This week's gem comes from Martha Giles. Martha picked one of the Shades Packs and had me make a custom gradient for her. I do that quite often for customers. With a custom gradient you can have it in 3 - 7 shades, whatever you need. In this case she didn't want the 2 darkest greens. We started with a middle shade and then added 3 lighter shades to get the perfect green that she was after. It made a perfect background for her beautiful applique flowers.
If you have made anything with my fabric pleas consider sharing it in the Customer Gallery. In return you will receive a 20% discount code that's good for 3 months!
Since my Saturday posts are reserved for Customer Gems I'm posting my book reviews a day early. That works fine because there's no way I'll finish the current book before Sunday.
This was kind of a weird book month. I have a lot of variety in my genre's (well, variety for me) and not a lot of stand outs. Of course John Adams was great because everything David McCullough writes is excellent. Beijing Red brings a new series to me so that's always good. A Man Called Ove was probably the biggest let down. Maybe it was just over-hyped and an unrealistic expectation was set.
I have started another novel called What is the What by Dave Eggars. It's the kind of book that I usually love but i'm struggling to stay interested in it. It's less a novel than a flat telling of events. I want to stick with it because I feel like I'll learn alot about Sudan and the "Lost Boys" but I might have to slog this one out to get there. You may or may not see a review of this one in the future.
What have you been reading? Any recommendations for me or other readers?
Waiter to the Rich and Shameless
by Paul Hartford, Narrated by Patrick Cronin
After reading Witness at the end of August I needed something light and airy to read and I got it in this book. Paul Hartford wasn't making it in the music industry and decided to give service a try. He applied and was hired as a bartender at The Cricket Room (it's easy to figure out that he's talking about the Polo Lounge at The Beverly Hills Hotel). This is his story of 10 years as a bartender and waiter at one of the most exclusive restaurants in the world.
Having spent many early years as a waitress I was interested in reading his story and I could identify a lot with many of the challenges, joys and issues of the service industry. It's peppered with lots of celebrity stories including Paris Hilton, Johnny Depp (accounting for his largest tip), Harrison Ford, Rod Stewart and lots of others.
If you are reading this for the celebrity gossip there might not be enough here to entice you. But if you've ever worked in the service industry you might find this interesting.
by David McCullough, narrated by Nelson Runger
I love early American history and especially the American Revolution. I also love anything written by David McCullough. His biographies are epic and John Adams is a wonderful subject because of the wealth of personal writings that are available from his life.
The book is 30 hours long but still seemed like a fast read. Being a Virginian we studied Thomas Jefferson, George Washington and Patrick Henry pretty thoroughly. We learned about John Adams mostly through his rocky relationship with Jefferson and as Washington's Vice President. Now hearing the same from the perspective of Adams gives me a more well-rounded view of that time in history. There was also a wealth of information about he relationship with Abigail and their children.
It's a great read.
By Alex Ryan, Narrated by MacLeod Andrews
A new mystery series! This one features Nick Foley, a former Navy SEAL who now works for a NGO in China providing water sources for poor villages. One of his local co-workers suddenly dies at the site and everyone fears an Ebola-type outbreak.
Nick is first quarantined as a possible carrier and then accused of causing the deaths. Now suddenly he's back in SEAL mode investigating a bioterrorism threat.
This series (and there are 2 books so far) is set in China and I really enjoy the change of venue. It's not as well-written as a John Sandford or Kyle Mills book but it's still good. Alex Ryan is actually a pseudonym for the co-author team of Brian Andrews and Jeffrey Wilson. This is their second series. The other series is Tier One and is co-authored.
A Man Called Ove
by Fredrik Backman, Narrated by George Newbern.
My favorite thing about this book was the narrator.
This has been a highly reviewed and recommended book and when it was put on sale I decided to give it a try.
It's set in Sweden is is about an "old curmudgeon" called Ove (pronounced oo-va). He seems to hate all people. Then a cat and some new neighbors show up and things start to change.
The book is told in chapter that alternate between his early life and current life. That part is quite annoying but the biggest issue is that I just can't buy the character. He's supposed to be 59 but would only be believable if he was 79. Look at the image on the book cover. That's not a 59 year old man. It's also really a book about processing grief.
I didn't care for the character development and there's no way that a man with his experiences has so much internalized hatred. He might be quite, have a strict routine and avoid contact with people but he doesn't hate.
This book has gotten rave reviews everywhere but it didn't do a thing for me.
by CJ Box, Narrated by David Chandler
Free Fire is #7 of 17 in the Joe Pickett series. Joe has been fired from his job as a game warden and is working on his step-father-in-law's ranch when the Governor of Wyoming comes calling. He wants Joe to investigate a murder in Yellowstone. A lawyer has murdered 4 people and, through a legal loophole, has gotten away with it. The legal loophole is fascinating and I'd love to know if it's real.
I picked this one to read after Ove because I knew I could count on Joe Pickett to get the bad taste out of my mind. He did that and also reminded me of the places we visited on our Yellowstone vacation a few years ago. I left this book in a much better reading mood.
