Wow, I finished 14 books this month! Can you tell that I've turned off the news? Most of the books this month came from the library so the reading order is just a function of availability. As always there's good and not-so-good. The Allen Eskins books and the Nick Petrie books were really nice surprises. I was also happy to read more from Andrea Penrose and Candace Fox. I'll pass on any more Spencer-Flemming books and I expect that I'll keep reading JoJo Moyes. There are 2 non-fiction books that are for very specific audiences.
What have you read this month? I'm digging deep into the library audio archives for new books to read so I can use all the suggestions that I can get.
The Heavens May Fall
By Allen Eskins, Read By David Colacci, Any McFadden and RC Bray
Those of you who have read this book will know that it falls under my 10 hours minimum (9.5 hours) but I was able to get it free from the library so I decided to get it on your recommendation.
Detective Max Rupert is still dealing with the unsolved murder of his wife four years and it affects how he does his job. This story opens as the wife of a prominent attorney is found murdered in her home. The husband is the first and only suspect but he has an alibi. The husband hires Brody Sanden, a friend of Rupert's, as his attorney. From there the story keeps you guessing until the very end.
I think that Rupert might be a series but it's not listed on Audible as a series. Eskins writes a good mystery and I'll read more.
The Ship of Brides
By JoJo Moyes, Read By Nicolette McKenzie
I read Moyes' The Giver of Stars last month about the Depression Era packhorse libraries of Kentucky. I enjoyed it so much that I couldn't wait to fond another of her books to read. Some of her books are straight up romance books but some are historical fiction. I prefer historical fiction and that's what this one is.
During WWII a lot of military men stationed away from home married women in the countries where they were stationed. After the war it required a lot of effort to get tens of thousands of women transported to their new homes around the world. This book tells the story of one of the "war bride ships". The HMS Victorious was tasked with bringing several hundred brides from Australia to Portsmouth, England. This book is the fictional story of that journey. It's researched well enough and we all know enough about human behavior in stressful situations to know that this story rings true.
I became very attached to the brides and couldn't pt this one down....to the point that I ignored my Mom and husband for part of the 4th of July afternoon.
By Geraldine Brooks, Ready By Jennifer Ehle (the one and true Elizabeth Bennett)
This is a historical fiction book that tells the story of the first Native American to attend Harvard, Caleb Cheeshahteaumuck. Caleb and his classmate Joel Hiacoomes are real and were the first Native American to attend Harvard.
The story is told more as a the life story of Bethia, the daughter of a Puritan minister on Martha's Vineyard. Bethia meets Caleb as a a young girl and they strike up a friendship. They teach each other their languages. As a girl in 1600's New England, she was not allowed an education but she was clearly smarter than her brother.
This book isn't really about Caleb "crossing" into the white world. It's about Bethia and what it was like being a woman in that time period. It's really well researched and it's pretty interesting but it's also kind of awkward and a little slow. About 2/3 through we're suddenly with Bethia on her death bed and all that happens is that she continues telling the story but now in past tense. I don't know the purpose of that.
Part of the slowness can be attributed to the narration. "Elizabeth Bennett", it turns out, isn't a great narrator. I sped it up a bit and that helped.
I liked the information in the book but it's not my favorite historical fiction book. But it's still worth a read I think.
The Guise of Another
By Allen Eskens, Read By Jonathan Yen
I read my first Allen Eskins book a few weeks ago and like it enough to look for another. This one is actually the first in the Max Rupert series. Max actually plays a small role in this book. This one focuses on his brother, Alexander.
Alexander is a war hero and Minnesota police detective. He's under investigation for corruption. When a new case comes his way he jumps on the opportunity to improve his reputation.
The case is about a car accident victim who seems to have a false identity and someone has been looking for this man for years.
Lots of twists and turns and a good read.
In the Bleak Midwinter
By Julia Spencer-Fleming, Read By Suzanne Toren
This is the first in a series set in upstate NY and featuring Episcopal Priest Clare Fergussen and local Detective Russ Van Alstyne. This book is almost 20 years old but the story holds up well. The biggest sign of it's age is that no one has cell phones. They actually look up number in a phone book!
Clare is new to the area and one day a baby is left on the steps of the church. She finds it and delivers the baby to the hospital. There's a search for the baby's mother that, of course, leads to a lot of surprises and murder.
If you are triggered by anything religious then you want to avoid this book. I didn't find it very religious but there are church scenes and a prayer or two. It's a pretty good story and it held my interest. The sexual tension between Clare and Russ is awkward. It will be interesting to see how that develops in future books. It's set in winter and there were actually times that I felt cold. That's a miracle in July in Virginia....or I have a covid fever. (I don't.)
