It was another great year of reading. Is there ever a really bad year of reading? As long as there are books I'll be happy. Looking back over 2021, my spreadsheet says that I read 148 books in 2021. That's compares well to 2020 when I read 146 books. Since I started tracking in 1995, I've read 1757 books. Most are Audiobooks but I do pick up a paper book from times to time. I'm surprised I read so many this year since I've also developed a Podcast habit.
According to my spreadsheet, these are these were my favorite books of the year:
All The Lonely People by Mike Gayle
Ship of Gold by Gary Kinder
The Girl Behind the Gates by Brenda Davies
Chronic by Stephen Phillips
The Indigo Girl by Natasha Boyd
Riders of the Purple Sage by Zane Grey
Feast of Sorrows by Crystal King
This Tender Land by William Kent Krueger
The Fossil Hunter by Shelley Emling
We may not agree on what makes a good book and what makes a bad book so I'd be very interested to know your favorite books of 2021.
Here's my report for December. I didn't read as many books as usual but, aside from the 2 DNF books, they were all winners!
15 Seconds by Andrew Gross - The protagonist is supposed to be an intelligent professional but makes 3 really stupid decisions right at the start. I just couldn't follow a stupid character like that for a whole book.
In Search of a Kingdom - By Laurence Bergreen - It might be interesting but the narrator has made it into a sleep aid
Podcasts I enjoyed this month:
This is Actually Happening - Each episode tells a remarkable story of a survivor. The only speaker is the person who had the experience so you know that they survived whatever they went through. Recent episodes tell the stories of a woman who found out that her father wasn't her biological father, a man who survived living in public housing and doing drugs who became a prominent member of the community and a young woman why was abducted and raped. It's actually a quite uplifting podcast.
Myths and Legends by Jason and Carissa Weiser. Jason retells myths from all sorts of cultures but with a modern method of telling. He makes mythology relatable. I think kids might enjoy this one.
The Good Son
By Michael Gruber, Read By Neil Shah
Sonia Laghari is a religious woman (practicing Muslim and Catholic) and a Jungian psychologist. She and several other professionals are on at a peace symposium in Afghanistan when they are abducted by terrorists who may have stolen nuclear materials.
Sonia's son, Theo, grew up in Pakistan but is now an American and ex-Delta Force soldier. He is trying to use his wealthy Laghari family members and military connections to rescue his mother before it's too late. The terrorists are beheading one captive each time American kill Afghan
That summary makes this sound like a straight forward spy/mystery/thriller but it's a lot more than that. It (possibly) provides insight into Arab culture and the book reflects on philosophy, religion, psychology, anthropology, and political theory. Gruber does a masterful job of discussing issues from all sides. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
The Long and Faraway Gone
By Lou Berney, Read By BRian Hutchison and Amy McFadden
I read Berney's November Road back in September and liked it so I decided to give this one a try. This book explores how victims of violent crime affects the survivors. The crimes were two events in Oklahoma City in 1986. In one, a young woman was abducted from the state fair leaving her younger sister abandoned. In the second, a mass shooting/robbery at a small movie theater leaves 1 person alive. Neither crime was solved.
Twenty five years later, Wyatt, the theater survivor is a private investigator in Las Vegas but is sent to Oklahoma City on a case and it reopens old wounds and questions. Juilanna finds out that one of the original suspects has resurfaced and is determined to get answers from him.
I mostly liked this book but found the intersection of the two storylines to feel kind of forced and only for the purpose to make two short stories into one novel. It kind of jumped all over the place with 2 time periods and 2 storylines in each.
Andy Warhol was a Hoarder
By Claudia Kalb, Read By Lisa Larsen
The cover is deceiving. This book is NOT humorous. It's an exploration of various mental illnesses as told through the stories of celebrities through history. Many of the celebrities (Einstein, Lincoln, Howard Hughes, etc.) were not every officially diagnosed with any of these mental illnesses.
In the end, it was actually very interesting and at the end of each chapter it explores the pros and cons of treating some of these "illnesses". For example, when we treat an entire generation of children with ADHD medicine do we lose some important creative geniuses?
