I didn't get quite as much reading done in June as I usually do. I "only" read 9 books. I got sidetracked with a lot of podcasts this month. I'll start my quick analysis with my two least favorite books: Magic Hour by Kristen Hannah and Before the Fall by Noah Hawley. They weren't bad book but they were a bit of a let down. I read 2 C. J. Box books this month. I needed them as palette cleansers after the two DNF books below. The books that held my atten best were the three non-fiction books: Legacy (which will be of interest to my British friends), The Least of Us (to help develop more compassion and empathy) and Nothing to Envy (to make me grateful that I was born in a Western country).
My listening time for June was 106 hours and 40 minutes. Year to date that's 728 hours and 35 minutes.
The Eight by Katherine Neville - If you like Dan Brown you will love this book. I'd guess that this book is one that inspired his writing. I'm not a fan of this genre of mystical historical artifacts with magical powers.
The Widows of Malabar Hill - I'm not sure if this is a good book or not because the narration on the audio version is intolerable. You completely lose sight of this being set in India in the 1920's with an overly excited contemporary American accent.
What good books have you read recently?
Sleeping in the Ground (659)
By Peter Robinson, Read By James Langton
I read the first in the Inspector Banks series last month and this month I've skipped to book number 24, proving that you do not need to read these books in order!
The action starts at the first paragraph with a shooter at a wedding party. The case seems to resolve itself quickly with the culprit's discovery. But something doesn't add up and Banks is on the case.
Good narration, fast paced and an enjoyable read.
By Thomas Harding, Read By Mark Meadows
If you like family or business history or if you are from the UK, I think you will enjoy this book. This is the story of the family that built the J. Lyons company, knows for the Trocadero, corner coffee houses, tea, ice cream and baked goods. But it all started with a man named Lehmann Gluckstein who escaped the pograms and immigrated to Whitechapel (London) in the early 1800's. What started as a small tobacco factory turned into a family-run empire. This is basically the story of modern Britain as told through generations of one family.
The Highway (589)
By CJ Box, Read By Holter Graham
Both of the DNF books above came after I read Legacy. I was afraid I was going to be starting a rash of bad books so I quickly picked the 2nd book in the Highway Quartet series by CJ Box. I knew I could count on Box to give me an enjoyable read.
He did not disappoint.
I think this series absolutely needs to be read in order. There's just so much that carries forward from book 1 to book 2 and I can see from publisher summaries that 3 and 4 are continuations of this book. I'm actually going to get them soon so I don't forget the various storylines.
In this one, Danielle and Gracie (from book 1) are on Thanksgiving break and driving to Montana to meet up with Danielle's boyfriend. Danielle is an incredibly annoying, irresponsible and self-absorbed young woman. She's also beautiful which makes her a great target for the truck driver that she just passed on the highway.
When they disappear, Cody Hoyt (from book 1 and father of the boyfriend) and his new police partner, Cassie Dewell start a search. They find something much bigger than just 2 girls missing.
It's very fast paced and Box isn't afraid to kill off a main character.
The Least of Us (769)
By Sam Quinnones, Read By Tom Jordan
In 2016 I read Dreamland by this same author. It was all about the OxyContin epidemic. This book is a follow up with a broader focus.
On the addiction side he talks about how synthetic opioids, like the many varieties of fentanyl, have made addiction even worse and much harder to overcome. But he also addresses how our addictions to things like sugar work in a similar way.
As to causes, he doesn't leave any stones unturned, including corporate America's focus on creating food addictions. He gives special attention to the vile Sackler family that hold special responsibility for much of the opioid crisis.
But he also talks about he we work out way out of some of this by focusing on our own communities. I couldn't put it down.
If a book like this interests you, you might also like Soft White Underbelly on YouTube. Creator, Mark Laita, posts daily interview videos with people that we would normally never meet. There's everything from drug addicts, prostitutes and pimps to homeless people, ex-cons and immigrants. He really humanizes these people and builds a little more empathy for how people end up the way they do. They don't all deserve the empathy but many do.
The House in the Woods (557)
By Mark Dawson, Read By Simon Vance
This is the first in a new series for me.
DCI Mackenzie Jones is called to a murder scene at a remote farmhouse. A couple and two of their adult children have been shot. They were discovered by the only surviving brother, Ralph Malander.
Eventually the investigation determines that Ralph is the one who killed his family. Ralphs's wife hires PI Atticus Priest to help get Ralph acquitted. Priest and Jones have a history. He used to be a detective working for her and they had also had an affair. He left the force and started his on private investigation agency.
One of Atticus' talents is his knowledge of behavioral analysis and that gave this book an interesting twist. There are only 2 books in this series so far but I look forward to others.
