I am so glad that today is the last day of the month and I can do the book review post because I'd have nothing otherwise.
I had grand plans to get things done yesterday but that was all tossed aside when Chris had a severe attack of vertigo. After a couple of hours of all the things you can imagine, I gave him a plastic trash bin to hug and hauled him to the ER. A bag of fluid, some magical medications and 5 hours later we were finally home and both exhausted. All I've accomplished is addressing Christmas cards.
If I'd had a personal assistant I would have gotten him or her to bring my applique project to the hospital. Instead I had to rely on ER ward neighbors for entertainment. It seems that upon arrival we were put in a "special" room in a section of the ER that has police guards. They were busy and that was the only room available....I think. There was a guy across the hall being totally uncooperative and being "attended to" by the most patient and kind police officer I've ever seen. Thirty minutes in and I wanted to march across the hall and slap some sense into the guy. Later I heard the officer on the phone with his wife ranting about some school "crisis" with one of the kids. All I can say is that this guy should teach classes on how to calm down a spouse. I'm not like him at all but I did admire him.
Just before they were about to do an unpleasant procedure on our hall mate they mercifully moved Chris to a normal room and my entertainment became the TV. Today he's just a little hung over but otherwise just fine.
Anyway, today I'm staying home and doing things and meanwhile you can check out the books I read this month. It wasn't my best month of reading. My favorite book was probably In The Clearing and Stalin was the worst.
Have you read any good books this month? Let me know in the comments, I'm always looking for recommendations!
by Stephen Kotin
I can sum up this book in two words.
I love reading history and I especially love reading history through biographies. I know little about Russian history and I thought this would be a good start but it's way too long and tedious.There's lots of detail for Russian scholars but way too much detail for the casual history reader. I couldn't finish it and mostly used it as a sleep aid at night. 10 minutes of this and I was out.
The King of Lies
by John Hart
I picked this book to read after Stalin to give my brain a rest and I suppose that it did do that for me. Otherwise it was one of the worst intrigue books that I've read in a long time.
Work Pickens (a ridiculous name for a ridiculous character) is an attorney in North Carolina. He has a trophy wife and a completely messed up sister. His father has been missing for 18 months and now his body has been found. Work is the #1 suspect. He thinks his sister did it and proceeds to make endless stupid decisions (for a supposedly smart man) to try to protect her.
Three chapters in and you know who did it and that person is never a suspect in his mind or with the police. The story is told by Work in a purple prose that does not fit his personality or decision making.
It's actually a good plot that is completely destroyed by bad writing.
A Corruptible Crown
by Gillian Bradshaw
Oh finally a book that I enjoyed!
This one is a historical novel set in the second British Civil War. Jamie Hudson is drafted again to avoid prison. His new wife is a printer in London mostly printing unlicensed material.
What I like about this one is that it's a historical novel without being a historical romance novel. These characters aren't romantic. Their lives seem like want we might really expect from that time. There are complexities of family inheritance, personal rivalries and the daily struggle to survive while apart from each other. It was a very interesting story, beautifully written and wonderfully narrated.
Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania
by Erik Larson
This is the 3rd book by Eric Larson that I've read. He's is a master at telling history in a way that feels like fiction. His best one is The Devil in the White City about the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago. This one is about the sinking of the Lusitania and the story is told from the perspective of all of the people involved: passengers, crew, British Intelligence, President Wilson and, of course, the German UBoat captain responsible for torpedoing the ship.
Scott Brick is the narrator and adds a bit too much melodrama to it but, all in all, if you like history you will enjoy this book.
The Last Refuge
by Ben Coes
This is the 3rd in the Dewey Andreas series. In this one Kohl Mier (who saved him in a previous book) has been kidnapped by the Iranians. Also, the Iranians are about to launch a nuclear bomb on Tel Aviv. If you like intrigue, spy novels, brutality and strong heroes you will love this series too.
In The Clearing
by Robert Dugoni
This is the third in the Tracy Crosswhite series. She is a detective in Seattle and in this book is investigating 2 murders. One is recent and the other is a 40 year old cold case that she is investigating as a favor to a friend.
I am enjoying this series even though they just barely meet my minimum 10 hour duration. This one is the most current one in the series but I'm hoping that we will get more soon!
The Traitor's Story
by Kevin Wignall
Not bad! I had low expectations for this one but was pleasantly surprised. The story starts off with a missing teenager in an apartment building in Switzerland. The parents ask a neighbor to help find her because there are rumors that he was a spy. He's now a history writer and doesn't admit to any sort of past but he helps. He soon discovers that the missing girl is tied to his own past.....whatever that was.
It kept me interested, there's good character development and the narrator is one of my favorites.
by Kate Atkinson
What provoked me to purchase another Kate Atkinson book, I'll never know, but is was a mistake. It's hard to believe but this book is much worse than A God In Ruins.
