I can't believe that it's the end of the month already! Time is flying by and I haven't started making Christmas postcards yet.
I'm not sure how I got through 12 books this month. In the evenings I've been taking a free online lecture class and watching my DrBeen medical videos almost every night. Clearly the rest of the time I don't talk to anyone, including my husband. I do admit that I have headphones on all day long.
My reading for September was a real mix of things and, frankly, not the best moth of reading ever. I think my favorites were Liar's Girl, Wives and Daughters and Thunderstruck. Lethal Agent was good, it was Mitch Rapp so it had to be good, but the subject matter was a little too current.
Whatg was your favorite book of the last month?
The Darwin Affair
By Tim Mason, Read By Derek Perkins
This is a Victorian mystery that made me think it could be Charles Dickens writing about Jack The Ripper. It starts with an attempt on Queen Victoria's life that ends with the death of a petty thief. But that's just the beginning of the torturous murders in this book. Along the way you meet Charles Darwin, Karl Marx and other notables of the time. It was OK but it's quite gruesome and I found it hard to keep up with all the characters and story lines.
Force of Nature
By Jane Harper, Read By Stephen Shanahan
This is #2 in the Federal Police Agent Aaron Falk series. I read the first book in this series, The Dry, last month and really enjoyed it. This one was a bit of a letdown.
The basic storyline is good. Five female colleagues go on a corporate outback hiking/camping retreat. There's also a group of male colleagues on a separate hike in the same area. One of the women dies on the trip and everyone has a different story about the trip.
In the last book Falk was the central character because the crime was in his own family. In this one the detective really could have been anyone. I don't feel his particular character added to the story. There really isn't much detecting because the story unfolds in a series of flashbacks. The hard part of the book was developing any sort of empathy with any of the characters. Two are sisters and one is the sister of the man who runs the company and none of them belong on a multi day hiking and camping trip.
I did eventually get into it and finish it but it was a bit of work for a while.
By Stephen Fry, Read By Stephen Fry
This is the second in Fry's series on the Greek myths and we chose this for the book to listen to on our vacation drive. The first book was about the Olympian gods. This one tells the stories of the mortal heroes like Perseus, Jason, Atalanta, Theseus and Heracles.
Stephen Fry does the BEST job of telling these stories! If you like the myths you will love his series. We listened to this for part of our car trip from Maine.
A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court
By Mark Twain, Read By Nick Offerman
I don't need to review this book. It's Mark Twain and it's free on Audible! Honestly, I'm not a huge Twain fan but Offerman does a great narration.
This was our other driving book over vacation.
By Brian Andrews and Jeffrey Wilson, Read By Ray Porter
This is #4 in the Tier One series. Ember is America's premier Black Ops unit and this time they are trying to find Amanda Allen. She was the aid to the Ambassador to Turkey. The Ambassador was assassinated and Allen was kidnapped. She also happens to be a CIA operative. Ember is sent to Syria to try to find her.
These are books are tough men and tough women, lots of fighting and big egos. They are a little formulaic but they are fast paced, easy to follow and American usually wins.
The Liar's Girl
By Catherine Ryan Howard, Read by multiple artists
About a month ago Audible introduced a pretty large free library to subscribers. Free was kind of a cool concept so I decided to check it out. I expected it to be a bunch of mediocre or really old books. Instead I was pleasantly surprised by the size of the library and the number of seemingly good books available. This is the first one that I tried and I was not disappointed.
It's set in Dublin and a college student is found dead in the Dublin canal and then there's a second one. The police want the help of Allison Smith to talk to her ex-boyfriend to ask him to help solve the crimes. Allison has been living outside Ireland ever since her boyfriend, Will, was convicted of 5 similar murders while they were in college 10 years ago. Clearly he didn't kill the new girls so did he really kill the first 5?
I found Allison to be a bit too spineless as a character but I did like the book. I finished this one in 2 days because I couldn't put it down.
Wives and Daughters
By Elizabeth Gaskell, Read By Prunella Scales
This is another gem that I found in the free Audible library. I had never heard of Gaskell but she was a popular Victorian writer and her book reminded me very much of Jane Austen. It's not quite as funny as Austen but it's a similar theme.