By Nick Petrie, Read By Stephen Mendel
I don't know who recommended this book to me but I thank you! This is actually the second book in a series featuring Peter Ash. Ash is a war veteran with PTSD. He can't go into buildings or sleep in enclosed places. He mostly camps and that's how he meets June. June's mother was killed recently and now people are after June to get access to the program that her mother was developing. Ash's friend, Louis, joins in to help.
It was a fun read and I really liked the characters.
Hidden Valley Road
By Robert Kolker, Read By Sean Pratt
Get down on your knees right now and thank whatever deity you pray to that you were not a member of this family. Their story is devastating.
HVR is about Don and Mimi Galvin and their 12 children, 6 of whom developed schizophrenia. It is incredibly interesting but also very heavy.
The Galvin children were born between 1945 and 1965. The two youngest are girls and the other 10 are all boys. Six of those boys developed schizophrenia by the mid-70's. Very little was knows about the disease and the treatments were rudimentary, at best so their suffering (individually and as a family) was horrible. But this family provided a unique was to research if there was an identifiable genetic marker for the disease.
The story is told very compassionately. No one is made out to be a villain. It's just the story of this family and the story of research and treatment of the disease. It was really interesting but also very heavy, so be prepared if you decide to read it. If you have a family member or friend with schizophrenia you can be very grateful to this family and the contributions that they were able to make to the science.
What Once Was True
By Jean Grainger, Read By Caroline Lennon
This is the first in The Robinswood Series. Robinswood is an estate in Waterford Ireland and the book opens in 1939. Lord and Lady Kenefick's fortunes are declining and keeping up the big estate is getting harder by the day. Dermont Murphy and his family live and work on the estate and do their best to keep things in running order.
War is looming and the old, reliable, social structure may be breaking down.
I enjoyed the character and the story. It had a little bit of everything: family drama, romance and mystery.
Murder at Kensington Palace
By Andrea Penrose, Read by James Cameron Stewart
This is the 3rd book in the Wresford and Sloane mystery series set in Georgian England, a time where there was a lot of interest in scientific research.
Charlotte Sloane's cousin is murdered and his brother is charged with the crime. Charlotte will have to reveal her true identity so that she and Wrexford can find the real killer.
This is a fun series. With each book new characters are introduced and each book has an underlying story that is true to the time. In this one people are experimenting with the Voltaic Pile (the first battery) and with the prospect of bring the dead back to life with electricity following on with the work of Luigi Galvini.
Gone By Midnight
By Candice Fox, Read By Euan Morton
This is the 3rd book in the Crimson Lake series. 4 boys are left to play in a hotel room to play while their parents have dinner. During one of the hourly checks it's discovered that one of the boys is missing. The mother wants Ted Conkaffee and Amanda Pharrell to help with the search and investigation.
Another fun read in this series.
The Housemaid's Daughter
By Barbara Mutch, Read By Bahni Turpin and Cat Gould
I selected this book because of the comparisons to The Help. This book is NOT even close to The Help. I really don't get the love for this book. It reads like a series of diary entries. Part of it is diary entries but the parts that aren't still read that way. The whole thing is flat and it's impossible to develop any empathy for the characters. In The Help you wanted to KNOW those characters;not in this book.
Ada is born the daughter of a housemaid in South Africa. Catherine, the mistress of the house, seems to have taken much more interest in raising Ada than her own two children. She teaches Ada to read and to play piano. The book is the story of Ada's life told in a series of short chapters that fall as flat as diary entries. Ada, who is very well read, is portrayed as naive right up until the time of her death. "What does this word "beneficiary" mean?" There's a lot of that throughout the book. It's ridiculous.
I finished the book because I could listen to Bahni Turpin read the phone book but I don't really recommend it.
A Fountain Filled With Blood
By Julia Spencer-Flemming
Read By Suzanne Toran
This is the second in the Rev Clare Fergussen and police chief Russ Van Alstyne series. I read the first one earlier this month and gave it a hopeful review. I hit a dry spot in book availability this week (every book on hold but none available). I found that this one was available a decided to give it a try.
The series is set in update NY. Both characters are ex-military which give then some unexpected talents and hangups to make the plot more interesting. The good Reverend likes to spend more time solving crimes and being a social justice activist than she does ministering to her congregation. She only prays when she's in trouble, like most of the rest of us. She's also got a serious crush on the married police chief.