It was a good book but it's serious and not light-hearted.
By Nick Petrie, Read By Stephen Mendel
This is the 6th book in the Peter Ash series and, in my opinion, they get better each time. This series is best reading order because Peter Ash's history and development through the books is important.
In this book Peter, his girlfriend, June, and their friend Lewis are in the wrong place at the right time and are able to interrupt a crime that put a lot of school children at risk. Unfortunately, Peter needs to be low profile and this doesn't help.
They find themselves involved in a big tech theft and arms development problem. The book starts fast and keeps up the pace. Book 7 comes out in January and I can't wait.
The Woman in Red
By Diana Giovnazzo, Read By Edita Brychta
I don't know who recommended this book but I'm glad it was brought to my attention. This is a historical fiction account of Anita Garibaldi. She was the wife and partner of the famous hero of the Brazilian Resistance, Guiseppe Garibaldi. There are/were statues to her in Brazil and Italy honoring her heroics in fighting alongside her husband. (I said "were" because who knows what statues still stand anywhere after the last 2 years.)
The book was a fun read but does have a bit of a romance novel storyline going through it. I didn't mind that because she is such a fascinating character.
By Dennis Lehane, Read By Jonathan Davis
This is the 3rd book in the Kenzie and Gennaro series. I have not read the first 2 and only got this one because it was on a Chrip deal one day. I will mention that the Chirp description of the plot of this book is all wrong! It's the description for Book 4. But, no worries, it's still a good read.
Trevor Stone is a billionaire who is dying and his only heir, his daughter, is missing. He's hired Kenzie and Gennaro to find her.
The trail starts in Boston, travels to Florida and back as they investigate a corrupt grief therapy organization and search for the missing daughter. Along the way it's hard to figure out the good guys for the bad. If was fast paced and fun.
I haven't read a Lehane book since 2006 but I think I'll get more in this series.
Find Your First
By Linwood Barclay, Read By George Newbern
Barclay's books, in my opinion are hit or miss. I hated Broken Promise but loved No Time For Goodbye. Fortunately, Find Your First was a winner for me.
Miles Cookson is a tech millionaire but once in his life he was financially strapped and donated sperm to make a few extra dollars. It's now 20+ years later and he's just found out that he has Huntington's Disease and he wants his "children" to know and to take care of them. He finds out that there are 9 and his wealth gets him access to the names. He's told his brother, and only heir, that he will be cared for but that the majority of his wealth will go to these 9 people. The brother's wife is not happy about that.
As Miles is searching, one of his children, Chloe, is searching for her biological father and finds someone who is a half brother. She and Miles eventually connect but a lot of things start going bad very quickly.
It was a fun ride with lots of twists and turns and a very spectacular ending involving a Winnebago.
Currently in process
I'm finishing out the month/year with a couple of small projects. The first is a set of placemats. I was cleaning out my postcard supplies and found that printed fabric and decided to whip up some placemats. I love how they are coming together and I should have these done next week.
On the crochet front I wasn't ready to start a big project so I decided to spend a couple of weeks just making chemo hats. I have a few more to do and then I'll post about them in the next week or so. I have a lot of notes that I need to write up so that I can remember these when I make the next batch of hats.
That's about all of the excitement around here this week and it's just the way I like it!
The doll outfits!
I've had these ready for a week or so but wanted to wait to share them until I gifted them and could get model photos. Ella was THRILLED with both outfits and I'm thrilled that they fit so well.
Ella's favorite color is pink so I knew this one would be popular. The pink silk fabric came from one friend and the glitter fabric from another. It's the ReadCreations Reversible Dress. It's a good pattern but the fabric raveled like crazy so it was a little difficult to work with. The little sash on the solid pink side is a piece of ribbon from my stash that I turned into a sash by adding a snap closure. Her eyes nearly popped out of her head when she opened the box and saw all that pink.
I actually made this little hippie outfit months ago but needed the accessories. The shirt is the California Baja pattern and it was very easy to make. If you take a close look below you can see how the stripes in the fabric match up across the pocket. That was a complete happy accident! I also made a second pair of pants in dark orange denim.
