It's the last book report of the year! If my spreadsheet is right, I read 109 books this year and my total since 1995 (when I started keeping records) is 1446. That's all pretty meaningless but the accountant in me likes keeping track. I think that half of my books this year came from the library so I've saved about $400 off my Audible bill and that stat isn't meaningless at all!
This month my favorite book, hand down, is Me by Elton John. What good books have you read lately? What was your favorite book this year? It's hard for me to choose but if pressed I'd probably name Once Upon a River as my favorite fiction book and Sapiens as my favorite non-fiction.
By Elton John, Read By Taron Egerton
What a great book! Imagine that you are at a dinner party with a great storyteller and you don't want the evening to end. That's how I felt listening to this book. It's clear that Elton John has reached a point in his life where he's perfectly happy. Because of that he was able to look back on his life with honestly and humor. It's an amazing life and he's lucky to be alive.
If you like music history, Elton John music or just love a good biography you should read this book. The narrator is OUTSTANDING. There were times when I thought that Elton was reading the book. It makes sense because Taron Egerton was the person who played Elton in the musical Rocketman.
Down the River unto the Sea
By Walter Mosley, Read by Dion Graham
Walter Mosley is one of my favorite authors. I absolutely love is Easy Rawlins series. This novel introduces a new character, Joe King Oliver. Oliver is a former NYPD investigator who was framed and ended up in solitary at Rikers. The novel starts 10 years later when he's a private detective. He's received a card in the mail from the woman who was paid to frame him. Now he's investigating his own case along with the case of a black radical journalist accused of killing 2 police officers.
Mosely is a master of creating memorable and sympathetic characters even when those characters live on the "edge" of society.
The Ride of a Lifetime
By Robert Iger
I love non-fiction but generally avoid contemporary autobiographies because I think it's difficult for people to be truly honest in telling their own stories. In this book Iger did a masterful job of really avoiding telling much personal information and that's OK.
Iger has been the CEO of Disney for over 15 years and this book tells the story of the instinct, dedication and just plain hard work it takes to run a company as big as Disney. During his tenure Disney acquired Pixar, Lucasfilms, Marvel and 21st Century Fox. They also opened a Disney park in Shanghi.
Through the book you get an understanding of just how long deals like these take to complete and integrate. For someone new in business or studying business this would be a very valuable book to read. There's some great advice for people who manage teams and projects. I enjoyed it.
What Rose Forgot
By Nevada Barr, Read By Kate Burton
Rose Dennis is a hippie step-grandmother who wakes up in a hospital gown in a field. Two boys on bicycles find her and return her to the Alzheimer's Unit in a nursing home. She knows something is wrong when she overhears someone saying that she will not last the week.
She avoids taking her medication to keep her head clear so she can escape. After escaping from the nursing home and hiding out at her home, someone tries to murder her. But Grandma is one tough cookie and thwarts the murder attempt.
Her computer expert sister, Marion, and granddaughter, Mel help her find out who is after her while someone is determined to kill her.
It's not a great book but hippie Grandma as heroine was refreshing. I don't think it was intended but the book was quite funny and would make a great movie.
By Mason Cross, Read By Eric Meyers
This is the 3rd book in the Carter Blake series. 5 years ago Carter Blake left the secret government organization Winterlong. Now one of the people who made a deal with him to leave him alone for his silence has decided that he can't risk the deal any longer. He's set out to eliminate Blake.
Lots of action and Blake is a fun character but there's confusion in the writing. The story skips between many events are different times and, maybe because of the audio format, it's a little difficult to keep track.
Although the writing isn't as good as it should be it kept my interest and I might keep reading the series. I think it is important to read these books in order.
Upstairs at the White House
By J. B. West, Read By Jason Martin
This bookwas first published in 1973 and was a best seller for months. Mr. West was the Chief Usher at the White house and was the person closest to the President's family. His tenure at the White House covered the Presidencies from Roosevelt to Nixon.
It's not a salacious laundry airing but an honest look at what life in the White House was like for the First Families. You learn what the residents were like as people and how the White House is run. I found it very interesting.
The Girls in the Garden
By Lisa Jewell, Read By Colleen Premdergast
This is the third Jewell book that I've read this year. It's my least favorite but still a good book.
The setting is a community garden in London. Everyone fees that their children are safe until a midsummer's night party when Grace is found dead. What unfolds is background on family relationships in the neighborhood, some history about a previous death and jealous relationships among the teens in the neighborhood.
I enjoyed the story but it was a bit difficult to follow all of the characters in the book, especially the teens.
The Night Fire
By Michael Connelly
Read by Titus Welliver and Christine Lakin
This is #22 in the Bosch series and #3 in the Ballard series.
Harry's mentor John Jack Thompson has died and his widow gives Harry a murder book that Thompson took with him when he retired. It looks like no work was ever really done on it. Bosch takes it to Ballard to help him work it. They soon discover that he may have taken the book so that it never got solved.
Adding Renee Ballard has kept the Bosch series fresh and moving forward. There are secondary investigations and precinct politics to add to the story.
