This week's inspiration comes from Marijke van Welzen. She quilted a Crystal mandala for a challenge in the MQX Quilt Show.
You can see in this photo the amount of dense textural quilting that she did.
For sharing, Marijke 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 project has to be complete. It doesn't have to be made totally from hand dyed fabric, just include a recognizable amount.
This wasn't a particularly prolific month for listening to books and I blame it all on my obsession with watching the British Bake Off. I watched every season on Netflix this month. I don't know why because I can't make anything that they made but I did learn a few things that I can apply to my gluten free vegan baking. I watched every season so I can get back to my normal life.
As I look through the books that I did listen to I'd also have to say that this was probably my worst month ever for book selection. I was thrilled to get Neon Prey from the library after weeks on hold and it was the highlight of the month. Everything else was OK or bad. There were even two books that I started and couldn't finish (I Know Who You Are by Alice Feeny and The Overstory by Richard Powers).
I hope you have some good recommendations for me so that July and August are better reading months!
The Great Alone
By Kristen Hannah, Narrated By Julia Whelan
I loved Hannah's The Nightingale so I was excited to read The Great Alone. Sadly, I did not love this one.
The story is about Ernt Albright, his wife Cora and daughter Leni. It's set in 1974 and Ernt is an ex-POW recently home from the Vietnam War. He has lots of issues and decides that going to wilds of Alaska will solve their problems. They are not prepared for wilderness living nor for the long dark winters.
There were many things that I didn't like about this book. The pacing was slow for the first half, sped up a little for the 3rd quarter and really sped up to close out the last quarter. But mostly I just didn't like a book about such serious dysfunction. The characters are stereotypes to the letter and make continuous bad decisions. Just once it would have been nice if one person would have made one "right" decision. The book was 95% depressing.
By John Sandford, Narrated by Richard Ferrone
I was so happy to get the library notice that Neon Prey was ready for me. I've been waiting since mid-April to get it. I needed a good book after The Great Alone.
This is the 29th book in the Lucas Davenport series. Davenport now a US Marshall and on the trail of Clayton Deese. Deese has skipped bail and as they are searching for him the uncover a burial ground behind his house. The search turns into a hunt for a serial killer.
Richard Ferrone is a great narrator for the Prey series and he is Lucas for me. It was a fun read with lots of action
By C. J. Box, Narrated By David Chandler
This is the 18th in the Joe Pickett series. The new Governor send Joe to investigate a missing British celebrity. Meanwhile Nate Romanowski asks Joe to look into why falconers are no longer allowed to hunt with eagles.
All of the books in the Pickett series are good but they are very formulaic. Someone from Joe's family is always involved (daughter Sheridan in this book), Nate always shows up just in time and Joe's Mother-in-law, Missy, is always evil.
It's a good, easy ready and David Chandler is the perfect narrator.
Crazy Rich Asians
By Kevin Kwan, Narrated By Lynn Chen
Here's a sentence that I've never written or said:
The movie is MUCH better than the book!
I saw the movie a couple of months ago and it was a cute chick flick to watch one evening when I was home alone. The characters were funny and the story was cute.
The library had the book so I decided to read it to see how different the story is. I always like the book better than the movie but in this case the book needed some serious editing and the screenwriter took care of that.
Nick and Rachel are professors at NYU and, after 2 years of dating, Nick is taking Rachel to Singapore to meet his family. He's an idiot because he does nothing to prepare her for the wealth that she's going to experience there. He acts as if he's surprised by the way Rachel is treated by his uber-wealthy family and friends. He's a clueless moron if he really expected her to be welcomed. But that's not the most annoying thing about the book. This book is a inventory of luxury brands and portrays a society obsessed with outspending each other. One way the movie is better is that it can portray that luxury visually without having to describe every private plane, designer dress, expensive food or whatever item is being consumed. Every paragraph seemed to contain a laundry list of luxury brands.
In reviews I've read that the book is funny. It's not. It's tedious and annoying and full of unlikable characters. The movie corrects all of those mistakes.
