I don't know that I'll ever do anything with them. They aren't flat and they are too big to use in one quilt.
She also left a few of these blocks and I know I'll never do anything with them. They are way too wonky.
But I was intrigued enough bu the block to draft it up in EQ a long time ago. I've since lost the file.
I even made a few sample blocks. Maybe I'll revisit these some day but for mow I need to get that marble quilt done!
Remember this photo from Monday? This is how Flora bound this quilt. It's kind of weird but I am so grateful! This is what made it possible for me to fix this quilt on the longarm.
I had just enough fabric in that binding to pin to the zippers. As I rolled the quilt I would unfold the edge, pin to a strip of fabric and then I could use my clamps. It was perfect.
This utility quilt got utility stitching. I nailed down the edges of every block with straight stitching and then did a stipple in each block. I found that it was helpful to use my ruler table on the longarm because I had to hand manipulate the edges a bit and the flat surface really helped. It only took a couple of hours to do all of the stitching/quilting. I used an off-white in the needle and a tan in the bobbin. The tan virtually disappeared into the back.
This is a thick quilt so a 1/4" binding wasn't going to work. It would feel like cording. Flora used wide binding so I would too.
Scrappy binding in feedsack fabrics, of course. I machine stitched the binding because a utility quilt can get a utility binding.
I am beyond thrilled with this quilt. It looks like something Flora might have made with anything and everything thrown in to make it work. I'm so glad I covered every inch of the original quilt. It really works with the chunks of other vintage fabrics. I took this photo before I washed the quilt (first time 40 years) because I was afraid it would fall apart. But it came out of the was in great shape.
Here are some close ups of each section of the quilt. Flora loved that Dutchman's Breeches block. I had 2 of those and neither was square.
You can see how my thread color completely blended into the back of the quilt. You can still see Flora's Baptist Fan quilting and my stipple doesn't looks as awkward as I thought it would.
I'm calling this project a huge success.
Now it was time to get serious and patch the worn areas of the front and use as many of Flora's blocks as possible. Each block was like this and had paper pattern pieces pinned to the corner. None of these blocks were square and several weren't flat so piecing anything was out of the question. Instead I pressed under a 1/4" (more or less) edge. No worrying about points or straight edges.
Most of the patterns were on brown paper bags but I did find a few amusing newspaper clippings.
I spread the quilt in the living/dining room floor. We actually refer to this as the sewing annex because we mostly use it for overflow of my sewing crap. We eat 1 or 2 meals a year in here. Anyway, we keep the furniture moved to the sides and I had just enough space to lay out this 70" x 80" quilt. Flora made several Trip Around the World quilts and apparently she was starting 2 more. She didn't strip piece these like we do. No. She worked it in rounds one square at a time. You can see one big white patch beside the center panel. That's where the $10,000 patch is located on the back and I covered it with a big chunk of batting.
Next I used the 16-patch blocks to connect things together. It was at this point that I decided that the entire quilt needed to be covered. I have a pretty good supply of feedsack fabrics and auditioned using only one print for all of the open spaces but it just didn't excite me. I needed to fully invest in scrappy.
Deep in my stash was a set of fat eighths of vintage fabrics. I'm pretty sure that these are real vintage but, if not, no matter. There's a ton of variety and the sizes are perfect.
I started at one end pinning the blocks in place and as I did I tucked in the fabric chunks. I did not worry about how one block overlapped another. You can see that this windmill block overlaps onto 2 16-patch blocks. I didn't even cut away extra bulk. I did have to go back and re-pin some of it because I remembered that I was going to load it on the longarm so I needed the pins to all be horizontal to the edge I would be loading on the machine.
Next to figure out how to load and piece/quilt it.
I decided that the logical second step in this quilt was to work on the back. I had 3 areas of holes with one of the biggest right in the center. One corner had several holes that could be covered with 2 patches.