Nothing to Envy (749)
By Barbara Demick, Read by Karen White
I'm not sure how this book came on my radar but I'm glad it did. It was written in 2009 but it's still very relevant today.
This book is about life in North Korea as told through the lives of 6 people who were about to escape. These people aren't the privileged people of the party, these are normal everyday people who struggled to survive during the famine of the 1990's.
The author was a foreign correspondent for the LA Times assigned to Beijing and Seoul. These are the stories of people she met in South Korea and is one of the best non-fiction books I've read this year.
Before The Fall (775)
By Noah Hawley, Read By Robert Petkoff
11 passengers and 3 crew members leave Martha's Vineyard one evening for a charter flight back to New York. The plane crashes in the ocean. Scott Burroughs, a last minute passenger, and a 4 year old boy are the only survivors. The passengers are 2 very influential people and one was about to have serious legal troubles.
The book opens with the crash and then begins to tell the story of all of the passengers and crew leading up to the fateful day. It is not "one of the year's best suspense novels" as the cover says. I never really felt a lot of true suspense. I was hooked from the beginning but by the last third I felt that it slowed down. It was an interesting read and it kept me engaged. The ending wasn't really a surprise. The best part of the story was the survival of Scott and the boy and the development of their relationship.
The author is the creator of the TV series Fargo and I could easily see this as a "Who shot JR?" style series where the action happens in the first episode and the rest of the episodes try to unravel the cause of the crash.
Magic Hour (878)
By Kristen Hannah, Read by Suzanne Torren
I have a love/hate relationship with Kristen Hannah. I love some of her books and others just don't click with me. This is one of the latter.
The story is about a girl who appeared out of the forest in the Pacific Northwest. She was wild and couldn't talk. A child psychologist who has had some recent problems comes home to treat the little girl. This book is basically a Hallmark movie in book format. If you like those kinds of stories this is for you. It was a little light for my tastes. Things resolved too easily.For example, it was obvious that at some point that the girl would run away. It took all of 15 minutes to find her. I prefer my stories with a little more drama. But I finished it because I wanted to find out how a young child could live in the woods of the PNW during cold winters.
This book has been re-released for some reason so if you like KH, be sure to check and see if you have read this one already. It was originally released in 2005.
Shadow Reel (544)
By CJ Box, Read By David Chandler
This is #22 in the Joe Pickett series. I would have expected this series to have run it's course by now but I'm still enjoying it.
It's Thanksgiving 2020 and the Pickett girls are coming home for the weekend. Joe thinks he's preparing for a quiet holiday weekend when he gets notice of a dead moose carcass. On further inspection it's not a moose, it's the dead body of a local fishing guide. At the same time Joe's wife, Mary Beth, has found a mysterious Nazi artifact on the front porch of the library and doesn't know who has left it there but there seems to be someone else in town who wants it badly.
Meanwhile, Nate Romanowski, is tracking down the person who stole his falcons and attacked his wife and daughter in the last book. His track will lead him into the middle of Antifa and BLM riots in two major cities.
This one had two really interesting and creative storylines in my opinion. I was listening to a lot of it on a Monday and I got so involved in the story that I started to think it was Thursday.
I'll get to a little bit of sewing in a minute but first I thought I'd share this photo that we found the other day.
Before being developed, the property that we live on was part of a large cattle farm. In the right light in the evenings you can still see the cattle trails to the pond. This is a photo that I too in December 1998 looking from the garage to the hillside. The yellow arrow points to a Sycamore tree that were were told a few year later was diseased and would die within 4 years. The white arrow points to a lonely little walnut tree and the white x is a pine that split and had to be removed a few years ago.
This is what it looks like now. We live in a jungle! The original lonely walnut is now just a stump but it's in the middle of a walnut grove. We have walnut trees everywhere. Can you see the yellow arrow? That's just a couple of branches from the Sycamore. It's at least 70 feet tall now. So much for being diseased and dying - that diagnosis was from a professional arborist.
We used to be able to see 5 houses from our driveway. Now we can only see the house across the street in the winter. It's a lot of work to keep the jungle at bay and that's what we worked on yesterday.
I actually enjoy what I call "chainsaw day". He cuts and I clear. It's pretty good exercise and the other edge of the yard really needed it. We cleared a huge mass of holly under this tree and then worked out way up the whole edge to the road.
There were lots of little Sycamores and Russian Olives growing around the pond so we removed all of those and a massive amount of stuff on the wood side. We left one Dogwood on the pond edge because we love the Dogwood trees.
It doesn't look like we did much but the guy who mows is going to be very happy. In the middle of this we got some bee up out bonnet about tree varieties and Chris started doing an inventory of the tree species that we have on the property. We're up to 24 with at least 2 unidentified. Trees are much harder to identify than birds!
So that was most of yesterday.
