I don't know what I'd do without books. I like reading better than movies or TV and, sometimes, better than socializing. They keep me focused on my projects, keep me entertained when I need a distraction and, occasionally, shove in a few bits of knowledge through my thick skull. I started tracking my books on a spreadsheet in 1995 and have listened to (and sometimes read) 1609 books. This goes back to the days of Books on Tape where you would get boxes of cassettes in the mail and then ship them back when done. I had multiple boxes coming each week and one was always open in my passenger car seat and I had my Walkman going when I wasn't in the car or at work. Later I upgraded to CDs and a Discman. I even made a cross-body pouch to wear so I could carry it around. My lifetime average is 61 books a year but my pace picked up a lot in 2010 when I retired. This year I read 146 books, averaging 12/month. I wish I could read more. My wish list is long with more added every month. But don't ask me about TV or movies, I'm totally ignorant in those categories.
In my spreadsheet I rate my books and narrators. It's a way for me to remind myself to go back and look for new books by authors I love and to skip books by authors that I didn't love. In reviewing my ratings for 2020, and based on my feelings today, I'd say that these are my top 10 books of the year:
That list might be a little different next week but I'm sure that at least 5 of these books would be on the list always. I'm not worried or bothered if some of these are on your personal "worst" list, we all have different tastes. But I'd love to hear what your favorite books of the year (or December) are.
Here are the books I read in December. Some winners and a few serious losers.
Always the Last to Know
By Kristan Higgins, Read By cast
December did not get off to a great start because this book was a slog. I finished it but it wasn't because I liked any of the characters.
Here we have a family of 4. The children are 2 adult daughters and everyone is forced to start to address their "issues" when Dad has a stroke. The "issues" are basically decades of lack of communication. What follows is 12 hours of wanting to slap each one multiple times and yell, "get a grip, you were fortunate to have the life and opportunities you've been given!" This book is certainly written for today when everyone is encouraged to find the worst in their lives instead of being grateful for what they have. These are the kinds of people that I try to avoid in my real life. I found the whole thing tedious and the characters quite unlikable, especially the mother. She so obviously (and admittedly) favored one daughter over the other and now she's shocked that she has a bad relationship with the second daughter. They all found some sort of happiness in the end but boy was it a hard road to get there. Given that they all started in places of relative privilege that was no need for all the agony.
By Robert Crais, Read By James Daniels
I think I found this book through an audible Daily Deal and didn't realize until later that I had read Crais before but it's been several years. I'm not sure why I didn't real more back the because he writes a good, fast paced thriller with a tight plot and story line.
Jeff Talley is a former LAPD SWAT negotiator but the job eventually took a toll on him and his family. He's taken a chief job in a small town while he tries to heal himself and repair his marriage and relationship with his daughter. Of course, it's not a quite town for long.
One day 3 punks decide to rob a convenience store but the robbery goes bad when the owner is killed. They flee to a nearby neighborhood on the look for a car to steal. They end up taking a family hostage only this family has some business ties that complicate the entire situation.
I think I read this in a day and a half.
Freedom of the Mask
By Robert McCammon, Read By Edoardo Ballerini
This is #6 in the Matthew Corbett series and I was ready for it since I just read #5 a few weeks ago. When we last saw Matthew it was 1703 and he had been abducted and was on a ship to England and a rendezvous with his enemy Professor Fell.
This book picks up with his business partner, Hudson Greathouse along with Matthew's love, Berry Grigsby have found out where Matthew is are head to London to find and rescue him.
Meanwhile Matthew has murdered his captor on the ship and is arrested upon arrival to England and eventually ends up in the notorious Newgate Prison. He's escaped from prison by a mask-wearing vigilante. Soon he's allied with a local gang and discovers an underground world of highly addictive drugs and it all leads back to Fell.
It's an intense story with lots of interesting and well-developed characters and danger around every corner. As with all the books in the series, the story really never ends. But I think I am probably done with the series. I love murder and mystery books but this one crossed a bit too far into horror. I don't handle torture scenes well and there were some gruesome ones in this tale. I understand that book #7 is even more gruesome. I'll have to take a pass.