An Obvious Fact
By Craig Johnson, Read By George Guidall
It's been a few years since I've read a Walt Longmire novel. They don't meet my 10 hour minimum for purchase from Audible but I've discovered that my library has them. They are a good light read so I picked this one to read this weekend between football games and spending time with our visitors.
The TV series kind of ruined the book series for me because I didn't like several of the casting choices in the series but I love George Guidall as a narrator for Walt.
In this middle of the Sturgis motorcycle rally a young motorcyclist is run off the road and ends up in critical condition. Walt is asked to help investigate. Henry Standing Bear and Vic are along to assist. This one involves an old love of Henry's, Lola.
These books aren't high literature but I really enjoy the banter and clever dialogue and they are very entertaining.
I have one more finish for 2019! Aside from the label, the Puppy Quilt is done!
This is a retirement gift for a friend and I'm about 5 months early with it! I won't make her wait 5 months, I'll get it to her as soon as I get a label made and attached. She's seen in in development and picked the background color so it's not a surprise and she wants it now.
Read more about it in the Gallery.
I've had the grout to finish this mosaic for weeks now and have been putting off finishing it. Yesterday while contemplating what I could get finished by the end of the month this came to mind. The weather was nice so I could open all of the windows for ventilation.
This is the backsplash behind my dye sink. The idea started with one of the sections on my Great Wall.All of the fish were made in my glass kiln using scrap bits of glass. The dots are glass penny tiles left over from my friend's bathroom remodel. I made a frame from ceramic bullnose tile.This time I bought pre-mixed grout and I'm not totally happy with it. When I grout the beaded wall I will purchase a different grout but this worked fine and I don't really care now that it's done!
Here are a few close ups of some of the fish. It will be so nice to work here next week without the constant reminder that it needed to be finished. Now I can just enjoy it.
Hallelujah! Another UFO dispatched!
In my last post I finished the Groovy quilt top but I'm switching to another quilt now.
Now it's time to start some quilting and I'm starting with the puppy quilt. Remember this one? It's been aging for a couple of months and seems to be ready for quilting. I dyed a spiral back for this one so the top needs to be centered on the back. This tutorial shows how I do this.
It's basted and ready to go. It's getting a simple Square Spiral pantograph. I expect this quilt be become a blanket and get lots of use so custom quilting isn't necessary.
In other news, we sort of skipped Christmas this year. With our friends here from England we all decided that it might be fun to take a Christmas trip so we headed off to Nashville. I've never been and it was one of the places on my "list". Well, it's not off the list because we had a great time. What a wonderful city! We are all already looking forward to going back. We were only there for 3 full days (with 2 days off travel time) but we packed in a lot.
On Sunday Chris and Laura headed to brunch and then Laura went to the Symphony for Handel's Messiah. Ian and I went straight to Nissan Stadium to watch the Saints and Titans. I've been to a couple of NFL games but both times I was in a box with a group and it was impossible to really watch the game. This time we sat in the stands and had a great time. They gave away Titans scarves to the fans and the next day every homeless person in Nashville was decked out in them.
Our hotel was in the city so we could walk everywhere. After the game we met up with Chris (and all the celebrating Saints fans) to watch the Eagles game in a bar on Broadway.
The evening was spent mostly at The Stage on Broadway. The quality of music on this street is amazing.
We started Monday with a walkabout of the city. We couldn't go through the main park because the park was closed preparing for the Keith Urban New Year's Eve concert. I can't even comprehend the security work required to prepare for these type of events. But we did walk around this plaza with a scale map of the state and lots of information about the geography and history of Tennessee. It was very interesting.
The rest of the day was spent on Broadway. Since it was the day before Christmas Eve we were almost alone in every bar we attended which meat that we had virtually private bands playing whatever we requested!
Most of the city is shut down on Christmas Eve. Ironically it's open Christmas Day! I didn't expect that when we planned the trip but it worked out great because we headed out to Radner Lake State Park for a 4 mile hike. This park clearly gets a TON of traffic but it's really well maintained and we saw lots of wildlife (6 point buck, flock of turkeys, ring-necked ducks) including this Red-Tailed Hawk. The wildlife is very accustomed to humans because we've never gotten this close to a hawk even in our own yard. I expect it was hoping one of the hikers would flush a mouse or something.
We ended the day with dinner at The Diner, a cool 5 or 6-story restaurant that's open every day of the year.
If you are ever contemplating a visit to Nashville I highly recommend Bode apartment-style hotel. Because of my allergies I have to stay somewhere with a kitchen so we can prepare my food. Bode was clean, reasonably well equipped and perfectly located just a few blocks from Broadway, Nissan Stadium and the Country Music hall of Fame.
I don't like many cities but I think I could live in this one.
Well, that was easy! I do love this quilt. It's going to be our new summer bed quilt. My summer quilts have a flannel sheet as batting to keep the quilt light weight. I keep any flannel sheets that are out of rotation because I use the for batting for quilts or place mats. I was going to load it to start quilt (with the goal of finishing it by the 31st) but I need a king size sheet for this quilt. I've ordered a king set of sheets (which will give me 2 battings) and it should be here in a few days.
