Wednesday, July 31, 2013

{Yarn Along} Graphic the Valley

198 Yards of Heaven is growing in fits and spurts, whenever I find some time alone to knit. It's looking more and more scrunched, but since I'm hoping to have it done in a few more evenings I can't work up the enthusiasm to knit it onto a second needle and spread it out. It won't look right until it's finishing and blocked anyway .

I just finished reading Graphic the Valley by Peter Brown Hoffmeister. This one isn't the type of fiction I usually read -- it's more serious and literary. But the premise, a boy who was born in a secret camp in Yosemite National Park and has never left the place,  really intrigued me.  Tenaya's story is told through flashbacks to his childhood, memories of stories he's told by his father, and his current struggle against the developers who threaten the Yosemite Valley.

Here's the book's description:

Tenaya has never left the Valley. He was born in a car by the Merced River, and grew up in a hidden camp with his parents, surviving on fish, acorns, and unfinished food thrown away by the park’s millions of tourists. But despite its splendor, Tenaya’s Yosemite is a visceral place of opposites, at once beautiful, dangerous, and violent. When he meets Lucy, a young woman from the south side of the park, Tenaya must choose between this new relationship and the Valley, terrorism and legend, the sacred versus the material.
In this modern retelling of Samson and Delilah, the Yosemite Valley becomes the object of a graphic world where mythical strength, worldly greed, love, lust, and epic destruction come together.

Disclosure -- the book was provided by the publisher.  For more pretty knitting projects to drool over, check out On the Needles at Patchwork Times and Work in Progress Wednesdays at Tami's Amis

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Meet Elizabeth!

I didn't make the blocks for this week's baby quilt, but they were passed along to me with the plan that I'd put them together into one. I wrote about my plans in this post.

If I learned anything making this project it was, maybe, that I should check the measurements when putting together someone else's blocks. They weren't the same size, but by the time I figured that out I was far enough into the layout that I decided to keep plugging ahead. The corners mostly match and, after quilting, it lays flat.

And did I mention that it's really cute? I wish I could take credit for putting this one together.

I'll be linking up to I Gotta Try That, Sew Much Ado, Finish it Up Friday, Can I get a Whoop Whoop?Get Crafting Friday, Pinworthy Projects, and Freedom Fridays. and Hooking Up With HOH.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Any guesses?

It's amazing how even a little bit of a break can help you regroup. I spent Saturday at the river with the kids and Sunday morning, before heading back down to the river to meet up with another mom, I pulled fabric and cut squares and assembled this little baby quilt top.
Doesn't look much like my usual quilts, does it?

My original plan was to do nine patch blocks with sashing, then I decided to go for a postage stamp layout. That wide green border is going to change soon -- anyone want to guess which new toy I'm getting ready to play with?

To see what other quilters are working on, click over to Design Wall Monday at Patchwork Times.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

a break from quilting

I've spent more time by the river than at my sewing machine this week, but I wound up meeting a Mom who is involved with a local birthing center that could use some baby quilts.

And I remembered to snap a picture of the carved heart that makes my own heart go pitty-pat when I see it. Not that I recommend vandalizing trees, but it looks like this has been there for a long time.

Somewhere, there's a tree with Hubby's and my initials on it. I really should talk him into going on a walk through the park with me to see if we can find it again twenty-some years later. That'd be a neat picture to have!

Weekly Stash Report

Fabric Used this Week: 4 yards
Fabric Used year to Date: 50 3/4 yards
Added this Week: 0 yards
Added Year to Date: 229 1/4 yards
Net Added for 2013: 178 1/2 yards

Yarn Used this Week: 0 yards
Yarn Used year to Date: 2050 yards
Yarn Added this Week: 0 yards
Yarn Added Year to Date: 8700 yards
Net Added for 2013: 6650 yards

For more stash reports, head over to Patchwork Times.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

{Whatcha Reading?} Medium Rare and Death Takes a Holiday

I've been happily reading about things that go bump in the night.

Medium Rare by Meg Benjamin is the second in the Ramos Family Medium Trilogy.  Rose Ramos inherited her grandmother's house along with the family ghost, Skag. Following in the footsteps of her ancestors, she uses him as a link to the other side and opens Locators Inc., a business which finds lost belongings and information that no one else is able to find. When a reporter posts an ad looking for a research assistant to investigate a celebrity medium, Rose takes the job, carefully hiding her own abilities and history.  The spiritual goings on and séances intrigued me, but I couldn't get into the romance element. The chemistry between Rose and Evan didn't quite convince me. A couple of times, I wanted to smack the man.  I haven't read the first book in the trilogy, but this one stands on its own.

