Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Needlework Tuesday - Last Minute Gifts

My shopping was done long ago and I found some time to do a bit of stitching.  Last minute presents.  Over the years I've made dozens of boxer shorts and my family never tires of getting a new pair.  I use Pattern 1672 from Kwik Sew.  The gorgeous inukshuk fabric is by Northcott.   these are for my niece who is visiting from overseas.
 This pair is for son. I've run out of time, so daughter's will have to wait a few more days.

Needlework Tuesday is a regular weekly post where I share the progress of my various needlework projects over the past week. I enjoy the encouragement that I receive from my readers and in return visit their blogs and cheer them on with theirs. You are welcome to grab the cute little mouse and create your own Needlework Tuesday post. Leave a comment with a link and I'll be sure to visit with you.
I almost have these ruffle scarves out of my system.  Daughter had several balls in her room before she went to University and I've been stitching them up.  The two on the right are made from Bernat Twist and Twirl. both are made with 6 stitches.  New colours are now available.  The scarf on the left is made from Ruffelina, which is now discontinued. It has the look of poodle curls. If you have a ball of this in your stash, cast on at least 8 stitches.

This is my last Needlework post of the year.  i'll leave Mister Linky up until the new year so you can show off your stitched Christmas gift whether you gave them or received.

Monday, 22 December 2014

Cold Storage, Alaska by John Straley

This audio book was wonderfully entertaining and I kept making excuses to keep listening.  At first I thought it was a story of good brother versus bad brother.  As I kept listening, I realised it went a lot deeper than that. 

Clive McCahon has served his time for dealing drugs and now wants to return home to remote Cold Storage, Alaska to open a bar/church.  His brother Miles, the town medic, is unaware of this until a state trooper, bent on re-arresting Clive, fills him in.  Fishing is the largest industry in Cold Storage and trooper wants to ensure that Clive doesn't bring any of his drug dealing ways with him.

From the moment Clive and his uniquely ugly dog step foot on shore, all plans seem to take on a life of their own.  The arrival of ones of his pre-jail associates complicates matters, though not in expected way.  A series of comic mis-adventures doesn't hurt either.

Cold Storage is a remote community with access either by water or air.  City people can't envision themselves wanting to stay here, but it has a knack for getting under their skins and they find it hard to leave.  Perhaps it's the sense of caring practised by the residents.

Author John Straley has turned a cold, isolated community into an inviting yet funny family. 

This audio book was read by Stephen R. Thorne. 8 hours 9 minutes.
Cover image courtesy of Blackstone Audio.

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Splattered Blood by Michael A. Draper

Johnny thought he had the perfect job  as Chief of Internal Security for the New England Highlanders basketball team, until he committed suicide.  His wife Roseanne couldn't believe that he would choose to end his life and pushed for an investigation.  Along with her brother Graham and friend Randy, they carried out their own probe.

The story is told from Randy's point of view.  He's been a friend of the family for many years since selling them their first insurance policy.  His job has given him many opportunities for investigation, but never as in depth as this case promises to go.  At first, I felt a little unsettled by Randy's story telling, but then I realised he was telling the story from the present rather than the past tense as I expected.  Once I had read a few chapters, that unsettled feeling went away.

Their investigation proceeds at a realistic pace, at times stalling for days and at others moving ahead in leaps and bounds.  This kept me guessing as to what would happen next and when it might happen.

I enjoyed the assortment of characters involved in the plot.  Detective Chuck McElroy never quite welcomed the three as he felt it was safest to leave the investigating to the police, but then again, he didn't run them out of town either.   It didn't matter that I knew little about professional basketball, it is a backdrop to several characters, one of whom plays an important part of the investigation.

This is definitely not a cosy mystery, it contains a fair number of gruesome deaths, though Mr. Draper has not gone into glorified details, rather he has confined the descriptions of the bodies to that needed for the storyline and not gone beyond to gratuitous gore. 

Thanks to author Michael Draper for creating a good book with more than a few interesting plot twists.  Mike's latest book Three Strikes and You're Dead is now out in print.

Cover image courtesy of the author.

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Tangled Thursday - Negative Space

It's been far too long since I tangled anything.  Diane has nudged out group back on track by challenging us to use negative space.

I tried this once before and was unhappy with my results.  I didn't outline my space and then the tangles I selected had too much open spaces with in them.  This time I outlined my space with a black pen and then tangled away.  I am happy with the results though I have some ideas on how to improve next time.  Always a learning opportunity.