I decided on the brown buttons for the sweater. I thought that the lacy pattern of the button went well with the open knit pattern of the sweater. They certainly look better than white buttons.
I did some sewing last night and the HST quilt is half done now. The end is in sight!
There's no newsletter this week because I was so busy this weekend with my social activities that I didn't get all of my fabrics processed. All I got done was restocking the Sundance and Woodlands gradients. The two new Stash Packs will have to wait a week.
Yesterday we started our day by having to get mew military IDs. In the past this has been a long and painful bureaucratic process that has taken a very long time. Part of the issue is that we either had to go to Ft. Lee or Quantico where there are a lot of staff changes all the time and active duty people, rightly, get priority over us retired folks. I even took my crochet bag so I'd have something to do while we waited. Imagine my surprise when both of us were in and out in 20 minutes and the 2 people we interacted with were very pleasant and cheerful! The good feelings were for naught as we got stuck in a 45 minute traffic jam on the way home. A trash truck had sideswiped the median and dumped garbage on both the north and south-bound lanes. I'm guessing that someone on their cell phone wasn't paying attention and came over into the truck's lane and the truck had no choice but to ride up against the median. At least I had my crochet bag and added a few more rows to a donation shawl.
Back at home I ironed the two gradients and then got to do some sewing. I've got 4 of 15 rows together on this veterans quilt. I don't have any more appointments or activities (except a chiropractor appointment) for the rest of the week so I expect this to be wrapped up really soon.
Back in May I shared my Paducah report and showed two hand-dyed cotton sweaters that I bought. They are great for wearing over tank tops in the summer. I wore this one Sunday to the museum. It was hot as hades outside (tank top) but artic cold inside (sweater). This worked perfectly. But I realized that the white buttons don't really work. I went through my vast button collection and found 3 possible buttons that will work. Today I'm going to make a decision and replace the white buttons for one of the 3 on the left.
I'm also going to get the next 2 veterans quilts loaded. I think it's going to be a good week.
This weekend was a unicorn weekend. There was a family party, a black tie wedding and a visit with a friend/former coworker visiting from the UK for the first time since the fungilitis. Everything I'm talking about in this post was done Friday because absolutely nothing else happened this weekend except pure fun. As I write this Sunday night, I'm exhausted! I haven't talked this much in 2 days in a long time. Not to mention the first time in a dress in 6 years....seriously. I hate wearing dresses but I'm grateful to my friend, Marcy, for lending me a perfect dress for the wedding.
I quilted 2 veterans quilts on Friday and that's about it. This one was made by Mom.
It's kind of hard to tell from the whole quilt but this is the basic block. This 8" x 10" block is perfect for our 48 x 60 veterans quilts.
This is the second one that I quilted and I like it too!
Same ole' stars and ribbons pantograph worked perfectly for these. It doesn't show on the front but it make the back pretty.
I also got all of the HST 4-patch blocks together! Now I can get this top put together.
This week's inspiration is an art quilt by Elyse Everett. She pieced and quilted on her Bernina 770. It was inspired by Paul Gauguin's Tahiti Landscape paintings.
For sharing, Elyse 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.
This is how many baby hats you can get out of one 377 yard ball of Yarn Bee Sweet Delight yarn. That little ball in the middle is all that's left. I had that ball left over from the baby blanket I shared last week.
I'm going to re-share the details so that I have the pattern references all in one place.
These are all from a pattern called Vintage Vibes Baby Beanie and it's by The Crochet Fix. She also has coordinating Vintage Vibes Adult Hat and Vintage Vibes Baby Blanket patterns. Both of the hat patterns are free. The design is based on the "call The Midwife" blanket pattern that was all the rage a couple of years ago. This is also a well written pattern and it has several versions, including preemie versions.
These are preemie hats from a pattern called Teeniebeenie by Hooked on Sunshine. This is a fun pattern to make and I hope that these tiny hats are genuinely useful. I'm not confident.
This one was the most fun one to make. The pattern is Vintage Pearl Baby Hat by Hopeful Honey.
Honestly, I'm happy to be done with the hats but I'm glad I was able to make use of that last bit of yarn.
There isn't going to be a ton of productivity this weekend. We have a surprisingly social weekend with a party Saturday afternoon, wedding Saturday night and meeting up with a friend from England Sunday. Fortunately the next week is our usual quiet, hermit-like existence.
It's a simple quilt made from leftovers but I really like the end result. The blues are cut from the scraps of dyed quilt backs for other veterans quilts. The prints are leftovers from the previous 12 veterans quilts that I've made over the last 2 years. I do love using leftovers.
I had so many leftovers that I made 2 quilts!
I decided that these quilts could use some bold red thread for the quilting and I used the stars and ribbons pantograph that I use all of the time on the veterans quilts.