By Lisa Jewell, Read by a cast
Lisa Jewell is becoming one of my favorite authors. The publishers summary accurately calls this an "intricate thriller". You have to pay attention to everyone!
Saffyre Maddox has been under the care of child psychologist, Roan Fours, for 3 years when he decides that she doesn't need therapy anymore. Saffyer feels lost and abandoned. The Fours family has some of their own challenges. Meanwhile Owen Pickett is a neighbor of the Fours and his life is a mess and finds himself a member of an online INCEL (involuntary celibacy) community. When sexual attacks start in the neighborhood, Owen is the obvious culprit.
The cast narration worked really well and I'm not usually a fan.
Year of Wonders
By Geraldine Brooks, Read By Geraldine Brooks
Feeling depressed about our modern day plague? This book will put things into great perspective for you!
This tale is set in 1666 in Eyam, England and based in actual events. When the plague arrives in Eyam the village agrees to isolate themselves from the rest of the country. They work out methods of getting supplies and no one leaves. Anna Frith's husband has died in a mine accident and she's left to fend for herself and her 2 sons. She works as a housekeeper for the local minister. When plague arrives she becomes an unlikely heroine.
I enjoyed this book except for the ending. I wasn't really happy with where she ended up but I suppose it could have happened that way. The ending did not ruin the story, it seemed sort of randomly tacked on.
The Evening and the Morning
By Ken Follett, Read By John Lee
I've been waiting for this book for weeks. I like most of the Follett books and the Knightsbridge series was my favorite. This book is a prequel to that series.
It's 997 CE at the end of the Dark Ages. The Vikings are rampaging all over the East of England and the Welsh are attacking from the West.
The three focal characters are a Norman noblewoman who marries and English Alderman for love, a monk who wants to transform his modest abbey in to a learning center and a humble boat builder who arrives after the Vikings destroyed his home. Lots of family and political intrigue. Very typical Follett. If you liked his other books, you will like this one.
Find Her Alive, Detective Josie Quill Book 8
By Lisa Regan, Rad By Kate Handford
I'm always on the search for a new series to read and this book popped us as an Audible Deal of the Day. For $5 I could give it a try. Sadly, it wasn't even worth $5.
It's set in rural Eastern Pennsylvania and Josie is a Detective. Her twin sister , Trinity, has gone missing. When they discover bones everyone assumes the worst but it turn out to be another missing woman. They seem to have a serial killer.
Seriously, this is an awful book. It reads like it was written by an amateur writer. Characters are not well developed, which is surprising for the 8th installment in a series. Dialogue is juvenile. Everyone calls Josie "boss". Who does that especially when she mostly behaves like a junior detective? It's not 1970 anymore. Because the missing woman is Josie's sister she is not put in charge of the case, except that for the rest of the book she is in charge of the case. There are tons of similar contradictions throughout. Another example, Josie is in an accident caused by the suspect. She happens to be on the speaker phone with her boyfriend at the time. When the suspect hears the boyfriend's voice on the phone he leaves the scene but the boyfriend didn't hear any of the conversation she had with the suspect. Ridiculous. Also, in what universe does the FBI allow some local yokel police department take the lead in a serial killer case? It doesn't, ever. Given the clues they went through to solve it it should have take less than 48 hours but we had to drag through days of talking about people's pasts. It's a rural area and the suspect has a giant scar on his face. How hard is it to find that person? It reminded me of a 30 minute TV crime drama episode except that it took longer to get to the end.
By David Eagleman, Read By David Eagleman
All the brain cells that I lost reading that last book were renewed reading this one. I found this book because I listened to a podcast where the author was interviewed. He sounded interesting and the book sounded interesting. I was not disappointed.
The book focuses on the amazing adaptability of the brain and the stories of people overcoming serious brain damage, like missing an entire hemisphere, are so inspiring. He talks a lot about current treatment/therapy protocols for various brain injuries and diseases, like stroke and Alzheimer's. The book is very accessible for those of us without a science background. I couldn't put it down and can see myself reading it again sometime. He even did a great job narrating his own book which is a rarity of it's own among author narrators.