Death Takes a Holiday by Jennifer Harlow is the third book in the F.R.E.A.K.S. Squad series. I haven't read the others, and I don't think this one was the best to start with. Beatrice Alexander can kill with her mind, but she can't sort out the love triangle she's managed to form with a vampire and a werewolf. The tension is tearing apart the government agency that they all work for, so she goes home to celebrate Christmas with her family. And, while she's there, she runs into trouble with a vampire lord and a troll.  I definitely would have enjoyed this one more if I'd understood the backstory between the characters.

Disclosure -- both books were provided by the publishers. I'm linking up to It's Monday! What Are You Reading? at Book Journey.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Let's Make Baby Quilts! {week 30}

I've got a new baby quilt tutorial for you this week -- Buzz!  I had so much fun with the stars, and so much trouble deciding on a layout, that I'm thinking up more astronaut names for the next batch of baby quilts.

My original plan was to back this one with some flannel that has stars and moons and rocket ships, but while I was digging that piece out I found the robot dinosaurs. And what started out as an attempt to use up a stupid purchase turned out to be a combination that I really like.

I don't think I'd buy this fabric again today, but it's nice enough cotton and really does look pretty cute with this quilt.
Let's Make Baby Quilts Linky Party Rules:

Link directly to your post or specific Flickr photo. Your post can be about a baby quilt that's finished, or in progress, or you can be writing about what you have planned, but it's got to be about baby quilts. While we're still gathering steam, you're welcome to link to baby quilt posts that aren't brand new, but please don't submit the same post or picture more than once. I'd love it if you linked back to my site, either with a text link or the Let's Make Baby Quilts! button.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Will work for vintage Pyrex!

When I was helping a friend move a few weeks ago, she decided that she had too many bowls and needed to get rid of a bunch -- including this stack of gorgeous old Pyrex beauties.
They live with me now, and I absolutely adore them.

I don't share her problem off too many bowls, which seems odd since she's got a slightly larger family and does a lot more cooking than I do. Maybe it's because at any given time I've got a few sitting on the table with fabric scraps sorted into them?

This post is linked to Time Travel ThursdayTreasure Hunt ThursdayVintage Thingie Thursday, and Ivy and Elephants.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

{Yarn Along} Are you a bargain shopper?

When it comes to my yarn and fabric, I've always been a bargain hunter. The yarn I'm using for these socks, Patton's Stretch, is from a Black Friday sale. On Thanksgiving a few years back, after everyone had eaten and the dishes were done, I ran out to Michaels and got two skeins of each color they had in stock. It sat in my stash for ages, but now I'm glad to have it.

I still watch for good prices, but I don't clip coupons unless they're in the Joann's flyer or I'm planning a trip to Michaels.

I was going to say that I'd stopped planning out dinners around the weekly sales, but that's not quite true. I stop at the store with a good meat department and make a trip down the aisle to see what the  deals are. If there's something great I plan meals around it. Other than that, I buy my groceries at the three stores that have decent prices. If  we still lived in town and I had quick access to a dozen different grocery stores, I'd probably do things differently.

The main characters in the mysteries I've been reading this week are some serious bargain hunters!

A Deal to Die For is the second book in the Good Buy Girls series.  Maggie Gerber is hoping to buy some of Vera Madison's fabulous vintage clothing to stock her new resale shop, but when Vera is found dead, Maggie finds herself in a tangle of old secrets and new hostilities. Unlike 50% Off Murder, the first book in the series, this one focuses more on the murder and characters than the shopping. 

Eternally 21 is the first in a new series -- the Mrs. Frugalicious Shopping Mysteries. Maddie Michaels is working hard to maintain her family's standard of living after her husband, a finance expert with his own television show, loses their nest egg in a Ponzi scheme. She's become an absolute pro at clipping coupons and scouting out sales and runs a successful blog to share her tips with a growing audience of readers.

Keeping up appearances means keeping her identity as "Mrs. Frugalicious" secret from absolutely everyone, even when an overzealous store manager sees her checking notes in her purse and accuses her of shoplifting. When the woman turns up dead a few hours later and Maddie is seen as a prime suspect, things get even more difficult.

I can't wait for the next book in this series, which according to the author's website is set on Black Friday. Eternally 21 was a great read that kept me guessing and turning pages until the end.  Maggie's efforts to keep her friends and family in the dark and her family afloat until her husband can straighten out  their finances and his career make her a very likable character. She's determined and sometimes frustrated, but she never seems to sink into the self-pity that I've seen in so many other mystery characters lately. But the more Maggie tries to clear her name and get herself out of trouble, the worse things get.