Her Daughter's Dream
by Francine Rivers, Narrated by Stina Nielson
This is the second, and last, book in a series. I read the first one and decided to complete the series. It's definitely a religious/inspirational book so if that bugs you then you will hate this one. If you like those kinds of books you will love this series. The series follows 4 generations of women and explores the emotional baggage that they put on each other and carry through their lives.
I thought the first book was better. This one is quite choppy but the thing that bugged me most was how the author handled contemporary times. Some scenes make you think they are happening in the 1960's instead of the 1990's. It's evident in the dialogue and in the technology used/ignored during certain events. The characters cling way too strongly to their baggage too. The amount of drama was totally unnecessary except for the sole purpose of filling pages. It wasn't "real" enough for me.
The narrator is outstanding and that's probably what kept me in it.
A Mercifull Death
by Kendra Elliot, Narrated by Teri Schnaubelt
Mercy Kilpatrick was raised in an off-the-grid prepper family in Eagles Nest, OR. She was forced to leave the family when she was 18. It's 15 years later and she's back as an FBI agent investigating murders and weapons thefts.
It's a good premise and story line but Mercy isn't much of an FBI agent. I think her character is more like a local police officer. Without her childhood knowledge and involvement in a previous she would have never solved this one.
I'd categorize this book as being something between a cozy mystery and a more serious crime mystery. It was a little to light for my taste but it wasn't a bad book.
The Old Man
by Thomas Perry, Narrated by Peter Berkrot
Have you ever finished a book and thought "I don't know what I just went through"?
That was this book.
The old man is Dan Chase, a 60 year old retiree living in Vermont. But Dan Chase isn't Dan Chase. He has numerous identities, money stockpiled in several banks and weapons. None of which he has needed for 35 years ever since a covert operation went awry. Now he's been found and is on the run again.
This is not your everyday spy novel. It's full of twists and twisted characters. Thomas Perry writes a very tight story with well-defined characters. Some people will feel that he left some business unattended at the end but it seemed to end just right for me.
Give this one a try if you are up for something different. I've read several of his book and really enjoyed the Butcher's Boys books.
Zentangle labels mark the completion!
The quilts are done and already in the mail! This is the first year that I've done 2 quilts but I had 2 ideas and really wanted to see both. I'm glad I did because I like both a lot...for different reasons.
The names of both quilts are a play on the name of the new fabric line "Wonderlust". The first quilt is the Lone Star block from blockbase blown up to 36" square.
I love the proccess of making the Zeentangle labels but the label from this quilt gave me fits. I must have started a half dozen ideas before settling on this one that it totally copied from something I saw on Google.
I have to submit line drawings for my quilts so that's why I have line drawings to share with you. Beware of Lust is the name of this quilt. Anyone care to guess the meaning of the name? It's a bit convoluted but if you figure it out you will get a good chuckle out of it.
I'll tell you the real story when I can reveal the quilts at the end of October. For now, I can get back to my own quilting!
Creating custom colors and palettes
Since I can't share what I'm sewing I thought that today I'd share what I do when someone contacts me for a custom palette. This one was pretty straight forward.
A customer contacted me about making this quilt. She wants to make the green gradient version. But I didn't know that.
The request came through that she wanted this fabric in 9 steps. The problem with that is that the dark green in the image is the darkest possible shade so the other 4 steps would be lighter. I know from experience that those last 3 steps would be so light that you would hardly be able to tell them apart. So before I do a custom dye order I'll ask what the fabric is going to be used for. In this case she sent me a link to the pattern above and once I saw the gradient version I knew that what she asked for wasn't really what she wanted. My job was to put together some options for her.
This is where my color swatches come in handy! First I pulled out the swatches for the color she selected. Those are the 7B samples (7Ab is in there because I'm missing 7Bc). Then I added darker shades from the same green family. By that I mean that all of these greens are made with the same yellow and blue just in different ratios. I also added black because she was considering black as the darkest color. I'm not really fond of that idea. I think it's way to stark. I prefer the darker colors to be more blue.
For this sample I started with the same base green (7B) but as I went darker I switched to another green for the darker shades so that there would be less blue.
For the last sample I picked a different green just to give her another option. This is a darker base green (8B) so I could go even one step lighter on the light side if she wanted.
Here's another custom order that I've done recently. This customer needed a color matched. I focused on the dark and medium paint chips. Her lightest shade is actually a different color and I could pull that color from my Copper Mine gradient. The darker paint chip was the challenge. I had colors that were close but not close enough. This is a more complex color because it involves mixing 3 colors: a red, a yellow and a blue. Too much blue and it goes purple, too much yellow and it goes brown. There are also 2 yellows and 4 blues to choose from. It took a few weeks but I eventually got this and she's happy!
These are the things I love doing. I love it when people ask me to create new colors or palettes. Occasionally I can't do what they want but I'm always willing to give it a try.
The next one I'm working on is seriously complex and involves about 40 different fabrics. We'll see if I'm able to get that one.
Fabric of the week and a new gradient!