Gandhi Before India
By Ramachandra Guha, Narrated By Derek Perkins
We all know Ghandi has the activist who led the efforts for India's independence and, frankly, that's all I know about him. But before India he was in South Africa from 1893 - 1914 as a lawyer and civil rights activist where he honed his philosophy and skills. This book is the first in a planned 2-volume biography of Gandhi and it covers his life before returning to India to lead that movement.
Guhu is writing, what has to be, the most comprehensive biography of Gandhi. It's so comprehensive that it's mind-numbing. The 23 hours of listening could have been whittled down to about 18 easily. After 19 hours I couldn't take it anymore and gave up. I may eventually finish it but it won't be anytime soon.
By Clive Cussler and Grant Blackwood
Narrated By Scott Brick
I've read several of Clive Cussler's books in the past and I saw this series in the library catalog and decided to give it a try. This is the 1st in a series featuring Sam and Remi Faro, professional treasure hunters that, conveniently, have skills equal to a SEAL Team member.
If you are a fan of Dan Brown and like books about secret codes and stashes of ancient treasure then this is a series for you. It's not really mu cup of tea but I like the characters and the story moves along well. It was an entertaining read after the Gandhi book. There are about 10 books in this series now so it might be fun to dig into. Since this series is available at the library I will probably give #2 a try.
By Mason Cross, Narrated By Eric Meyers
This is the second in the Carter Blake series. Blake is a Jack Reacher type character. He's great a hunting people down. In this book there's a serial killer on the loose in LA. He is abducting women when their cars have broken down on the highway. Blake is in Florida when he sees the news and he recognizes the killers signature. He goes to LA to offer his assistance.
I liked this one better than the first. I think the writing and story were a little better. There's lots of action and suspense. I think I will keep on with the series for a while.
I put the last stitch in the label this morning. I'm really happy with the quilt. The one criticism that you might have is that the motifs don't show up well. Selecting the thread for this quilt was a real challenge. My original idea was to use gold but it looked terrible. I settled on 3 shades of orange-brown. I'm actually really happy with it. Some of the motifs stand out more than others so it invites you in to look closer.
You can see more photos on the Lost My Marbles page.
I'm happy to have this 5 year old UFO done. Now I can start something new!
In between sessions of binding stitching I took breaks to do a little quilting on two more veterans quilts. This one was made by Karen and is another of her lovely disappearing 9-patch quilts. Karen makes dozens of quilts for charity every year. She probably has an average of 3 quilts for show and tell every month! She's mastered the art of scrap quilting so that the quilt doesn't look scrappy at all.
Gwen made the patriotic quilt above. She did a program for us a few months ago sharing lots of ways that 4-patch blocks can be used. She did this orange quilt that I shared last month and this patriotic one is another great way to set 4-patch blocks.
These 2 quilts were paired up with a pale blue hand dyed backing. I used a star and swirl pantograph and white thread. I have 3 more veterans quilts in the closet but they are each awaiting a mate for quilting so I'm done until the next Country School meeting in a few weeks.
Fabric of the Week
The Fabric of the Week this week is Thistle. Thistle is a surprisingly popular Shades Pack! Yes it's dull but it's wonderful for landscape quilts. It's a purple gray and often works better to represent gray than a pure cool gray. You can see that perfectly in Jeannette Ringuette's Florida Sunset.
This week Thistle is 20% off through Sunday.
I had a great time dyeing some new Shibori pieces last week. I used 8 of them to make a new Stash Pack. Each piece in the Shibori Stash Packs is a fat eighth. There are now 2 of these Stash Packs in the shop. They are great if you want a variety of colors but don't need huge pieces.
There are also 3 more half yard pieces. Check out all of the Shibori in the shop.
New Quilt Backs!
I made the first one of the monochromatic spirals as an accident and loved it so much that I used it for the back of my Lost My Marbles quilt. I like them because they are like a tie-dye spiral but they don't scream '70's. I've added 2 to the shop this week and they are each approximately 104 x 110. Check them out in the shop.
I'm determined to have Lost My Marbles as an official finish for June. That means it has to be bound and have the sleeve and label attached. I started the binding this weekend.
I wanted the binding to gradate with the shades of the quilt so I started by gathering/dyeing enough fabric to bind 10 quilts. You never know what you need and the extra will not go to waste.