Her disastrous trip to the grocery store convinced me that I'm in no position to try extreme coupons. Even if I did live closer to the stores with the sales, I've got four kids to juggle. No way I'm adding a price bible and coupon file to the mix! I'm pretty good at keeping track of which stores have the best prices on what, but beyond that I think I've got my hands full already.

Another neat thing about this book -- the shopping tips are included as footnotes instead of tacked onto a few pages at the end. If you want a little more information about how Maggie is saving money, it's right there. If not, it's easy enough to skip. I learned a few things while I was being entertained by the mystery!

Disclosure -- the books are from the library.  For more pretty knitting projects to drool over, check out On the Needles at Patchwork Times and Work in Progress Wednesdays at Tami's Amis

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Buzz {a baby quilt tutorial}

Meet Buzz! I've been carrying the idea for this quilt around in my mind for several weeks, waiting for a chance to do some cutting and piecing. If I'd known how quickly the stars would go together, I'd have done it sooner!

(Note: I used the Easy Angle and Companion Angle rulers to construct my flying geese units. You can find more detailed instructions for using the rulers in my Strawberry Stars tutorial. That quilt uses 2" strips, but the general idea is the same. If you've got your own favorite method for making flying geese, use it to make units that will finish at 2x4")

For a 32" square quilt, you'll cut the following from 2 1/2" strips of background fabric and blue prints. I started with ten blue width-of-fabric strips and have plenty left over for the next blue baby quilt.

use the Companion Angle ruler to cut 36 white centers for the flying geese units
use the Easy Angle ruler to cut 72 print half square triangles for the  flying geese units
cut 36 2 1/2" print squares for the star centers
cut 36 2 1/2" white squares for the star corners

Assemble thirty-six flying geese units as shown and nine 4 patch units. Join them into nine sawtooth star blocks.

Using 2 1/2" x 8 1/2" strips of white, assemble the stars into three rows of three stars each.

Add 2 1/2" sashing strips between the three rows.

Add  2 1/2" border strips around the four sides of the quilt.

Quilt and bind. As always, if you make this quilt I'd love for you to send me a picture or link up to my weekly Let's Make Baby Quilts! linky party. There's a list of my free baby quilt tutorials over in the sidebar and you  can find out when new ones are added by either following my blog or liking the Let's Make Baby Quilts Facebook page.

Monday, July 22, 2013

This is so fun!

Have I mentioned how much I love playing with fabric?
I'm cutting and piecing and putting together a tutorial for a new baby quilt. As many different ways as I've seen to make flying geese, my favorite is just to cut the triangles and sew 'em together.

After laying out the pieces to take a picture of them, I want to make a bunch more so I can play with different layouts.

To see more design walls, click over to Patchwork Times.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

I've been shopping my stash

I found a few minutes to slip up to the sewing room yesterday and grab the fabric I want to back this week's baby quilt with. It was there in the box with the other baby quilt backings, right next to a different print that I think I'm going to use instead.

Robot dinosaurs. I don't know when I'm going to make another top that will go with robot dinosaurs, so I'm using 'em up while I've got the chance.
And while I was up there, I grabbed this stack of four inch gingham squares. They're from the thrift store bags and I'm sure they'll make a nifty baby quilt.

I cast on the second sock from the pair I showed you last week and now I'm turning the heel... stockinette socks are great for keeping your hands busy while you're pretending to watch television. I knew I had some self-striping stuff that would be good for the next pair, but then I found this skein.

It's Opal Crocodile, which I absolutely had to have about eight years ago.  It's supposed to self-pattern into kind of a crocodile look, but after reading about knitters who had trouble getting the results they wanted, I tucked this skein into the "too special to actually use" stash.

Weekly Stash Report

Fabric Used this Week: 0 yards
Fabric Used year to Date: 46 3/4 yards
Added this Week: 1 yards
Added Year to Date: 229 1/4 yards
Net Added for 2013: 182 1/2 yards

Yarn Used this Week: 0 yards
Yarn Used year to Date: 2050 yards
Yarn Added this Week: 0 yards
Yarn Added Year to Date: 8700 yards
Net Added for 2013: 6650 yards

To see more stash, click over to Patchwork Times and Finding Fifth.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

{Whatcha Reading?} Hill of Beans

I just finished reading Hill of Beans by John Snyder.