Jane and the Twelve Days of Christmas
By Stephanie Barron, Read By Kate Reading
Barron writes a mystery series with Jane Austen as the central character. They are all "nice, light reads". I picked this one because I wanted something Christmassy to read Christmas week. Jane, her sister Cassandra and her mother are spending Christmas with her brother and his annoying wife. Fortunately, as soon as they arrive, they are invited to the Vyne by the wealthy Chute family.
The festivities don't last long when someone ends up dead and it doesn't look like an accident. Told over the 12 days of Christmas, Jane helps solve the crime.
By S. A. Cosby, Read By Adam Lazarre-White
This has to be one of the hotttest books of the year to read. I had to wait a few months for it to come available. It's written by a Virginia author and set in Virginia so I was very interested in reading it. It also sounded like it my be a lot like Walter Mosley novels and Mosley is one of my favorite authors.
The story centers on Beauregard "Bug" Montage. He an outstanding mechanic, a husband and father who is devoted to his family. He used to be known as one of the best wheelmen (escape driver) around. Now his business is in financial trouble, his Mom is in financial trouble, his daughter needs tuition and his son needs braces. When an old friend approaches him about an easy jewelry store heist, he decides to participate. That's a great set up for a great story.
I wouldn't advise not reading this book because Bug is a great character. In fact, Cosby's genius is character development, all the characters are interesting and we can easily compare them to people that we have known. Well I could anyway. I knew all these people where I grew up. They are Southern Virginia through and through.
But there were 2 things that kind of annoyed me about the story. First, Bug may be close to poverty but he is not stupid. He's a very smart man and the smart Bug would have NEVER gone on this adventure with this idiot friend and allowed that friend to be in charge. Never, not in a million years. Of course, the whole thing goes south.
The other thing that bothered me was the Virginia setting. I don't understand why the author referred to real towns and cities but then made up county names and got landscapes wrong. For example, at one point the are driving from Richmond to Peaks of Otter. He mentions that they go there via Lynchburg and then talk about ears popping as they drive over the mountain. Had they driven the Blue Ridge Parkway route they would have gone over the mountain but not the Lynchburg route. That route is all east of the mountain. There were lots of weird things like that. It's not really relevant to the story, it's just annoying. Reminded me of some of the ridiculous stage setting and travel in the Crawdad Sings book.
But don't let that dissuade you from reading this if you are looking for a new African-American author to read since that's the hot genre at the moment. Cosby creates great characters and tells a good story. But if you want a better African American writer, check out Walter Mosley. I don't care what his background is, he's hands-down one of my favorite writers ever.
A Bad Day for Sunshine
By Darynda Jones, Read By Lorelei King
So, I thought I was getting a mystery/detective novel. What I actually got was a romance novel with a detective candy coating. It's not my schtick but for what it was, it was entertaining enough.
What I've learned since finishing is that Jones is a really popular author and she has a series with the main character Charlie Davidson who sees dead people. She tries to get them to pass on to the other world but sometimes they need her to solve their crimes.....or something like that. The people who love that series were a little let down that this heroine, Sunshine Vicram, is just a normal person.
Sunshine grew up in Del Sol, NM and now she's back as the sheriff. She got the job because her parents got her name on the ballot without her permission. Part of her objective in taking the job is to solve her own unresolved kidnapping and rape case that happened when she was a teen. The result of that event is her precocious 14 year old daughter, Ari.
If you like real drama in your detective novels this will not be for you. If you like some drama and light romance in your romance novels then this is your next read.
The Queen's Gambit
By Walter Tevis, Read By Amy Landon
This book is an older book, I think it was written in the 1980's. It's been brought back to popularity by the Netflix series based on it. Audible offered it as a daily deal so I decided to give it a try, it has rave reviews.....and I don't get it.
Maybe there are a ton of chess aficionados that like having chess moves read to them. Otherwise, I do not understand the love unless it's just cool to like this book. It reminds me a a mystery series that I tried to get into a few years ago where the main character talked in detail about the meals that he ate. It's all just filler. This book seemed to be half chess moves that I didn't understand, or care about, and half drug addiction and loneliness. All that was told by one of the worst narrators ever. She was breathless and slow. I had to speed up to 1.15 to get through it. I hope the Netflix series is better but I won't be checking it out.
