Considering that November was such a big social month for me, I'm surprised that I finished 9 books. This month was surprisingly heavy on non-fiction and that's mostly because 2 of the books I read were in paper format. One of them, Mayflower, I started on one vacation and finished on another vacation. I usually like all of the non-fiction books I read but The Mosquito Bowl was a disappointment.
I have to give credit to Carole for recommending Remarkably Bright Creatures. I didn't think I would like it. Narrating animals are generally no my thing but this was a really enjoyable read. This is why I check out all of your recommendations. I know that I get in a rut reading and seeing what you are reading helps me expand my library in new directions so please tell me your favorite books that you have read recently.
My listening time for November was 109 hours and 39 minutes. Year to date that's 1251 hours and 11 minutes. That's 52+ days so far.
The Girl's With No Names by Serena Burdick - Supposed to be about a notorious girl's home but 30% through and we're not there yet. I got tired of the unlikable characters.
Portrait of an Artist by Laurie Lisle - Actually a well written biography of Georgia O'Keefe but I found that while I love her work I wasn't all that interested in her self-absorbed life. A friend of mine loved it so don't discount it based on my experience.
By Nathaniel Philbrich
If you are interested in US history you will enjoy this book. It's a very thoroughly researched history of the Mayflower and early years in Massachusetts. I feel like it's a really balanced history as well.
I didn't listen to this one. It was a vacation paperback that I started In Maine and finished at the beach this year. I wouldn't recommend audio format because it's a lot of information to absorb.
The Last Daughter of York (624)
By Nicola Cornick, Read By Sofia Engstrand
I couldn't have picked a book that's more different from Mayflower. York is a light romance novel with mystical storylines. It's not usually my genre but I was entertained. If you like Outlander I think you would love this book.
Part of it is set in the 15th century around the time of Richard III and Henry VII. Francis Lovell is tasked with protecting King Richard's son. Francis' wife, Anne, has a lodestone that was gifted to her that seems to give her special powers for protecting those around her and takes personal responsibility for the heir.
In modern time, Serena Warren, is still mourning the disappearance of her twin sister many years before. When Caitlyn's body is found in an 18th century unopened burial vault, the search for what happened to her reopens.
The character development is good, the story moves along at a good pace and it's an entertaining read.
The Cutting (647)
By James Hayman, Read by Stephen Mendel
This is the first book in the McCabe and Savage detective series. I actually read the second book first and it's OK to read them out of order.
McCabe and Savage are partner detectives in Portland, Maine. A missing high school athlete is discovered in a scrap metal yard and she's had her heart surgically removed. On the same day a young ad executive has gone missing while out on her morning run and her dog is found dead near the trail. McCabe is sure that both crimes are related and may have a link to cardiac surgeons.
Mendel reminds me of early John Sandford. It's fast paced and holds your interest. I listened to this one all in one day.
Einstein's Fridge (665)
By Paul Sen
This was another of my vacation books to read on the beach. I tried listening to it a few months ago but this book requires the ability to re-read passages. It worked much better in paper format.
It's all about the development of the laws of thermodynamics. It's very much written for us "normal" people. It was very interesting and didn't get too far over my head until the later chapters that deal with theoretical physics. If you like science books I think you will like this one.
Remarkably Bright Creatures (676)
By Shelby Van Pelt, Read By Marin Ireland and Michael Urie
I picked up this book after reading a recommendation on one of your blogs. I didn't really expect to like it but I trusted the review and I'm glad I did.
Tova Sullivan is a widow who also lost her only son 30 years ago. She's a night owl and got a job as the night cleaner at Sowell Bay Aquarium to occupy herself. She cares for all of the creatures there but especially is attached to Marcellus, a giant Pacific octopus who likes to escape his tank in the evenings to grab snacks from the other tanks. One night she saves him as he's gotten tangled in an electrical cord. They bond after that.
Marcellus is determined to help her understand what happened to her son.
Yes, it's an absurd tale of a conscious octopus who narrates part of the story. That's why I expected to not like it. But it's a really nice story with very likable characters, especially Marcellus. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
The Mosquito Bowl (658)
By Buzz Bissinger, Read By George Newbern
This is a hard core WWII history book. It is not a book about a football game played in Guadalcanal during the war, as I expected. Seriously, less than 5 minutes of this book is about that game, which, by the way, ended in a scoreless tie.