Here's the book's description from Amazon --

JOHN SNYDER'S memoir of growing up in the Depression era south evokes a time gone by. It is written with affection and understanding about people dealing with hard times, sometimes with cruelty, sometimes with violence .. including a mysterious case of arson that forever changed the author's life. In three parts, It is about early childhood among North Carolina mountaineers, living for a time with two eccentric aunts, and growing up on a sharecropper farm before the author went away to college.

It's an interesting glimpse into a different time and way of life, one that I enjoyed reading even though sometimes the author shared more than I was comfortable reading.  If you do decide to read this one, keep in mind that these events happened in a different era and some of them seem awful by today's standards, at least to me. 

Disclosure -- the publisher provided me with a review copy.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Let's Make Baby Quilts! {week 29}

Did you see that it's time for the annual 100 Quilts for Kids charity drive?  Organized by Katie at Swim Bike Quilt, it runs from July 1 through September 30.  Just make a quilt, donate it to a child in need, and join the linky party which runs from September 28-30 2013. You can find the full details in this post.

I'll be putting together a package of quilts for the Down Syndrome Association of Middle Tennessee. You can read about the quilts that Diane is collecting for them at her blog, I dew quilting.

Where do you donate your quilts?

Let's Make Baby Quilts Linky Party Rules:

Link directly to your post or specific Flickr photo. Your post can be about a baby quilt that's finished, or in progress, or you can be writing about what you have planned, but it's got to be about baby quilts. While we're still gathering steam, you're welcome to link to baby quilt posts that aren't brand new, but please don't submit the same post or picture more than once. I'd love it if you linked back to my site, either with a text link or the Let's Make Baby Quilts! button.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

vintage scraps

I see all of the fabric that falls into my custody as a challenge. Sure, some is so awful that it gets tossed without any hesitation or guilt. Some is nice enough, but not for my purposes, and it goes into a bag to get donated back to the thrift store I found it at in the first place.

When it comes to the weird little vintage scraps, I've got a soft spot.  I can't bring myself to toss them, not when they've survived for this long. And I'm afraid that if I put them in the thrift store bag, someone else will toss them.  Like those pieces I wrote about on Sunday. I was determined to use both.

I'm always needing little containers to sort things into, and I've been meaning to make one of these little trash catchers made from discarded jeans ever since I saw them on Bonnie's Quiltville blog three years ago. (I'll even admit that I've had the pair of jeans I'm going to use sitting near my sewing machine for that long. I did eventually use the tops of the legs to back some potholders, so it's not quite as bad as it sounds!)

 There was just enough of this pink floral print to make a little trash catcher. I boxed the bottom corners, lined it in muslin and folded the top down so that all of the seams are finished. Because lately I'm weird that way. If I was going to do it over again, I'd make it a bit wider and shorter, but I was working with the fabric I had.

Does the fact that a piece of fabric is really old make you more likely to hang onto it? Or is it just me?

I'll be linking up to Finish it Up Friday, Can I get a Whoop Whoop?Get Crafty Fridays, House of Hepworths and Freedom Fridays.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

A White Room

Back in May, I had the opportunity to read A White Room by Stephanie Carroll. It wasn't at all what I was expecting. When Stephanie Carroll offered me the opportunity to be part of a blog hop celebrating the book's release, I jumped at the chance, especially since it meant I was able to get my questions about the book answered! 

Did you know about the Doyle-Mounce House before you started writing the book, or did you look for a real house to match your plot? 

I looked for a real house to match. I knew I wanted the house to come to life, and I wanted it to almost be a character in itself, so it was going to need to be unique. I also wanted it to be creepy and kind of gothic, but I also wanted it to be white because the entire story was inspired by this free write I did about a woman trapped in a white room. I tried to make a house up, but I didn’t know enough about Victorian architecture to create a house that would be historically accurate.  

I started searching online for a real one. It turns out finding a white, unique, creepy, goth, Victorian house is really hard! Queen Anne’s are pretty cute, and there’s a whole deco aesthetic of flowery cottage type Victorian houses. I was worried I’d have to settle when I stumbled onto the Doyle-Mounce house and I knew – that was it!  

Scroll through Dave’s Victorian House Site to find a photo of it or do what I do and press Control F and search “Doyle-Mounce” to go directly to it.  

“How could a white house seem so dark?” – Emeline Dorr in A White Room 

The Doyle-Mounce house is a gothic revival from the 1880s. It gets its name from the original builder and the second builder who altered it. I did some research and there was a formula to Victorian houses that the Doyle-Mounce house does not follow. The front doors were usually located at the front center, so they would open up to the massive staircase, a status symbol. Porches were popular and usually wraparounds. Symmetry was also a defining characteristic.

