I have to say that this was not a great month of reading for me. Most of the books I read are not ones that I'd strongly recommend. My three favorites were November Road, How Stella Learned to Talk (made me wish I had a dog) and Watching You. Everything else was pretty darned mediocre.
I hope you read some great books that you can recommend.
The Innocent Man by John Grisham - I'm not a Grisham fan to begin with but this is a true crime book so I thought I'd give it a try. It's very flat. Might be the writing. Might be the narrator. Eventually I just looked up the story on the web.
Save Me From Dangerous Men by S. A. Lelchuk - This should be a really good book and it does have great reviews but I couldn't take it. The main character is a woman who dispenses vigilante justice and is able to fend off men twice her size, even when there are 3 of them because 2 of them just stand back and watch. Meanwhile she owns a book store and is broadly self-educated and is developing a love interest with a Berkeley professor. This book is getting rave reviews so you might like it. Kick ass women are very much in literary vogue even if they are completely unrealistic.
By Davis McCullough, Read By David McCullough
I usually love McCullough's books but this isn't one of his finest. I believe that it's a collection of magazine articles about various historical people. Some were interesting and some were really boring.
We selected this to listen to in the car on the way home from our trip. We ended up skipping several chapters and gave up near the end. He narrated the book and that probably wasn't a wise decision. The whole thing was a kind of a ramble with a few interesting characters interspersed.
Good Calories, Bad Calories
By Gary Taubes
Last month I shared the book Bad Science by this same author. After reading that one I was anxious to read this one. I was not disappointed. This is such an incredibly well researched book! There are over 100 pages just of footnote references!
If you struggle with metabolic disease, weight control or heart disease I think you would find this book very interesting and helpful. It's a very long read at over 400 pages but it was so worth it to find out that all of out current dietary recommendations from the government and other health agencies, like the American Heart Association, are wrong and not based on actual research science. "Science" as it's practiced now is a total disgrace and waste of money.
The Good Nurse
By Charles Graeber, Read By Will Collyer
Don't read this if you are going into the hospital any time soon! This is the story of Charlie Cullen, probably the most prolific serial killer in US history. He worked as a nurse for 16 years in 9 hospitals in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Graeber did a ton of research for this book and it's a riveting tale. Look up Charlie Cullen in Wikipedia to see if you think you might like to read this story.
What Alice Forgot
By Liane Moriarty, Read By Lovatt-Smith, Tamara
Alice is 29 and pregnant with her first child when she collapses at the gym. At the hospital she discovers that she is actually 39, has 3 children and is getting a divorce. She's lost 10 years of her memory.
This isn't my favorite genre, but this one held my interest. It's interesting to ponder what you might change of you put your mindset from 10 years ago to the events of today.
Simon The Fiddler
By Paulette Jiles, Read By Grover Gardner
I'm not sure why I even tried this book because I didn't like News of The World. This one was actually better. It's about Simon (a fiddler) and his life after the Civil War. It was pretty good but it took a long time to get into it and get invested in the characters. It seemed that just as I got really involved in the story that it abruptly ended.
Little Fires Everywhere
By Celeste Ng, Read By Jennifer Lim
The Richardson family is nice, wealthy family in Shaker Heights, OH and the lease an apartment to Mia Warren and her teen daughter, Pearl. Mia is a single mother and artist. Pearl, in a very unrealistic storyline, becomes heavily involved with the lives of the Richardson children. Meanwhile, Mia, who apparently has never cooked a real meal in her life, becomes the Richardson's maid and cook.
I didn't like it and I didn't hate it. It was a very low energy story. The characters and the storyline were predictable and it could probably be classified as a young adult book. I think it might have appealed to the teenage me more than the old lady me. I expect that the TV version expanded more on the adult female characters and made the story more appealing for an adult audience.
The Midwife of Hope River
By Patricia Harman, Read By Ann Witman
Patience Murphy is a midwife working in Appalachia during the Depression. She has secrets from her past and doubts about her abilities, blah, blah, blah.