America's First Daughter
By Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie, Read By Cassandra Campbell
What a delightful way to end the month and year. I had read one of their other books, My Dear Hamilton, a couple of years ago and loved it. I guess I forgot about these authors until a friend mentioned that she had read this one. These authors write some of the most meticulously researched historical women's fiction that you can find.
This book is based on the life of Martha (Patsy) Jefferson Randolph, the oldest daughter of Thomas Jefferson. It's honestly researched and tells the story of the extended Jefferson family from Martha's point of view. Cassandra Campbell does a beautiful Virginia accent and the authors put you right in the middle of the story. It's a long book (my favorite) and I enjoyed every minutes of it.
I've been holding on to these photos for awhile and have been itching to share them. My best friend and I do celebrate each other's birthday and Christmas but we rarely celebrate them even close to the actual date. It's a winner of we celebrate in the month. Her birthday was in the beginning of December but we both had a bunch of stuff going on (and these weren't done) so we just got together yesterday so I could take these to her and, more importantly, spend some quality time with my favorite dog. I knew I wasn't going to be able to top the vulture quilt that she made for me but I gave it my best shot.
Anne is a big follower of Valorie Wells and had really gotten into carving stamps for printing. I decided to make her some shibori fabrics specifically to use for printing. The first 2 are 1 yard pieces. The top one was folded in quarters and then tied. I was so excited with how well it turned out. The second was folded and clamped.
The next 2 photos are all fat quarters or half yards. Some are tied and some are clamped. I was going for a wide variety.
I also dyed 4 monochromatic spirals. The first photo is one of the spirals and the second photo is the 4 colors that I dyed. The orange photo is quite a bit brighter than the actual fabric but that's what happens with computer monitors and orange. I hope she has lots of fun with these. I sure had fun making them.
Through someone else's blog I found a link up to Best of 2020 posts at Meadow Mist Designs. I had been thinking about doing a "best of" post because I refuse to end the year thinking about the bad parts. So, I'll do this in 2 parts. Part one will be the creative part sort of in line with the link up and part 2 will be the personal part.
Best of 2020 Creative
1. I relearned crochet! After finishing all of the flower applique blocks I wanted another TV project and I wanted something easy. I decided to give crochet a try again after a 40+ year break. I didn't have any specific goals but I had a couple of rules. Those rules were to only make baby blankets and to not build a stash of yarn. In the end I made 14 blankets, a number that I would have scoffed at in January. As for the stash, I only have yarn for 3 blankets and one of those is a third done.
2. Speaking of applique flowers, I finished Kim's Garden and gifted it to my friend just before Christmas. This is my most ambitious quilt of the year. This quilt has so many hours in it and I enjoyed every one of them. I worked on these flowers in front off the TV, in the car and on vacations. I have one other top made with these appliques and enough of the basted flowers for another quilt...or two.
3. Veterans quilts - My quilt club makes veterans quilt for the local VA hospital Interventional Radiography Department. They give them primarily to patients receiving ports for chemo. But they can give them to any patient they want. They use them to help particularly distressed patients. It calms them so that they can focus on their treatments. In previous years we have averaged 60 - 75 quilts per year. This year we donated a record breaking 108! See, what some extra time can do for you? I try to quilt at least 40 each year but I had lots of help this year from other longarmers. I quilted 39 for other people and made an additional 15 myself. I don't think I've ever made more than 4 or 5 in a year before. I love making the veterans quilts and hope to keep up the pace in 2021.
4. The Pizza Oven mosaic. My best friend built a grilling area with a pizza oven and recruited (drafted) me to help mosaic it. I really thought I was done with mosaics after the basement walls but I was ready to tackle one more. Mosaic on a shaped surface is really different from mosaic on a flat surface but we figured it out. It took one weekend to set the tiles and another to grout it and it was all done in million degree heat in July. Chris was there for the grouting and we couldn't have finished it without him.
5. Food Bank fundraiser. We have several wonderful local food pantries and other community service organizations in our area. My quilt club specifically supports WHEAT which is run by one of our members. When the need increased in April and May I decided to get a bunch of tea towels, dye then and sell them to raise funds. My friends and fellow quilt club members really stepped up and I sold so many that I had to order more towels, In the end we raised over $1000 for WHEAT. It was such a good fundraiser that I might do it again next year.
