All in all September was a very good reading month! I liked all of the books I read this month for different reasons but the one that really stuck with me is Beyond the Crushing Waves. It's based on a true story and is really well written.
My listening time for September was 108 hours and 30 minutes. Year to date that's 1045 hours and 50 minutes. That's 43+ days so far.
What great books did you read this month?
Ancient Rome by Simon Baker - Just couldn't get engaged in this one. It might have been the dull narration.
If She Wakes (734)
By Michael Koryta, Read By Robert Petkoff
This is the second Koryta book that I've read and I wasn't disappointed. The story opens with college student, Tara Beckley driving a visiting professor to a conference speaking engagement. On the way the professor starts acting strange and asks her to pull over. He then takes photos of her for a smartphone screen lock and tells her to put the phone in her car. The next thing she knows she in a terrible car accident that leaves her in the hospital with locked-in syndrome. She's fully alert but can't control any movement at all so everyone thinks she's brain dead.
While her family is trying to find a way to heal Tara, lots of other people are searching for the missing smartphone. There's lots of action, some misdirection and suspense. The interesting thing about the book is that much of the story is based on the missing phone but at the end the explanation of what was on the phone was kind of an afterthought. Honestly, while it underpinned the reason for the actions, it really wasn't relevant to the story so I wasn't so bothered by it.
By Robin Pilcher, Read By John Lee
This is an older book that popped up in my Chirp list one day. I remembered that I loved Rosamunde Pilcher's books and I had read one of Robin's before. I was happy to be reminded of this author.
This story is set around the Edinburgh International Festival of film, music and comedy. Six artists from different backgrounds and disciplines cross paths and their lives are changed.
This is a feel good book that was an enjoyable listen. I loved all of the different characters and found myself very interested in knowing what would happen to each. Robin writes as well as his mother. Her book, The Shell Seekers, is one of my all-time favorite reads. I read it in 1998 and still remember how much I enjoyed it.
I Am Pilgrim (1361)
By Terry Hayes, Read By Christopher Ragland
This book was almost as long as the last two books combined. That will be enough to warn some of you off from the start. But I love a long book because it's an opportunity for the author to create a complex plot and this book did not disappoint.
But, before I go into my thoughts, there's another aspect that might warn you off right off the bat. It's about a plot to contaminate the supply of flu vaccine. This book was released in 2014 before we were all sick to death of discussing viruses and vaccines.
The book opens with the death of an unknown young woman murdered in a run-down hotel in New York. The murder is interesting because the murderer seems to have followed the guidance from an obscure investigative book written by someone who knows a lot about methods of undetectable murder. The author, code named Pilgrim, needs to solve this murder and one other just to find the trail of the most dangerous person of all.
A Saudi son witnesses the beheading of his father and vows revenge. That revenge included training in Afghanistan as well as earning a medical degree. The medical degree give him credentials for travel and access to medical facilities. His training give him the ability to disappear and reinvent himself with the help of his underworld friends. His plan, if successful, will be worse than the Spanish Flu. Pilgrim must find him.
You do have to keep up while reading this book but it was a refreshing story and reminded me somewhat of the writing style of Kyle Mills (currently writing the Mitch Rapp series). I enjoyed it.
Beyond the Crushing Waves (655)
By Lilly Mirren, Read By Melissa Chambers
Before I tell you about the book I'll just say that if you read, and liked, Before We Were Yours, you will enjoy this book. It's a similar story based on different, but also, true events.
Before this book I had never heard of Britain's Child Migrant Programme. I expect it had good intentions to provide indigent British children with opportunities to be cared for and learn trades abroad. Between 1920 and 1970, about 130,000 children were sent to Canada and Australia to live and work on farms. Many were told that they were orphans or their single mother's were forced to give up their children. Charities and churches coordinated the efforts.
The story is told in this book through three children who found themselves together on a ship heading to Australia for the promise of a better future. What they found on arrival was a workhouse environment that may or may not have been better than their homes.
The story is told in two timer periods with the second in current day when the Granddaughter of one of the children is about to give birth to her own child. Several events collide that prompts a confession by the Grandmother.
The writing is beautiful and even though you sort of know how it ends, you are constantly cheering on the children and hoping that they get a break. I couldn't put it down.
Gone Baby Gone (816)
By Dennis Lehane, Read By Jonathan Davis
This is #4 in the Kenzie and Gennaro series. I read #3 last December and enjoyed it enough to keep going in the series. This is an older series. I believe the original release date was 1998 but the story still holds up. I liked this book even better than the last one. I realized that Lehane is a master of the complex plot and he develops it in such a way that he doesn't need to rely on magical revelations to resolve the plot.
