Customer Gems - Patty Voros
We're dying of cuteness here today with these pincushions made by Patty Voros. She won one of my giveaways and used fabric from the giveaway as the base for her pincusions. She embroidered the fabric using designs from Anita Goodesign. You can see each panel flat below.
For sharing, Patty 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 know I've been talking non-stop about Chirp books but I think Chirp is having a positive impact on the audiobook market. Chirp has daily deals like Audible but Audible only has 1 and Chirp has 5 or so every day. This summer I've noticed that Audible often has one of the Chirp books as their Daily Deal and also they are having a lot of $5 book sales. I love competition in the free market! I'm easily spending 70% less on books (with the addition of the library and Chrip) than I spent 3 or 4 years ago.
It was an interesting, and always good, reading month. The most impactful book of the month was The Girl Behind the Gates. But there are several other great books this month. What have you read that you enjoyed?
Deacon King Kong by James McBride - This book came highly recommended by one of my blog friends so don't take my DNF status as a definitive review. I just couldn't keep up with the characters. Everyone has nicknames and both real and nicknames are used. I was confused. Plus there's lots of alcoholism. King Kong is a home brew.
Collateral by Brian Andrews and Jeffrey Wilson - #6 in the Tier One series. Exactly like the first 5. Decided I'm tired of them.
Fast Girls by Elsie Hooper - This book is historical fiction based in the lives of 3 female Olympians in the 1928 and 1936 games. I thought it would by like Code Girls but it's way more fiction than history.
The Day That Never Comes
By Caimh McDonnell, Read By Morgan C.Jones
This is the second of four books in The Dublin Trilogy. That statement alone indicates that this is a humor series. I read the first book last month. These books are set in Ireland and the main character, Paul Mulchrone, has opened a new detective agency. One of his partners won't talk to him and the other, former detective Bunny McGarry, has disappeared.
Meanwhile, the citizenry has had it with the people who destroyed the economy in the 00's but escaped with their own wealth in tack. Some new group had apparently decided to take on their own revenge crusade.
These books are best described as the Irish version of Carl Hiaasen. I think they will read better in a written book rather than audio. It all depends on your ability to follow a deep Irish accent.
The Ride of Her Life
By Elizabeth Letts, Read by Tavia Gilbert
One of my favorite books, The Eighty Dollar Champion, was written by Letts. Her love of horses is obvious but she also loves the people who own those horses. This book is about Mesannie Wilkins. She was 63 in 1954 and flat broke when she was told that she had a terminal illness and should move into a charity home. Instead she made enough money to buy a horse and she left Minot, Maine for California. It was her dying wish to see the Pacific Ocean.
It's a fascinating story of her almost 2-year journey and a great read.
The Last Year of the War
By Susan Meissner, Read By Kimberly Farr
Elise Sontag is 14 and lives in Iowa during WWII. Her father is and German immigrant and is accused (wrongly) of being a spy. They are sent to an internment camp in Texas where Elise befriends Mariko Inoue, a Japanese-American teen from LA. They become best friends and make plans for their lives after they turn 18. When they are both about 16, they are each sent "back" to Germany and Japan in exchange for American prisoners. The two girls keep in touch for a while but eventually lose track of each other.
The story revolves around Elise and opens when Elise is elderly and recently diagnosed with Alzheimer's. She has, inexplicably to me, remained completely fixated on her youthful friendship with Mariko and that's the basis for the entire book. She seems to have a constant cloud over here despite ending up with a pretty awesome life after the war.
I read As Bright As Heaven in March and didn't love it. I didn't hate it either. I think Meissner does a great job of reminding us of some trying times in out history but her characters are so burdened that it's a bit of a slog to get through the stories.
The Night Swim
By Megan Goldin, Read By January LaVoy and Bailey Carr
I'm so grateful to my friend, Marcy, for turning me on to Chirp Books. Aside from the books being bargain priced (something I always love), the books are often classics that I need to read or books I've never heard of. Audible's algorithms for book recommendations are pretty horrible these days. They either recommend books that are exactly what you read recently or something off an approved woke list of authors. Chirp is refreshing. They have woke, un-woke, new, old, US and foreign translations. I love variety!