The fabric of the week this week is the Marigold Shades Pack and it's on sale 20% off through Sunday! Shades Packs are dyed when ordered so there's no limit to what you can buy. If you order multiple quantities it comes as one cut. For example, order 2 quantities for 1/2 yard cuts. Orders received by Wednesday morning (EST) will be shipped by October 3. Orders placed after Wednesday morning will be shipped October 9.
Lately my dyeing has focused on deep and muddy colors but last week I had an appetite for something different. I dug into my pastel palettes and I'm happy to introduce my newest gradient, Daybreak!
I don't have a lot to share today because I have been singularly focused on getting the "Paula" quilts done. Of course it would have taken less time if I had only made the ONE that was asked of me. But you know how inspiration works and you just have to go with it. So I made 2 and I'm happy I did. I love both of them.
This weekend I got the bindings and sleeves done and started on the labels.
I know, there's no real need to hand draw labels but I started the tradition and I'm keeping with it.
Beware of Lust s the name of one of the quilts. It's not because I'm a prude. It's a play on the name of the fabric line, Wonderlust, and the particular layout of that quilt. It will make sense when I can show it to you at the end of October.
I expect I'll miss another couple of days posting this week while I finish these up but you will know what I'm doing. I want these quilts in the mail by Friday.
Customer Gems - Pat Ferguson
Oh yes, you know that I do love a great scrap quilt and I have a fantastic one to share today!
Pat made this quilt a few years ago using Color Wheel Stash packs and, like most of us, she hoards her scraps. Now she's turned all those scraps into a great crumb block quilt.
If you go check out the detail shots on her blog you can also see the beautiful green hand dyed fabric that she bought for the backing. Pattilou is always quilting something so you will want to check her blog out for lots of fun and inspiring quilts.
You can check out dozens of other customer projects in the Customer Gallery. If you have made anything with my hand dyed fabrics please consider sharing it in the gallery. In return you will receive a 20% discount that's good on anything in the shop and it lasts 3 moths!
I'm in the home stretch on my Paula quilts. I'm sewing the bindings now and only have the sleeves and labels left to do! I might be back to my normal routine by Monday!
My new favorite quilting thread
Yesterday was dyeing day and I dyed over 60 yards. That's a big week for my little business!
Yesterday was also the day that I finished quilting the "Paula" quilts and I officially now have a new favorite quilting thread. I'm blocking them today and binding this weekend.
I have previously used a lot of Monopoly invisible thread but I've never been happy with the sheen that you get from it. It's invisible in color but still shows because of the shine.
Val, at Virginia Longarm, recommended that I try Invisafil.
I first tried in on this class sample. I used gray Invisafil for the background quilting (clamshells, wavy lines, pumpkin seeds and bubble lines). I was really impressed with the way this thread disappears into the quilt. Last night I used it on the lone star sample that I made. I used the gray again and quilted through the black, red and orange. I just love it! Setting the tension was much easier than invisible thread and I had no thread breaks.
The best part is that you don't need all of the colors. I expect that black, gray and white will be all I ever need.
The only caution is that you have to be very careful winding bobbins. It's a super fine thread that packs in the bobbin and I found out that if I fill it more than 3/4 full that it will warp the bobbin.
A new project?
It's inevitable. You finish a project or 2 and the next thing you know you've started 4 more. It's like there's some sort of allergic reaction to 6" of empty space on the project shelf. I'm trying my best to not start another project but it's not working out so well.
This pattern has been haunting me for a while. I absolutely love it and finally ordered it.
It's awesome in grays too. The problem is that the finished size is 74" square and that's a pretty useless size for me. I need closer to 94" square. I could add a gigantic gradient border but I've also been playing around a bit with the strip sizes.
The pattern is designed for Jelly Rolls (2 1/2" strips) but I'll want to use my gradient fabrics so that 2 1/2" isn't a limitation for me. I'm thinking of scaling up the strips. If I make the finished sizes 2.5" and 1.25" instead of 2" and 1" the quilt will finish about 92" square. If I need it 96" for the guest house bed I can add a 2" border all the way around.
If I used my Woodlands Gradient it will be perfect for the guest house bedroom.
If I use Summer Sunset it will look great in my bedroom.
I did both of these blocks in EQ using images of my fabric but the images that export look nothing like the image as it's displayed in EQ! I've never had that happen before. In the real quilt the colors would be much more random.
For now I'm going to set aside my notes and hope that doing a little planning will be enough to soothe the new project itch.
Fabric of the Week and a new gradient!
The fabric if the week is Malibu Sunset Gradient. This fabric is on sale 25% off! If you want some for your stash get it before it sells out.
Through Sunday (or while supplies last) this fabric is 25% off or $6.75/half yard.
To celebrate the start of Leaf Peeping season I have this new autumnal gradient called Shenandoah.
Two other gradients are back in stock this week.
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I'm Vicki Welsh and I've been making things as long as I can remember. I used to be a garment maker but transitioned to quilts about 20 years ago. Currently I'm into fabric dyeing, quilting, Zentangle, fabric postcards, fused glass and mosaic. I document my adventures here.