I cut 2 strips from each. For this quilt I wanted a small 1/4" wide binding so my strips are 2 1/8". I could have spread out the quilt and placed strips around it and the sews together but I decided to piece the binding as I sewed it to the quilt.
I stitched a strip to about 8" from the end and then pick the next strip.
Then I'd attach the next strip and sew another section. I was surprised that this actually went pretty quickly and was a lot easier than trying to pay out a bunch of strips and keep them in order. It also allowed me to cut some strips shorter when I needed.
I'm about half way done stitching the binding to the back.I love how it's looking so far. The sleeve is ready so I can stitch that as soon as the binding is done.
This week's featured quilt is Copper Apatite Energy by Patricia Caldwell. Used Mystic Jade Shades Pack, dyed yarns, copper and apatite gemstone.
Here's a great close up of the copper and gemstone centerpiece for this quilt. The fabric matches the gemstone perfectly.
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.
I've got two more veterans quilts ready for quilting and that's all I can do until I get more tops that will pair with the 3 that I have on the closet. So once these 2 are quilted today I need to get another quilt ready to load. I was a little surprised to find that I only have 3 quilt tops! Of course I have big quilting plans for all of these.
I have this one that I finished last summer (May 2018). I more or less know how I might quilt it but I don't have a back for it yet. I'm not sure I'm ready to tackle this.
This postage stamp quilt is my oldest UFO. I started it in 1998! I think I finished this top last year. I'm pretty sure that I'm going to do some Spirograph motifs on this one and I'm not really ready to do that again yet.
The third, and smallest, quilt is this one. It was done during Barbara Brackman's Grandmother's Choice block program. It's the sister quilt to Lura's Choice. Both quilts have the same blocks but they look completely different. I think this will be the next one. I'll spend some time this weekend thinking about quilting motifs.
But my #1 priority for the weekend is to piece the binding for Lost My Marbles. I really want that quilt done by the end of the month.
While Lost My Marbles was drying I was able to get a couple more veterans quilts quilted. I think both of these were made by Betsy.
Betsy works a lot with reproduction fabrics and really favors red and black so I love all of her quilts. This one is made with 2 simple blocks that create a complex design when combined.
This one was made with the Strength Quilt pattern and she made it more interesting with her pieced top and bottom borders.
Some people think that you can pair reproductions and batiks. Clearly those people are wrong because they work perfectly together in Betsy's quilt.
I dyed a beige backing fabric and quilted both with this easy fan pattern.
Today I'm off to hunt for more glass tile to finish the fish backsplash. Cross your fingers for me!
My goal for this past weekend was to get Lost My Marbles blocked.
When I was getting ready to wash the quilt I remembered something critical. This quilt was made with every brown scrap of hand dyed fabric and much of it was from my early days of dyeing. That means that much of it wasn't processed correctly. So that meant I should soak it and, as you can clearly see, it was a necessary step. I soaked it for 24 hours in 3 soak cycles and that was enough.
I do my blocking directly on my sewing room floor. When I had the carpet put in here I put in a wool pad and picked a commercial grade plush so that I could block quilts right on the floor.
I was ready to block it Monday evening about 9:00 and figured it would take at least 2 hours. I really hate blocking quilts and generally have to it a couple of times to get it right. But I figured out a shortcut. See my fabric cabinets on the right? It looks like a white wall but it's a white wall of fun!
I measured the first side off these cabinets so I started absolutely straight. From there it was easy to use my collection of large Olfa rulers to line up the rest. I got it done in an hour! That was a record for any size quilt.
Then I got the fans from the Airbnb house and discovered that one of them has a short. I wish people would leave a note when something is broken. I hate having a potential fire hazard in guest space. The other one was one that a guest left behind and it's filthy so both need to be replaced.
A trip to WalMart for replacement fans and these tower fans will be better anyway.
I always leave a blocked quilt for 2 days just to make double sure it's completely dry. I'll get it off the floor today (after I do my dyeing). I need my cutting table back so I can trim these veterans quilts that I quilted last night.
And I need to get my binding fabrics cut and get started on piecing a gradient binding. I want to have this quilt done by the end of the month.
But first I'm off to do some shibori today! That's always a fun day.
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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