Another reading month has come to an end and, for the most part, it was a really good one. A lot of the books I listen to now come from the library so I tend to read whatever comes off hold whenever a book is available. Where I use to kind of purposely rotate genres, now I read what I'm given. I don't mind either way, but this month it meant fewer non-fiction books.
Yinka, Where is Your Huzband?
By Lizzie Damilola Blackburn, Read By Ronke Adékoluejo
Yinka is a 30+ single woman in a Nigerian community in the UK. Her mother and aunties constantly pray for her to find a husband. She's still grieving over a recent breakup when she loses her job and has to get involved in planning her cousin's wedding. Each bridesmaid sets a "wedding goal" and Yinka's is to find a date for the wedding. With spreadsheets and Post-It notes, she marches toward a plan.
Some reviewers see this book as a statement on misogyny and colorism in traditional cultures. I'm not in that camp. I don't see transgressions everywhere I look. I see the human condition and this is just a really good coming-of-age story as a young woman figures out what she truly wants in life. The story could have been told with a backdrop of any culture. These characters aren't necessarily uniquely Nigerian but the language and traditions of Nigerian culture adds richness to the story. Also, the narration is spot on.
By Charles Frazier, Read By Will Patton
I have read 3 of Frazier's books now. I loved Cold Mountain and thought Varina was disjointed. This one falls somewhere in the middle.
It's the height of the Great Depression and Val Welch (a man) has been hired to paint a mural at a post office in remote Wyoming. A local rancher and art lover, John Long, has offered to host Val at the ranch. Everything is going fine until John's wife, Eve, leaves home with a valuable Renoir painting. Long convinces Val to search for Eve and so begins a journey to Seattle, Florida and San Francisco.
It's not a bad book but it also wasn't riveting. I felt that the characters were a little flat although the prose is lovely.
By Oliver Sacks
I like to sit outside and get a little sun and grounding in every day so I keep a "real" book around to read and it's usually a non-fiction book. I'm pretty sure I picked this one up at a used book sale. If you are generally interested in the topic, you would find this book interesting.
It's basically a survey of different kinds of hallucinations, delusions and deliriums and the point of the book is to explain the different manifestations and causes. It covers Parkinsonian hallucinations, visual migraines, narcolepsy, sensory deprivation and much more.
I learned that my aunt with macular degeneration had Charles Bonnet syndrome in the last year of her life when her blindness was almost 100%. I think the best thing about the book is that it helps people understand what the hallucinating person is experiencing through a lot of personal stories.
By Ian McEwan, Read By Jill Tanner
I almost gave up on this book but I read some reviews that said to hang on until Chapter 10 where it makes a strong turn for the better. I stuck with it until the end and I'm still not sure what the point was.
Briony Tallis is an extremely annoying teenager when this book opens in 1935. Her family is quite dysfunctional and during a gathering of family and friends, Briony sees some events that she shouldn't and it leads her to accuse someone of a crime they didn't commit. That's what happens in Chapter 10 and it changes everyone's lives.
In part 3 we see what happened to everyone during the war and in the last part we visit with Briony again in 1999.
I know there was a movie made from this book. Did you see it? I sure hope it was better than this book. I found the characters flat and unsympathetic. Much of the story also just didn't seem all that relevant to the original crime. The book gets rave reviews so take my criticism with a grain of salt. If you have read it and have a different opinion please leave it in the comments.
The Island of Sea Women
By Lisa See, Read by Jennifer Lim
This was a very interesting book. Through the fictional story of two women, it tells the story of the Haenyeo divers of the island of Jeju, off South Korea. The tradition of female divers dates back to the 17th century. They can dive up to 98 feet deep and hold their breath up to 3 minutes. They have an incredible tolerance for hypothermia.
The story is told over decades through the lives of Mi-ja and Young-sook. They were very best friends at a young age when they started diving, but, as they grew older and political issues overwhelmed the culture, they grew apart and became enemies. It's a lovely story and could have done with a better narrator. Jennifer Lim got better as the characters aged but it was a rough start. I had to slow down the speed a bit.