The first half of the book is a quite detailed description of college football at that time as told through a number of the college stars who played before they were drafted into the war. Many of these players ended up in the 6th marine Division and played in this game.
The second half of the book is a very detailed account of the deaths of 15 of those players and the service and lives of some of the survivors. It's not for the faint of heart but it's thoroughly researched and detailed. Normally I would not have finished the book because I don't enjoy reading battle scenes but I felt that I needed to finish it simply out of respect for the men portrayed in the book.
I do think that serious war history readers will enjoy the book but get it in paper copy. There are a number of lists in the book that the narrator unnecessarily reads.
The Killing Room (686)
By Richard Montanari, Read By Scott Brick
This is the 6th book in the Byrne and Balzano police procedural series. This series is set in Philadelphia and opens with a gruesome murder scene in an abandoned church. Before they can finish the investigation there are 2 more killings and they realize they have a serial killer on their hands.
These books aren't so much about whodunit, but rather about how the cases are solved. There's an overriding theme of mysticism throughout. In fact, Byrne, has "special skills" that helps point him in the right direction. I think the series is unique but it's also pretty gruesome so you need to be aware of that before you jump in. All of the books have a serial killer theme.
Scott Brick narrates this one and most of the series. At one time he was my favorite narrator. Now he's become a little annoying. He reads all of his books the same and gives most of his characters an indignant attitude. There were times in this book that I had trouble distinguishing some of the minor characters because he just didn't give them different narration personalities.
I don't know that I'll read the last 2 books in this series. They are a little too gruesome.
The Good Wife of Bath (1188)
By Karen Brooks, Read By Fran Burgoyne
Eleanor was born under the signs of Venus and Mars, making her a lover and a fighter. In 1364, at the age of 12, she was married off to an elderly farmer. The marriage was arranged by a distant cousin, Geoffrey Chaucer.
This is a retelling of Chaucer's The Wife of Bath's Tale from the perspective of the wife, Eleanor. In Chaucer's take, the wife had been married 5 times and it argues that women are morally equal to men.
The book tells the story from Eleanor's POV and, at almost 20 hours long, is the detailed story of her life, including the 5 marriages. It is a historical setting with mores and language of the time. There's rough language and rough treatment of people. Don't let your modern viewpoint impede in enjoying the story. Just go along with the story and appreciate the research done by the author to bring this period in time to life.
This is my first Karen Brooks story, not my last. The narration was outstanding as well.
Eat The Buddha (678)
By Barbara Demick, Read By Cassandra Campbell
I read Demick's other book, Nothing to Envy, earlier this year. It was about life in North Korea and was very impactful. I knew that I wanted to read this one about the Tibetan people.
Demick was a foreign correspondent with the LA Times and was bureau chief in Seoul and Beijing during her career. Both of these books are rigorously researched and, I think, required reading if you want to really know what goes on in these areas.
Eat The Buddha tells the story of the Tibetan town of Ngaba. The modern story of Ngaba is told through some of the families of the town. I finished this in 2 days. It was that interesting. With either if these book you really have to remind yourself that these events are happening in our lifetimes and not 100 years ago.
It's holiday season and I'm already inspired for Christmas. I've kicked off the season with a new red-themed Stash Pack. I often do reds more on the blue side but this time I wanted to have some bright orange reds along with some deep cranberry reds. I hope you will find some inspiration in this pack as well.
Each Stash Pack has 10 fat eighths of fabrics in a variety of color combinations and color texture. I love them for scrappy style quilts but I think most people use them for elements in art quilts. You can use them any way you want!
Each Stash Pack has 5 streaky fabrics and 5 mottled fabrics. Here are larger views of 6 of the fabrics. The fabrics you receive will not look exactly like these but they will be these colors and general textures. I dye 2 yards of each fabric in the collection and the nature of dyeing fabric like this means that there's lots of variety over that 2 yards. Each fat eighth is a gem on it's own. There are so many possibilities for fussy cutting applique or landscape elements.
Fabric of the Week
This week's Fabric of the Week was chosen because I think it makes a great gift. Everyone loves getting a new box crayons and you can give your best friend a fabric pack of crayons for their next creative adventure.
Crayon Box has 20 fat eights dyed using the 10 colors of my Color Wheel Basics Stash Pack. I can even ship this for you with a gift message. Just put in the recipient's address in the shipping information and leave a note in the order comment letting me know the message that you want to send. I'll take care of the rest.