Rachel Krall is a true crime podcaster and she's heading to a coastal North Carolina town to cover the trial of a young man charged with rape. The trial is the focus of the current season of her podcast. While traveling to the town she begins to get anonymous notes from someone wanting Rachel to help figure out who murdered her sister 25 years earlier in this same town. The story is told in 3 ways: Rachel's activities around the trial, her podcast and the letters from the sister.
I am big fan of true crime TV and podcasts (The Murder Squad is my favorite). I was also fascinated with the work the Michelle McNamara did to help solve the Golden State Killer case although her obsession led her into some deadly personal behaviors. This book fed right into that same genre of entertainment for me.
This Poison Will Remain
By Fred Vargas, Read By Chris MacDonnell
Another great find from Chirp!
This is the 7th book in a series set in France featuring Commissaire Adamsberg. While investigating another case he hears about 3 elderly mend who have recently died of spider bites, specifically the Recluse spider. He decides to look into it even though the deaths are all ruled accidental. When it's discovered that the 3 men knew each other the investigation becomes more serious.
In some ways it's your standard police procedural but the subject matter is so unique that I found this book to be really refreshing. It explores every meaning and use of the word "recluse". I really enjoyed it.
Chirp only has the one book in the series in English and Audible has 3. You can tell it's a hidden gem because, even in Audible, it has less than 50 reviews. I wonder how many great books we miss because "the right people" don't ever read them?
By James Grippando, Read By Ron McLarty
I've found another new (old) series to try out. This book was first published in 1994 so it's lacking on technology. I think that's a good thing.
Jack Swytech is a defense attorney and one of his clients is about to be put to death. He tries to persuade his estranged father, the Governor of Florida, to grant a pardon. When that's unsuccessful someone decides to get revenge on both of them.
I think the basic story is really interesting and moves along at a good pace. I'm willing to try another in the series.
The Secret Keeper
By Lisa Wingate, Read By Abby Craden and Bahni Turpin
I've read two other Lisa Wingate books, Before We Were Yours and Book of Lost Friends, that I loved. She's a very good writer and created wonderfully rich characters.
The Secret Keeper is set in the Appalachian areas of North Carolina and East Tennessee and focuses on the history of the Melungeon people. That , in and of itself, is interesting to me because my best friend in High School was of Melungeon descent (Goins) and she didn't know it until she started doing genealogy in the '90's.
The book opens with Jen Gibbs starting her new job at a publishing house in NYC. An old partial manuscript mysteriously appears on her desk. She recognizes the writing of the author as someone famous for writing a time travel series set in Appalachia. Jen happens to be from that area and doesn't really want to go back.
This book was very good but wasn't as good as the first 2 that I read. This one verges a little into chick lit territory. It was still very engrossing and entertaining but it didn't have quite the depth of history as the other two books. Given that the history of the Melungeon people is so vague, I can see where she had to add more story to the story, if that makes sense. It's still a really great read.
The Beautiful and Damned
By F. Scott Fitzgerald, Read By William Dufris
If Fitzgerald's point was to make rich people seem morally bankrupt and lazy, mission accomplished! Anthony Patch is a Harvard graduate with one life mission: to wait for his Grandfather to die and inherit his wealth. He marries the beautiful Gloria and they waste their time in New York nightlife. I expect this is a story that's all too true of the 20's and today.
Flight of the Intruder
By Stephen Coonts, Read By Benjamin Darcie
I've seen Coonts on the bestseller lists for years but never tried one of his books. When this one showed up on a sale list I decided it was time to give it a try. This is the first book in the Jack Grafton series. Grafton is a fighter pilot in Vietnam. There are so few novels set in Vietnam that I was excited to give this one a try.
I can see why the series is popular. The story is good and Grafton is a great character. But I couldn't get past the details of flights. Many times it was like listening to a flight log and that part makes up way too much of the book for me.
The Girl Behind the Gates
By Brenda Davies, Read By Charlotte Strevens
This book is exactly why I love Chirp. Chirp brings me books that I'd never hear about on Audible.
