Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Needlework Tuesday - Seeing blue - blue blocks that is

 Multiple projects at one time. That sure is me.  I have several quilts going, several books and fingers in a few figurative pies.

I finished up the blue blocks that I started last week.  That jumble of blue turned into eleven stripey blocks.  They will be added to the other coloured blocks I pieced previously.  I still have to make the yellows and reds blocks. I am planning a 5x7 block arrangement, nothing fancy.  Hopefully another member of my bee will take on the task of quilting, or we'll knot this one. Then it will be donated some where.
I've been sharing bits and pieces of this quilt. I have now followed all the monthly steps and received the final instructions last night.  It was to challenge me to add my own final boarder(s).  arg. now to decide what to do. Since it is 40x44 inches and I don't want a wall hanging, it needs to be bigger. Probably six inches on each side.  I'm thinking to add another of the light green boarders all around and then something pieced.  Suggestions would be most appreciated.  I have small amounts of all the other fabrics and a few I have larger amounts of a few prints and solids.  I have no problem adding new fabrics that are in keeping with what I have already used.  I do need to have at least the top finished by the beginning of June for my next guild meeting where we'll be showing them off.

 Now for something different.  I don't often work with panels, ok, except for the turtle a few weeks ago.  My cousin's son is ill and needs a pick me up.  Minions are such fun and age appropriate.  I backed it with a lovely minky type backing.  I was a bit leery of the backing shifting while quilting until Roslyn, of the blog  Ros-the-Quilter, suggested that I use the 505 basting spray.  Wow, that stuff works great.  I hadn't tried it before, though I will be using it again.  Thanks Roslyn.

I did lots of quilting as I know this will have to be washed frequently.  I've learned that the hospitals require the children's blankies be washed or changed almost daily due to germs.  He is doing well in his treatments and is mostly an out-patient now, but should this  wear out in the wash, I'll happily volunteer to make another.
There were some large areas with out lines to quilt, and I didn't want to leave them plain.  I added squiggly hair for this fellow and some shaping lines to his body, otherwise I followed the printed lines changing colours as appropriate.

 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.

Thanks for visiting with me today and I welcome your boarder suggestions for the floral centre quilt.  Mister linky is waiting below.

Friday, 22 April 2016

Two if by Sea by Jacquelyn Mitchard

The opening passages of this book grabbed me and wouldn't let go.  I read with both dread and fascination the rapid chain of events resulting in the turmoil of Frank's life and knew I had to keep reading, I had to learn more and see what this upstanding former police officer would do. 
Frank Mercy has everything he wants, a loving wife with a baby on the way, a job he enjoys and welcoming inlaws, in a blink of an eye, mother nature takes it all away.  Still in shock from his losses, he reports to his job and helps to save others affected by the tsunami.  After rescuing a three year boy whose family was swept away, he feels compelled to claim him as his own.  He knows this is not the right thing to do, as the same time, deep in his soul, he also knows that he can't relinquish this boy.

Each time the story line seemed to calm down, author Jacquelyn Mitchard threw in a new twist that set me on edge once again.  It was hard to find a peaceful moment where it felt safe to put the book down. 

I enjoyed the characters in this story.  Frank had seen everything as a cop, and the events surrounding his new son, Ian, didn't phase him for long.  He took it all in stride, just as a good parent should.  Claudia was a surprise.  She had no idea what she was in for when she first approached Frank, but being a strong woman, both physically and mentally, she quickly adapted.  The responses of the children seemed appropriate for their ages and situation.  I never for one instant felt that they should have responded differently.

For me, this book was all about family, both the one you chose and the one you actually end up with.  Instead of giving up and succumbing to a long downward spiral of mourning, he accepted what he did have and moved forward.  He forged new bonds and expanded his definition of family.  This story gave new meaning to the saying 'it takes a village to raise a child'.

Cover image courtesy Simon & Schuster Canada

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Needlework Tuesday - Finished my wool scarf in time for the heat

 We've been having wonderful late spring weather for the past week.  The temperatures were over 23C on Saturday yet here I am sharing with you my wool scarf that I have finally finished.  Guess I'll be putting it away for a couple of months till it's needed.  That will give me time to make a co-ordinating hat.    The pattern is called Fast Forward by designer Natalie Servant.

