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Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Halloween Quilting

This wonderful design is from Jedi Craft Girl, although I ended up sketching my own tree.  And for several uninteresting reasons, I also made it a bit smaller.

I was determined to get this up over the mantle by the middle of the month, so that meant machine quilting, never my forte.  After quilting around the tree and cat, I opted to stipple-quilt the background.  On the one hand, it does a great job of making the moon, tree, and cat pop and it adds a lovely texture.  On the other hand, I suck at it, which is frustrating.  Some of it simply has to do with practice -- this part, done towards the beginning, is not great:
The stitches run from tiny to enormous, and there are weird lines and cross-overs where I lost control of the rhythm. But other sections are much better:

But then there is my inability to properly baste a quilt, which leads to unsightly puckering:

And then there is this lovely spot on the back in a corner, the result of trying to rush through before my kids came home, and discovered too late to fix:
Bad for quilting, but kind of a neat effect
Finished is better than perfect, and it's not like I'd ever submit this for judging, but it is still disappointing.  Some things I do very, very well, and others ... not so much.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

The Bookshop on the Corner by Jenny Colgan

What a delightful fantasy this book turned out to be! Nina is a librarian who loses her job due to budget cuts.  Impulsively, she buys a large truck, fills it with books rescued from the library, and moves up to a quaint little town in Scotland to drive around selling books to people with no libraries and no book stores.  She falls in love with the land, helps a troubled teen, meets a couple of potential love interests, and wins over the locals by selecting the perfect book for each one.  By the end of the novel, I began seriously consider looking into permit laws and regulations in NYC (it would certainly solve the rent-is-too-damned-high problem for bookstores here.)

The story is told from Nina's perspective, but every once in a while Colgan would shift to another (minor) character, and give us a couple of paragraphs from that perspective.  It broadened the world of the novel for me, showing that there are other stories -- difficulties, heartbreaks, happily-ever-afters -- going on off stage.  Colgan is a smart, engaging writer, and I look forward to reading other works of hers.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Halloween Woolwork

The pattern is Betz White's "Autumn Sampler." I used linen fabric, wool felt, and Caron Collection's Watercolours thread.  It is temporarily in my quilting hoop; I haven't decided yet whether to make that permanent.


This was a lot of fun to stitch!  I'm looking forward to making some of White's ornaments, too.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Halloween Cross-Stitching

A swirly pumpkin, from the 2016 Halloween issue of Just Cross Stitch, designed by Angela Pullen:
It's part of a whole series, nine total, but as tempted as I am to make them all it probably won't happen.

A stitchy witch by M Designs, from the 2012 Halloween issue:

"Haunted House," a free design by the Snowflower Diaries (stitched last year, finished today):

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Tempting Treasures

The August issue of Bead & Button had a lovely set of earrings designed by Bonnie Riconda, "Tempting treasures wire frame earrings."  The wirework was as basic as can be and clearly explained, yet I still managed to screw it up, resulting in some, uh, textured frames.  I chose coral, ruby, amber, amethyst, and dyed turquoise beads.  For fun, I arranged the beads differently in each earring.
The color is better
The clarity is better

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout

Olive Kitteridge is a collection of linked stories, most set in a Maine town and all either featuring or mentioning the title character.  Strout captures the feel of a small New England town, and each story is moving in its depiction of the ordinary pleasures and heartbreaks of life.  But it is Olive herself who is the standout of the collection.  She is unlike any other female character I have encountered -- brittle, complicated, abrasive, passionate, and hurting.  She can be remarkably insightful in some ways, as when she acknowledges how much fear rules her life, or with her ability to see right to the heart of people she has only just met.  Yet she can be unthinkingly cruel, and is frustratingly blind to the effect her manner has on others.  Given how often people inanely debate whether a female character is "likeable," Olive Kitteridge is a revelation.  These stories, and Olive herself, are utterly captivating.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Mmm ... Donuts ...

The one on the left is made of felt, pattern from the Winter 2010 issue of Quilts and More. The right is crocheted, from the issue 65 of Mollie Makes (I modified the pattern slightly by replacing some of the single crochet stitches in the last round of the frosting with double and triple crochets, to add an organic feel).