November has been one of the best months for books in a while. My least favorite book, The Templar Legacy, was still a very well written book. For non-fiction lovers I can recommend both of my books this month: Billion Dollar Whale and Destined For War. I got to revisit some of my favorite heroes and read a 70 year old classes. It's a difficult choice but I think my favorite this month was The Weight of Ink.
What have you read this month that was great? I've been waiting since September for Lethal White to become available on Libby so I'm currently enjoying the latest in the Cormoran Stirke series.
Billion Dollar Whale
By Tom Wright and Bradley Hope, Narrated by Will Collyer
If you like financial history books you will love this one. A man named Joh Low pulled off one of the biggest financial heists in history. We know it as the 1MBD Scandal. If you like this kind of book you will love this one. It's written by 2 Wall Street Journal writers that followed the story. It's fascinating.
The Templar Legacy
By Steve Berry, Narrated by Paul Michael
This is the first book in a series with the main character, Cotton Malone series of 14 (so far) books. Cotton is retired from the US Justice Department and is now an antiquarian book dealer in Copenhagen. His old boss shows up and is investigating research that her husband was doing when he died. It all has to do with the the Knights Templar that was, supposedly, eradicated in the 14th century.
It's like the DaVinci Code and if you liked that you will like this. I think it's better written than the DaVinci Code but that's coming from someone who really dislikes Dan Brown books so take it with a grain of salt. But if you like novels with layer and layers of secrets and codes you will really enjoy this.
The Weight of Ink
By Rachel Kadish, Narrated By Corrie James
What a lovely book. There are 3 main characters: Helen Watt, an ailing history professor studying 17th century Jewish history; Aaron Levy, a grad student working on a dissertation about Jewish characters in Shakespeare; and, Ester Velasquez, a scribe for a blind rabbi in the 17th century. Ester is an intellectual prevented from publishing her thoughts or writings because of her gender and poverty. However she writes to well known philosophers of the time to discuss her ideas on God and religion. In the modern time Helen and Arron have come across her writings (found in the house of a former student) and are studying them.
The book addresses several challenges of the 17th century: religious bias, gender bias, homosexuality and poverty but does so without imposing modern mores and thoughts. It's simply a good story and it provoked me to look up a philosopher or two so I learned a little something along the way.
An Echo of Murder
By Anne Perry, Narrated By David Colacci
I wanted an easy read after The Weight of Ink so I went with one of my favorite series, Anne Perry's William Monk. These books are set in Victorian England and this is the 23rd in the series. Perry does a nice job of keeping her stories fresh by introducing new characters and expanding their roles in subsequent books.
In this one Monk, Commander of the Thames River Police, is investigating a series of gruesome murders in the Hungarian immigrant community. Hester and Scuff, of course, get involved.We also meet a doctor that worked with Hester in the Crimean War.
Destined for War, Can America and China Escape Thucydides's Trap?
By Graham Allison, Narrated by Richard Ferrone
If only our new services would spent even 1/20th of their time giving us truly useful and insightful information instead of focusing on salacious content that has no real impact on our lives. But they don't so I periodically search out books that will give me a bit of the information that I really need to have.
This is one of those books. The title is definitely an attention-grabbing hook because the author really spends most of the content explaining why we aren't really destined for war, in the traditional sense. We are certainly at war with China; or they with us. It's just not conventional.
If you like non-fiction this really is an excellent book. Allison uses historical wars to explain Thucydides's Trap where one power threatens to displace another. His information about the historical and cultural differences between the two countries is very thorough and the book sis very readable.
By Kyle Mills, Narrated by George Guidall
I've said it before and I'll say it again. I'm so glad that Kyle Mills took over writing the Mitch Rapp series. He was the perfect writer to take over for Vince Flynn and I'm so happy that Mitch Rapp lives on.
In this 17th book in the series the Russian president is ill and stirs up some international trouble to distract the media while he tries for a cure.
It's another action packed adventure and Mitch must save the day.
The Shadow Patrol
By Alex Berenson, Narrated by George Guidall
I usually spread out my CIA/Military hero books but I have a couple of non-fiction titles on hold at the library that should release soon and this one was in my Audible library with a couple of other non-fiction books so I decided to treat myself to a little John Wells first.
This is #6 in the Wells series. The CIA station in Kabul is having some problems and agents are dying. John Wells is sent in to investigate.
If you like Vince Flynn/Kyle Mills or Ben Coes, you will like Alex Berenson.
The Clockmaker's Daughter
By Kate Morton, Narrated by Joanna Foggatt
I enjoy Kate Morton's books. The stories are complex and woven between generations. The Clockmaker's Daughter is that and a lot more....maybe too much more.