In this book, Kenzie and Gennaro are asked to investigate the case of a missing 4 year old girl, Amanda. It's been long enough since the disappearance and the search has been so thorough, that they don't feel that they can add anything to the investigation. But Amanda's aunt is insistent and she seems to be the one most interested in finding Amanda.
Amanda's disappearance is complicated by the lack of interest of her drug and alcohol-dependent mother. In fact, Amanda disappeared from her bed while her mother was watching TV with a friend one night. She had left the door unlocked. It seems the case might be connected to some of the mother's drug activities.
But might it also be connected to some other missing children in this poor Boston area?
Lost and Found in Paris (630)
By Lian Dolan, Read by Brittany Pressley
If you need kind of an easy, frivolous read this is the book for you!
Joan Blakely lost her famous artist father on 9/11 and 10 years later she is still dealing with the grief. Her famous model mother had removed herself from the public eye. One day Joan comes home to have her husband tell her that 5 years ago he fathered twins with another woman but, it's OK, he want them to stay together (because he benefits from the association with the Blakely name) but he wants to be more involved with his sons. Joan blows up her marriage and starts life anew.
She accepts an assignment to be an art courrier to Paris. On her first night there (after dinner with her flight seat mate) she discovers the artwork has been stolen and one of her father's lost sketches has been left in its place. So begins a scavenger hunt through Paris to find the source of the sketch and the missing artwork.
It's a ridiculous story but kind of a fun, lighthearted read. There's a ton of celebrity name-dropping that seems really excessive and can be annoying but I eventually got over it.
Fourth of July Creek (941)
By Smith Henderson, Read by MacLeod Andrews and Jenna Lamia
If you are looking for something different to read, this might be your book. It's set in the Montana wilderness and the central character is Pete Snow. Pete is a social worker who looks nothing like a social worker. He's called to the local school one day to try to help a boy who has appeared out of nowhere. Benjamin Pearl is a nearly feral 11 year old who lives in the wilderness with his paranoid survivalist father. Pete works hard to build a relationship with Benjamin and his father but there are all sorts of complications, including the involvement of the FBI.
Meanwhile, Pete's ex-wife has moved with their daughter (Rachel) to Austin and the daughter narrates part of the story. She runs away and Pete goes on a desperate search to find her.
The narration flips back and forth between Pete and Rachel and it's a really choppy transition in the narration. It took me a couple of hours in to figure out exactly what was going on between the two different narration voices. That was not handled well for the listener. I expect that it's different chapters in the book and a pause between narrators would have been good.
But, back to the story, it's a unique story and it's interesting. It is dark in it's portrayal of the permanently downtrodden but there's hope. For a debut novel, it's really well written and you do get attached to the characters.
River of the Gods (602)
By Candice Millard, Read By Paul Michael
In the mid 1800's, England was obsessed with exploration of Africa. The Royal Geographical Society sent Richard Burton and John Hanning Speke to seek out the source of the Nile River. This is the story of that journey and the story of the lives of the people involved. It even addresses the petty actions of Speke and other people involved in the search. Pettiness survives all generations!
One of the most interesting people on the team was Sidi Mubarak Bombay, a former slave who agreed to be a guide on the tour.
It's a very interesting book and I feel that it addressed the subject and the characters honestly and fairly.
Mom was coming over to get her hair cut yesterday so I rushed Tuesday night to get these two veterans quilts done. One is hers and she could take it home for binding.
This is the one that Mom made. The 12-patch blocks are 12" square and it's made all with scraps.
I did a combination of continuous curves in the blocks and simple ruler work in the narrow sashing. I'm a little tired of the pantographs so I'm trying to do more free motion from the front of the machine.
I think it made a cool pattern on the back. This fabric is actually a pretty pale blue, not gray.
I don't remember who made this quilt but I like it a lot! The blocks are 12" and it has a 5.5" border.
I quilted this one with a wavy zig zag stitch and was able to use seams as my marks and only needed to chalk some dots around the border.
I have 3 more quilts left to quilt before the October meeting. The meeting isn't until the 11th but I hope to get them done this weekend. We're expecting lots of rain from Ian and that seems like perfect sewing and quilting weather.
I finished Tim's blanket! This is the second of 3 "brother blankets". They all use the same yarn (different colors) and pattern.
The color (Cheyenne) is a little more accurate in this photo, although that doesn't matter because I can't find any place where this yarn is still available in this color.
Here are all the details:
Cascade Cartwheel Yarn, 7 balls, it's labeled color 18 but that color number doesn't exist. I think it's color 18 - Cheyenne.
Pattern from BagODay Crochet, pattern repeat is 8 stitches plus 3
I used a K hook and chained 147 stitches (with an L hook)
Here are the Eddie and Tim blankets ready for delivery whenever I see them next. I'll see Tim soon. I might see Eddie before Christmas. He likes handmade quilts and blankets so he might make an effort to get it. We were talking this weekend and actually said "I'll take all the handmade quilts and blankets that you want to give me." That was nice.
