What a weird book month to end 2023! Thanks to The Running Grave it wasn't a total disaster. I only finished 4 books and that's for two reasons. First, The Running Grave is over 30 hours long so it almost counts as 3 books. Secondly, I've spent way too much time in the YouTube rabbit hole the past couple of months. That happens when I am reading books that I don't love so I avoid the books with other distractions. I"m sure that January will be better.
Let me know the good books that you have read. I may need to revisit my wish list!
Olga Dies Dreaming by Xochiti Gonzales - I thought it was going to be an interesting book about Puerto Rico history and culture. Instead it's a litany of social justice and feminist grievances by people who have had great opportunities and successes.
The Running Grave
By Robert Galbraith, Read By Robert Glenister
This is #7 in the Cormoran Strike series and, IMHO, it's a huge improvement over the 6th book that had a lot of online chat room conversations. In The Running Grave, Cormoran Strike and his partner, Robin Ellacott, are hired to try to get a man's son out of a cult. This required Robin to go undercover in the cult. There are several side stories with parallel investigations, the agency being stalked and the romantic tension between Strike and Robin,
I really enjoy this series but you have to love a long book to get into these. This book clocked in at 34 hours and I didn't mind a minute of it. Let's face it, JK Rowling can write!
A Stranger at the Door
By Jason Pinter, Read by Angela Dawe
This is #2 in the Rachel Marin series. I read the first book, Hide Away, in January. I liked the first book. Usually the second book is a series is even better. This one, however, was a let down.
Rachel is sort of a detective. She's not officially a detective but she sure thinks that she's smarter and better than all of the other detective in her town, including her boyfriend. She's also an over-protective and annoying Mom, an unlicensed "doctor" who can assess every medical crisis, heals from concussions overnight, has superhuman strength and throws tantrums when she doesn't get her way. She is massively unlikable.
The story opens when one of her son's teachers is brutally murdered. Soon the 14-year-old son starts coming home late and sneaking out at night. She's uber-security conscious and has the whole house wired with cameras and trackers so she figures out where he is going. She seems to think it's a good idea to confront the man who has recruited him for something that is never really explained.
I should have DNFed this book but I held out to finish it and it never got better. The character is too annoying to read any more if there ever is another in the series.
By Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, Read By Sneha Mathan
This is the second book that I've read by Divakaruni and she tells another good story about the history of India. This one centers on 3 daughters growing into adulthood around the time of India's independence from Great Britain and the partitioning of Pakistan.
Priya helps her father in his medical clinic and she dreams of being a doctor herself one day. Deepa is beautiful and has fallen in love with a Muslim and Jamini is a quiltmaker with her mother and is the sister often left out. When India and Pakistan are partitioned the sisters find themselves separated and fear that the separation might be permanent.
I didn't love this one as much as I loved The Last Queen but it was still a very good book with richly developed characters that seem real for the time. I would definitely read more by this author.
Hope on the Inside
By Marie Bostwick, Read By Hillary Huber
I'll be honest, I didn't enjoy this book. I'm not even sure why I bought it. It's definitely not my genre. I must have picked it because there's a quilt theme.
Hope and her husband, Rick are empty nesters and Rick has suddenly lost the job that he's loved. This sends them into a bit of an emotional and financial tailspin. Hope eventually gets a part time job teaching crafts at a women's prison to help make ends meet. Through a quilting project she starts to bond with some of the inmates.
It's a fine book if you like a good easy read where dramas aren't too bad and everything works out in the end. But the characters are kind of flat and totally predictable.
The last inspiration post of 2023 is brought to us by Patricia Caldwell. The pattern is from a class taken with Bethanne Nemesh Breaking Boundaries with Blended Quilts 2023. She used the Gray Gradient, a Stash Pack, Shades Pack and batiks in her quilt.
She even shared soe detail photos of her beautiful quilting.
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.
Here are my last finishes for 2023 and it's appropriate that they are veterans quilts. These two quilts bring my number of veterans quilts quilted to 41. Add ot that the 15 that I made and it was a very good year. These were clearly my priority for the year and I expect that to continue in 2024. I love quilting and making these important quilts.
This quilt was made by Glenda (Mom). She thinks that she going to use up all of the strings in her stash. I think it's a Sisyphean task but it's a very worthy goal.
I quilted this one with free form "straight" lines going back and forth across the quilt. I quilted this one with Superior Rainbow's thread and I didn't have one thread break.