My SIL made the bracelet. The purse and boots are from this Pamela Barton pattern and the headband is from this YouTube video. Apparently this particular doll has a guitar so this outfit was perfect. She also had a leather skirt and denim jacket for quick changes.
The dolls really creep me out but making the outfits is fun. Ella's joy is a bonus.
Year end Gradient sale!
Before we get to the sale I'm excited to introduce a new Gradient. I was searching images on the internet one day looking for color inspiration and I happened upon an image of peacock feathers. That was it! I hope you can see the influence in this new gradient called Peacock. I'm really happy with this one and am starting to think of a project that I might be able to do with it.
Other Gradients back in Stock
I wanted to make sure that 2 of the most popular gradients are back in stock before I had a year end sale. Sundance is the gradient that I use in my header and business communications. On The Horizon has become one of the most popular gradients since being released a couple of years ago. It's one of my favorites too.
Patricia Caldwell used On The Horizon in her star quilt. She made a couple of quilts in this style and it's on my list of projects that I want to make in 2022.
Now, let's get to the big news!
Year End Gradient Sale!
I'm wishing you a very peaceful end to 2021 and a very happy and inspired new year!
I hope you all had a great holiday weekend. Ours was lovely and quiet. The weather was really warm so we were able to take a hike Christmas morning and the rest of the weekend I was able to make some things! One thing turned into another and the next thing you know I had a lot done.
First I got 2 veterans quilts quilted. I think most of you know by now that we quilt them in pairs. So I loaded one back and quilted both at the same time. When I make my veterans quilts I generally make them 2 at a time just for this reason. These are from that big stash of patriotic batiks that I bought last year. I've almost made my way through all of that fabric.
I quilted it with the star/ribbon pantograph with red thread. My current favorite "workhorse" thread is Innovatech. I still like So Fine a lot but the Innovatech is a just little beefier so it shows up more.
I only had 2 more quilt tops in the closet so loaded and quilted them. One is this one that I made with strips of leftover hand dyed backing fabric from other veterans quilts and leftover strips of waste fabric from the Big Green quilt. I adore this quilt! I will make more of these this year. I think it sparkles.
I love to quilt diagonal blocks like this. It's really fast and makes a great pattern on the back.
The other quilt in that pair is this one make by one of our club members. The quilting wasn't going to show so I did a quick stipple. I don't have to bind this one.
Then I had more time one afternoon and decided to tackle all of these batting scraps. I don't think I had let the batting scrap bags get out of control this much before.
It made 8 pet beds for my friend to deliver to Richmond Animal League!
Finally, last night I remembered this scrap blanket that I started last year. I decided to add the rest of the scrap balls that I had and finish it off to be another pet blanket for donation. I have a few old blankets (not quilts) in my closet that I'm going to cut down and serge and make into more blankets for them. I like finding new homes for things I don't need anymore.
Now I'm busy planning my next crochet project and I've started doing just a little cleaning and reorganizing in the sewing room. How are you spending the last week of 2021?
Chris' blanket is done!
I had no expectations to finish this blanket before February. When I started it seemed like such a big and overwhelming project. Instead it was fast and easy and only took about 5 weeks!
You can see it all spread out here and it's huge! It measures 58" x 76". He can wrap one end around his feet and snuggle the other end under his chin. It's so soft and squishy too!
I love how the yarn transitions colors. It actually made making it more fun make. I didn't get bored because I enjoyed watching how the colors change.
Here are all the details because I will make this one again:
Cascade Cartwheel Yarn, 9 balls, color 09 - San Diego, about 2900 yards
Pattern from BagODay Crochet, pattern repeat is 8 stitches plus 3
I used a K hook and chained 171 stitches, after 7, 8 and 9 balls I'd hold it up and ask Chris if it was long enough. It was long enough after 9 balls and I have 2 left over. I finished with a row of single crochet.
Visiting the Christmas ornaments
Yesterday we took Mom to my brother's house and I got to see my ornaments in their new home!