Thanks to Diane for the challenge.

My post from yesterday is looking for photos of your Advent or Countdown to Christmas Calendar

Mister Linky is waiting below for a link to your current Zentangle related post or a negative space tangle from a previous post.

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

The Great Advent Calendar Hunt

When I was growing up, it was so exciting in December when one of us kids got to open one of the doors on the Advent Calendar.  Hiding behind those doors was a tiny piece of chocolate.  Since there were four kids in my family, I didn't get to open very many doors.

I decided that when I had kids, they would each get their own calendar.  Well, it didn't quite happen that way, instead, I bought a calendar with pockets that I could fill myself.  We have used it for the past twenty years and my kids still look forward to seeing what I have hidden for each morning.  I'll give you a hint, it's always chocolate and more chocolate.

I bought this from Avon about twenty years ago. The little Santa, currently in #9 moves from day to day.  The pockets are large enough to hold about 6 Hershey Kisses.  The first year I used it, I got the great idea of filling all the pockets ahead of time and then hanging it on the wall.  I had no sooner left the room and there was quite the crash.  The calendar was so heavy that it pulled the picture hanger out of the wall.  From that day forward, I just fill one day at a time.  The tree is about 25 inches tall and 23 inches wide.
This year, my sister sent me a surprise in the mail, a new style calendar.  This one is a magnetic black board with twenty five little tins, each of which contain a chocolate coated cookie and one contains a gift certificate.  Hmm, wonder which that might be.  Measures 12 inches on a side and is from Starbucks.  Thanks sister, you are terrific.

Christmas tree skirts are the feature of this post from 2012.

Homemade ornaments were featured in 2013.

This post and the earlier ones all have open Linky. you are invited to add a link to your post that features Advent Calenders, Christmas Tree Skirts or Home made ornaments.  It can be a new or previous post.  Advent calendars and tree skirts can be either bought or home crafted.  Thanks for joining in the fun.

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Needlework Tuesday - Inspiration Takes Time

 I traded for these blocks in 2000-2001. I was quite excited by all these 9 patches arriving in my mailbox.  Then they sat and sat and aged and I still didn't put them in a quilt.  Last week I showed you how I updated them using a disappearing 9 patch method.  The first photo shows my original layout.  I alternated blocks that had light or dark at the outer corners and left space for sashing.  Too busy.

Needlework Tuesday is a regular weekly post where I share the progress of my various needlework projects over the past week. I enjoy the encouragement that I receive from my readers and in return visit their blogs and cheer them on with theirs. You are welcome to grab the cute little mouse and create your own Needlework Tuesday post. Leave a comment with a link and I'll be sure to visit with you.
 Next I put the light corner blocks in the middle and the dark corners to the outside. It's a little more defined, but still not what I wanted.
Add another round of sashing.  Now it's heading the right direction.  This seems to tune down the busyness.
 Since this was a 50 State swap, I wanted to emphasis that it was American. First I selected the 9 blocks with light corners that were mostly red, white and blue and put them in the centre.  The blue fabric with the tiny white stars for the sashing was bought years ago.  The cornerstones with the fussy cut blue stars was an afterthought that I am very happy about.  I am still undecided about a border.  Perhaps 3 or 4 inches if I can find a red and white stripe.

Last evening I put some decorative stitches on the Christmas stocking.  I used a fluffy yarn to duplicate stitch a couple of snowflakes. The pattern is one that I purchased many years ago and is no longer available.   Now my stocking are all ready for filling.

Tomorrow I'll have a special post of Advent or Christmas countdown calendars.

I'd love to see what you've been stitching on. Mister Linky is waiting below for the link to your current needlework post.

Saturday, 6 December 2014

Green Rider by Kristen Britain

I could hardly put this book down, and that's saying a lot since I have previously read it two times. Karigan G'ladheon has faced life threatening challenges since she ran away from bullies at her boarding school and I can't help but cheer for her. 

The lands of Sacoridia are bounded by magical  D'Yer Wall that has stood for a thousand years.  It has served to keep the nightmare creatures of Kanmorhan Vane out, but  the Gray One has breached the wall.  I had hoped that the wall would be more involved in this story, but that comes in future books.  The Green Riders are the main theme.  They are the legendary couriers of the lands, though their reputation has tarnished over the centuries and their role in the liberation from evil has been forgotten.