Then I quilted the next one.
This one was made by Peg. I changed to SoFine thread and it gave me fits when moving right to left. I think it might have something to do with the thinness of the thread. But I solved the problem, for now, by only moving left to right.
Someone gifted her this traditional African fabric and I think she said she has enough to make a second quilt. I also free-motion quilted on this quilt and, even with the problems, it went pretty quickly.
I love how the quilting pattern looks on the back!
In other news I took the Sashiko machine to the repair store today. One of the ladies looked at it quickly while I was there and got it un-jammed. More importantly, she showed me how to do it. I wasn't sure if it still needed servicing so she set it up to do some test stitching. She eventually got the technician involved for about 10 minutes and I left with a working machine! The store was All-Brands in Richmond and both ladies were super nice. Unfortunately, they only work on Babylock so I wouldn't be able to take any of my other machines there. But I'm looking forward to playing with this some more.
My main goal for yesterday was to get the second veterans quilt quilted but I seem to be having a little trouble with the longarm. I'm getting thread nests and need to figure out the issue. I might get to that today.
Instead, yesterday I worked on the surgery drain bags and my crochet sweater. This is a set of about 40 bags. I have 60 more cut but these all use gray thread. I got the tops hemmed and the loops added. Next it's back to the serger to stitch the other side. I'll work on them a little each day and they should be done in no time.
Mostly yesterday I watched football and worked on my sweater. I finished the second sleeve and started the bottom ribbing. I need to add a couple more rows and then do the front and neck edging. There's so much football this weekend that I might have this done before Monday.
I really love how this is coming together. It fits perfectly and I think I will wear it a lot. It's even got me interested in making more crochet garments. That's something I was ready to swear off about half way through this project. I'll have to look through my patterns for something summery. As soon as I finish this I'll first get back to the big blanket and workin gthat a while before I start something new.
I had a good day yesterday getting back into my normal groove. I started the day by cutting out a big stack of fabrics for surgery drain bags. I think I have enough for about 100. I also got the grosgrain ribbon cut for the straps.
I got started with the stitching but I don't know if I'll get these finished this week or if they will be an early finish for 2024. The serger makes this job go very quickly and using grosgrain ribbon for the straps speeds it up even more.
I also got the last 2 veterans quilts of 2023 loaded and I expect to get them finished today or tomorrow. I'm having some thread breakage problems so I walked away yesterday and will try again this evening.
The other project that I've been steading working on is my purple sweater. I got the back seamed, one sleeve finished and I'm almost done with the other sleeve. This is intended to be a short sweater. All I'm adding to the bottom is a few inches of ribbing. Then I will just need to do the front edge. The end is in sight.
Not having children means that we don't' do a lot for Christmas but I do usually take the time to just take a few days "off". I don't blog and do want I want, not what's on my to do list. We did get invited to a friend's Christmas afternoon for a couple of fun hours and we spent Christmas morning on a lovely hike along the North Anna river. It was kind of a perfect day!
ON the craft front, I've mostly been watching football and crocheting. I think I'll have my purple sweater ready for an update photo tomorrow. Meanwhile, I have dyed the last of the beach towels. They will be gifted this Saturday. These two are for Ella and Eli. I got the color assignments from their Mom.
Sawyer and Lincoln wanted 3 color beach towels. I had to dye them in a way that the blue would not mix with the yellow and orange. My spirals do square off a bit and I think that's because of the way I tie them. I'll have to work on my tyeing technique for future dyes but I think the kids will be happy with these.
I had one extra towel so I dyed it with splotchy blues. I love this one and will either keep it for myself or set it aside for a future gift.
I still have the serger out from working on the postcards so I decided to start another donation project before I put it away. I'm going to make another big batch of surgery drain bags. With the serger and and production sewing methods, these can be done pretty quickly. I expect I'll have them done in early January. Then I'll make some pet beds before I get back to my normal sewing/quilting schedule.
I hope you had a great holiday weekend, even if you don't' celebrate Christmas. It's just a great time of year for rest and recharging.
Yesterday was "dyeing day" so not much else happened until the evening. 5 of these bins are beach towels for gifts and that's the last of my Christmas making, except for one batch of cookies.
I also dyed a backing for one of my own quilts. I finished the quilt top in 2022 and I need to get it quilted in 2024.