As I make these blankets I add the leftover yarn to this corner-to-corner blanket. Eventually it will probably be a small lap blankets, maybe for a wheelchair. I really don't like having leftover yarn balls.
Since I finished 2 blankets this month I started 2 new ones. First is the third brother blanket. This one is the "David blanket" and the yarn color is called Santa Fe. I don't think this color is available anymore either.
The second one will be a donation baby blanket in Mandala Ombre yarn. I'm doing a ripple linen stitch using this pattern. This is my swatch so that I could check my hook size and determine how many repeats I needed (18) for the size blanket I wanted to do.
I'm all set for crochet projects for a couple of months.
This week is another week of focus on Gradients and the first one I have to share is this new one called Leafy. I wanted to design a green gradient that has lots of texture. Just one half yard of this would give you dozens of different color and texture combinations for applique foliage. It would also be a nice background for an art quilt or borders for a bright green full size quilt. I love using gradients for borders. Usually two lengths on each side is enough and bookmatching the pieces with either all light or all dark in the center makes a great effect for very little effort. You can see this effect on my Summer Sunset quilt. The gray-tone gradients below would also be wonderful for borders.
Back in Stock
Just in time for any Halloween-themed spooky projects, I've restocked the Black and San Francisco gradients.
Joanna Mack used the San Francisco Gradient in her art quilt Letting Go.
Gradient patterns run across the width of the fabric and are sold by the half yard. When ordering more than one quantity you will receive it as one uncut piece. For example, order a quantity of 3 and you receive a 1.5 yard cut, not 3 separate half yards.
While you are shopping don't forget to check out the Clearance section, new fabrics were added this week!
I don't know how it was where you live but the weather was spectacular here in Virginia this weekend. Friday night we got to share some of the tuna catch with friends for a wonderful dinner on their patio. The weekend ended with a fantastic Eagles win over the Commanders. There was lots of quilting in between.
The first thing I did was get the binding on this veterans quilt. This is the 9th veterans quilt that I've made so far this year. We usually deliver a little over 100 quilts each year. It's such a wonderful way to keep us quilting. I was talking to a friend recently and we were talking about how we don't "need" to make more quilts. Our families have enough for a lifetime. The veterans quilts are wanted and needed, they are small and they are fun to make. Everyone wins.
This is the second quilt I've made with alternating 4-patch blocks and I have another kit cut out for one more. The light blue was cut from leftover veterans quilt back fabrics. The dotty dark blue batik is left over from all of the kits I cut earlier this summer and the brights are straight from my hand dyed scrap bin. Some of the fabrics are from the very first ones that I dyed over 13 year ago.
On Sunday morning, before football came on TV, I loaded the next 2 quilts to quilt. This one is a top that Mom made. I'd like to get 5 quilts quilted this week so that I can next load a queen size quilt that Mom made for herself.
Saturday afternoon I spent several hours cutting out all of the pieces for the Red Sunset borders. I had to dye more fabric this week before I could start cutting. I think I dyed close to 30 yards for this quilt. I know I used 13 yards of the gradient and then there was an additional 4 - 5 yards of the gold and about 12 yards of the dark red.
There are tons of leftovers, especially from the gradients. I'm already starting to think of something to do with the leftovers.....probably some placemats and maybe a veterans quilt kit.
This is why there's so much leftover. There was a lot of fussy cutting of the gradient. It was totally worth it and I know that the fabric won't go to waste.
But for now all of the leftover fabric is in the bottom of this bin just in case I need to re-cut anything. The pieces are stacked in the order that I want to work on them. The machine is set up and I'll start sewing this week. I'm excited to finish this quilt so I'm highly motivated. I should be able to get in some quality sewing and quilting time this week.
Yesterday was our From The Heart get together at the Ashland Library. It's really just a opportunity to get together with people and knit and crochet. Everyone works on whatever they want.
After I shared the 3 hats I made last week I decided to keep working on hats for another week and see how many I could have done by today. Including the original 3, the answer is 10! They are in the middle of collecting hats and scarves for local schools and I turned in these hats for boys. These will be for older boys because I purposely made them kind of large.
They may not look like much here, but on the head, they actually look really nice. I used these patterns:
Perfect Guy 2.0 beanie
Chunky Guy Beanie
They are the same hat but using different size yarn so the counts are a little different. But you could just go with the Chunky Guy and adjust the number of rows that you do. The patterns aren't as different as I expected. I also adjusted the number of rows that I did with each yarn. Most requied one extra row of double crochet. It's a very easy pattern and great for charity hats for men. The stitches are double crochet and single crochet in the back loop. That's it!