I could have probably found some hand dyed fabrics that would have matched the backing color closely but I really wanted the patch fabrics to be as soft as the backing fabric. That's when I remembered that I had a stash of "white" feed and sugar sacks.
I was excited to find this bag printed $10,000 plus a couple of sugar sacks with the printing still visible. I decided to use them double layered for stability. I simply cut out a patch and pressed the raw edges under and topstitched them to the quilt.
If you can't match a patch them make it stand out as much as possible! Now it was time to do some batting repair.
I don't know what batting looked like when Flora made her quilts but it's thick and heavy and I don't know how she hand quilted through it. I cut out the bad areas and basted in 2 layers of scrap batting to approximate the thickness of the original. It took a couple of hours to fix the batting.
While I was up close and personal with the quilt I noticed this fabric throughout the quilt. I don't know what color the floral image was but the dye ate through the fabric all over this quilt.
The next day I tackled the front of the quilt.
I got immersed in a project last week that I spent 3 days to get it finished before we left for our annual family vacation. I wanted to get this done because it's destined for my brother, Eddie and I can deliver it this week.
Before I get into the background of this project I just want to point out that this project would have never happened without bloggers. I've been watching Carole do some miraculous restorations on old quilts and I've always been inspired by Debra's free-piecing and use of vintage textiles in her quilts.
This series of posts are about a quilt made by my Great-Grandmother, Flora Texas Goad Rakes. She died at the age of 80 in 1968. I was almost 8 when she died and I do remember her a bit. I mostly remember her sitting in her rocker with a tin of supplies hand piecing quilt blocks. She also wasn't terribly tolerant of having urchins running around her. But she was a quilter and she made quilts for everyone. If you got married you got a double wedding ring. All of her Great-Grandchildren also got quilts.
Here's another fun blog find. Through my blogging friendships I learned that Karen Goad and I are related through this lady and Karen's husband. Apparently all Goads from Virginia are related.
Here's the "precious" quilt. This project started with me rummaging in a closet and finding (again) my childhood quilt that Flora made. This is the quilt I slept under until I went to college. It has holes in it and is very worn but I just can't throw it out. I've been waiting for a idea that might inspire me to cut it up and make it into something else.
My quilt is heave but my oldest brother, Eddie's, quilt was even heavier. About 10 years ago he asked me to repair it but every single fabric was worn out - front and back. During a previous repair we learned that his quilt was heavier because it actually had an old whole quilt as the batting. He had to give up using his several years ago and he's still bummed about it. After watching Carole repair quilts I wondered if I might actually be able to refurbish my quilt and give it to my brother. (I've reached a point in my life where a super warm quilt at night isn't comfortable anymore.) I didn't want to spend too much time because, clearly, all of the value in this quilt is totally sentimental.
Time to inspect! Yes, that's the carpet. This quilt is seriously worn.
There are a few fabrics here and there that have held up but then there are fabrics that have completely shredded.
Now I slept under this quilt for years and years and I never noticed how she did the binding. On the sides the top is folded to the back. Top and bottom have the back folded to the front. This is why I'm always harping on people who are overly self-critical on themselves. Once you accept that the gift recipients only care about 2 things, color and comfort, you can stop worrying about the piecing, quilting and binding precision.
Aside from the holes, the back fabric is in great shape. It's a pretty heavy loose weave fabric and it's really soft. I'll have to keep the softness in mind when I patch those.
I remembered that I had a supply of Flora's orphan blocks. I think these were her pattern blocks. She would make up a sample block and pin the paper patterns to the block. My Aunt gave these to me years ago along with some quilt tops and other blocks. I think I can use these to patch the roughest areas of the quilt.
There were also a stack of scrappy 16-patch blocks. I took that night to think about whether I really wanted to do this and how I might go about it.
This week's featured quilt is an Oregon Coast landscape by Adri Herman. We worked together to pick the Sepia Shades pack for the beach and frame for her quilt. If you need help narrowing down choices or matching color I'm always happy to help.
For sharing, Adri 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.
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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