I did finish this book but I didn't love it. To me it was a cozy mystery version of historical fiction. "Insurmountable" difficulties were easily overcome, including a lame attack from the KKK.
How Stella Learned To Talk
By Christina Hunger, Read By Ann Marie Gideon
I normally would not have picked this book up simply because it's only 7 hours long. But Laceflower recommended it last month (and I always check out the books you recommend) and it was available free at the library.
The I proceeded to listen to it all in one day.
Christina Hunger is a speech pathologist and works primarily with non-verbal children. When she got Stella as a puppy she noticed that Stella signaled in a way similar to non-verbal children and she wondered if shoe could teach Stella to talk with a device in the same way that she teaches children to talk with devices. It's a cool story.
You can find videos of Stella online if you want to see her in action before reading the book. Apparently there are now a lot of products to help you train your dog to talk.
By Lou Berney, Read By Johnathan McClain
This book was refreshingly different than most of what I've read in the past few months. The book opens with the assassination of JFK in 1963.
Frank Guidry has been working for a mob boss in New Orleans and the day of the assassination he realizes that he may have played a part in the deed and he knows that everyone associated with it is going to be killed.
Meanwhile in Oklahoma, Charlotte has 2 daughters and an alcoholic husband. One night she decides that she's fed up and packs to leave. She's heading West to California.
Frank sees Charlotte and her daughters broken down on the side of the road. When he comes upon them again in town he decides that they should travel together. It will provide some protection for her and cover for him. But the road is also a trail for the people searching for him.
It's a dark and gritty tale with great characters. The ending was a little abrupt for me but I get it, it had to end the way it did. Id' read more of his books. The audio version includes a podcast interview with the author where he shares more information on how the book and characters developed.
By Michael Robotham, Read By Sean Barrett
Thanks to my friend, Chris, for reminding me to get back into this series. Joe O'Laughlin is a therapist with his own problems (divorce and Parkinson's disease). One of his patients, Marnie Logan, has bigger problems. Her husband went missing 13 months ago and left behind gambling debts that she must repay and she feels like she's being watched.
These books always feature some crazed psychopath so if you aren't into psychopaths this isn't the series for you. I couldn't put it down.
By Ann Cleeves, Read By Julia Franklin
This is the second installment in the Vera Stanhope series. I read the first one last month and mostly liked it. This one just didn't do it for me.
The story is about a murder that occurred in this little town 10 years ago. One of the victim's friends, a teenage girl, was convicted of the murder. She's been offered parole if she will just accept responsibility and show some remorse. She holds to her position that she is innocent. Realizing that she will never get out of jail, she commits suicide. Then suddenly someone comes forth with proof that she was not even in town the day of the murder.
Enter Vera Stanhope to investigate. Everyone has lots to hide including the original investigator.
I don't know why but this book just didn't interest me at all. It took forever to really develop and I had trouble keeping up with all of the bland characters. I doubt I'll read any others in this series.
There's nothing like a good podcast or book to help keep me focused on my sewing projects. The past couple of days have been great for sewing. Nothing is done but there's been lots of activity.
I'm working on the nest set of 8 blocks for my Flora's Stars quilts. Sometime in the next couple of weeks I will do a post dedicated to this project to explain what it is. This is one of the 14 sets of blocks that I took on vacation to put together. I think I got 8 of them done so I'll work on these a little every day until they are done.
My priority now and for the foreseeable future is getting the postage stamp quilt done. I've started on the little blocks and I'm doing continuous curves in them. My CC stitching path isn't perfect but it's good enough for my bed. I can do this for about an hour at a time and then my hands and back need a rest. I'm going to try to get in 2 sessions every day so I can get this wrapped up soon.
It is fun to revisit all of these fabrics. I started this quilt in 1998 so these fabrics are from older projects. A lot of the are from the collection of novelty fabrics that I used in that dreadful Cathedral Window quilt. I also recognize lots of fabrics from long forgotten quilts and from projects for my nieces and nephews who are all now 24 - 32 years old.