The yarns I used are all 5 and 6 weight:
Bernat Softee Chunky
Lion Brand Hometown
I used an K hook on the 5 weight yarns and L on 6 weight.
I will make more of these but not for a while. I'm going to return to my brother's blanket and my summer cardigan. I have a new charity blanket planned to start soon.
I also dyed the additional fabric that I needed for Red Sunset so I hope to start the cutting for the borders Sunday and to get the binding on my veterans quilt.
Two days to myself! The boys are off fishing in the Outer Banks and had a very successful day yesterday. We are going to be eating lots of delicious tuna this weekend. While they were away I got on with my own chores (yardwork, laundry) and quilting. I got two veterans quilts quilted and one of them was the one that I made. I'll get the binding done this weekend or next week.
I've made several of these 4-patch scrappy quilts and the wavy crosshatch is the perfect quilting motif and it's super fast.
The second one was made by Peg and I had fun free-motion quilting on this one.
I used continuous curves and wavy lines to make a continuous pattern across the blocks.
I think it makes a nice pattern on the back.
I also baked more bread! This is the loaf bread recipe and I made this one to take to Mom today. We have our dentist appointments this morning so I thought I'd bring her a nice loaf of home baked bread. I made one of this recipe Tuesday so I already know that it's good. I ate 3/4 of it in 2 days! I need to take a break from bread eating for a few days.
Yay! The center of Red Sunset is done and I absolutely love it! The pattern is Tequila Lime by Quiltworx. There's not much to say about it except that it's done and I'm happy.
I wanted to get it done by Saturday because there was about this much paper in tiny bits all over my floor. I needed it cleaned up by Sunday morning so I could do my weekly fabric ironing. The paper removal is messy and tedious but I had a good book to keep me entertained. I think the extra work is worth it for perfect points.
The part I finished will be set on point with this border pattern. I'll start cutting the fabrics for these sections this week. I'm going to cut all the fabric at once, I think. Making these borders is going to take a minute or two.
To motivate myself I took a photo of the top on the guest bed. I think it's going to look awesome. The corners of the top of the bed will have blue spiky motifs. I think that will be perfect. Then the wave border will be on the drape at the corners.
I also tried another recipe from my new gluten free baking book and had another successful loaf. This one was more rustic. It was great for a steak sandwich for dinner and with hummus for lunch. This week I will try the loaf bread recipe.
I also did a good bit of crochet during football this weekend. I'll share that on Wednesday. I decided to keep going with hats for a week as a break from blankets.
This weeks inspiration comes from Dale Goldberg. She created this portrait of her Dad using the face portrait technique taught by Phyllis Cullen and Cindy Richard (co-authors of It’s All about the Face) to make this fabric portrait of her Dad. Except for the shirt (made with fabric from one of Dad’s actual shirts) all of the fabric was from the Sepia shades pack. It was based on the included photo.
It's a wonderful likeness!
For sharing, Dale 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.
It's been a good couple of days around here! The weather has been beautiful and I've accomplished a few things.
After finishing the blanket I decided to take a hat break. This time of year the local charity pust out a call for lots of hats. I had a skein of Premier Puzzle and I decided to pull it out and see how many men's size hats I could get out of if.
The answer was 3.
I looked around for an easy hat that was specifically designed for men and I found the Chunk Guy Hat on Etsy. I generally don't buy hat patterns because there are a gazillion free ones on the web but I really liked this one and it was only $5. I'm glad I did because it's well written and makes a very nice hat! It has 4 sizes and I made one large and 1 extra large and used a K (6.5 mm) hook.
You might wonder how I know it will git a large man's head.
Well, I tried it on! Last night, after I created this post, I also had Chris try it on and I got the seal of approval.
I had never worked with Premier Puzzle yarn before and I really liked it. I would definitely use it again and it's a very affordable yarn.
Here's what I do with my scraps. I do not want to every have boxes of scrap balls so I started some corner to corner projects and, so far, I have one for each of 3 different hook sizes. I'll add any yarn that fits the weight of the blanket in progress. If you look at the "I" swatch you can see that I even added in the tiny bit of gray yarn that was leftover from the blanket I shared Wednesday.
I don't' usually talk about food because my food allergies make my meals boring and I don't do much cooking or baking. But last week I found a new gluten free baking book called Cannelle et Vanille Bakes Simple: A New Way to Bake Gluten Free. I saw the author on YouTube and she seemed to have a lot of credibility. I got the book and ordered all of the special flours and tried my first recipe yesterday. Look at those beautiful baguettes! They taste delicious too! If you are gluten free and vegan, I highly recommend this book. It has other baking recipes too, most that I can't use, but it was worth it for the bread recipes.
The main thing I'm working on this weekend is the Red Sunset quilt but I also have the privilege of delivering a new batch of 23 veterans quilts to our hospital contact.
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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.