The Doyle-Mounce House, however, has doors located on the far right side and has two porches that are interrupted by bay windows. It appears from the photos that the porch on the left side is inaccessible. Nothing about the house is really symmetrical either. That and the gothic attributes and red brick seeping out from beneath the white paint – it looks like something a Vampire would live in.

The inside of the house is all my creation. I couldn’t find a layout or any photos of the interior of the Doyle-Mounce House online. I tried to make it both historically accurate and strange. I hid the staircase at the back around the corner and put the kitchen in the basement. Basement kitchens were common in the cities, which makes it strange because my story is based in the country. The fact that each room is set off a hallway and accessible by doors was commonplace in most Victorian homes at the time. Open space layouts came later. 

The Doyle-Mounce house is located in Hannibal, Missouri, which is Mark Twain’s hometown. It is small and isolated, so I based my fictional town off of it, but I re-named it Labellum, which means white orchid, because none of what occurs in my story actually occurred in Hannibal.

Where did you find out about that furniture?

I was researching Victorian furniture to make sure I would describe it properly and discovered these pieces that were really creepy and interesting. They were all from the Art Nouveau style.  

This type of furniture is where we get claw-footed tubs and children’s faces carved into wood. The pieces I was drawn to all seemed to have human or animal life forms incorporated into the design, or the piece would have lifelike features. If it didn’t, it would have some type of decoration that suggested movement like winding and curling designs or an effect of melting or dripping. It’s all really weird, dark, and awesome!  

There is a chapter in the novel where my main character, Emeline Dorr, goes into a lot of detail describing the house and furniture. Some people are going to like it and some people are going to hate it, but I did it for a reason. Every piece of furniture or decoration is based on a real piece of Art Nouveau from the Victorian Era.  

I completely decorated each of the fictional rooms with real pieces. Even though there are a lot of in-depth descriptions, it’s not everything that I chose. I couldn’t include all of it in the book. I had scanned and saved photos of all the pieces. I had hoped to put them on my website, but they were all lost when my computer got wiped a few years ago. It was a sad day for research.

Did you know that such things existed when you decided to create a house that would drive your heroine mad? 

No, I didn’t. I discovered things as I researched the book and with each new discovery the story evolved more and more. Initially, I was just going to have the house come to life, but when I found that furniture I had to use it – it already looks like it’s coming to life even if you aren’t going insane.  

What can you tell us about your next book?   

My next book is titled The Binding of Saint Barbara and revolves around the first death by electrocution in 1890. The history of the first death by electrocution in New York’s Auburn Prison is extremely interesting. The fight in the courts over the legality and morality of it, along with Thomas Edison’s involvement and the fate of the prisoner are all interesting enough, but it was the prison warden and his wife that really intrigued me. They lived in the prison and interacted with the condemned prisoner on a daily basis. I followed the history very closely when it came to their story, but I wanted to do more, and that’s where the fiction comes in.  

The main plotline focuses on Charlotte, the warden’s daughter who has the patron saint of lightning trapped inside her body. After witnessing a tree struck by lightning as a child, Charlotte has always had a presence trapped inside her for reasons she’s never understood for her saint can only communicate with her through feelings not words. While her parents are wrapped up in issues of death, Charlotte learns lessons about life after meeting a strange boy outside the prison walls, a boy her saint will not let Charlotte soon forget.  

If anyone is interested in being notified when The Binding of Saint Barbara comes out, join my mailing list.

The history of the warden, his wife, the prisoner, the guards, Edison, are all extremely well documented in news articles, but the existence of the warden’s daughter is only mentioned in the record briefly. I found one photograph of a little girl in the prison courtyard with the warden’s wife. The mystery of her existence makes it so much more intriguing to create this story about her.  

One of the best things about this book is that there is so much history documented. During my research I actually re-discovered a lost piece of history. You can read about it online in the Auburn Citizen.  

How did you go from hysteria to electrocution?  

I didn’t go looking for the story of A White Room – it found me and wouldn’t let me go. When I first came up with the idea for it, I was actually six chapters in to writing a science fiction novel. But then I got the idea, and I couldn’t get it out of my head. 

I was introduced to the history of the first death by electrocution after hearing a tiny blurb about it during a “Modern Marvels” episode on the History Channel. I’m drawn to darker themes so I looked into it, and found that the history itself is one of the most interesting I’ve ever heard. Just like what happened with A White Room – once I had the idea, I couldn’t get it out of my head.