Having a very wide quilting area from the biggest machine isn't really a benefit for small scale quilting. It's most comfortable for me to work on this section 6 - 8 rows at a time. The ruler shows where I finished up yesterday. You might get tired of seeing this update over and over for the next week or so! I am determined to get this quilt off the machine as soon as possible. I'm really excited to get it finished and ready to put on my bed this winter.
After my sewing and quilting sessions I was straightening up the sewing room and was going to put away the upholstery fabric scraps that I picked up last week. Remember that when Mom and I delivered quilts to her former neighbor that he wanted us to take some of his wife's fabrics. I took upholstery and batting scraps because I knew I could use them pretty soon. The batting has all been dealt with. Instead of putting the upholstery fabrics in my cabinet I decided to go ahead and cut out kits for walker caddies. I got about halfway through the fabric last night. Here are the first bases and ties that I cut.
These are pockets for the fabrics in the previous photo and the rest of the fabrics that I need to cut. I'll finish with all of this today.
A few weeks ago someone else gave me rolls of fabric and lining. I'll use the lining fabric to cut lining for the caddies. The bolt of fabric will probably either be pet beds or will be passed along to another friend who has a friend who takes orphan fabric. I think the print is too big for walker caddies. Either way I will find it a home soon!
I've been doing crochet in the evenings but don't really have anything worth showing yet but I should have an update by Friday. I'm wrapping up September with very few finishes but I think October might be pretty amazing!
I love chocolate and am absolutely addicted to it. I don't think I've gone 1 day without chocolate in over 20 years. When a customer asked me if I would consider a gradient inspired by chocolate-covered cherries I was all in. How is it that I've haven't thought of this one in the last 12 years?
Introducing Chocolate Bonbon, the newest gradient in the collection! This one makes me hungry just looking at it. I don't know if it's going to inspire any great art but it might cause some weight gain if you aren't careful!
The pink was so pretty that I just had to make a Shades Pack to match. Of course, it's called Cherry.
Gradients Back In Stock
This week in the dye studio was all about gradients. In addition to the new Chocolate Bonbon, these gradients are back in stock.
Fabric of the Week
Here in Virginia we are welcoming some fabulous weather with the kick off of Autumn. In celebration, the Sugar Maple gradient is the fabric of the week and is 20% off through Sunday.
As usual, the time spent having anxiety over quilting is much longer than the actual time quilting. I knew I wanted feather motifs in the black areas of my quilt but I couldn't decide exactly what I wanted. I finally went back to my notes from Bethanne Nemesch's feather class. After all, I took that class with this quilt specifically in mind.
I settled on Nemesching style feathers and I couldn't be happier. I actually enjoyed my time quilting.
tI've actually finished all of the black areas and am ready to star the tedium of all of those little squares. Of course, that's my favorite part! I can put on an audiobook and just zen out. I'm going to do continuous curves on all million of those squares. I once calculated how many pieces this quilt has and I believe it was just shy of 4000. If I can't find my notes I'll have to do that math again before I create the label for this one. I cannot believe that this quilt is actually almost done!
I also started working on designing the new storage system for my beaded ornaments. My SIL will not have a closet to hang them the way that I store them. I'll create padded "shelves" in plastic bins but this bin is way too small. The basic method is settled, I just need to get the containers and all the materials. I'll make sure that there are 2 acid-free layers (fabric and batting) under the ornaments and I will drill air holes in the plastic bins so that any off-gassing can escape. There will be a layer of 1" foam with circles cut out and I should be able to get 3 shelves in each bin.
After finishing Mom's shawl I was anxious to start a new blanket. I pulled out this yarn that I got on sale and got this far with it and decided to stop. I know this is a popular yarn but I do not like it. It's stiff and no amount of washing will make this soften enough for a baby. I'm not going to work with a yarn that I don't like. That's why I buy my yarns on sale. I'll pack this up for donation. Someone can make hats or something else with it.