The police chief, meanwhile, has a crush on the Reverend (about 20 years younger of course) but he's married. It's hard to accept that he's married because in 2 books his wife has never made an appearance. In fact, he seems to purposely leave home every time his wife is there. The relationship between the two is incredibly annoying. By now they would have either started having an affair or he would have left his wife because it's clear that he doesn't love her because he's never home!
There are murders that seem to be hate crimes (against gay men) but they may also have something to do with a resort development that isn't going well. Clare does a whole bunch of really stupid stuff (that no trained military helicopter pilot would ever do) and eventually she and Russ bungle their way into solving the crimes. You could tell from the first chapter who was behind it all.
The worst part is the narrator. Clare is from southern Virginia and I know the accent there very well as it's my own. Toran gives her a Southern Georgia plantation accent as if she just stepped out of Gone With the Wind. It bothered me a little in the first book but it really grated on me in this one because it really doesn't fit the personality and dialogue of the character. I won't read any more books in this series.
By Nick Petrie, Read By Stephen Mendel
This is the first book in the Peter Ash series. I reviewed the #2 book, Burning Bright, above. I had put this one on hold at the library and it became available pretty quickly. I'm glad because it was refreshing after the last 2 books.
This is the book that introduces Peter Ash, a war veteran who is dealing with PTSD. His PTSD manifests itself as claustrophobia. He sleeps outside and avoids all inside spaces. He's come to Wisconsin to help the widow of one of his Marine friends. While working on her porch he finds a Samsonite suitcase stuffed with cash and explosives...
I finished this one in less than 24 hours. I'm putting #3 on hold right away.
Conquering the Electron
By Derek Cheung and Eric Brach
Read by Eric Jason Martin
I felt it was time I dove back into some non-fiction so I ended the months with this book. If you like human scientific history then this is the book for you! It is a VERY detailed history of the electronics age. It's interesting but reading this is like taking a college course. Lots and lots of information. It even included the development of the Voltaic Pile that I learned about in the Penrose book above. The narration could have been better but I sped it up to 1.15 and that helped a lot.
I finally did it...
After 15 years of owning a longarm I finally did the one things that I knew would happen eventually. I ripped a hole in a quilt by accidentally putting the needle down as I moved the machine to the other side of a quilt.
Yesterday was dyeing day but I finished early and had time to get this veterans quilt loaded and could have started quilting. But after I got it basted on I was moving the sewing head from one side to the other to change the bobbin and accidentally hit the needle down button and I ripped a hole in the quilt!
I've been luck because this hasn't ever happened to me in 15 years. I knew it would get me one day but I'm happy that it was one of my own quilts.
Luckily it didn't rip the backing at all so i was able to repair it with it still basted. The rip was on the white and red fabrics. I had some leftover white so I patched it with a little hand stitching and slipped it under the seam. For the red I fused a little patch of another red fabric under the rip and whip stitched it together through both layers. I finished it off with a little Fray Check. From a foot away you can't even see it. I'll put it back on the machine this afternoon after my clay shooting lesson this morning. I hope I don't melt in the heat.
On the crochet front my blanket is coming right along. It will eventually have 4 sections of turquoise and 4 of the variegated. I think I will finish it off with a navy border. I do like working with the Hobby Lobby yarn. I expect it's a lot like Red Heart.
My plans for the weekend are to stay inside and stay cool. I want to start planning my vacation sewing projects, get this veterans quilt done and maybe get the flower quilt back on the frame for the last of the quilting.
That was fast!
Two more veterans quilted and BOUND!
It's way too hot to be outside so I'm staying in and doing my projects. Yesterday it was these 2 quilts.
Both of these quilts are my Blockade quilt pattern. They go together so fast and there are so many options with color layout. I haven't gotten tired of this one yet.
This one is made with scraps from my Paula Nadelstern fabric stash. The quilting doesn't show on this at all!
Both of these are true trash-to-treasure quilts made with leftovers from other projects. I'm really pleased with this one. It uses the same Blockade pattern but with a completely different effect.
The backing is a grayish purple and I quilted it with my fastest pantograph, Woven Wind. the quilting doesn't show well on either of these quilts so it didn't matter what I used.
I have one quilt back that's only big enough for one quilt so I'm going to get this one loaded and quilted tomorrow.
Today is dyeing day so I don't expect to get much done. This evening I might have time to start doing some planning for my travel projects.
New Stash Pack and scheduling news
Our annual vacation to Maine is coming up soon! My allergies will be so happy. I wish we could move there for the entire summer but that's never going to be in the budget. This year though, for my big milestone birthday, we are going for 3 week. That means that the shop will be closed for shipping August 15 - September 5.
The last day for any custom dye orders will be August 5 (next week). So if you need anything for an upcoming project get your order in before next Wednesday.