As I think back on the creative part of my life in 2020, these are the things that make me the happiest. A few honorable mention items are:
- The UFO list is, for the first time ever, under 10!
- The Groovy quilts made with ice dyed fabrics
- Penguins on Parade quilt for my one of my SILs
- Corona Cats quilt for another SIL (I have one more to make in 2020)
All in all, it was a great creative year.
Best of 2020 Personal
It's very easy to sit here and think about the things I missed in 2020 including going to the AQS show in Paducah, vacation in Sedona and an Elton John concert but as I think back I really had a pretty darned good year. Here are the 5 best things:
1. Vacations and hiking: We did have to cancel one vacation in March but Chris got to go to Vail in February (where he caught covid without any severe symptoms or consequences). He came home with it and I didn't catch it. We stayed locked in through April but the Outer Banks of NC opened the week that we had our family vacation reservation. We went and had a blast. Then we went to the Great Smokies for a few days of hiking in June followed by 3 weeks in Maine in August. It was during that trip that I turned 60 and two of my best friends were there to help me celebrate. I even met my goal to hike Cadillac Mountain on my birthday. We came back from Maine and immediately planned another trip to the Great Smokies in October where we hiked Mount LeConte. There's no way I could have done that hike 2 years ago. We will take our last hike of the year tomorrow with friends on Cole Mountain in Virginia.
During these trips and in between I spent some quality time with my friends and family. We may not have seen each other as often as usual but we made the best of the time that we had.
2. Clay shooting: I started taking clay shooting a few years ago and I was REALLY bad. I do enjoy it and I realized that if I could work on it more that I could improve my distance vision. I stuck with my lessons this year and I am now doing report pairs and I can even hit a few rabbit clays. Those are MAJOR accomplishments for me.
3. Health research: Covid sent me directly into a research rabbit hole to learn more about the virus and how to strengthen my immune system for this or any other virus or illness. I believe that we have approached this thing entirely wrong. We are so focused on the specific pathogen instead of the body's ability to fight ANY pathogen. I'm grateful for doctors like Dr. Mobeen who have taken so much time to share true analysis of studies and reports and explain how our bodies work at a cellular level. I fell like I've become so much smarter about my own health. As a result I have changed some of the supplements protocols that I take and delved deep into nutrition. Long term, it's been a true benefit for me to have the motivation and time to do this and it's this knowledge that has allayed all of my fears of this virus, or any other. I'm confident that I have improved my immune system dramatically. Now I'm deep into various nutrition research topics.
4. Vitamin D: Because of the covid research I learned about the many studies that shows a direct correlation between covid severity and vitamin D levels. As a result I spent a ton of time researching Vitamin D and went on my own personal trial of high levels of vitamin D. As a result I solved several long term chronic problems including nerve damage, TMJ, esophageal spasms and chronic muscle and tendon pain. I don't recommend doing anything above 10000iu without having your vitamin D levels tested but I was able to take 30000iu safely for a few weeks and it was during that time that these big things happened but I saw a lot of benefits even at 10000iu.
5. Exercise: As a result of the vitamin D and getting rid of my chronic muscle soreness, I'm now able to exercise twice as long at a higher level. For the first time in my life I actually enjoy exercising. If for no other reason than this, 2020 was a great year!
We had a lovely Christmas week last week. We got to spend some time with different family members throughout the week and got to see a few friends. It was lovely. Chris made a wonderful Christmas dinner for me and Mom and we're still consuming some of the leftovers. In between I made a lot of progress on my last Christmas gift and might even finish today and I finally got back to doing some crochet in the evenings.
I had to take a crochet break for several weeks because the joints in my left hand became very inflamed from likely Lyme disease. Three weeks of anitbiotics seems to have fixed my hand and now I'm trying to replenish the microbes that the antibiotics destroyed. Nothing is ever "all good" is it? Everything is a tradeoff. This tradeoff allowed me to pick up my crochet hook again and finally finish off this blanet.