It is the first in a "detective" series with the character Jackson Brodie. Three random people come into his fledgling PI practice asking him to investigate cold cases. The third one shows up roughly 2/3 into the book. What follows is the most random bit of literature I've ever read. We wander around in various time periods and he doesn't seem to actually do any "detecting". Instead we are treated to various characters descriptions of losing their virginity, nonsensical fights with his ex-wife and a bizarre inheritance and none of these things are relevant to the story. The cases are solved almost miraculously after a singe phone call or in a flashback or in some other way that doesn't actually involve working.
It has gotten some great reviews but I think it's one of the worst books I've read in a long time.
I thought I'd get more done on this last week than I did but I think I took the word "vacation" literally last week and I really mostly relaxed.
Before I left for the river I got the 4 corners basted in place so I was ready to stitch.....when the mood struck.
As you look at this remember that this is the center and it will be on point. Once I get the 4 corners done I'll be able to add the rest of the blocks.
I finished one corner...
...and started another. Maybe I'll make more progress this coming weekend.
One of the things that I loved to do for my customers is color matching and the best way to do it is with paint chips. Two weeks ago a customer sent me paint chips for a whole cloth that she is going to quilt for her son's newly painted room.
It's always risky to mix very light colors like the orange with very dark colors like the brown. In this case it worked just fine.
I couldn't get a photo of the whole thing before I shipped it because it was too windy outside. This is about a 3rd of a 108" square piece of fabric. I'm really thrilled with the way it turned out.
I was kind of hoping she would hate it because it would have been a perfect backing for one of my quilt tops. I suppose I could dye another....
The Grinch Christmas Postcards
It's the day before Thanksgiving and ALL of my Christmas postcards are DONE!!!!!!!
Of course these are my personal favorites. Christmas doesn't start for me until I've seen the original Grinch show on TV. This was not an original design. I googled Grinch images and found several that have this basic imagery. I think what really makes these cards work is the red-purple background and the print that I found in my stash for the ornament.
I made 31 of these.
With all of this done I am going to relax and enjoy Thanksgiving weekend. I'll be back here Monday.
Wacky Trees Christmas Cards
I am on a roll this week!
These are the first cards that I started for this week. The started as a a bag of scraps from the Rainbow Quilt that I'm making. I gave myself a challenge to use them this year. There were lots of triangles in the scrap bag and that's what led me to trees. The dots are dimensional fabric paint and I think it's the addition of dots that really make these cards extra cute. The lesson I learned on these is to add the paint dots AFTER all the cards are completely done. I did them before I fused on the backs and had to be extra careful not to ruin the paint with the heat from the iron.
I did not fuse the triangles, I just positioned them where I wanted them and stitched carefully to get them held in place. You can see this post for the stitching path that I used to do these in a continuous stitching path.
I made 30 of these cards.
The Indignant Stag postcard
This is the postcard that I will send to Chris' hunting friends. Although Chris and most of his friends don't hunt deer, I think they will get a kick out of this one. This one was really pretty easy to make.
I talked about the screens I used for the background and stag head in this post. I've had the stag screen for a couple of years and bought it specifically for Christmas cards but I couldn't quite come up with a good idea to use it until this year. Once I decided to treat him like a Christmas tree I knew I had a winner.
I think he looks like he just woke up the morning after the office Christmas party and isn't quite sure what he did last night. Or maybe the fawns got to him while he was napping in front of the TV.
Aside from cutting out the stag head, this one went together fast. The only stitching is the ornament chain. The dots are made with dimensional fabric paint. The added benefit of having the paint dots on the end of the antlers is that it helps to keep the antlers from peeling up from the fabric.
I thought about using black thread for the edging but I think the added bit of red makes him even more festive or humiliated, whichever is appropriate.
I made 26 of these cards.
Serious Grinch progress
The end is in sight on the postcards and there's a remote chance that they will all be done before Thanksgiving. It will be a Thanksgiving miracle!
I left off Thursday with the hand and cuff stitched. Next I needed to do the ornament. My original plan was to use gold thread like the one in the right but I really didn't like the gold thread on the ornament. This is why I usually have one extra card that I use for testing thread or paint colors. I already had 3 thread changes for these cards so what's one more. I switched to monofilament thread to stitch around the ornaments.
Then I put the gold thread back on the machine and stitched the hanging wire.
Next I had to decided how big I wanted the ornament cap so it was back to the practice card. This practice card will come in handy again later when I test the serger stitch.
87 cards ready for backs and serged edges. I also still have to add some paint to the stag cards.......but they are soooooo close!
A couple of years ago I wrote my tutorial for dealing with bleeding fabrics....and quilts. It's the most read and linked page on the whole web site. It's also the subject of over half of the communications that I get through the website. It's the reason that this button is front and center on my home page.