Crayon Box is 15% off through Sunday.
I was totally heads down this weekend to get my second "Paula" quilt done.
My goal this year with Paula's fabrics was to design quilts that didn't require a lot of cumbersome fussy cutting. That aspect of using these fabrics turns some people off. So I wanted to show that these fabrics are really special no matter how they are used. They really do sparkle and I can't wait to share them in color with you. Both of my quilts will be veterans quilts and I will do more just like this one. It was fast and easy but has a huge impact.
My other goal was to get the stitching done on my postcards. One day I stitched the moon and the next day I did the star.
All three designs are through the steps to do stitching. I have to add the backs, serge the edges and add a few embellishments to finish them off. All of those things will be pretty fast to get done this week. My goal each year is to have the Christmas cards in the mail by December 10 and I should be able to do that.
There was plenty of football to watch and I get my second scarf with this yarn started.
This week I've got to get caught up on my actual business and spend a day putting up the Christmas decorations. I also want to finish the postcards and get those out of the way. Then I have to come up with a gift for my girlfriends and get those made by December 9.
After the 10th I should have the rest of December free to relax and enjoy the holiday.
I made good progress on my Paula Nadelstern quilts this week. I've finished the first one and have started the second. I can't wait to show you these fabrics in color so you can see how much the background fabrics sparkle.
Meanwhile, I can share my latest crochet project in full color.
Sometime last year (I think), Lion Brand put their Ice Cream Cotton Blend yarn on sale at a deep discount. I had heard great things about it so I got some in blue and some in tan to make shawls or wheelchair blankets. This shawl is 3+a little skeins of the blue and can probably be considered a large size. The pattern is this one from Etsy.
I do not love the way the colors pool with this yarn but it it great to work with and is going to be a very warm and comfortable shawl. All of the "Ice Cream" line of yarns pool like this and I really don't like it. I will use what I have but will not buy more. But I know this will appeal to someone. I have 3 more skeins of the blue and 6 of tan so I can make 3 more shawls if I want.
The pattern is incredibly easy and fast. It's basically double V stitches. The pattern doesn't specify the yarn, but based on the hook size and image, it's meant for a smaller gauge yarn. I made this size by chaining 75+4. I'm starting the next one with 66+4 for a medium size.
These scallops make a nice finished edge. There's supposed to be one more round but I didn't think it looked good in this heavier weight yarn. This is sufficient for this project.
I started the medium sized one while watching football between meals yesterday.
Well, I had a post ready for Monday and I suppose that I forgot to schedule it. It's out of date now so I'll just jump in to where I am at the moment.
Working on the Paula Nadlestern quilts each year are a challenge for me. It's a challenge that I like because it really pushes me. It's really difficult for me to 1) work with a limited group of fabrics and 2) try to estimate which ones I will use and how much I need by just seeing an image of the fabric. Every year I plan my quilts, order my fabric, receive the fabric and realize that my plans won't work.
This year I made it a little more difficult on myself by deciding to make larger quilts that I can use for veterans quilts. In the past we were limited to 36" square quilts because they were sent in and displayed in Houston. Now they are being advertised in a lookbook so we can make whatever we want. I don't have a need or use for 36" square quilts so I'm happy to be able to make lap size quilts.
Here's where I am on the first one. Paula likes for us to keep the pattern simple so that we can include block and quilt layout diagrams in the advertising material. That worked out really good for this quilt because I didn't order enough fo the star point fabric to make something like an Ohio Star block.
I've gotten the blocks done and will work on the on-point setting and triangle border blocks tomorrow between some Thanksgiving preparations.
For the second quilt, I've worked through a couple of failed design ideas but something fun came to me yesterday and I'm excited to get to it this weekend.
I'm also trying to spend a little time each day (only about a half hour) to do some of the stitching on my Christmas postcards. If I can get the stitching done by December 1 I will only have the backs, edges and extra bling to get done and that will only take a day.
This design too several iterations and samples but now I have 30 of them through the stitching phase.
The background fabric is a batik that I purchased in Maine this summer. I knew that I wanted to use it for postcards and I knew that I would fussy cut it so that a star motif would be a focal point.
I have a finished crochet project to share Thursday or Friday and hopefully the first finished quilt top to share by Friday.