Advanced Praise for A White Room

“A novel of grit, independence, and determination ... An intelligent story, well told.”

—Renée Thompson, author of The Plume Hunter and The Bridge at Valentine

“The best historical fiction makes you forget it’s fiction and forget it’s historical. Reminiscent of The Yellow Wallpaper … the thoughtful, intricate story Carroll relates is absolutely mesmerizing.”

—Eileen Walsh, Ph.D. U.S. Women’s History, University of San Diego

 About A White Room 

At the close of the Victorian Era, society still expected middle-class women to be “the angels of the house,” even as a select few strived to become something more. In this time of change, Emeline Evans dreamed of becoming a nurse. But when her father dies unexpectedly, Emeline sacrifices her ambitions and rescues her family from destitution by marrying John Dorr, a reserved lawyer who can provide for her family. 

John moves Emeline to the remote Missouri town of Labellum and into an unusual house where her sorrow and uneasiness edge toward madness. Furniture twists and turns before her eyes, people stare out at her from empty rooms, and the house itself conspires against her. The doctor diagnoses hysteria, but the treatment merely reinforces the house’s grip on her mind.

Emeline only finds solace after pursuing an opportunity to serve the poor as an unlicensed nurse. Yet in order to bring comfort to the needy she must secretly defy her husband, whose employer viciously hunts down and prosecutes unlicensed practitioners. Although women are no longer burned at the stake in 1900, disobedience is a symptom of psychological defect, and hysterical women must be controlled.

A novel of madness and secrets, A White Room presents a fantastical glimpse into the forgotten cult of domesticity, where one’s own home could become a prison and a woman has to be willing to risk everything to be free.

Available in Print $14.99 and

eBook $3.99 (Kindle, Nook, Sony, e-pub)

 About the Author

 As a reporter and community editor, Stephanie Carroll earned first place awards from the National Newspaper Association and from the Nevada Press Association. Stephanie holds degrees in history and social science. She graduated summa cum laude from California State University, Fresno.

Her dark and magical writing is inspired by the classic authors Charlotte Perkins Gilman (The Yellow Wallpaper), Frances Hodgson Burnett (The Secret Garden), and Emily Bronte (Wuthering Heights).

Stephanie blogs and writes fiction in California, where her husband is stationed with the U.S. Navy. Her website is

A White Room is her debut novel.


Find Stephanie Carroll

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

{yarn along} Contaminated

Only a few more rows before it's time to find out if that stretchy bind-off that I learned for the Rose Ribbons Shawl can translate to ribbing. I'm hoping that it'll work and I won't have to keep a larger dpn with my sock knitting projects anymore.  

I'm dying to get back to my new lace shawl, 198 Yards of Heaven, but knitting time without distractions has been impossible to come by this week. I've been lucky to get an inch of sock done. Not that I'm complaining too much!

I love zombie fiction, so I was happy to get an advance reading copy of Contaminated by Em Garner. The book opens as Velvet Ellis is searching the kennels for her mother. Tainted batches of Slim Pro,  a trendy protein water have turned most of the population into "connies." Not the zombies we're used to reading about and seeing in the movies, these are living men and women who have lost all impulse control.  The first wave of the contaminated was destroyed. Then, as researchers began to understand what was going on, they began to fit the shambling victims with shock collars that will subdue them.  They're being released from the kennels back to family members who are willing to take custody of them.

Velvet's father was killed in the first wave of the outbreak. She's struggling to attend school while also working and caring for her ten-year-old sister. Velvet and Opal are on their own. Most of their belongings were left behind when the military evacuated them from their old neighborhood. The government has lowered the age of adulthood and provides the con-orphans with support checks, but the two sisters are struggling just to survive.

Contaminated is being marketed as a young adult novel, but it doesn't read like one. It's chilling, a realistic glimpse of what a zombie plague might look like and how it could happen. There's not a lot of gore, but it's emotionally wrenching.  I highly recommend this one!
Disclosure -- the book was provided by the publisher.  For more pretty knitting projects to drool over, check out On the Needles at Patchwork Times and Work in Progress Wednesdays at Tami's Amis. I'm posting Yarn Along early this week because tomorrow I'm part of the blog hop for A White Room by Stephanie Carroll.

Monday, July 15, 2013

more of a stack than a wall...

It's more of a pile than a wall this week, but I've been busy packing for the trip to the quilt show and unpacking from the trip to the quilt show and there just hasn't been a lot of time to sit down at the sewing machine.

