I finished 8 books in July. That's kind of a slow month for me but when I have a lot going on I have trouble concentrating on books and listen to podcasts instead. Even with only 8 books, I'm happy to report that I was only disappointed with one, The Last Revival of Opal and Nev"
Two of the books I read this month are ones that were left as recommendations in last month's comments so be sure to read other's recommendations too! Also be sure to leave your own recommendations in the comments. I added a bunch of books from last month's comments to my various electronic wish lists. I'll get to them all eventually.
Island Queen by Vanessa Riley - Couldn't keep track of the characters with the narration.
The Museum of Ordinary People
By Mike Gayle, Read By Witney White
Another great book from one of my favorite writers. Mike Gayle writes wonderful books about relationships between people: family, friends and random strangers.
Jess is dealing with the sudden loss of her mother. It's month's later and time to clean out the house to prepare it for selling. She can seem to make herself get rid of the encyclopedia set that her mother gave her as a child. Her boyfriend is pressuring her to get rid of them because he doesn't want them in their tiny apartment. Then a friend tells her about the Museum of Ordinary People housed in the back of a warehouse. She's intrigued and becomes the unofficial curator along with the warehouse's new owner.
This book is all about the deep meaning in ordinary items but also about friendship, family and finding your right path. Gayle is a master of character development so you know these people and want to spend time with them.
By Patrick K. O'Donnell, Read By Will Damron
Over July 4th weekend I felt it was only right to read some American history and chose this book....wisely.
Every state education system teaches American history with a little different spin. In Virginia, we have a lot of history and our education (at least on the 1960's) focused heavily on Virginia and Virginia's heroes. We did get a lot of Revolutionary War history but it was Virginia focused.
This book added a lot to my education because it about the Marblehead Regiment if Massachusetts. The book delves into the pre-war lead up in Massachusetts as it pertains to the soldiers and mariners of Marblehead. These are the people that rowed Washington across the Delaware and did so many more heroic acts during the war.
Also, because Marblehead (the town) was highly integrated, the Regiments was also integrated with white, black, Hispanic and Native American troops.
It's very interesting book but I think I'd recommend that you read the book instead of listening to the audio. I like Will Damron as a narrator which makes me thing that something was off with the direction or editing.
The Kitchen Front
By Jennifer Ryan, Read By Jasmine Blackborow
I picked up this recommendation from Carole's blog and it was a good one! I usually don't remember where I got recommendations but this one was read within a week of raeding her blog post because the mibrary had it avaiable to check out right away.
It's the middle of WWII and everyone at home is suffering from fear, loss and a lack of access to good food. The BBC has a shows calle The Kitchen Front and is looking for a female co host. They decided to have a contest in the local area where the current host lives. Four women enter the 3 stage contest. One dish will be prepared each month: a starter, a main and a dessert. There's a war widow with 3 children who needs a better way to support her family, a kitchen maid wanting to escape life downstairs, a trained chef trying to break into the man's world of being a head chef and a manor lady wanting to escape her brutal husband.
The story follows the 4 women through the three months of the competition. The character development and story pacing is excellent and there are some very poignant moments.
Code Name Blue Wren
By Jim Popkin, Read By Jim Popkin
I think that Kristen F. recommended this one to me. I'm not sure I'm glad I read it although, it was very interesting.
It's the true story of Ana Montes, a high ranking official at the Defense Intelligence Agency. She used that position to spy for Fidel Castro's Cuba for 17 years. Her intelligence unmasked US spies in Cuba and led directly to the death of a Green Beret in El Salvador.
The book is riveting and frankly, reveals the ineptitude of the FBI in finding spies within our government. No wonder they turned their focus to parents at school board meetings and Catholics attending Church. Those groups are easier to find and intimidate.
The reason that I'm not sure I'm glad that I read it is because Ana Montes is now free after 20 years in jail. How does that happen?
In all seriousness, it is a very interesting and well written book.