The inspiration for this blanket came from Mary. I had purchased some of this Mandala Ombre yarn and I loved how her blanket looked using the same yarn. The stitch is called linen stitch or seed stitch and if you go to her post you will see links to tutorials for doing the stitch. But it's simply alternating single crochet and chain. The single crochet is done over the chain of the previous row. The color that I used is called Balance. I absolutely love this yarn. I think it's my favorite so far. It is soooo soft and so easy to work with. It does make a heavier blanket but it feels fabulous.
I chained 141 stitches and kept going until I had used up 3 balls. For these blankets I don't shoot for a specific size. My goal is to have no leftover yarn.
After I finished the 3 balls I had a width and length proportion that I liked but I also had an extra ball of yarn. I decided to simply use the extra ball as a border and after searching for border ideas for about an hour, I decided that continuing with the linen stitch would be best and I love the effect.
The blanket ended up being about 34 x 40" using 4 balls of the Mandala Ombre. I thin that's a pretty perfect baby blanket size.
This picture give you a better idea of how the color changes in the yarn. That one skinny purple row at the bottom is the first row of the border. I tried to make sure that the border color wasn't the same as the top or bottom rows.
That's my 14th crochet blanket this year. I'm really surprised that I made so many. I think they have mostly been donated to a local women's shelter and I hope that they have made people happy.
Yesterday was a day to catch up on some chores and a day to devote a lot of time to wrapping up this coaster adventure. I started with a plan to make 4 coasters (no bowl) out of a pile of green scraps. You'll see in a minute that plan did not work out. It produced 1 ugly coaster that will probably be put by my sewing machine because we always keep the ugliest things we make for ourselves.
I switched gears and combined a small pink/red pile with some of the green ones to make some rose inspired coasters. There weren't any of the pink strips left so this set did not get a bowl. They are tied with a bow and put away for future gifting.
I had this much clothesline left. Not enough for a set of coasters but maybe enough for a trivet.
I rolled it into a coil to see. Compared to the ugly green coaster that looks like just about the right size for a trivet. My biggest pile of strips was a mix of greens and blues so that's what I went with.
It actually doesn't look too bad! It's pretty darned heavy and sturdy. I used cotton thread so that it can tolerate hot pans. Would you look at that? I have a whole other roll of clothesline! What was I thinking? I'm putting this away for now. I'll use it as I make quilts and need to use up trimming strips. For reference, I used 2 packages of clothesline (200 feet) for all the things I've made the past couple of week. One package goes a long way. I didn't need 3!
Honestly, the biggest news for me lately is that I've found a great new (to me) website with wonderful vegan gluten free recipes. Gwen from Delightful Adventures makes the best GF/Vegan recipes that I've ever found on the web. I've made several of her recipes but the latest are these Ginger Molasses Cookies. They taste like the Ginger Snaps that I haven't had in ages! Look at that, they even look like real cookies. In my world that's a miracle. The things I make rarely look like the recipe picture. Even Chris likes these cookies.
I'll probably take most of the rest of the year off. The main project I'm working on is one that I can't share. I'll stop in when I have something new, otherwise, I'll be having fun, relaxing and will be checking in on all of your blogs.
I'm so happy to have some new customer work to share with you this week! This beautiful quilt comes to us from Patricia Caldwell. Here's what she had to say about it:
"I have been dreaming about this pattern and decided to draft it out and make it. I know I wanted to do it in purple, black and grey and the Cosmos and Black shade packs worked out perfect! This is hanging in my bedroom."
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.
Yesterday was dyeing day so I didn't really get much sewing done.
I don't share much of what I dye because it's boring to look at bins of wet fabric. But I am really looking forward to opening this tomorrow.
I also dyed a backing for this quilt. Our quilt club doesn't just make veterans quilts. Every other year we make a quilt for our local food pantry to raffle for a fund raiser. The most recent one raised over $2000. This is the next one. All the members made the crazy quilt blocks, another member sewed the top, I'm dyeing the back and someone else with quilt it. It's a true collaborative effort.
I'm starting to think about what I want to be working on starting in January and one of my big goals will be to quilt my oldest UFO. I started this in 1998 and I still love it. When it's done it will be mine!