This book has many of the features I look for in a good book.  A strong female character, a good cast to support her, magic that keeps me guessing and a wonderful setting.  The land of Sacoridia is realistic in many ways, yet the possibility of magic adds numerous twists.  I had one problem with this created world. The road that Karigan travels from school to the capital city is impossibly long compared to those travelled by he father.  Unfortunately there is no map of the lands included in the book, so I have to imagine that the route she took was the 'milk run' that passed through all the out of the way towns. 

Karigan does a lot of growing up in this coming of age story.  From school girl to respected Green Rider, she faces challenges that might have thwarted vastly more experienced adults.  True to form for a teenager, she says she wants travel and adventure and then when she's presented with it, all she wants to go is go home. 

I first read this book shortly after it was published in 1998 and I feel that it still reads well for a debut novel.  If it were to be published now it would probably fit in the YA category.  The story continues in First Rider's Call.

Cover image courtesy of author Kristen Britain.

Friday, 5 December 2014

Slabscape : Reset by Spencer S. Baker

This is the story of Dielle, a man who re-awakens on a generation ship more than 300 years after it has left earth.  By awakens, I mean, his body has been rejuvenated over the past 300 years and he is mostly a new man.  He has no memory of his earlier life and is trying to find his way in a society that is almost totally foreign to him.

The ship is a massive vessel more than a thousand kilometres in length housing over thirty two million humans. 

While I found this story to be intriguing, I had two major problems with it.  First was the method of re-integrating Dielle into society.  There was almost no protocol for doing this even though the technology has been in use for well over 300 years.  He was released from the hospital totally unprepared to live in the current society.  A recipe for disaster.

Second, I found it surprising that Kiki, Dielle's love interest,  was allowed access to such a high priority Reset.  She had minimal nursing experience, yet she was allowed to care for one of the most prestigious men on the entire ship.  Doesn't sound likely.

Once I could get over these issues, I did find the story worth reading.  The concept of the ship and how it worked is what kept my attention.  I glazed over the parts where the author strayed off on a tangent that really had nothing to do with advancing the plot.  The story moved rather slowly at the beginning, but got better as it progressed.  By the half way point, I was actually looking forward to my reading time.

The story continues in Slabscape : Dammit

Website for author Spencer S. Baker

Cover image courtesy Amazon.ca


Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Needlework Tuesday - Reworking a quilt design

As I was putting away the quilts and quilt tops that I used for my presentation last week, I realized that if I were to put these 9 patch blocks away, they would probably stay hidden for another ten years.  Why not keep them out and work on the quilt.  Exactly what I am doing,  Lots of progress in this past week.

 Needlework Tuesday is a regular weekly post where I share the progress of my various needlework projects over the past week. I enjoy the encouragement that I receive from my readers and in return visit their blogs and cheer them on with theirs. You are welcome to grab the cute little mouse and create your own Needlework Tuesday post. Leave a comment with a link and I'll be sure to visit with you.
 I have grown as a quilter since I started making and trading for these 9 patch blocks at the turn of the millennium. While it was a good block for me at that time, I am now interested in making such a quilt at this time.  I want to play with them instead and try a disappearing 9 patch technique.  Most of the blocks do not measure what they should (9 1/2 inches), so I had to fudge a bit when it came to re-cutting them.  First i laid them on the cutting mat lining up where the seams should lie.  Cut 1 1/2 inch  from the middle panel along the left and right.  Then move them out of the way and do the same for the top and bottom.

 Substitute in the centre from another block and sew them all back together.  There are some little ends to trim off.
A lovely new block.  I have trimmed this to 8 1/2 inches.  I'll need 49 for the design I am planning.   Last week, Roslyn linked up and showed a quilt using the same block technique but with a different layout.
25 blocks tentatively laid out for the centre panel.
Not to leave all the fun to one craft, I'm also knitting a Christmas stocking for a friend who will be visiting for the duration of the holidays. The stocking itself is simple and then I will duplicate stitch some snowflakes using a fluffy yarn.  note that the colour really is more of a teal than the blue shown here.  Natural lighting and flash together do weird things to colour.

Are you one of these people who will be stitching at Christmas gifts right up till midnight on the 24th?  Me, I'll be done by 5pm as Santa makes his rounds of my town at that time with the help of the local volunteer fire fighters. This is something I have enjoyed for the past seventeen years.  What a pleasure to see the township pull together to bring such joy to the families who live here.  I hope that you enjoy my short video that I made a few years ago.  It's rather dark by that time, fortunately Santa's ride is decorated.

Mister Linky is waiting below for a link to your recent needlework post.