Molly Gibson is the only daughter of the local doctor and her mother died when Molly was very young. Molly is well loved by the townspeople. Her father decides that Molly needs a mother so me marries a local widow who turns out to be completely self-absorbed and petty. Fortunately Molly does love her new step-sister. It's a good look at what it was like to live and love in Victorian society.
By Erik larson, Read By Bob Balaban
I really enjoy Erik Larson books. He has a knack for making historical events read like novels. In this one he tells of the invention of the wireless radio by Guglielmo Marconi and the story of Hawley Crippin, a mild mannered doctor who was convicted of murdering his wife.
The two stories overlap when Marconi's device is used for the first time to help solve the Crippin murder.
The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek
By Kim Michele Richardson, Read By Katie Schorr
You might remember that in June I read The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes. It was about the fascinating story of the depression era packhorse libraries of Appalachia. It was very prolific especially in Kentucky and was a much needed connection to the outside world for the people of the region.
This is another book about a packhorse librarian (except that she uses a mule). Cussy Mary Carter is the daughter of a coal miner and they live a hard hand-to-mouth existence. Cussy's life is complicated by the fact that she's a "blue". Her skin is blue and she is the last known blue. Cussie is based on the real blue people of the Appalachia. Most were members of the Fugate family and had a unique genetic trait (shared by some groups in Alaska). It's called Methemoglobinemia and you can read about it here and see photos on the Fugate family.
It's a good book about hardscrabble living and the hopes and dreams of a young, blue girl who is blamed for much of the bad around the area. It wasn't as good as Giver of Stars but I still enjoyed it.
The Fall of Carthage
By Adrian Goldsworthy, Read By Derek Perkins
I love history and I should love this book. The Punic Wars led to the rise of Rome so it's an important series of events but there's way too much battle detail (battle-massacre-enslavement, rinse and repeat) to hold my interest. I may come back to it in bits to finish it off.
By Kylie Brant, Read By Bronson Pinchot
Before I talk about the book I want to talk about the narration first. I generally love Pinchot as a narrator but he really ruined the voice of Abbie, one of the 2 main characters. She's supposed to be tough, brilliant and unapproachable. Instead she comes off as slow, soft spoken and demure. But, in the end, it doesn't matter because this book is it's own nightmare.
It's really a romance novel disguised as a detective story. The characters are all stereotypes and not particularly well developed. The 2 main characters supposedly show up with deep personal demons that they have been dealing with for years. Poof! Exposed and resolved in 2 days of great sex! Long term relationship in 4 days? Sure! Let's get this case wrapped up. Oh look, no surprise, the culprit was right in from of us the whole time.
Yes, I did listen to the whole thing because I figured out everything in the first hour and wanted to see if I was right. I did skip a lot to get to the end though.
By Kyle Mills (for Vince Flynn), Read By George Guidall
This is the 18th book in the Mitch Rapp series and I needed reliable Mitch after the previous 2 dud books. I do love Kyle Mills writing Mitch now. The books are all full of intrigue and action.
Because it was Mitch Rapp I didn't even read the summary. Had I, I might have postponed this one for a while. Why? Because someone is producing a bat virus to unleash on the US! It's not the Chinese. In the series we are still focused on the Islamic terrorists and it is they who are producing the virus and hoping to transmit it with the help of Mexican drug smugglers.
It's a good book but you might not find this subject matter to be the escape from reality that you are looking for.
It's been so long since I had time to make new Shibori so last week was a real treat for me. It was a dyeing day dedicated to Shibori! I can only do 11 pieces in a day and each one is dyed twice. It's twice the work but I get so much more color depth and texture that it's worth it! I have a Stash Pack of 8 fat eights and 3 half-yard pieces available in the shop this week. I love working with the fat eights pieces. They seem to be just the right size for applique and pieced blocks.
Fabric of the Week
The fabric of the week this week is the Riverside Gradient. It's 20% off through Sunday. Gradients are sold by the half yard and multiple quantities are cut as one continuous piece.
Patricia Caldwell made this beautiful art quilt, Chrysocolla Meditation, using Riverside and the base fabric.
Back in stock
The Summer Sunset Gradient is back in stock this week. This is the gradient that I used for the color palette of my current quilt project. It will have the gradient as a border.