The Final Revival of Opal & Nev
By Dawnie Walton, Read By a cast
It's difficult for me to describe this book so I'm going to start by sharing the publisher's summary:
Opal is a fiercely independent young woman pushing against the grain in her style and attitude, Afro-punk before that term existed. Coming of age in Detroit, she can’t imagine settling for a 9-to-5 job—despite her unusual looks, Opal believes she can be a star. So when the aspiring British singer/songwriter Neville Charles discovers her at a bar’s amateur night, she takes him up on his offer to make rock music together for the fledgling Rivington Records.
In early seventies New York City, just as she’s finding her niche as part of a flamboyant and funky creative scene, a rival band signed to her label brandishes a Confederate flag at a promotional concert. Opal’s bold protest and the violence that ensues set off a chain of events that will not only change the lives of those she loves, but also be a deadly reminder that repercussions are always harsher for women, especially black women, who dare to speak their truth.
Decades later, as Opal considers a 2016 reunion with Nev, music journalist S. Sunny Shelton seizes the chance to curate an oral history about her idols. Sunny thought she knew most of the stories leading up to the cult duo’s most politicized chapter. But as her interviews dig deeper, a nasty new allegation from an unexpected source threatens to blow up everything.
Provocative and chilling, The Final Revival of Opal & Nev features a backup chorus of unforgettable voices, a heroine the likes of which we’ve not seen in storytelling, and a daring structure, and introduces a bold new voice in contemporary fiction.
This book has fantastic reviews but, from my perspective, it's kind of a hot mess. The narrative perspective is all over the place. That's the "daring structure" mentioned above. The cast is great but it's awkward when a character starts to speak and they introduces themselves first "Opal Jewel: blah blah blah". But it's not always like that. Sometime the Sunny character speaks for the other characters.
Opal is not particularly likable either. She behaves like a big star but the largest crowd she had ever performed for is 20,000. She so impetuous that she has her stage temper tantrums without consideration for the people who came to see her perform or he fellow performers. She seems to feel that her principles come before all else. There are 2 major incidences of this in the book and we can understand why she is not popular with promoters. She's immature and unprofessional.
Opal and Nev, as performers, are set well into the actual music and cultural history of their time so that you feel they might be a real band that you have never heard of. I found the story tedious and couldn't wait for it to end. But, this book gets RAVE reviews so you might like it.
By Peter Robinson, Read By Simon Prebble
This is #25 in the Inspector Alan Banks series set in the UK.
A young college student is found dead in an abandoned car but she didn't die there. It appears to be a suicide.
Near the same time the body of an unidentified man is found in gully. By his dress, he appears affluent and appears to have died from head trauma.
Inspector banks must decide if the cases are related and there's a side story that's related to a previous book. The side story was distracting to me and got a little confusing. I don't think I've read the book that carries that backstory but it does carry a lead up to a future story.
These books are entertaining. To me, they aren't as good as original John Sandford or Nick Petrie, but it's still a good series.
By Jane Harper, Read By Stephen Shanahan
This is the 3rd installment in the Aaron Falk series. It's a series that I've enjoyed and I'll keep an eye out for future releases.
In Exiles, Aaron Falk is on vacation in a small town in wine country in Southern Australia. He's there for the christening of his friend's daughter but it also marks the one year anniversary of the disappearance of Kim Gillespie.
At the annual festival a year ago, Kim's baby was found tucked in a stroller, alone, at the festival. People have been searching for her ever since. Falk can't avoid getting involved.
Good mystery, interesting characters and kept my focus during a week where I was completely distracted.
Sparks Like Stars
By Nadia Hashimi, Read By Mozhan Marno
In Kabul in 1978, Sitara Zamani lived a very privileged life as her father was a senior aide to the president. But when she was 10 years old her entire family was killed during a coup and only she survived.
She was smuggled out of the palace and eventually out of the country and found home in the United States.
In 2008, her name is Arianna and she's an oncology surgeon in NYC and a surprising patient arrives in her office. It's the man who saved her from the massacre but also may be the man who murdered her family. It's finally time to return to Kabul and learn the truth.