The Girl in the Glass
By James Hayman, Read by Stephen Mendel
This is #4 in the McCabe and Savage series. Mike McCabe and Maggie Savage are detectives in Portland, ME and are called to investigate the murder of Veronica Aimee Whitby, daughter of one of the wealthiest people in Maine. Her murder is eerily similar to that of her Great-Grandmother (also named Aimee) in 1904. Both had the letter "A" cut into their chests.
There's only one more book in this series and I'm sorry to know that. I enjoy these characters and the stories are fast paced and "realistic" enough. His writing style reminds me a lot of early John Sandford.
The Heart's Invisible Furies
By John Boyne, Read By Stephen Hogan
Oh my, this has to be one of my favorite books ever. This is the second book I've read by John Boyne and he's officially one of my favorite writers, right up there with William Kent Krueger.
Cyril Avery was born out of wedlock to a teenager mother in Catholic Ireland, just after WWII. His mother was creuely kicked out of her community and finds a new life and creates a new family support in Dublin. She puts her baby up for an adoption coordinated by a hunchbacked Redemptorist nun. He's adopted by the Averys and it's made clear from the beginning that he's "not a real Avery".
This is a beautiful 21 hour coming of age saga about a young boy coping with being gay in Catholic Ireland and living with adoptive parents that treat him as if he's another status acquisition.
While his sexuality is an integral part of him and his story, that's not really what the book is about. It's about finding yourself, forgiveness, survival, creating family.....everything.
I loved All The Broken Places and I loved this book even more. The character development is flawless to the point that you can believe that all of these characters exist in the real world. The story is told in 7 year increments creating a perfect cadence to the story development.
The House Is On Fire
By Rachel Beanland, Read by a cast
This is one of the most popular books in my region at the moment and it was worth the long library wait.
On December 26, 1811 , almost 600 people were attending a theater production at the Richmond Theater at today's 12th and College streets. The chandelier stage prop caught scenery backdrops on fire creating an event so bad that even international newspapers carried it. The fire killed 72 people, including the sitting Governor.
In this book, Beanland, tracks the fate of 4 people during the fire and it's immediate aftermath. All of the characters are based on real people but they aren't necessarily real stories. But each story is certainly possible. The story only covers 4 days, from the fire to the mass burial and memorial service. The inquest was completed in 3 days, totally unheard of today.
If you like historical fiction, it's a really good book on it's own. But if you are a Virginian, it's even more interesting because the descriptions of Richmond and surrounding areas at that time.
Never Far Away
By Michael Koryta, Read By Robert Petcoff
This book got me through the last 2 days of piecing the Goldfinch quilt and I'm grateful for it! Lots of action and twists kept me diverted from the tedium.
Leah Trenton was once a wife and mother of 2 young children. But she had to leave that all behind and enter the witness protection program. She left her family and relocated to the rural Maine Highlands (where we spend 2 weeks each summer). One day her former husband unexpectedly dies in a car accident and her daughter calls the emergency number that she's been taught. Leah has to come out of hiding to adopt her children as Aunt Leah.
But the man who wanted her dead, still wants her dead. There are definitely some roll-your-eye moments, but it was a fun read.
The Brighter the Light
By Mary Ellen Taylor, Read By Megan Tusing
I finished off the month with a light beach read, this one set in Nags Head, NC. Ivy Neale inherits her grandmother's home on Nags Head, where Ivy grew up. She's coming home from NYC to clear out the house and get it ready to sell.
During her stay she has to deal with the abruptness of her departure from Nags Head 10 years earlier and as she sorts through her Grandmother's things she starts to uncover things that she did no know about her family history. The story is set in 2 time periods: 1950 and 2022.
It was a nice read. One thing Taylor did that I thought was very smart was to not reference COVID at all in the 2022 time period. When I started reading books that were set in 2020 and 2021 I felt that authors that incorporated the COVID storyline were making a mistake. No one is going to want to read a COVID story. We're over it. But we would be happy to read a book set fictionally in that time that didn't address any of the stuff that was happening then. This was jut a good beach escapist story and I enjoyed it.