Instead I'm going to load the puppy quilt and get it quilted. I have the backing and batting for this one already. I want one of these quilts done by the end of the month and I can get the other done in January.
I'm not going to be posting again until sometime after Christmas. If you celebrate, I hope you have a wonderful holiday.
Remember when I made these cards and I talked about the pearl painted fabric that I pulled out of the Drawer of Magical Things (DMT)? While rooting around in the drawer I realized that I was low on these metallic fabrics that I made YEARS ago.
I don't do much fabric painting anymore because I'm so allergic to the VOC offgassing of things like paint and grout. When I do those things I have to wear a respirator and will still have issues. I get asthma and everything smells of burned wood for 3 or 4 days. It's gross.
But occasionally it's worth it.
It's been so long since I painted fabric though that many of my paints were about to dry up. I decided that I needed to use then while I could still revive them. Fabric paints are water based so all you need to do is add water to them and mix really good to get the lumps out.
Since I couldn't dye yesterday I pulled some fabrics from the stash and tried to use up a lot of paints. I mostly use Jacquard fabric paints. They have some terrific metallic and pearlized paints.
I wrote a tutorial for this several years ago that you can download here. If you intend to use metallic painted fabrics in a project that will be washed you will want to read this post on curing the paints.
This is a great way to revive old fabrics that you don't like anymore. Yesterday I just pulled out some hand dyes from my stash.
They start with damp fabric, scrunched or pleated and then I get busy with multiple layers of paint. I rearrange the fabric between paint applications.
Here are my results from a very fun day.
I love the pleated effects. Most of these will be used in future postcard designs but they are also great for little projects like book covers or zipper pouches.
Since I used the pearlized fabric for my postcard I wanted to make sure to make more of that so have 3 white/near white fabrics.
Mostly, though, I did scrunched versions in lots of different colors. I've got no plans for any of them. I just had fun and used up a lot of paint.
Eighteen different fabrics in all! That was so much fun. Everything will smell like burned wood for a few days but it was worth it.
The DMT is restocked and now it's time to get back to the Groovy quilt.
So I'm not getting quite as much done this week as I wanted but one of my goals is to get my Groovy top done. After a little focus the past 2 days it's half together!
Love, love, love this quilt!
Today is usually dyeing day but since we're leaving Saturday I can't dye this week but I have another plan that I'll share with you tomorrow.
It's time for the last push of holiday preparations and new year countdowns! If there's something that you need please order by Friday. I will not be shipping Saturday - Thursday.
New Shibori Stash Pack
There's no more popular color for Shibori fabric than blue so I felt it was time to make a blue Shibori Stash Pack. I hope I've created a good assortment of shades of blue for your project, whether it's moons or landscapes or traditional pieced blocks. Each Stash Pack contains 8 fat eights of beautiful streaky fabric. There are other Shibori Stash Packs available if you need more variety for your projects.
Winter is almost here and. if I'm lucky, we will have a snow or two this winter so that I can snow dye some new Crystals. In preparation I've decided to clear out the older designs. All Crystals are marked 25% off! The sale also applies to all ice dyed Tapestries. Get yours before it's gone!
I hope you have a wonderful holiday season and I'll see you in the New Year!
This weekend was our monthly quilt club sewing weekend. I look forward to this weekend every month and I get a little cranky if anything prevents me from spending both days there. I do get a lot done but I always come away with about 10 more ideas for new things but mostly we tell stories and laugh. I try to use those days to work on veterans quilts. I keep the projects packed up and only work on them there.
The first thing I did was finish up this Hunter Star quilt. It started as gradient that I had dyed for another project. It was similar to the Sugar Maple gradient. I added some orange, yellow and green from my stash and I'm really pleased with the way it turned out. I cut it with the Go! Hunter Star die. With the die I can cut out a quilt like this in less than an hour.
But I learned one BIG lesson. This quilt needs to be done in the equivalent of 2 color. It's important to keep up with the way the seams are pressed and a totally scrappy version is a headache from that perspective. So I did a better job on the next one.
This one is going to be very manly. It's made with Crossroads and Earthworks Stash Packs and I paired it with a pale gray from my stash. I probably won't get this one finished until February but I'm going to love it.
This week our friends from England arrive to stay for a couple of months. Laura likes to spend a lot of time in the sewing room so we should get lots done. This week will be a little light on quilting because we are getting ready to take a little trip Saturday but I should have something to share every day.
This week's inspiration comes from Jeanette Ringuette and started with 2 floral prints print from her stash. This is one that I feel we really collaborated on!
Jeannette purchased a pack of Wild Black Cherry and 2 Stars (one yard cuts) but realized that she didn't have quite enough to make her large (101 x 109) quilt. She sent me snips of the florals and the 2 Stars. I knew that I couldn't exactly match the Stars because they aren't made from recipes but her pattern allowed for some leeway. I dyed 2 new fabrics that came close enough. The quilt turned out great!
For sharing, Jeannette 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.
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.
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