Boy, the color in this photo (taken from my phone) is not good. But it's good enough to show that I finished another start point. I've taken the blocks into a guest room where no one will be staying for a while, so I can leave them on the floor as I get the rest of the blocks done. I'm seriously going to love this quilt!
This is the little star. The lighting was better for this one.
I didn't get any quilting on Kim's Garden done this weekend. I got side tracked with a little family project and in the evenings I'm taking a free online philosophy class. I'm even taking notes because there are quizzes! I've never taken any philosophy classes so it's been an interesting introduction but those philosophers are some serious deep thinkers.
Here's the family project. This is going to take some explaining.
Years ago my paternal Grandmother (Ottaway family) gave me this cape. She said it belonged to my Grandfathers "grandmother from Ireland". At the time my grandparents were divorced and being the petty people that they were, she kept a bunch of his college and family stuff. Most of it came to me but some wasn't found until she died because she hid a lot of things and then forgot what she did with them. Craziness...
Somewhere along the way I was told either by my Dad or my Granddad that it belonged to his Grandmother from Ireland and that on a visit to the family in upstate NY, that she might have strong-armed his mother for the cape. She liked having possessions that she thought were important so that's a very plausible story.
Anyway, because I was a sewing person, she gave me this cape well over 30 years ago. She had kept it on a metal hanger in a plastic dry cleaner bag. (Ugh). I got an acid free box and acid free paper and have had it stored like that ever since. I once took it to a textile museum in Charlotte NC and they verified the timeframe and gave me some advice on caring for it. It's been my lightly pursued goal to find a proper home for it. My nieces and nephews didn't even know my Grandfather (his fault, not theirs) so none of them will want the burden of having this.
Before covid I had started looking for museums in the upstate NY area that might want to have this but I stopped when everything shut down. Meanwhile my friend, Becky, offered to do research on my family tree and she found that not only was my Grandfather's mother (Mary Haugh) an Irish immigrant (which I knew) but his Grandmother (Mary Donovan) was also! So I thought the cape has belonged to the mother of M Haugh, but now I think it most likely belonged to M Donovan. Cool!
The next thing you know Becky gets a message from one of my distant cousins. Her Grandmother was my Grandfather's sister. We've been chatting some. She and another family member are the primary keepers of the family history. Yay!!!
So I spent some time this weekend getting the cape out of storage and taking these photos to send to her with the story. I am very hopeful that she or the other family historian will want the cape. Nothing would make me happier that to see this returned to it's proper home.
The cape is really beautiful black wool with incredible passementerie braid designs on it. The lining is silk that's almost completely disintegrated but the outside is in pretty good shape.
Let's all cross our fingers and toes that one of my relatives in New York can't wait to be the next owner of this family treasure.
Stacks series by MaryAnn Shupe
Today's inspiration comes from MaryAnn Shupe. These mounted pieces are part of her Stacks series. These 2 combined Oasis and Abundance gradients with Kaffe stripe fabrics and they worked great together! She has done her Stacks series in various mediums, including glass. You can see all of her Stacks pieces on her blog.
For sharing, MaryAnn 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.
So I had my shooting lesson yesterday and I was as rusty as I expected not having practiced in almost 2 months. For those not familiar with clay shooting, the different stations are set up to mimic different bird paths and characteristics but there are also "rabbits". The rabbit stations have clays that roll and jump on the ground. She put me through a rabbit course yesterday too. All I can say is that if I were ever in need to provide my own food from our property, rabbit would never make it on the menu. I'm totally crap at the rabbit shots. It's kind of funny to watch.
After some other errands I came home to something I'm actually competent at: quilting.
I have a new set of star blocks started on the Summer Sunset quilt.
Today while sewing I remembered that there was one thing that I had meant to share with you the last time.
When I learned to do foundation piecing I learned to start and stop my seams beyond the line to make sure the seams are locked in. It works great on a paper foundation. You do have to rip the seam through the paper to trim in preparation for the next seam. But with this new "paper" it's beastly to get the paper to tear properly.
About halfway through the last block I finally thought to try stitching only up to where the seam touches another seam and backstitching instead of crossing another seam line. Wow, what a difference! It's definitely cut my sewing time and I'm getting better points. I hope I remember this the next time I start a foundation piecing project.
Look at my beautiful trash pile!
I have an interview today for an elections officer position with my county and then my former work girlfriends are meeting up for drinks for the first time since March! We did meet once in my driveway in May but haven't see each other since. It's going to be great to catch up.