With the Goldfinch top done I needed to work on something quick and fun. I also needed to make some postcards for the guys in my life.
They started with these fabrics. They are leftovers from the backing of my Corona Cats quilt. It was a wide panel called Stargazers. I don't know if it's still available but it's a super cool fabric and I saved every little scrap knowing that I eventually wanted to use it in postcards.
I've played around with a couple of ideas over the past year or so but nothing really stuck until the recent "news" talk about UFO reports. The idea started to percolate and had to come together quickly since one card needed to be in the mail by today. I played around with a spaceship idea but that seemed to be too complex, then I thought about Martians!
I found a free clipart image online and resized it to fit my cards. I traced around the image on Contact paper and then cut it out. I adhered the Contact paper to a silk screen and screened all of my little green Martians.
The next task was to add the eyes and I needed a stencil for that. I stuck clear Contact paper to both sides of the printed image so that the paper wouldn't get destroyed with the wet paint before I could finish all of the cards. I cut out the eyes and the cut away the top of the head, each side of the neck and part of the hand.
I used the cutaway sections to line up the stencil perfectly. As long as I didn't see any green around the edges I knew it was lined up correctly. Then I could use a pounce sponge to do the eyes. I wiped the back of the stencil clean after every use so that my edges would stay crisp.
All that was left was to fuse on a back and serge the edges.
These cards make me so happy!
Next on my list is to get back to quilting my Mom's quilt. I'm allowing myself a week and a half to get it done and then I'll quilt the Goldfinch.
Here it is, all together! The papers are all removed and it's ready for quilting. I have not figured out how to quilt this yet so I'll take a week off to ponder it. There are areas in this quilt where I think there are probably 20 layers. Forget trying to sew through that, you would have to hammer a nail through it. I think my "quilting" will be very rudimentary for the purpose of stabilizing.
Here's a close up of the eye area to give you an idea of how small some of the pieces are.
My best tool for these blocks were these clips. I remember when they came out and thought they were just another trendy sewing notion that I did not need. I eventually bought some and, like everyone else, I now consider them a necessity.
I got my mess cleaned up
and all of the fabrics put away and I'm very ready to start some new easy projects.
I need some new masculine birthday postcards so I pulled this fabric that was leftover from the Corona Cats quilt back. I can't wait to get them done and share them. They are hilarious.
Today, during my normal dyeing schedule, I'll be dyeing some new sleeveless tshirts for myself.
During last week's session I dyed 3 maternity tshirts and a baby onesie for my nephew's wife. She should have them by now. I hope she loves them and that they fit. If you want to dye some, I found the white shirts at Mother Bee maternity. It took 4 test tries but I finally nailed the ombre effect. The actual color of the shirt is brighter than in the photo.
In other news, we cut down the Dogwood that I've been looking at outside my sewing room for over 20 years. It used to be full of spectacular pink blooms every Spring but it started dying off a couple of years ago. It was now time to add it to the woodpile for winter fires. I need to figure out what to put in it's place.
This week the news is all about Gradients. I have one new one, 3 back in stock and another in sale!
Impending vacation notice: I'll be on vacation the month of August. I will not be able to ship orders that month and if you need anything custom dyed please get your request in prior to July 15.
I have a new grayish brown gradient for you this week. This was inspired by the bark of a Dogwood tree that is right outside of my sewing room. I was going to name this one Latte but it's 90 degrees outside today and an Iced Coffee sounded a lot more inviting! It's a nice dark brown on one edge and a pale gray brown (think beach sand) at the other edge.
Gradients Back in Stock
Fabric of the Week
The fabric of the week this week is the Watershed Gradient. It's 20% off through Sunday. I love the colors in this one and I'm percolating a future project using it. If this one speaks to you, get it while it's on sale!
I slept, ate and worked on the Goldfinch. That's it. Late Sunday I finished the last block.
I'm really, really happy with the way it's looking but, let me tell you, this was a LOT of work! It's been a very long time since I spent this much concentrated time in the sewing room.