The fabrics on the top are fat quarters I need to cut into for Teenage Daughter's big girl version of Annabelle. The green snowball blocks are the unassembled border for the turtle quilt. There are two brand new baby quilts I've been carrying around in my head all month, but I can't show you those until I make the first blocks... Now I just need to free up some time for quilting.

To see more design walls, head over to Patchwork Times.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

ugly fabric?

When I told you that my latest new-to-me stash was all usable cotton, I wasn't thinking about the scrap bags.  The lady had quart size Zip-loc bags of scraps for a dime a piece. If I could see one print through the plastic that looked like it would make good bow ties or bits for the Lego quilt, I added the bag to my pile. The plan was to toss the unusable fabric.

And I'd do it, if I didn't see every bit of fabric that comes into my custody as a challenge.

Like this piece. It's not ugly -- I'd use it in a baby quilt if it wasn't for the texture. I'm not enough of a seamstress (or not experienced enough in vintage fabric) to describe this weave. Let's just say that even I wouldn't put it in a scrap quilt.

So what was it from? Judging by the shape of the scraps, someone wore it. I've felt scarier synthetic fabrics in my life, but I still can't imagine wearing something made from this stuff. I can imagine a snap bag, though.

And then there's this piece. Imagine burlap, but softer. Why couldn't those shoes have been printed on cotton?

Neither of these is going in the trash. They're too vintage for me to just toss.

What do you do with vintage scraps when you come across them? If you won't use them yourself, do you pass them along to someone else who will?

Weekly Stash Report

Fabric Used this Week: 0 yards
Fabric Used year to Date: 46 3/4 yards
Added this Week: 0 yards
Added Year to Date: 228 1/4 yards
Net Added for 2013: 181 1/2 yards

Yarn Used this Week: 0 yards
Yarn Used year to Date: 2050 yards
Yarn Added this Week: 0 yards
Yarn Added Year to Date: 8700 yards
Net Added for 2013: 6650 yards

To see more weekly stash reports, click over to Patchwork Times. And for more fabric, check out Sunday Stash at Finding Fifth.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Ink by Amanda Sun

I'll admit it -- I don't see the point of book trailers. If you're looking for something to read, why would you watch a video? But the animated trailers for Ink by Amanda Sun are clever, not to mention that they actually tie in with the book itself. 

When Katie Greene walks out of school still wearing her slippers, her friends warn her not to go back inside, that there's a nasty breakup happening in the hallway. But she can't go home without her shoes, so she slips inside, hoping that she won't be noticed by the arguing couple. She's already struggling to fit into the school in Japan and to learn the language. The last thing she needs is for them to see her.
Those concerns are quickly forgotten when Tomohiro's notebook lands on the floor beside her:
"The notebook exploded with pages as it trailed down, the papers catching in the air and filling the room like rain. They twirled and twisted as they came down, white edges framing thick lines of black ink and charcoal. They fluttered down to the floor like cherry petals."
And then she sees one of his drawings look back at her....

I was completely pulled into the books world, where drawings can move and bite and lift off of the page. Ink is the first book in the Paper Gods Series by Amanda Sun. I'll be keeping an eye out for the second one. Shadow, the prequel to Ink, is available as a free Kindle download. I didn't find out about it until I checked the author's website to see if there was a publication date for the next book in the series, but I've got it on my Kindle now.

I also just finished reading Follow the White Rabbit by Kellie Sheridan. It's an interesting look at Wonderland a hundred and fifty years after Alice left. Here's the book's description:

For centuries, Wonderland thrived as the domain of beautiful bedlam and unapologetic madness. It was a place like no other. All it took was one girl slipping in through the cracks of the universe to start chaos spiraling toward order. In the 150 years since Alice’s visit, the realm has become tainted—almost normal. Rabbits in waistcoats and playing card minions are little more than creatures of myth, and Wonderland is literally falling to pieces.

For Gwen, Rose, and Lucky, Wonderland is home, and yet they know little of its former glory. When the Alice prophecy resurfaces, they’ll have one chance to use Wonderland’s own legends to bring a little mayhem back into their reality. For she who controls Alice controls the fate of Wonderland.

To me, this novella was more of a teaser than a stand alone piece.  Because of that, I don't think I can recommend it.

Disclosure -- both books were provided by the publishers.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Let's Make Baby Quilts! {week 28}

I'm absolutely loving this Princess Pea Blanket, a tutorial by Angela Yosten for the Moda Bake Shop. The pile of mattresses is strip pieced, and the princess is appliqued at the top. And, yes, I'm already pulling fabric to make one of my own.