I finally got my hexie cardigan back out and I'm determined to finish it soon. I've gotten the sleeve sean sewn. That took a lot longer to dread doing than the actual doing. Next I'll widen and seam the back.
Then my brother called and decided that I needed to go blind and he's going to accomplish that by make me crochet a black hat for him. I'm appreciating a very bright light right now!
Today is a big day of visiting with friends so I don't expect to have anything to share tomorrow unless it's another crochet update. This weekend Chris and I will have "Christmas dinner" on Saturday but, otherwise, I should be able to get some things accomplished between watching football games.
I got 2 more veterans quilts done this week. These may be the last that I get done this year but It's possible that I get 2 more done next week......we'll see.
This one was made by Mary and I think it's very striking.
She said that she saw a quilt made with this pattern on the web and thought it would be cool if she made the blocks smaller and put 4 of them together. She was right. The secondary pattern where the blocks meet is very cool.
This is a really nice scrap quilt made by Peg. I love monochromatic scrap quilts.
I wasn't quite sure who made the quilt until I saw this shark fabric. I remembered it from another quilt that Peg made several months ago.
Yesterday Mom sent me a photo of her Christmas tree. She has a little tree just outside the door of her apartment and this is her inside tree! Clever.
Every year, as soon as I finish the Christmas cards, I have to get busy making a birthday card for my SIL. Her birthday is the 23rd so it's important that her card not look anything like Christmas. I think I met the challenge with this one! This has turned out to be one of my all time favorite designs, especially since it came together with scraps and leftovers.
I decided that, whatever design I chose, I'd make 4 cards. That will get me through birthdays until March. My design challenge was to use nothing but leftover stuff and it started with a box of fused card blanks. I pulled 4 cards that were already fused with a natural denim.
I decided that I'd try to use some elements from this bin of pre-fused fabric scraps. I keep all of my fused leftovers. They often come in handy!
I didn't use much from that bin but I had enough to cut out some rough floral elements.
Next up I added some outline stitching. I thought about using black thread but I thought that might be too stark. Instead I took the lead from the vase and used dark purple thread. I really liked it and thought this might be the final product. But after some studying, I didn't think it was quite done.
How about some purple and green ricrac? I have a lifetime supply of ricrac!
Some purple edging and they are all done. Carol's is already in the mail.
Yesterday I got started on 2 veterans quilts while the plumber was here installing a new filtration system. I'll get the quilts finished today.
I had some plans but those plans had to be changed. I was going to quilt 2 more veterans quilts but I needed to exchange the 2 I was going to do with Brenda, the other quilter, so quilting didn't happen.
Then I decided to sit down with the Sashiko machine. I got a bobbin wound and, after 4 tries, got it loaded properly. (There's a specific set of steps to get the machine set to sew). Then I decided that I'd do some stitching on postcards since I need to get a birthday card out this week. Look how cool those stitches were looking?
Then there was a loud, unnatural noise and now the machine is stuck. I can't even turn the wheel to bring the hook up and release teh card. I'll be taking the machine to the shop this week for repair. Anne knows all about it and isn't worked up by it at all. She told me to leave it until she gets back but I had plans of things I wanted to make!
Instead of my original plans, I switched to crochet and finished this shawl. I was waiting for this finish before I take a bunch of items to From The Heart later this week. The yarn is Mandala Ombre that I got on a big sale. I have enough in other colorways to make about 3 more shawls.
I even got the leftover yarn added to my scrappy blanket. I hate scrap yarn so I go ahead and add it to a scrappy blanket to use it all up. This will be either a wheelchair blanket or a pet blanket. I'll donate it and let the organization decide where it's needed....once I finish it. I have one of these for each yarn weight (4, 5 and 6) and add whatever I'm working on to the appropriate blanket after every project.
There was a lot of football this weekend so lots of good crocheting time and I also made some progress on the last of the big blankets. This one is for Chris' best friend and I'm about half done.
I also started some new birthday cards because my SIL has a birthday this Friday. I'll have those done to share tomorrow.
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In Bloglovin you need to search "Colorways By Vicki Welsh" to find the blog.
I'm Vicki Welsh and I've been making things as long as I can remember. I used to be a garment maker but transitioned to quilts about 20 years ago. Currently I'm into fabric dyeing, quilting, Zentangle, fabric postcards, fused glass and mosaic. I document my adventures here.