In 1930 Nora Jennings had a wonderful life until an unplanned pregnancy. Her father, supported by the church, had her committed to a mental institution under the Mental Deficiency Act (Great Britain). Everyone though she would be out in a year or so. Instead she withstood incredible cruelty and mistreatment there for over 40 years.
It's heartbreaking and uplifting at the same time. It's also based on true story. I couldn't put it down.
In Her Tracks
By Robert Dugoni, Read By Emily Sutton-Smith
Tracy Crosswhite is back for an 8th installment. She's returned to work after discovering the tragic death of her sister. Her spiteful boss assigns her to the cold case unit but a few of the cold cases might overlap with a new case of a missing jogger.
These books are fast paced and well written. My main beef with this one is the reliance on stupidity to get the plot going. A young woman, new to Seattle, decides to go jogging after work and she chooses some obscure trail in a neighborhood just at dusk....as opposed to a public park or jogging path. It's so obscure that she can't find the entrance without asking someone for help. Are women really that stupid? I don't think so.
Interestingly, the cases relies heavily on familial DNA modeling, like The Night Swim.
I enjoyed the book and I like the Crosswhite character but I like his Charles Jenkins series better.
The big green quilt isn't done yet but I only have the binding and label left to do. I'll have it finished by Monday for sure. Big Green started with my drawer of green hand dyed fat quarters. I had already made quilts from the purple, yellow and brown drawers so it's time to start looking for the next project. The blue drawer is pretty packed so I think I'll head there next and start looking for a project.
My favorite quilt book at the moment is Colorful Quilts. I've made more quilts from that book than any other. In fact, Big Green, is the cover quilt. I did a little internet search and found that the authors had another book. I picked up a used copy of In Love with Square and Rectangles. I flipped through it last night and I think there might be a couple of candidates for a scrappy blue quilt.
In crochet news, I'm so much better and am back to this big project that I can't share. I've purchased every type of brace and tape but I think the magic solution has been these gloves. I've never bought into the Copperfit hype but I was wrong. I've been using these for about a week and the improvement in my hands has been dramatic. I can crochet about an hour at a time now.
Today will be focused on binding Big Green and washing out the 50 yards of fabric that I dyed yesterday doing some crochet!
Ice Dyeing Tutorial
I know, I promised this tutorial over 2 weeks ago! It has taken some time to get the photos edited and the tutorial written up but it's finally here. I have outlined the process that I use for ice dyeing but if this is something that you are seriously interested in please take the time to read/watch how other people do it as well. There are as may processes for ice dyeing as there are family mashed potato recipes. It's good to check them all out.
In this tutorial I also show how I create the Galaxy fabrics as a by-product of the ice dyeing process. I don't like to waste dye and ice dyeing is a huge dye wasting process. Creating the Galaxy fabrics is a great way to use that wasted dye. T shirts would be awesome dyed in the bottom of an ice dyeing bin.
Get the tutorial here and have fun ice dyeing your own fabric. If you see any typos or if anything is confusing, please let me know. I'm happy to fix the document.
I think that one of the great things about living in Virginia is that we have a good balance of all of the seasons. We get just enough snow in Winter, a long Spring, glorious Autumns and great beach weather in the summer. August is really the only bad month marked by heat, humidity and thunderstorms. Scorching days was the inspiration for the new Heat Wave Stash Pack. Hopefully I've made those days look a little more appealing with my interpretation.
It's difficult to make a Stash Pack that all bright red or orange or yellow so I felt that the answer was an all-bright pack with all three colors.
Each Stash pack has 10 fat eights of fabric and each one is highly textured. 5 are mottled and 5 are streaky. Here are 6 of the fabrics included in the pack to give you an idea of what larger pieces might look like. The fabrics will not look exactly like these except in one pack! Each fabric is dyed in 2 yard cuts so each of the fat eighths from one fabric will vary.
While I was ironing the new fabrics I was thinking about what I might want to do with this new Stash Pack. Of course all of the Stash Packs are great for fussy cut applique and Heat Wave would be great for flower blossoms. But I was thinking that I would like a scrappy quilt with Heat Wave, Spring Greens, True Blue and Grapevine. I think these fabrics would make a wonderful bright and happy scrappy quilt.