In 1862 a group of artists gather at Birchwood Manor in Oxfordshire with a plan to spend the month in inspiration and creativity. The group is led by Edward Radcliffe. The trip is ruined when his fiance is shot dead and his muse, and true love, is missing.
150 years later Elodie Winslow, an archivist in London, uncovers a satchel that contains Edward's sketchbook and a photograph. Now she wants to find out more about them.
The book follows 4 different generations of people as they are affected by the house, a painting, a jewel and other related items.Frankly, there are a lot of characters to keep up with. I expect that this books was a lot more fun to write than to read. It required some work. Plus there's the added twist that one of the main narrators is a dead woman. The clockmaker is a very minor theme in the book and I don't think it was very relevant to the whole story unless it's simply about the passage of time. The father was such a non-entity to the story that he could have been a cooper, tailor or any number of other professions so I'm kind of annoyed by the title.
Just because of the complexity I did not like this book as much as I have enjoyed others. If you read it, be prepared to put in some work to keep track of the people and objects. It was fun to have it narrated by Mrs. Bates (Downton Abbey).
A Town Like Alice
By Nevil Shute, narrated By Neil Hunt
I finished off the month with this jewel of a book. It was published in 1950 and is the fictional story of an Englishwoman who was marched all over Malaysia by the Japanese in WWII. During one harrowing part of her journey she was aided by an Autralian soldier who was crucified as punishment.
Back in England after the war she discovers that she had inherited money from a distant relative she barely knew. She can now decide very independently where and how to live her life. It's about her life, her relationship with the solicitor who manages her trust and about the people she wants to thank. It's a lot more than that brief description. It's very much a love story, but not a romance story.
It's a well known and beautiful book but you must remember that it was written in the 1940's. You must be able to read it without imposing our modern moral code on the actions and language of the characters. If you can't do that you will have this book.
It was a perfect ending to a month of mostly great books.
Santa Suit postcards
If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook this week you have seen these cards coming together. I've done one step every day since Friday and with about an hour a day I got 30 of them made.
This design isn't original. I wanted to do a card that would use up some of my collection of felt and started looking around for ideas. I found this one while perusing the greeting cards in Target. I knew it would not only be great for felt but would force me to cut into the new "vegan leather" that I bought last month. Years ago when I was sewing garments faux leather was very popular and fun to sew with. This stuff looks and sews exactly the same but I suppose it's a lot cooler to call it "vegan". Of course, I don't know what the vegans think about it being made from petroleum products. Seems that might be an issue too.
But my Santa needed a nice belt and vegan leather is perfect even though I'm definitely not vegan. I an a little faux sometimes though.
I'm not going to give full instructions to make these because they are so easy but I will share a few tips. When I started sewing the belts on I realized that I had not gotten a teflon foot for my Brother sewing machine when I bought it 4 years ago. (I have one on order now.) The regular foot caused a lot of drag so I solved it by covering the belt in tissue paper and stitching through that. Then I ripped the paper off. It worked perfect!
I cut the white felt strips with my wavy rotary cutter blade. I rarely use that thing but I sure do love having it around for the few times I do use it. You can see here that I eye-balled the placement. I try not to get carried away with perfection when making postcards, especially when I'm doing 30 of them at a time!
I did a deep archaeological dive into the the stash for the belt fabric. This gold fabric is swimwear fabric and that means that it's 20+ years old! I knew I'd need that shiny gold fabric some day. It's perfect for my belt buckle! I ironed paper-backed fusible web to the back of it and drew the belt on the paper with a ruler and then cut them out. I fused these onto the card lightly before I top-stitched them with gold metallic thread.
Yesterday I finished them all off with a black serged edge. I think they turned out really cute and they came together quickly. I now have a total of 60 cards an only need 20 more. Hopefully I'll have them to share Monday. I'm in the mood to make some veterans quilts and that's keeping me focused to get the cards done first.
Vintage applique blocks
Only 3 days left!
Only 3 days left for the Rainbow Friday Sale!
Now through November 30 use the Coupon Code RAINBOW to get 20% off all in stock fabric.
The sale applies to current sale fabrics, clearance fabrics and even two new gradients! Don't miss this chance to get your favorite fabrics at a great discount! Including these 2 new gradients!
Every fabric in all of these categories are on sale!
Batiks, soaps and postcards
Oh boy do I love a 3-day weekend that I don't waste. It's been a long time since I've had 3 days to do whatever I wanted and I took full advantage.
I finished quilting the Indonesian Batik quilt.
I love how the quilting shows in the purple but completely disappears on the batik fabrics.
I haven't taken it off the frame yet because I have this much backing fabric left and it's the absolute perfect amount to fit in 4 placemats. The leftover of the leftovers are calling.