The rest of the weekend will be working on my 2 projects. Let's hope for some solid focus and productivity.
Yesterday was dyeing day and I was too tired to do much of anything after that so today I'll just share a crochet update. In the evenings I'm taking a free online Weatern Philosophy class and I crochet while watching the videos. This stitch is so easy that I barely have to pay attention and can focus on the class.
My original plan was to have no borders but I realized when I got to the yellow in the first ball that the blanket would be a little out of proportion. It was going to be too long. I decided to wind off the oranges and reds from both balls and use them for a border. It will not take me very long now to get the body finished.
Today I have a shooting lesson (sporting clays) and then I'll get started on the next set of blocks for Summer Sunset.
Yes, I am slow as molasses at quilting but I do eventually get to the finish line!
I'm not quite done yet but I'm closer. All the pink blocks are quilted!
That includes the border sections as well.
I know these photos are so incredibly boring and, yes, I am having some regret over my thread choices but I remind myself that this is a bed quilt, not a show quilt. It's going to be just fine and I know that Kim will love it. I know that because Anne told me that Kim is excited about getting the quilt. I'd love to get this wrapped up by the end of October. Now that I've thrown that out as a deadline maybe I'll be just a little more motivated.
Today is dyeing day and I'm really excited that shibori is finally on the schedule again!
This week's newsletter seems to have an accidental theme. You can sure bet that I didn't have my act together to actually PLAN this. Purple and blue are the accidental, but official, colors of the week!
The first blue/purple fabric this week is a brand new gradient called Azure Sea. I have several gradients in blues but I wanted something that could be a brighter sea scene. Turquoise and purple blend here for a beautiful bright sea or even a sky over a field of violets.
Fabric of the week
The fabric of the week this week is the Grapevine Stash Pack. Stash Packs are 10 fat eighths of very textured fabrics in a color theme. These purples range from blue purples to red purples, lights to darks. It's a great variety to beef up your purple stash. Check out all the other Stash Packs in the shop.
Gradients Back In Stock
I'm continuing to restock the gradients and these 3 are back this week!
I finally got a little focused and got some things done this weekend. The weather has also finally started to turn cool so we were about to get out Saturday for a brisk 5 mile walk. Chris is a foot taller than me so all walks with him are brisk for me! But after the walk and breakfast I was ready to get down to some work.
I finished the 3rd set of blocks for my Summer Sunset quilt so 3 of 8 star points are done. This is not a fast project but it's great to work on while listening to a good book.
I got 2 more rows of the pink blocks quilted on Kim's Garden. I have one more row of flower blocks and the pink border blocks and then I can move on to the yellow blocks. I'm very happy with how this is coming along. But it's also a slow project. So for the next few weeks you are likely to see nothing but these two projects. It's probably going to get a bit boring around here.
The 4 bolts of wide backing fabric that I ordered for veterans quilts came in so yesterday I cut one bolt and dyed 7 quilt backs. That will make 14 quilts. I already have tops for 4 of them! I'll get these washed today and started soaking. They need to be done by the time that I start dyeing again Wednesday.
I don't have any big plans this week so I hope to keep making progress on these 2 projects.
Today's inspiration comes from Sue Kelly. She used the Woodlands Gradient as the background (and some of the leaves) of her art quilt. It perfectly captures one of her husband’s and her favorite hikes, Muddy Hollow Trail, at the Pt. Reyes National Seashore. She completed this for a Paths challenge in my art quilt group, just in time for their 48th wedding anniversary in August.
For sharing, Sue received a 20% coupon for the shop that's good for 3 months! If you have made anything with my hand dyed fabric I hope you will consider sharing it in the Customer Gallery. The only rule is that projects have to be complete. It doesn't have to be made totally from hand dyed fabric, just include a recognizable amount.
To subscribe click the RSS Feed button and copy the URL of that page into your blog reader.
In Bloglovin you need to search "Colorways By Vicki Welsh" to find the blog.
I'm Vicki Welsh and I've been making things as long as I can remember. I used to be a garment maker but transitioned to quilts about 20 years ago. Currently I'm into fabric dyeing, quilting, Zentangle, fabric postcards, fused glass and mosaic. I document my adventures here.