Today's inspiration comes from Heidi Kapszukiewicz. Here's Heidi's description of her challenge quilt:
This is a guild challenge where we used our birthstone color for a quilted piece. I chose Vicki's blue fabric to be the basis for my aquamarine birthstone. I saw many flower and leaf images in the fabrics and I wanted to try thread stitching. So I used various variegated threads to bring out the shapes. I also wanted to have a natural border of leaves at the bottom. These were added later. This is all Vicki's fabric except the tummy of my tree swallow who decided to visit us with its mate. I added star shaped beads to complete the sky. I won "members' choice" at my guild and this was displayed at our quilt show with other entries.
For sharing, Heidi 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.
Laura left yesterday morning but we spent our last evening watching some pretty bad TV. In between laughs I started my next big blanket and after last night's football game, I'm through the first ball.
Yesterday afternoon was my monthly knit/crochet group. I worked on this shawl and I'm on the 3rd ball of Lion Brand Ice Cream Cotton Blend. I do not love how the color plays out. But it's great to work with and it's going to be a very comfortable and warm shawl. I think it's about long enough and then there's trim around the edges to do.
But I've been crocheting too much and I will take the next 2 days off to rest my hands. Instead I'll be sewing.
First thing is to clear off the cutting table by figuring out how I'm going to use these fabrics for my third postcard design. I found that pretty batik at the only quilt shop in Greenville, ME this summer. I love the added gold sparkle snowflakes printed over it. This today's task along with making cookies to take to my brother's house tomorrow for a Thanksgiving meal with family.
Laura left us today. We had a great visit and already miss her but she wants to get home to her family, especially the 3 grandkids. Today I will get back in the sewing room working on the Christmas postcards and my annual sample quilts for Paula Nadelstern. I've been given permission to share my progress with black and white photos. Here are the fabrics all washed and ready to cut. I'm excited to work with them.
Updates to come!
On Monday Laura, Mom and I took a day trip to Farmville, VA to visit a friend and to hike a bit of the High Bridge Trail. High Bridge Trail is a historic (abandoned) railroad trail that has a lot of history from the Civil War. At the far end of this bridge is the site for Camp Paradise. You can read about Camp Paradise at the link. It's kind of humorous to find out how it got it's name.
Because Laura mostly has knitting projects (not sewing), I've been mostly crocheting with her the last 3 weeks. As a result, the David blanket is done!
I'm showing this photo first because the color is most accurate here. It's the same pattern that I've been making for the brother blankets.
I had an extra skein of yarn in this colorway so this blanket, for my youngest brother, is a little larger than the other 2. He's a little larger than the other 2 brothers so that worked out just fine. This one finished 54 x 68, compared to 46 x 64. They are so stretchy that they will grow to whatever size needed.
I know that I say this all the time but I absolutely love this yarn. I love working with it and I love the color blends. It's too bad that it's discontinued but there are lots of other yarns out there, like Premier Puzzle, that have a similar effect.
I have enough of this yarn to make 4 more blankets but only have a recipient identified for the next one. I'm going to make this one for my cousin's husband. He went to University of Richmond and follows their sports avidly. Their colors are red and blue. I'll get this one started this weekend.
Sadly, Laura has to go home tomorrow so we only have today left to visit. She's going to spend some time with a friend while I am dyeing but we will have the evening together and I'm sure Chris will fix us a tasty meal.
Sadly, Laura has to go home this week but we are squeezing in as much fun as we can before she leaves.
We spent Saturday in Charlottesville with Mom driving all over the place for the annual Artisan Studio Tour. I love this event because the artist's work is amazing. There's lots of beautiful woodwork and pottery with sculpture, mosaic, jewelry, quilts, glass and every other possible craft. It was very inspiring.
I have so much stuff in my house already that I wasn't inspired to buy anything big but I did get my annual blown glass ornament for my tree. The white on this one glows in the dark. I tested it Saturday night and it has a very nice glow to it!
Yesterday was football day and I was in the mood to start a new project. This is a really easy shawl pattern that fits the From The Heart brief perfectly. They like capelet style because it stay on the shoulders easier and that's good for people in wheelchairs and with walkers. I had just started the second skein of yarn when I took this photo. I think it will take 3 and that's perfect for the amount of yarn that I have. I like the pattern a lot and I can't find it online anywhere to leave you a link. Maybe I'll find it by the time I finish the project.
Today we are off to Farmville to visit a friend of Mom's and walk a section of the High Bridge Trail.
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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.