I have 8 more veterans quilts to quilt (2 at a time) and here's the next pair that will be loaded today or tomorrow. I picked these because I will use the same pantograph.
This week and (upcoming weekend) has been busy with appointments and activities but next week is looking pretty free. I think I can get all 8 quilts quilted by July 2.
Here's a photo of the 33 quilts that we delivered to our VA hospital contact last week. We love making these quilts!
`This pat weekend I needed to clean up all of the sun printing paraphernalia out of the garage. There's a lot of it that I didn't want to bring back in the house so I decided to see if I could use up most of the remaining paint. I really don't see myself doing any more sun printing for a while and I'll buy any specific paint that I need when that time comes. The paint I had was in my stash over 2 years. I spent a couple more hours painting and printing and here are the rest of the fabrics that I made.
I'm including 2 photos of each set of fabrics with one as a close up. These 4 are more pasta and lace. I kept all of the lace fabrics in my supplies but I tossed all of the pasta. All of that pasta has been in my studio for many years and I'm surprised I hadn't attracted a lot of bugs.
More buttons (that I did not toss out), gears that I collected from my old asthma inhalers and wood snowflakes that a friend gave me. Estelle is going to be upset that I had forgotten about the gears, snowflakes and keys (below). I only found them after they left from the first sun printing session. The plastic gears in asthma inhalers are very cool but I'm glad to be cured of the need for them!
Keys, spaghetti, foam shapes and another piece of lace.
After 2 session fo sun printing I have a stash of 32 fat quarters! This will hold me for several years of postcards and other little projects.
Time to get back to quilting.
Before we get into the newsletter I have a little summer announcement that I'll remind you of over the next few weeks.
I will be away the entire month of August so I will not be doing any dyeing or shipping that month. If you need fabric be sure to get it in July. If you need anything custom dyed I will need to have your order by July 12.
I've never been to Bali but I know enough people who have been there to know that it's a special place. My problem with Bali is the getting there. I just can't bear the idea of that much time on a plane. I'm content to admire it from afar while attending beautiful beaches closer to home.
I came up with this gradient while perusing photos in the interwebs and happened upon a beach shot with this sort of color gradient. It was a photo of a beach in Bali. Here it is translated in fabric. I find it very soothing. You can find it here in the shop.
Back in Stock
Two other gradients are back in stock this week, including Forest Canopy that I got right this time!
Also back in stock this week are some of the Color Wheel fabrics. The Color Wheel fabrics are my "basics" fabrics are are always 20% off. There are 10 fabrics representing the color wheel and they are available in dark medium and light.
The Color Wheel dark set is available in half yard, fat quarter and fat eighths. Medium and Light versions are available in fat eight packs. Click on any of the images to check them all out.
Fabric of the Week
The fabric of the week this week is Coral Atoll gradient. It's 20% off through Sunday.
I don't know how the weather was where you are but here in Virginia is was pretty much perfect. It's very rare that we can tolerate the windows open in the summer but we had them open all weekend. I even took my yoga mat to the back porch Sunday morning and did my yoga listening to the river.
It was also a good weekend for my hobbies too. First, I finished my sun printing and as I write this I realize that I forgot to take photos of the new fabrics. I'll do that for Wednesday's post.
I also made a few more crochet hats and I'll share after I finish off the rest of the skein before I share those.
I did all kinds of different things this weekend starting with restocking my lotion (liquid) and lotion bars. I use the lotion bars for my feet at night. Lotion bars are also great for dry elbows and knees. Making your own lotion is a great way to save a few dollars. It's so inexpensive to make your own and it takes no time at all. I'm all set for at least 6 months.
I whittled away on my stack of HST blocks. I'm chain piecing pairs now and then will start making them into 4 patch blocks.
I got my 2 veterans quilts quilted so they are ready to bind this week and then I'll get two more loaded and quilted. I think I have 6 more ready to be quilted and I got the backing dyed and ironed for all of them.
Then I finished off the weekend with this little project. I bought two of these diamond painting kits in Paducah. I've seen lots of people doing this and wanted to see if I might like it. These are stickers that I thought I'd make for Ella, Eli and their cousins. I'm going to see them this coming weekend so it was time to get them done.
I think they are really cute. I think the kids will like them. I will not do this hobby again. It just doesn't appeal to me. I'd rather work a puzzle or crochet.
This week I want to get two more veterans quilts quilted, make a lot more progress on the the HST quilt and bind the veterans quilts. I also plan to dye fabric for my new Judy Niemeyer quilt and the sashing for Groovy 3.
Speaking of Groovy 3, I picked 4 possibilities for sashing for Groovy 3. I've narrowed it down to the light blue or light green. My friend, Anne, prefers the blue but I might go green. I'll decide by Wednesday.
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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.