I was hoarding my pink scraps, hoping there'd be enough to make a string quilt I've got planned for myself, but after those last two batches of new-to-me scraps, I'm daydreaming about baby girl quilts.  I think that's what happens after you have three baby boys in a row. Luckily, there are plenty of baby girls out there to give them do!

Let's Make Baby Quilts Linky Party Rules:

Link directly to your post or specific Flickr photo. Your post can be about a baby quilt that's finished, or in progress, or you can be writing about what you have planned, but it's got to be about baby quilts. While we're still gathering steam, you're welcome to link to baby quilt posts that aren't brand new, but please don't submit the same post or picture more than once. I'd love it if you linked back to my site, either with a text link or the Let's Make Baby Quilts! button.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

More Nancy Drew!

A  few months ago, there was a blog hop on the Nancy Drew Sleuth blog. I got distracted and didn't submit my quilt, but I did enter the giveaway. About two seconds later, I forgot about it.... until I found an email message buried in my in-box, telling me I'd won the coin purse. The one I'd really hoped I'd win.
I can't tell you how frustrated I was.  I don't even have a good excuse for missing the email. So much time had passed that I was sure they'd chosen a new winner, but I sent my mailing address and an apology just in case.
And look what I got in the mail!
It has artwork from The Mystery of the Fire Dragon on one side and The Bungalow Mystery on the other and it's just the perfect size for my little  camera (if I ever bothered to put it in a bag). There's even a pocket inside that could hold an extra battery or memory card.  
And now I'm even more convinced that I want one of the clutches, or some of the jewelry they're selling in the Sleuth Shop.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

{yarn along} Gone Girl

Remember how Dark Places by Gillian Flynn absolutely blew me away? Compared to that one, Sharp Objects was a disappointment, and I almost didn't pick up Gone Girl... I'm so glad I did!

Nick and Amy Dunne are living in a rented house in a almost empty development.  Both have lost their jobs to the recession. They've burned through Amy's trust fund, money from the Amazing Amy books her parents based on her childhood.  And on the day of their fifth anniversary, Nick comes home to find the front door open and signs of a struggle in the living room.

Amy is gone. And the husband is always the first suspect...

This is one of those books that I can't say too much about without spoiling the fun.  It's a psychological thriller that will keep you turning the pages to see what happens next. Is the story plausible? That's one of the complaints I keep seeing lately in reviews of the books I've loved. No, these things couldn't happen. But no one says they did. They're fiction, intended to be an entertaining read and not a depiction of real life.

The new shawl is 198 Yards of Heaven, a free Ravelry download by Christy Verity.

For a free download, this pattern is impressive, with written and charted instructions and stitch counts listed for every repeat. I've paid for patterns that were less complete. There are purl stitches on the right side of the shawl, which I fussed about for the first few rows, especially on the wrong side when I had to keep track of where they were to knit them. But they're stacked one on top of the other, which makes it incredibly easy to find and correct mistakes at 2am.  

I'm really hoping that my two skeins of Wool of the Andes will be enough -- it's gonna be close!

Silly disclosure -- the book came from the library.  For more pretty knitting projects to drool over, check out On the Needles at Patchwork Times and Work in Progress Wednesdays at Tami's Amis.

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Meet Buster!

Since I finished Sadie, I've been loving tea-dyed muslin as a background for the baby quilts.  And since I finished Laura, I've been meaning to try a blue version... That's about all there is to say about this one.

I decided this year to give each of the finished baby quilts its own blog post, but sometimes things go together without a hitch and there's nothing interesting to write... but I guess that's better than sewing my hand or running into problems along the way, right?

I'll be linking up to Finish it Up Friday, Can I get a Whoop Whoop?Get Crafting Friday, Pinworthy Projects, and Freedom Fridays.

Monday, July 08, 2013

a good quilt to work on when it's hot out

This little quilt is a good choice for our hot weather. I plugged in the iron for a few minutes when I was cutting the width-of-fabric strips, then again to press the strip sets open.

There was no need for extra heat while I was cutting the strip sets into 2 1/2" sections or sewing them together. I'll do another press of the blocks before I put the top together -- and then it'll be time to figure out another top to play with. The one I'm dreaming off is going to require a lot of time with the iron plugged in. That means early morning or late night cutting.

The pattern for this green checkerboard quilt is the same as I used for Carrie.  I'm making this one in green so I can use up an interesting piece of backing. You can find the directions for Carrie and all of the other Let's Make Baby Quilts! tutorials in the sidebar. For more design walls, click over to Patchwork Times.


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