But first I will probably quilt some veterans quilts and this blue/yellow quilt for my Mom. Mom's quilt is HUGE and I have 13 veterans quilts. I don't know when I'll get to quilt hers. The backing fabric that she ordered is taking a long detour to get to her. She's having fun tracking it's travels. I'll get backs dyed and will quilt some of the veterans quilts myself. Other members have volunteered to help with the quilting so I won't have to do all 13. That green quilt I'm working on might become a few veterans quilts. I'm dithering too much with the layout and that's a true sign that it might no be the best king size quilt idea.
I also have a new quilt planned for 2021. I've made quilts for 2 of my sister-in-law: the penguins and the cats. My third SIL loves animal prints. I found these batiks and will start on her quilt in the New Year. The layout will be simple and might be exactly like my Indonesian Batik quilt. I think these fabrics would work great in that format. The fabric on the right would be the sashing and binding.
First I have to get things cleaned up in the sewing room and that means dealing with this pile of strips. I might make some trivets or more coaster sets but my time limit is Sunday. Whatever is left on Sunday gets tossed or put away.
Time to get off the internet and get to some sewing.
Most of what I've been doing the past 2 days I can't share. I'm making a couple of gifts that I can't show yet. But I do have 2 things I can share.
This is the lovely stack of veterans quilts that I delivered to the VA hospital contact yesterday. If I counted correctly there are 26 and that makes our total for the year 108! It's our biggest year ever. So there, 2020 isn't all bad. We know how much the doctors and nurses love having these quilts so it motivates us to make more. One of our members made 20 of them on her own this year. I think I made 10 and I hope to do the same next year.
I've made one more set of coasters. These are for the wife of one of Chris' hunting buddies. She loves the beach so I think she will like calming water colors of these. I bought way too much clothesline so I'll probably just keep going for a while. I've got lots of fabric and lots of clothesline. It wouldn't be a bad thing to have a few sets of these in the gift closet.
When I gift them I wrap them in a strip of the fabric that I used in the coasters so they can see what they are made with. I have some of these coasters that I probably made 10 years ago and they are still in great shape. They are very sturdy.
Today is dyeing day and I'll be dyeing some quilt backs and some fabrics for the remaining gifts that I'm making. I should be done with Christmas making by Christmas day!
I honestly don't usually pay any attention to the Pantone Color of the Year but this year I actually like it. It would be hard to go wrong with gray in any of the past few years. Alone it could be the color of the year. But I also love yellows and oranges so paring the grays with a beautiful warm color was right up my alley. That inspired the fabric of the week this week.
Fabric of the Week
Here's my version of the Colors of the Year. My gray is darker and my yellow is more golden but I still love the combo. Sunshine and Shadows Gradient is 20% off through Sunday.
Patricia Caldwell used Sunshine and Shadows for her Copper Trails quilt.
Gradients Back in Stock
Two of your favorite gradients are back in stock this week.
Lava Flow by Patricia Caldwell uses the Sassafras Gradient to great effect. All of the pieces for that quilt came from one fabric!
I'm wishing you all a happy holiday season, no matter what you celebrate. It's been a weird year but it hasn't been an all bad year. Many of us have experimented with new hobbies, learned new new technology and learned who and what are our highest priorities. We can't be sad about that. Find the good, focus on that and enjoy the rest of 2020. I'll be back after Christmas.
This weekend was sewing weekend with my quilt club.
These are the blocks that I'm working on and this is the layout from the book. I love making the blocks but I'm not loving the quilt so far. But I persevered and made even more blocks this weekend. I'm thinking of this quilt as a possible king size to gift to a friend who loves green.
The other quilters and I talked about some different options. One was to make a square block instead of the rectangle from the pattern. I laid these blocks out alternating the orientation of the block and arranging them in a light to dark gradient based on the green frames. If it becomes king sized then this would be 1/4 of the quilt with the lower left corner as the center.
This is sort of the same thing but in columns. I kind of like the columns.
I then took both of these photos and roughly cropped and arranged them to see how it might look as a whole quilt.
I think this has some possibilities and I think I like the one in alternating squares better than the vertical stripes. What do you think?
I'm going to play around in EQ a bit. I'm getting to the point that I do need to know how many blocks I need to make. Although extra blocks can always be made into veterans quilts.
This week I have a few more coaster sets to make and them I'll get on to working on the last Christmas gift that doesn't actually have to be done by Christmas.
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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.