While I thought about placemats I got the veterans quilt tops sewn together. I'm really happy with the way it turned out and I already know that I'll quilt it with a wavy crosshatch. I will make more of these. It's a great way to use scraps of Jelly Rolls and goes together so quickly.
I have 24 leftover blocks. Theoretically, these could be made into 4 placemats but the size just isn't quite right. So I'll ponder some way to combine them with all the other scraps for the placemats.
On Saturday I didn't have any football to watch (Hokies eeked out a win Friday night) so I spent the day in the basement making soap. This 18 lbs of soap will cure to about 15 lbs and will be ready in early January.
And then I remembered that I needed to get my Christmas postcards done! I have 2 sets left to make and got one set started yesterday. I plan to have these done this week. They are simple and will be really cute.
Don't forget the RAINBOW FRIDAY sale! All fabric is 20% off through Friday. Use code RAINBOW.
Customer Gems - John Anderson
I met John Anderson at the AQS show in Virginia Beach. One week later he had made this quilt using the Morning Glory Gradient with Black! I've been hoping someone would do a bargello with a gradient so I was thrilled to see this piece. Now it's definitely going on my own "to do" list.
For sharing, John 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.
Rainbow Friday Sale!
I know that today is technically Black Friday and, as an accountant, I know that it refers to black ink representing profitability. But when you sell colorful fabric you think in rainbows and since it's my biggest sale ever, I'm calling it the Rainbow Friday Sale!
When a customer submits something they made to the Customer Gallery they receive a 20% coupon that's good on all fabric. This week everyone gets the coupon!
Now through November 30 use the Coupon Code RAINBOW to get 20% off all in stock fabric.
The sale applies to current sale fabrics, clearance fabrics and even two new gradients! Custom orders not included.
There are two new gradients this week and I think the names will be great clues to the inspiration for each.
Oh, the scraps
If you've been following me for a while you know that when I make a quilt I have to deal with the scraps. By "deal with", I do not mean "throw in the trash". That would be a horrible waste of good resources and free projects. By "deal with", I mean USE. That's even doubly required for the Indonesian Batik scraps because they were even more expensive than the hand dyed fabric that I sell. I'm not throwing away good money.
Back in April when I cut out the quilt I cut the scraps into as many 2.5" strips as possible and then matched each of the 10 fabrics up with a hand dyed green from my stash. I set it aside until this past weekend. With the big quilt top done it was time to start dealing with the scraps. I was pretty sure that I have enough fabric for a veteran's quilt top so I wanted an easy project. Let the fabrics do all the work!
My first idea was to make blocks like this. This one would finish to 5.5"
There are dozens of ideas to use a block like that but I was considering this. Thankfully I made the test block first and determined that it would be just too much trouble with a lot of trimming and a lot of waste.
I went back to EQ and after a few ideas I settled on these blocks. They finish to 6" which is perfect for a veteran's quilt (48 x 60).
The layout will look something like this but totally scrappy. It will sew together very quickly with string piecing.
I got the whole thing cut out in one evening so I'm ready to go when I get in a piecing mood.
Here's what's left and they will probably get sewn into crumb blocks for placemats or something. For sure, they will not be thrown in the trash.
Quilting the batik quilt
I got the batik quilt loaded this weekend and started quilting. As a matter of fact, I had to do it twice because the first time I didn't use my centering tape measure and the quilt was 1" narrower at the end. I don't know why I didn't use it from the beginning. There's so much bias in this quilt because of the diagonal seams that I needed to be careful loading it.
I love the Longarm Centering Tape. I don't use the number marks on the tape, I only use the little flags to mark major seams. As I load the quilt and roll it forward I line everything up with the flags. The second time around I got it right.
I'm about halfway through the quilt and I knew very quickly that the maintenance that I did on the quilt was worth the effort. No more thread breaks and I'm using a pretty persnickety thread.
With this quilt I'm trying a new approach to my day. I usually I start my day with shop work. Then I work as long as I need to get through my list and I'm finding myself at the end of the day without any sewing or quilting time. I'm going to try to start my day with an hour of sewing or quilting and then get to "work".
I'm using a pantograph on this quilt simply because I want it done! It's going to be on my bed so it doesn't really matter.I picked a purple thread that was a little lighter than the fabric so it would show up. It doesn't show at all on the blocks.
I had gotten out of using pantographs much but when Marcy was quilting veterans quilts for me this summer she used them. That got me interested in them again. I prefer doing free motion from the fron of the machine but I quilt way too densely for a bed quilt. Pantographs are the best tool for me for bed quilts.
Thsi one should be done in a couple of days.
Customer Gems - Patricia Caldwell
This week's gem comes from Patricia Caldwell. The background is the Sunshine and Shadows Gradient cut and pieced. The pine is made from batik fabric strips and couched yard. It's 31" square.
For sharing, Patricia 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.
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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.