This block (3rd one on the bottom row) was the worst. It took almost an entire day! Look how tiny some of these pieces are? Next I'll get the blocks together and start to try to figure out how to quilt a quilt with too many very thick intersections.
The fun thing about being at the sewing room for 3 days was watching all the wildlife that visits the pond. I saw lots of deer, some wood ducks, a hawk eating a meal, a blonde groundhog and lots of squirrels.
This week I'll get the Goldfinch together and I need to make some birthday postcards. I also want to get back to quilting Mom's quilt and I have some dyed maternity tops to share. The tops are done, I was jsut too tired to edit more photos last night.
Was mostly an away day. I had my crochet/knit group meeting in the afternoon and visited with 2 friends after that.
Wednesday night and Thursday morning I made good progress on the next Goldfinch block. I expect to make a lot of progress on it this weekend because I have nowhere to be.
At crochet/knit group I finished the body of the baby blanket. I'm ready to add the border next. This one should be done soon!
This weekend is planned to be mostly about the Goldfinch.
I really enjoy working the voting precinct on election days and this time we had a particularly great crew. Our chief was serving her first stint as chief and she was fabulously organized. Two of my former coworkers were also volunteers. There were only 2 downsides: I had to get up at 4 am and the day was SLOW. We have a small precinct anyway, at 1444 registered voters, and this was just a Republican House of Delegates primary with a very popular incumbent. We knew the turnout was going to be low and were expecting about 5%. In the end we got about 12%, not counting early and absentee voters. That's a good turnout but it was still slow!
But, on the upside, I was able to finish one chemo hat, start and finish a man's winter hat and start one more. I don't like to waste time! I have some single skeins 4 weight yarns that I want to use and I'm finding that using 2 strands in my favorite bulky man's hat pattern is a great way to work through them.
In November we should be much busier with Virginia Senate and Delegate elections.
I've been slowly plugging away at the crochet. I'm not doing a lot because I've been working on the Goldfinch and, frankly, it's kind of warm to be crocheting a big blanket. But I'm slowly making progress on this one. I'm on ball 5 of 7. I made this one a tad narrower than the others so it might not use all 7 balls.
I love how the baby blanket is looking. I just have one more white stripe section and then the border to do. This one is turning out a little big so it might be a toddler blanket. I'll let the charity decide but it should be done soon.
To be perfectly honest, one reason that I haven't been crocheting is that I'm avoiding this project. I work on my projects alternately and I dread working on this because I dont think I'm going to like it. My SIL had convinced me to finish it anyway but she' not here to stay on me and I've lost interest again. I've decided to shelve it for now and work on the one garment that I really want to make, another hexie cardigan for winter. I ordered the yarn I want to use and will get started as soon as it arrives. The new one will be dark purple and I'm giving the blue one to Mom.
Now I'm excited to crochet again.
I also started last night on the next section of the Goldfinch.
I mentioned last week that I had a second pair of old hiking pants th recycle and I did it this past weekend. I had to buy cording to make the straps. I got the new backpack finished Monday night. This one is for our friend, Ian. He's taller than me so I didn't make this one adjustable. The full size pack will fit him great. I'll give it to him when he and Laura join us in Maine.
I worked very diligently Monday to get another block made. I think this one has the most pieces. To get an idea of scale you can see a straight pin in the peach colored piece near the top. There are a lot of tiny pieces in this one. I'm a little worried about how I'll quilt this with all the bulk in the seams.
Seven more blocks to go.
that I have to report from my weekend.
This is just as tedious as it looks and I'm thrilled that I got this far with it this weekend. I'm still plugging away and I am really enjoying working on it. Not sure if there will be a newsletter this week as I'm really on a roll with this and I have to work the voting precinct Tuesday.
You may or may not hear from me the next 2 days.
This week's inspiration comes from Patricia Caldwell. It's made using dyed fabric with end threads, glass beads, fibers, driftwood, agates, jaspers and shells from the beaches of Oregon. She used a Pebbles Stash Pack and Purple Blue Shades Pack in this beautiful Northwest beach scene.
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.
To subscribe click the RSS Feed button and copy the URL of that page into your blog reader.
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.