If you have never been to Maine, I highly recommend it for a summer vacation destination. There are beautiful lakes all over the state and Acadia has to be one of the best Nation Parks for hiking. The state is beautiful, the summer climate is idyllic and the people are so friendly.
New Stash Pack
I always try to keep a Stash Pack in stock that can be used for roadways and rocks in landscape quilts. This is the newest version of that theme. Stash Packs have 10 fat eighths of very textured fabrics. I used one of these Stash Packs with my Accuquilt Hunter's Star die to make a veterans quilt earlier this year. The fat eighth size of fabric is perfect for the Hunter's Star die.
Check out the new Cobblestones and other Stash Packs in the shop.
Fabric of the Week
Continuing the theme of landscape elements, the fabric of the week this week is the Coffee and Cocoa Gradient. It's 20% off through Sunday!
Gradients back in stock
Not in the mood for browns and grays? Here are a couple of bright gradients that are back in stock this week.
No so much quilting this weekend
I don't feel like I got tons done this weekend but that doesn't mean it wasn't a good weekend. We had a family birthday party for Mom Saturday and it was the first time in a very long time that we had so many of us together at the same time. We don't have a large family but we do like each other's company and we don't have any drama so it's always nice to get together. We had all 4 of her children, their spouses and 3 of 4 of her grandchildren. We wouldn't expect to see the 4th grandchild so this little get together was 100% successful! We had it at my youngest brother's new house that's almost perfectly in the middle of the rest of us. They bought a house, sold a house and moved in March right in the beginning chaos of covid. My middle brother and his partner did the same in May. Both of them went really smoothly all things considered.
On Friday I did get the crosshatching and borders done on the flower quilt so I zipped it off and basted on 2 of my veterans quilts. I want to get these quilted this week so I can deliver a fresh stack of quilts to the VA contact by next week.
I had planned to start quilting them yesterday but I spent most of the day ironing fabric.
This week I'll focus on the 2 veterans quilts and maybe start cutting some more veterans quilt kits from all the patriotic fabric I bought a few weeks ago.
Customer Gems - Patricia Caldwell
Patricia Caldwell brings us this week's inspiration. Her quilt began as a custom dyed wide piece of the Blue Sky Gradient. The trees are made with strips of torn fabric sewn in place with lots of couching and and stitching added for details and smaller branches.
Click on the Ravens to see them in detail. They are so realistic!
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.
Some updates and some COVID research
Yesterday was a day for running errands. I must have stopped at 10 places but I got pretty much everything I need for a while. Apparently along the way I also picked up a nail or something because my tire pressure light went out as I got near home. I identified the offender and Chris has offered to take care of it for me this morning.
Even with errands I still had some time for quilting and I finished the last row of cross-hatching. I only have the last border to do before I start in the posy blocks. I'm pretty sure this is going to be a a boring quilt but I'm going with it and my goal is to just finish it. Hopefully the border will be done today and then I'm going to take it off the frame and do a few veterans quilts before I commence with the flowers.
I've been crocheting and listening to books in the evenings. I think this one is going to be more of a little boy's quilt instead of a baby quilt. I bought way too much yarn for this one! I'm not thrilled with it but with a navy blue border I think it's going to look just fine.
I know that teal looks a little out of place in this blanket but if you look closely at the variegated yarn you can see that it has teal in it. That's how this particular color palette came to be. It's really soft so I expect that the colors will be forgiven.
Now about COVID. I may have mentioned that I've been obsessively researching COVID information since all this business started in March. At the very beginning they were saying that we were doing lockdown to flatten the curve. No one ever said that we would be able to reduce the spread, they just wanted to delay the spread until they had treatment options. Now I know that different people have different opinions about lockdown, school closures, business closures, etc. I'm not going to get into that.
I don't like operating from a position of fear. I like to figure out the worst case scenario and prepare for it, therefore, I wanted to assume that I would eventually get it and figure out what I could do to best prepare myself for it and I thought I'd share some of that information with you, in case you are interested.
I don't listen to any news sources. EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM is biased and they make loads more money the more fearful that we are. As a result we are getting a ton of bad data, bad research and bad statistics. I started looking for medical sources for some real information. I found a Youtube channel for Dr Mobeen Sayed, it's called DRbeen Medical Lectures and it holds a wealth of information. There are DOZENS of lectures there specific to COVID. He is a medical doctor and he had an online medical business providing continuing education credits for medical professionals. During COVID they decided to make all lectures related to COVID available free to the public.