I can honestly say, that they never looked this good on my rotating trees! They belong on a white tree and Carol loves having them. I'm sure my brother doesn't care one way or the other and I'm cool with tha.
You can click on any of these photos to see close ups of some of the ornaments. I think she has around 110 of them and they really fill the tree nicely.
The best news is that more people have seen them in the last 2 weeks than in the past 5 years combined and that makes me the happiest. I made them to be seen and enjoyed and now they are.
Carol also made some really cute jewelry for Ella's doll outfits that I'll share tomorrow or Monday.
I worked on the pink doll dress yesterday and proceeded to sew the wrong skirt to the wrong bodice (it's a reversible dress). these things are hard to make so I wasn't about to take it apart. Instead I walked away for the evening. I've figured out a solution and it will be just as pretty (if you like fluorescent pink). I'll get it finished this afternoon, I think.
Meanwhile, the tie dyeing that I did last week for the boys is done! It took almost 3 days of soaking to process these blue dyes. Each of the 3 boys gets a spider shirt because they all love Spiderman. The oldest boy loves blue so his second shirt is a blue spiral and it's probably the best spiral I've ever made.
The two younger boys each get shirts like these. They both love red and blue.
Ella's brother is Eli. I see a lot more of these 2 so I did 2 more shirts for him. These were done with Dye Magnet and stamps and stencils.
This is all that I have left to do on Chris' blanket! It might get done during the Eagles game tonight, especially of the Eagles don't play well. When it's done it will have almost 3000 yards of yarn in it!
My normal daily routine is to get up (not early), pack orders and exercise. This morning I was laying in bed deciding what type of exercise I wanted to do today and decided on the recumbent bike while watching some Netflix. But I just couldn't bear sitting on the bike and having to see the dead bugs and cobwebs in the basement corner. The next thing I know, I've traded off exercise and vacuumed the entire basement which was a lot more work than riding the bike, watching Netflix and ignoring the bugs. But the basement looks great, well, great for a basement.
Then I had the great idea to wash the Finally! quilt again to soften it up some more. I just love sleeping under this quilt. It's so heavy and warm, just like I want. But I was reminded why I never buy Kona cotton fabric anymore. This stuff, especially the dark colors, must have some sort of lint magnet. There wasn't any lint on the color squares, just on the Kona black. Nothing 5 sheets of sticky roller couldn't solve but annoying nonetheless.
Then I had breakfast!
This weekend was reasonably productive too. I admit that I'm mostly focused on Chris' crochet blanket. It will be done in a couple of day! But when I needed to take breaks I also got 2 Rail Fence veterans quilts quilted. After I finish the project below I'll get these trimmed and bound. Then I have 2 more ready to quilt.
There were also a couple of breaks to make some accessories for this outfit that I made for Ella's doll earlier this year. I don't know what I was saving it for but I decided that it will be part of her Christmas gift. This doll will be a proper little hippie.
The main part of her Christmas gift is getting made this afternoon. It's PINK!
I'll get through it.....
I didn't post yesterday because I didn't really have anything to post. I haven't been doing much "making". We had a friend over for an early Christmas dinner Wednesday night. Yesterday was dyeing day and today I'm running a lot of errands. But I'm ready for a weekend of creative stuff!
First, this afternoon I will drop off FORTY FIVE more veterans quilts! Our little quilt club has made 123 quilts for our veterans this year. That's a lot of love right there.
That stack motivated me to get started on a new for 2022 stack so my weekend will include getting these 2 quilts quilted and bound.
I also will work on the Christmas gifts for my SILs grandchildren. It started with Spiderman themed (blue and red) tie dye shirts for the boys.
Then it's on to the candy pink. I picked this pattern for the dress. The pattern can be made reversible and I might do that. Thank you to the people who got my comment about these fabrics making my teeth hurt! I hope I can get through the making of the dress.
One of my exercise sessions for the weekend will be stacking the wood that Chris chopped. That will be a good arm and back workout. The weather is supposed to be lovely so it will be nice to be outside.
I hope you have a great weekend!
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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.