I pulled out more yarns and started TWO new projects. On the left is a baby blanket or lap blanket from Caron Baby Cakes. This yarn is soooo soft and easy to work with. On the right is a bulky acrylic, Premier Serenity. I don't know how I ended up with this yarn but I'll make a lap blanket with it for donation. Because it's bulky it's a little harder on my hands. That's why I started the other blanket. I can switch between the two based on how my hands feel.
All in all, it was a great weekend with the added benefit of spectacular weather. It's so nice to have the windows open to get some fresh air in the house.
Today's featured artist is Kim Keller. Kim created framed fabric collage art all using fabric. In Whiskers, she used the Woodlands Gradient as her background. She combines batik, commercial prints and hand dyed fabrics to create her images.
Great Egret is another piece that she made with a gradient background. I believe this is an early version of Forest Canopy (that will be back in stock very soon).
You can follow Kim and see more of her work on her Facebook page.
For sharing, Kim 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.
Mom and I had our monthly lunch get-together with my cousin yesterday. By Tuesday I had made so much progress on the shawl that I thought I might be able to get it done by the time I picked her up for lunch. I got the pockets sewn on just before I left the house!
The pattern is by Pamela Barton of Pamela's Adoring Crochet and you can find the YouTube tutorial and links to the printed pattern on the linked page. I'm happy to report that this crochet pattern is accurate!
It looks short here but it's quite long. But it's extra wide and that's what makes it look short. But it's fingertip length.
The yarn that I used is Lion Brand Basic Stitch in Almond Tweed. I ordered 7 skeins and had 2.5 left over. I ordered 1 more than the pattern called for (because that's what I do) but I forgot that I wasn't putting the fringe on so I could have ordered only 5. Usually I try to use my leftover yarn before I move on to a new project but a friend was asking me about this yarn and wanted to get some to make a scarf for herself. I packed it all up and shipped it to her. I can start a new project!
This right here is a lesson in being economical when working in a new ball of yarn. This is the last stitches of the last row and I ran out of yarn! If I had not been so generous with my connecting thread tails (like 20" long) I would not have needed to attach a new ball this close to the end! I was going to have to open the ball anyway to make the pockets but this is just annoying.
I did make a couple of modifications to the pattern.
The pattern has nice borders of HDC on each side and the center is a repeating pattern of 3 rows: the row with holes and 2 DC rows. So the first row after the first border is a row with holes. I wanted the other end to have the same row of holes so I added one row of the holes and then did the final border. The row I'm pointing to is the extra row of the pattern.
I like symmetry.
The other modification was on the pockets. I added some length.
This line marks where the pocket was supposed to end but once I got that far I decided I wanted it a bit longer. A normal person would have frogged pack to the DC rows of the pocket and added length there. I didn't want to frog so I just did the last 3 rows one more time to add the length. I finished the pocket with a crab stitch edge to get it a little more stability. This yarn is really stretchy and I felt that the pocket might easily stretch out of shape. The crab stitch (reverse single crochet) should help keep it stable.
I positioned the pockets at the bottom edge of the shawl. I'm really pleased with the way it turned out and Mom likes it. When the weather gets cooler we'll see how it works out for her morning walks.
Until then, I'm jumping into a baby quilt. After all that almond blandness, I'm ready for some bright colors. I'll also start a wheelchair shawl so that I have a travel/quilt meeting project to work on.
The rest of today is devoted to quilting! I promise to have quilting photos Monday.
I haven't put one stitch in the postage stamp quilt yet but I kind of have good excuses. Tuesday I took Mom to Farmville to visit her former next door neighbor. The wife (a quilter) died a couple years ago and Mom made two quilts from her stash for her granddaughters. We went to deliver them, The husband was anxious for us to take more fabric back with us and I'll have that update at the end of this post.
Yesterday was dyeing day and I dyed over 50 yards of fabric so I didn't do anything at all (except a little bit of crochet) before heading to bed.