This was a very interesting historical fiction novel. It's about Afghanistan, the effects of trauma on children and how trauma is often bottled up and carried into adulthood. I'm glad I found this nw-to-me author.
Neither Mom or I wanted to talk about or do anything related to her move yesterday. She got a day of rest and I got a day of yarn and thread.
Yesterday afternoon I went to crochet with the local library group. I finished a winter hat that I started last month and then added the leftover yarn to my scrappy blanket. Whatever project I finish I add the leftover yarn to this blanket. It can probably be donated as a wheelchair blanket whenever it gets finished. The most important thing is that I don't have scrap balls of yarn.
Then after dinner I got buys and got the veterans quilts quilted. I think I can get the last one loaded and quilted before we leave and might even be able to get one or more of them bound.....we'll see. I'm not making myself commit to it.
Gail left a comment on the last post asking if there's a pattern for this quilt so I thought I'd share my "pattern" here. It's just a simple sashed quilt that I mocked up in EQ. The blocks are 12" finished so they are based on a 4" grid. The red and white could be cut from jelly roll strips (2.5"). The sashing and borders are all 3" finished. Ignore my diagram, I also made the top and bottom borders 3".
Gail, I hope this is enough to help you draft it out yourself. It's pretty straight forward.
I hope everyone had a great weekend!
That was quite the marathon of apartment hunting. Mom and I started looking at apartments on Friday (21st), celebrated her birthday Saturday and got a lease signed yesterday - 6 days total. She moves in September 7th. She could move earlier but I won't be here so we will wait until Chris and I return from Maine. I think she's happy to have a month to get her things organized and packed. I know she will start moving some things herself during the month and my brother is coming to help one weekend. By the time we get to the 7th she will be all set for the movers.
I don't know if you've shopped for apartments lately but there isn't a lot of inventory out there. We were really lucky to find a one bedroom with a den (sewing room). Those apartments are like unicorns. Apartments are also VERY expensive now., just like everything else I suppose. Her new neighborhood is very safe and very diverse with lots of families. I think she's going to love it there once she starts meeting some of the neighbors.
On the craft front, not much has happened. I did get 2 veterans quilts loaded and basted. I hope to start quilting then this evening. This afternoon I have my knit and crochet group meeting and it will be nice to just sit and stitch for a few hours.
Just a reminder that I'm leaving for vacation soon and that means
NO ORDERS WILL BE SHIPPED AUGUST 3 - SEPTEMBER 4.
If you need anything from the shop, please get your order in before August 3. I also will not be able to do any more custom orders until September.
The Annual Gradient Sale has been more popular this year than any year before so I've decided to extend it for you. Use coupon code GRADIENT20 at checkout for 20% off all in stock gradients. The sale is extended until July 28!
New Stash Pack!
A couple of weeks ago I introduced the new Shoots and Leaves Stash Pack. It was inspired by the bright greens of new Spring growth. As soon as I saw the finished fabrics I knew I needed some Spring flowers to go along with it and that's that I have for you today.
Garden Path was inspired by the beautiful colors of Spring blooms: tulips, hydrangea, iris, hyacinth, violets, bluebells..... Honestly, this is as close as I get to actual gardening. I tried to provide a lot of texture for fussy cutting individual petals or more watercolor effects of an overall garden scene.
Each Stash Pack has 5 streaky fabrics and 5 mottled fabrics. Here are larger views of all of them. The fabrics you receive will not look exactly like these but they will be these colors and general textures. Each fat eighth is a gem on it's own. There are so many possibilities for fussy cutting applique or landscape elements.
I hope you will find inspiration for your next textile garden with these fabrics.