Fabric of the Week
Maybe you like Heat Wave but it's got a little to much heat for your project. Amberam Reflections might just be the right fit. Amberam is a Reflections fabric that is sold by the yard. It's inspired by the soft golds of the setting sun. Amberam is 20% off through Sunday.
August Schedule Reminder
This is your weekly reminder that my summer vacation is going to be a really long one this year so I want to give you notice now in case you need something dyed for your next project. We have plenty of time to get it done if we start planning now. I will be away August 6 - September 5 so the shop will basically be closed the entire month of August. If there's fabric that you need please get your orders in by the end of July. The cut off for ordering custom dyed fabric is today!
A loom knitting update and weekend goals
Today I'm going to post a bunch of notes on loom knitting so that I have a place to refer back to when I need this info. Learning new things is a lot of fun as long as you are along for the ride and have the proper expectations. In other words, don't expect to be thrilled with your first projects! At this point I've made 3 of the blue hats, the green hat and 2 scarves. For these I used either the Boye looms (hate them) or Loops and Threads Knit Quick Kit (not as bad as I thought it would be). That's the purple one below. For $5 clearance, it wasn't a bad deal. The Boye looms are at the local thrift store already.
This hat pattern is the basic starter hat. I don't love it but it's a perfect way to start. It's fast and very easy and virtually every beginner knitting YouTube video is this hat. The scarf on the right was done on the round loom in a flat knit stitch. Big mistake, of course, it curled and required lots of blocking. The scarf on the left is the e-wrap double knit done on the Loops & Threads flat loom (purple one below). It was also fast and easy but is quite a bit too loose as you will see in the next photo.
Then I got the new KB Looms. This light purple one is part of the Adjustable Multi-knit loom. It can knit standard gauge or bulky gauge. I set this up for bulky gauge by removing every other peg. You can see that the KB loom rails are closer together than the L&S loom and that affects the gauge too. These two knits are done exactly the same with the same yarn (Premier Serenity) and the fabric is soooooo much better on the KB Loom with a tighter gauge. But I will keep the L&S loom kit too. I can see using it for certain things since the gauge is bigger.
Here are 2 swatches that I knit on the KB loom. The swatch on the left is a double rib and I felt it was a little too tight for a scarf so, until I try new patterns, I'll do scarves with the e-wrap double knit. It's going to be a great car project for our trip.
The other new loom is the Flexee bulky, also from KB Looms. I'm working on their basic beanie pattern that teaches how to decrease the crown so that it isn't gathered like the green one above. This is a fun loom to work on and the flexibility will make it easier to work on in the car.
So these are my current projects for the looms and I think I'm mostly ready for the car ride.
In other news, I cut out 4 more sets of 8 blocks for my Flora's Star quilts. Here's the stack of block sets (8 of each one) ready to sew and these are going on vacation with me. After I get these made I'll take a little more time to give some background in what these blocks are really for.
For travel, I have each block set arranged on a piece of cardboard and wrapped in plastic wrap so that everything stays together. Yes, one is wrapped in foil. I worked on that set at the beach but didn't finish them. I only had foil to wrap them up to come home.
I have so much stuff packed to work on during vacation! I feel like I'm taking too much but we aren't going to have the normal number of visitors this time. We essentially will be on our own for 3 weeks so I think I'm going to have a lot of sewing time. For the 4th week we will have one of Chris' best friends so I'll still be left with lots of sewing time.
The last thing I worked on was finishing the quilting on the big green quilt. I'm trimming it up and am ready for binding this week! I should be able to deliver this to Cheryl this week.
Customer Gems - Kathleen Raske
Kathleen captured a photo of her grandson flying his first kite when he was 3 years old. She translated the image into this great memory quilt. She used the Blue Sky Gradient for the background and then created the magical moment with multiple fabric paints and pencils, thread painting as well as fused appliqué.
For sharing, Kathleen 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.
Every little scrap postcards
When Mom was over visiting a couple of weeks ago I was in the middle of "bag mania" and I told her not to be surprised if her birthday card contained the scraps from those efforts. I just have the worst angst about tossing out scraps when they still have potential to be something. I really had a hard time with the blue scraps from the zipper bags. I tried a few postcard design ideas that fell really flat and I almost gave up. When I get to that stage it means that I'm trying too hard and I need to simplify.