But, in little bits of time I got the 4 safari scrappy placemats done! I love making placemats from quilt scraps. It's a great way to use them, it's a nice memory of the quilt and I actually use them! These are made from the scraps of the Safari Quilt that I made for my SIL. I used the scraps whatever size they were and just pieced giant crumb blocks. I got 4 placemats out of the pile of scraps.
I've mentioned before that I use old (clean, of course) flannel sheets as my batting so that they don't wad up too bad in the washer and dryer. I like quilting them pretty heavily too as another way to control them getting out of shape. For these I did lines 1/2" apart, more or less. While I was quilting them I was thinking about what color to dye napkins and I couldn't stop thinking about the possibility of shibori dyeing them.
Well, imagine my surprise to find that I can shibori dye napkins! These turned out much better than I expected.
They don't match the placemats on color but they do match in spirit so I'm keeping them. The reason that they don't match in color is that my color recipes don't work for immersion dyeing. They work perfectly for the low water immersion dyeing that I developed them for, but they don't translate to immersion. In my normal dyeing that blue/gray would be a deep chocolate brown. There will be more shibori napkins in my future. Some dyed with clamped designs would be really cool. Next time I might dye the napkins first and then pull fabrics to match but that would kind of defeat the "use scraps" purpose of placemats. Quite a dilemma.
So, back to the Farmville visit. Mom's friend really wanted us to take a lot of fabric and supplies. Mom did take a bag of mostly batiks but I don't really do much with commercial fabrics and I don't like to take things that I am not sure I can use. But I did clear out a small drawer of heavy weight fabric scraps to use for walker caddies or dog beds and I took this bin of batting scraps. If the scraps are big I'll piece them together for small quilts or I'll chop it all up for dog beds. He was very happy to have a little spot on a shelf emptied out.
Today in crochet chronicles a tale of a bad pattern. I criticize modern pattern makers for mistakes but there's a long tradition of poor pattern editing.
While on vacation I went to a used book store and found this gem. It's from 1981 or 1982 and has some nice patterns in it. I really like this one on the cover.
But, this one, called Daisy Field, really caught my attention. I thought it might be a great car project to just make hexagon sized pieces. I decided on more of a light olive for the background with a dark forest green for the last round and the joins. I even read the instructions to make sure it was something I could do. Yarn ordered and ready to go!
My first sample didn't get past the flower because of mistakes that I made but I had success with the second flower and got this far before I realized that something was wrong.
Do you see it?
That is NOT a hexagon! It's a septagon! Septagons don't work for fitting together for a blanket.
The pattern is written this way. If you go back and look at the picture from the book you can see a 7-petaled flower on a hexagon so there's no way that blanket was made with this written pattern. I even found reference to it on Ravelry and the person made one block and I don't think they realized it was 7-sided either!
I'm pretty sure I could make this block easily with a 6-petal flower and hexagon base. But here's a bigger problem. The flower is attached to the hexagon only with slip stitches between each petal. That's just asking for toes to get caught. I'm guessing that the blanket in the book was made by appliqueing a daisy on a hexagon base. I'm now searching for another pattern to use with the yarn I purchased. I have a few good alternatives so far.
But that didn't keep me from making something. I finally got started on the pocket shawl for Mom. The pattern is from Pamela's Adoring Crochet and you can find a free tutorial and $1.99 PDF on this page.
It has a tighter pattern on the edges to give it some nice structure. The center is 7 repeats of a 3-row pattern. It's really easy and this yarn is working up nicely.
Pamela primarily designs crochet doll clothes and since my little friend, Ella, is a cheerleader this year I got this pattern and will make an outfit in her elementary school colors. Pamela even designs patterns for shoes!
Speaking of Ella, I was finally able to give her the opera dress last week. She was thrilled! This doll is one that her Mom played with and the dress looked great with the doll's blue eyes. I think she liked the fur-trimmed hood even better than the dress. You can see a shoe peeking out. Her grandmother bought her silver sparkle shoes to go with the dress.
New Stash Pack!
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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.