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Friday, August 19, 2016

Jewelry Round-Up

A woven, beaded bracelet:
Whoever created the pattern was really committed to having it be photo only, with no written instructions, which left out some minor steps I had to figure out myself.  The finished product has a wonderful feel, and I want to make another in opaque colors.

 A Byzantine chain in colored aluminum rings:
 I bought the rings originally in the hopes of finishing the chain mail pendant I've been working on, but I foolishly bought the wrong size (I mixed up inner and outer diameters).  So I made a bracelet instead.  The rings are a slightly finer gauge than what works best for this weave, but they make for a fun accessory.

A bead soup necklace:

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld

I first learned of Eligible not through a review, but an article defending the novel against a review; Waldman did such a good job selling the book, I had to read it myself.  And she's completely right -- Curtis Sittenfeld wrote a fun, compulsively readable update of Pride and Prejudice, similar to Clueless in its witty, contemporary retelling. 

What sometimes gets lost in the adaptations of and riffs on Pride and Prejudice is that the novel wasn't just about the couples; Austen used the romances to make a sharp critique of the world she lived in.  Sittenfeld, in updating the story, does not neglect that, and the novel is filled with clever and amusing insights into the concerns of a certain segment of 21st century America -- celebrity worship, consumerism, status-seeking, authenticity, sex, marriage, motherhood.  Of course the gossipy country society of Austen's time is replaced by reality shows.  Of course Darcy is a fancy-pants doctor, Liz is a writer, and Mary is a perpetual grad student.  Of course the Bennets are a upper middle class family, hit hard by the recession but struggling to hide it from their richer neighbors.

Sittenfeld also fleshes out some of the more minor characters, adding complexity to Lydia, Kitty, and the two Wickham stand-ins. She can be merciless in her dissection of the characters, but she never forgets their humanity.

There were some flaws; I can't believe Jane would ever agree to be on a reality show, and Charlotte's relationship with Cousin Willie deserved a bit more fleshing out, given that marriage is not now the economic necessity it has been in the past.  And while having both Liz and Darcy decide they never want children was interesting, having them each give a little lecture about it, hitting every major talking point, was awkwardly done.  But these are minor complaints, and I highly recommend Eligible to Austen fans and non-fans alike.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Folkloric Embroidery

Last year I got Clare Youngs' Folk Art Needlecraft, but as I wrote then I found the information on different styles of folk art disappointing.  The patterns themselves, however, were not disappointing at all, and I had a great deal of fun stitching nine lovely designs.  I sewed them all into a banner to hang over my bay window:

Close-ups of the different panels:

I also had a lot of fun trying new-to-me stitches, like the palestrina stitch, chemanthy stitch, knotted cretan stitch, whipped lazy daisy stitch, and something from a Russian website with no information that I'll call a whipped thistle stitch.

I tried for days to get a good picture of the entire banner, but the lighting -- exterior and interior -- wouldn't cooperate.  The (pathetic) best I could do:
It looks so much better in person.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

"This is a good cure for when you're bored!"

So said Beadboy2, when I introduced him to perler beads.  He's gone nuts making weapons and other doodads inspired by Minecraft:
He likes to iron the heck out of them

It's been a busy summer, filled with doctor's appointments, therapy sessions, official forms to fill out, and meetings with DOE officials, plus whatever free activities I could find to entertain Beadboy2.  I'm glad he has another outlet for his creativity.

I made a couple of doodads, too:
I need to practice my ironing technique, too
I'd like to finished the perimeter of the Grandmother's Flower Garden pattern, if I can get more turquoise beads (I used up a lot making that diamond sword).  The trio of purple flowers might make a cute pendant.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Summer Stitching

This was the "Loves Me" kit from M Designs.  To finish it, I sewed on a narrow calico border, then backed it with a purple gerbera print, giving it a wide faux binding.

'Tis the season to move on to Halloween stitching.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Sew Charming

The Charm Bracelet wasn't a very good book, but it did inspire me to dig out the silver sewing machine charm I had forgotten about.  With it I found a scissors charm, and I had a theme for a necklace:

I found lots of bobbin jewelry on pinterest to inspire me, and all those holes in the bobbin were just begging to be adorned with lavender swarovski crystals, silver Bali beads, and a pewter thimble:

Placing the jump ring for the chain on the back of the bobbin helps the necklace to stay positioned correctly.  

I love it when books, sewing, and jewelry come together.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Book Round-Up

The Fortune Quilt by Lani Diane Rich: TV producer Carly encounters a psychic quilter (yup) whose advice turns her life upside down.  I think this novel suffered from the restrictions of its chick lit genre -- short and frothy story with a happy ending.  I would have preferred a longer novel that spent far more time on the relationship between Carly and her estranged mother, and the artists' community she finds herself in.

The Cruelest Month by Louise Penny: This is the third in Penny's mystery series, but the first for me; I couldn't resist the title.  Penny's writing is highly literate and descriptive, filled with characters who are mostly unlikeable but fully realized and fascinating.  There was a sub-plot about the police department that managed to be both compelling and distracting from the main mystery. Apparently that storyline continues through all the novels, making me less likely to seek out the other books in the series -- like I wrote, it was interesting but not so much that I want to read so much more about it.

The Charm Bracelet by Viola Shipman: Shipman structures this story about mothers and daughters around the charms on a bracelet.  It can be an effective way of telling a story, and the characters themselves were interesting, but ... this was not a good book.  It had too many cliches and was poorly written. Misused words, an overabundance of adjectives and adverbs, and awkward sentences made me wish for a red pen.

Midnight in Austenland by Shannon Hale: I didn't even realize this was a sequel when I picked it up, but reading the first is not necessary for one's enjoyment.  It's your standard divorced-woman-needs-to-get-her-groove-back story (why are ex-husbands always such unrepentant jerks?) set in a Jane Austen theme park (do those exist? I bet they'd be very successful), with an Agatha Christie-ish mystery thrown in for good measure.  Said mystery was a little implausible and the book suffered from a surfeit of endings, but it was witty and enjoyable, even laugh-out-loud funny in parts.

The Heroines by Eileen Favorite: The conceit -- heroines from novels occasionally show up in our world to take a well-needed break at Anne-Marie's inn before returning to their fates -- is excellent, and the novel handles the themes of feminism, agency, and adulthood well.  A good chunk of the story, however, takes place in an institution where Anne-Marie's thirteen-year-old daughter is confined when no one believes her story about the heroines; it's effective in its own right, but not nearly as interesting to me as what was going on at the inn.