On the sewing table I spied the cork leftovers from making the bag handles and the idea of simple squares was born. I cut all of the blue into as many 1" squares as I could and then added some blue, white and orange cork squares. I fused them to a postcard base. I was careful with the cork pieces to use a pressing cloth but I was mostly just trying to adhere the blue fabric bits. The cork I could hold in place until I stitched over the edges.
I used a zig zag stitch with a 3.0 width and .4 length to stitch over all of the joins and then finished off the edge with a wider zig zag. Once I had my design worked out these went together really fast.
This is all that's left of the blue South African fabrics!
I made 7 of these cards. Mom's was already in the mail when I took this photo.
I hope you all have a great weekend. I'll be finishing the quilting on the big green quilt and, hopefully, cutting out some 9-patch blocks for my long term family quilts project.
Quilting has commenced on the big green quilt. Cheryl wanted a very lightweight quilt so the batting is thin. To keep it soft and airy I decided on a giant swirl motif. She will use this on their bed so it needs to be cuddly. That's been a hard quilting lesson for me to learn. My tendency has always been to over quilt things but I know from my own bed quilts that I like the feel of lightly quilted quilts better. This one will not be over quilted for sure and it should be done this weekend.
All the fabric that I was soaking is hanging out to dry and I'll fold it and add it to my "safe" stash this weekend. I don't think I'll iron it since I have to iron all the fabric that I take out of stash anyway. There are some really cool fabrics in this batch and I look forward to actually using them.
Yesterday I also got some new knitting looms in the mail! After tons of research and struggle with the Boye looms, I decided to give KB looms a try. The Flexee is adjustable as you knit and I wanted to try it for hats so that the crown can be decreased. The other one can be standard or bulky (by removing alternate pegs). They both have some great reviews on YouTube. It was very cool to find out that this company is only an hour or so away from me in Fork Union, VA. I'll start some projects on these this weekend.
Tomorrow I'll share the new postcard design.
One goal accomplished
Yesterday didn't go quite as planned but everything worked out in the end. I spent more time than I planned dealing with what I thought was a plumbing issue but is actually an electrical issue. The water pump on my dye sink has been failing. I thought it was the pump but now we know that it's something in the electric box. Yesterday they replaced the one breaker switch but it failed again sometime after they left. I plugged the pump into another outlet that feeds from another breaker switch and it ran great. So it's definitely inside the box. I'm guessing that something was reconnected quite right after the generator was installed. We have a supervisor coming out Monday to look at it. Meanwhile now I know that I can use the sink and run the pump from another outlet.
But the coolest part of all of that was that the electrician that came out yesterday was a woman! Yay!
While I was still worried about the pump I decided to bring some fabrics that I wanted to soak up to the bathroom. These are the rest of my collection of my first-ever hand dyed fabrics. They are serious bleeders but I'm solving that problem this week and can then I'll be able to start using them with all of my other hand dyed fabrics.
I eventually got to working on my other goal of getting the big green quilt loaded on the longarm. It's a complex process because I want the front centered in this ice dyed back. Just between us, I like the back a lot better than the front!
I have a tutorial here for how to center a quilt on the longarm but here are the basic steps. I load the backing and then roll it until the center is in the middle of my working area. Usually the batting has a pretty perfect fold in the middle so I line up the batting fold along the center line of the backing.
Then comes the hard part of lining up the quilt top with the center batting fold. There's a lot of bulk laying around and you have to ignore it and only worry about that center. I get that one line centered and then baste.
Once the center is basted I can spread out the batting and quilt for the lower half of the quilt and baste the rest of the work space. Then I loosely roll the bottom batting and top onto the roller so that I can focus on basting the top half of the quilt.
Once the top is done I go back to the middle, unroll the batting and backing for the bottom half of the quilt and finish the basting. After a little bit of dyeing today I will be ready to start quilting! I think I'm going to do free motion swirls all over it. That will go fast and will add some softness to the straight piecing.
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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.