My "research" actually started with our family medical doctor who recommended that we take Selenium. Dr Sayed (He goes by Dr Been in the videos) actually has a video explaining how Selenium works to fight specifically this virus. After watching that we are continuing with our selenium supplements.
Next he has had several videos explaining how Vitamin D works in the immune system to help prevent the cytokine storm. That is the information that led me to reading The Optimal Dose book that I mentioned several weeks ago. I am following the directions of the book and have realized a lot physical of benefits from it. It's a very high dose so research for yourself if you are interested.
Another lecture that was interesting is this one in Statins. Researchers have documented that people on statins have less of an issue with cytokine storm and this video explains why.
Lately he has been able to get interviews with several people from hospitals and drug researchers exploring different therapies for the illness. One that he talks about a lot is called MATH+ and was developed at Eastern Virginia Medical School in Norfolk, VA. They have had a great deal of success with their protocol that uses steroids in the advanced stages of the disease. They have recommended treatments for prophylaxis and home treatment of mild symptoms and you can get that information here.
Short form PDF
Long form PDF
Dr Marik, who developed the protocol did an interview with Dr Sayed and it was easy to understand for us non-medical types. I was impressed that Dr Marek sat down at 9 at night and did an hour and a half talk with Dr Sayed. You can watch it here.
I'm not recommending one thing or another. I'm just sharing information that I've found that seems to be unbiased and solid. I have every expectation to be exposed to this virus and my goal is to have my immune system prepared for it or even just for next year's flu.
Yesterday was dyeing day so I didn't have a lot of time for my projects but I was able to get this top together after dinner. I didn't quilt on the flower quilt but I will today and might have the fist pass of ruler work done by Saturday. Then I'll take it off for a few days and quilt some veterans quilts.....if everything goes to plan.
One day last week I spent about 45 minutes on hold with Direct TV and the consequences of that time arrived in the mail today! Yarn for 4 more baby blankets. I love the Mandala yarns for baby blankets. The Mandala Ombre is something new to try and the Red Heart is for a gingham blanket. If the gingham blanket goes well I think I will try an adult version. But these will keep me busy for a couple of months.
Today I'm running errands and then it will be back to quilting!
I'm so happy with this new postcard design that I made this weekend. I always try to come up with something new for my Mom for her birthday (Happy Birthday Mom!) and some years the creativity works better than others. She's an avid gardener so flowers are always a good choice. This particular one is a true trash-to-treasure project.
It started with this little pile of scraps that I found in one of the magical bins in my sewing room. This little stack of hand dyed bits are left over from this quilt called Innova Angles. It was the first quilt that I quilted on my Innova in 2014 and I gave it to Virginia Longarm as a thank you for their great support. The fabric was some of the first fabric that I ever dyed and there was only a tiny bit leftover.
Without having any sort of a plan I just sewed all of the bits to postcard bases and had enough for 7 cards. The palette is so "Springy" that it just screamed for a flower.
I have a bin of pre-fused bits so I pulled that out and just started cutting shapes. The flowers are purple because that's what I had available that would show up on the background. No patterns here, just free cut shapes. I did fuse and stitch it in stages:
1 - vase, stem leaves
2 - petals
3 - centers (the center is 2 layers of yellow to hide and shadows from what's underneath
I used a 30 weight purple thread and went around every shape twice for definition. I even did the outside edge with 3 rounds of straight stitching instead on my usual serged or satin-stitched edge. I felt like a satin stitch edge would be too heavy. Surprisingly, I like the effect of the straight stitches. It goes against my fussy nature but I'm glad I restrained myself for this one.
Just in case Mom's gets lost in the mail I have extras. I can always send her another. I think they are so happy!
I was looking through some photos on the internet recently and was inspired by the ocher and red colors of Marrakesh. I have gradients on golds and oranges so I wanted to add the deep blue of the ocean to this one. I love how it turned out and I hope that you will too! You can find Marrakesh in the shop.
Fabric of the Week
The fabric of the week this week is the Violet Shades Pack. It has absolutely nothing to do with the new Marrakesh gradient, but it will make beautiful flower appliques for other sky gradients, like the Blue Sky gradient below. Violet is 20% off through Sunday.
Back In Stock
Black yardage is back! It's a deep black but still had some beautiful, subtle texture. It's sold by the yard.
Blue Sky Gradient is the most popular gradient for sky backgrounds and it's back in stock. In her piece, Sky Meets Earth, Patricia Caldwell combined Blue Sky with Coffee and Cocoa.
Forest Canopy is also back in stock. Leslie McNeil used Forest Canopy wholecloth as a base for beautiful couching and quilting in this lovely table runner. Forest Canopy also coordinates with the Woodlands Gradient.
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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.