This weekend became a busy weekend for me and Mom and it had nothing to do with quilting. We had to search for a new apartment for her. She moved to Richmond five and a half years ago and she's been happy in her city apartment for seniors. It's a very old building but the property was lovely and the building was well maintained. That is until the property was sold to out of state investors and it's now being turned into a dump that will be used to take advantage of Medicare largess without any care for the residents comfort and safety. It's really sad because, while old, it was a nice place to live and she has friends there. Although many of those friends are moving out. They are pushing residents to sign new leases and commit to another year. She decided that it was time to go so we started apartment hunting.
We found a place she likes and, Saturday (on her birthday) she submitted the application and will, hopefully, sign a lease later this week. If all goes to plan, in September she will be in a nicer neighborhood and also closer to me and my cousin. I'm pretty excited and so is Chris and all of my brothers.
All that to say that I didn't get any sewing or quilting done this weekend.
What I intended to do this weekend was get one of these quilts loaded and quilted. I also wanted to get labels and hanging rods for the quilts that will be in the September exhibit. I can work on all of these things Tuesday and Wednesday. There's no huge hurry. If the quilts don't get quilted until September it's no problem. At some point I also have to start packing for vacation but I have that process down to a science. Usually one day for clothes and gear and one day for food and I'm ready.
Today we are off to do more apartment business so my creative expectations for the day are low. Tomorrow offer some hope!
We are accustomed to Patricia Caldwell's stunning art quilts but she's surprised us this week with a new bed quilt! She said that she always wanted to do a pineapple quilt since she started quilted long ago. She came across the Creative Grid Pineapple Trim Tool Mini and it worked great. These are 6 inch finished blocks. She used the Bliss Gradient as her background and coordinating Shades packs for the blocks.
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.
This is the last time you have to see this quilt because it's officially done! It even has a hanging sleeve. I'll get a label on it this weekend and it will be ready for the exhibit in September.
All of the history and details are on the Goldfinch page but I'll share a few notes/observations:
Don't forget to check out the Gradient sale! The sale ends July 25th!
This is the 7th blanket that I've made with this pattern and line of yarn. It seems a little insane but I love the yarn and bought a ton of it on clearance and I'm going to keep making blankets until it's all gone. I think I only have yarn left for 1 or 2 more blankets. I will not start another until the weather cools down. This one got a little hot to work on but I wanted to finish it before vacation as I want to use the project bag for my travel projects.
I've been calling this my "dude" blanket because, so far, I've given them all to men in my family. But this one has a more feminine look so I'll probably give it to a deserving woman. Maybe someone not in the family but someone that has done good things for me.
Here are all the details:
Cascade Cartwheel Yarn, 6 balls
Pattern from BagODay Crochet, pattern repeat is 8 stitches plus 3
I used a K hook and chained 131 stitches (with an L hook), all of the others have been 147 stitches but I wanted this one a little smaller. 6 balls made a blanket that finished 46 x 64 and that's plenty big.
The best part is that on the last row I had this much yarn left!
Just checking in for a quick minutes to day to report that the Goldfinch is quilted! It took a lot of time but 80% of that time was for procrastinating and worry. The ACTUAL quilting time wasn't all that much.
The denim as batting worked great. It was a dream to quilt through and the piece will hang nice as a tapestry without any puffy areas. YOu can see some white through the stitches in the dark area but I think a nice steaming will take care of that and you can't see it from any distance anyway.
Next up is binding (or facing) and then I think I'll be able to easily get my 3 veterans quilts quilted and bound before we leave in 2 weeks.
Today I'm in the dye studio for the last time until Spetember!
But first, an administrative announcement! I'm leaving for vacation soon and that means
NO ORDERS WILL BE SHIPPED AUGUST 3 - SEPTEMBER 4.
If you need anything from the shop, please get your order in before August 3. I also will not be able to do any more custom orders until September.
Now, let's get to the good stuff!
It only happens once a year and, for 2023, the time is here. ALL of the Gradients are on sale this week! Every in-stock Gradient is 20% off. Use the coupon code GRADIENT20 at checkout. Other discounts cannot be stacked on this coupon.
The sale even includes these two brand new gradients...
and these two popular Gradients that are back in stock!
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.