People email me with questions and they email me with their gratitude. What they don't know is how grateful I am to hear about and see their saved quilts. Yesterday I heard from Teri Routledge from Logan, Utah. She was kind enough to send me lots of photos and the story behind her quilt so I could share it with you today.
It all started with this beautiful quilt. I'll let Teri tell the story from here and you can see all of the photos in a gallery at the end.
This quilt was made for my son and daughter-in-law for a Christmas present. I pieced and machine quilted it with all my love. I have been quilting for almost 20 years and use only quality fabrics and thread from our local quilt shop. I was so proud of this quilt and even made a special label for it. But when I put it in water to block it, it bled terribly. I have never had this happen before and I panicked! First I took it to two different laundry/dry cleaners to see if they could fix it. Both told me they couldn’t do a thing after a few test attempts. Next week is Thanksgiving and I am leaving in two days to drive 1200 miles to see them and wanted to deliver the quilt in person. I am almost out of time, the dry cleaners had it for several weeks. I scoured the internet looking for a solution. There had to be someone, somewhere, who has experienced this. I came across this website that gave excellent instructions using very hot water and Dawn dish soap. I thought – what do I have to lose? I have spent several hundreds of dollars already and so much time. First I cranked the hot water heater to full blast. I filled our jetted tub half way with ½ cup of Dawn Platinum soap and placed the quilt in the water, gently agitating with a long wooden spoon (the water was hot!). I continued to put more hot water in every 20-30 minutes (when the hot water heater would recover). After about 75 minutes the water was so dark and purple that I decided to drain and start over. I agitated throughout the day but my quilt soaked for 7 hours total. I was leaving in 36 hours, I had to see the results. I drained the very dark purple water yet again and gently squeezed it enough to get it to the washing machine. It looked promising. I have one of those low energy, low water washing machines and I was skeptical that it wouldn’t be able to rinse it enough with all the soap already in it. I put it on the bulky, hot water cycle with a double rinse. The results were AMAZING. It was restored. I have it hanging over a folding wooden clothes dryer to dry overnight and the next day. I will pack it right before I leave and cannot wait to deliver it. Now, what to tell my kids…
It was a quilt like this that started me on the path to find a way to fix bleeding quilts and to prevent it from happening in the first place. In that first quilt a customer had blended my hand dyed fabric with commercial fabric. When she washed it the first time it bled like crazy. After a lot of testing of my fabric and others in the quilt I think we eventually figured out that it was the backing fabric that bled and backstained on her quilt. But my hand dyed fabric did still bleed some and I knew I had to fix that.
With as much as Teri's quilt bled it had to be the backing fabric. She bought all high quality fabric but even those bleed from time to time. The only way to prevent this from happening is to PRESOAK, not pre-wash, your fabric. Any commercial fabric that I buy spends the night in a washer full of hot water ad Dawn. If they bleed the water is drained and they get to spend another 8 - 12 hours soaking to get all of the excess dye out of them. Doing that with fabric is a lot easier than dealing with the quilt later. I hope you will consider pre-soaking your fabrics to make sure they are absolutely colorfast. I pre-soak all of my hand dyed fabrics so that you can use them right away in any project that you want!
Thank you Teri for sharing your quilt with us!
I'm working on my postcards a little in the evenings. There was no football last night so I was able to hook up my audiobook and finish stitching the Grinch hands and even gave them a little cuff.
These cards are a bit fiddly. They require at least 3 thread changes. I wasn't as careful as I should have been stitching the hands but I don't expect that I'll get any complaints from the recipients!
Tie dyeing for me
On Monday I shared the shirts that I dyed for my brother and my friend's husband. Today's things are mostly all things I dyed for myself.
I don't even remember buying these shirts at Target so who knows how long they've been waiting for some color. I found them last week and added them to the pile. Both are ice dyed and I'm really pleased with both. By Spring I probably won't remember them again!
This is just a really old shirt that I stopped wearing. I pleated it and put it in the bottom of the bin. As the dye dripped through the items on the screen the leftover dye drips into the bottom of the bin and settled on this shirt. I think this one needs a little screen printing or something else added to it.
This is a tunic that I bought from Dharma Trading. I originally dyed it the green, purple and red and hated it. I decided to pleat it and overdye it black. I like the added black streaks much better. Trust me, it looks better on and should work well with black leggings.
It turns out that leggings are a lot of fun to dye and the leggings from Dharma are really well made. They are beefy and last a long time. The ones on the left are capri length. The one on the right is full length (I'm showing front and back). It only matters what the legs look like, I always make sure my widest part is covered. No one needs to see that.
I also had a stack of Dharma's feed sack towels and folded a few to fill out some empty space in my ice dyeing bins. I love how these turned out and gave the pink and purple one away as a door prize at our quilt club meeting last night. I want to give these as gifts but I'm finding that I'm a little attached to them!
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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.