 Add another round of borders to my guild block of the month.  I think it looks like film strip, so I used different floral fabrics for the frames. This corner is the only one that matched up perfectly.
 Good progress was made on this quilt.  I have nine of the thirty blocks completed.  It will be a while before you see it again. I don't have a pattern. the little squares are 2 inches and the white strips are 2 x 14 inches.
 One final quilting project this week.  It looks like  a real mess, but really, it's a long long strip 2 1/2 inches wide. Next is pressing and then cutting to 12 1/2 inch sections.  I plan to have photos of the block for you next week.
 With the scarf finished, I needed a new knitting project.  The little shawlette is almost done.  It was looking very small and I was going to have lots of wool left over when the pattern stated to be careful as I should have very little left.  hmm. The pattern was also confused as too needle size.  It stated in supplies 4.5 mm needles, but the first instruction says to start knitting with 5 mm needles.  I figured I had better be conservative and use the 4.5 mm.
I haven't finished all the leaf points, but have pinned it out to size on the right side.  I am disappointed that the green portion of the yarn hardly shows.  The sample in the store was made in the same colour and it featured lots of green at the outer edge.  oh well, I'm not re-knitting on larger needles.

Not every project works out as planned and it is annoying when you spend good money on supplies.  I will probably end up using this as a gift, so not a total loss.  I did enjoy the methodical repeat of the motif, but I didn't like the way the pattern was written, there were areas that could have been clearer.  Patterns for purchase should be extremely clear, accurate and able to be followed by knitters not familiar with the designers patterns.  A simple line stating which rows made up the pattern repeat would have cleared up much of the confusions.   (there were lots of comments on this pattern on Ravelry from people who found the pattern unclear).

Now I get to ponder my next  knitting project, though I will try and restrict myself to the two that have been partly completed and then stashed away and almost forgotten.  I have far too many of those and it does bother me that they are languishing. This is  the point where I need a big nudge to get me working on one of them and keep me from the lure of a shiny need project.

I am curious, do you have unfinished projects hiding out  or are you one of those people I admire who seeing projects through to completion before starting another.

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.

 Mister Linky is waiting below.

Monday, 18 April 2016

The Scorpion Rules by Erin Bow - spoiler warning

I did not 'get' this book.  From the first, it was obvious that there was no hope for the children, so why bother with the story.  I was confused by the audio between who were computer characters and who were human.  I really wanted to love this story, as Erin Bow is a wonderful story teller, but the audio version left me flat and confused.

Those who oversee this world, strive to keep the various  jurisdictions at peace by demanding that each leader surrender a child to act as a "hostage of peace". These children, housed at the Precepture School, are well cared for, educated and are released when they turn eighteen.  However, should their nation enter into war before that time, then his or her life is forfeit.

I kept hoping that Ms. Bow would introduce a twist on the fate of the hostages, that she would find a way to keep them alive.  During their years at the Precepture, they were taught about statehood and politics and they formed life long bonds with the children who were the future leaders of opposing states.  These children should have been kept alive as they were the best equipped to keep the peace.  Kill the war enabling parents and install the peace hostages as the new leaders.  Don't keep killing the children leaving the inept parents alive to surrender yet another child as hostage.

I listened to the audiobook as read by Madeleine Maby.  10 hours 13 minutes - unabridged.

I found her voice characterization confusing.  The voices she used for the computers were smooth and lilting, yet for some of the child hostages, she used broken, halting voices which reminded me of the way William Shatner speaks in some of his roles.   Each time one of the girls spoke like this, I thought she was one of the computers.  Very confusing.  This helped to spoil my enjoyment of the book.  I honestly feel that I would have enjoyed this story more had I read a paper copy.

What I did enjoy was the normal aspects of the children's lives.  They worked the Precepture farm for agricultural produce and cared for the herd of goats.  If you have ever watched goats, their antics are primers for laughter.  The goats in this story were no exception and they served to diffuse some of the tense situations the hostages found them selves in.  Unfortunately, it wasn't enough to overcome the despair I felt for the children's plight.

Also by Erin Bow:

Plain Kate

Cover image courtesy Simon & Schuster Canada.

Sunday, 17 April 2016

The Widow by Fiona Barton

This book was hard to put down, I got so caught up in everyone's tales that I didn't want to stop reading. 

Jean married young after quickly falling for Glen, who was slightly older and seemed the perfect husband material.  He worked for the bank, what better recommendation did a man need. 

From the start, she worked hard to be a good wife and make a happy marriage.  She learned to cope with Glen's domineering nature and soon, her subservient style became her second nature.  Later, when the police came along asking questions, of course she supported her husband.  It wasn't till he was irrevokeably gone that she felt safe to try and understand all that she hadn't noticed happening during her marriage.  I found it interesting how Jean was able to justify and at other times deny the truths that were revealed about Glen. 

The reporter, the detective and the little girl's mother round out this story of loss deception.  Each of their lives have been re-directed by Glen's actions.   As each re-counts his or her tale, the reader is drawn deeper into his depravity.

As I read this book, I couldn't believe that it was a debut novel.  As far as I'm concerned, author Fiona Barton has a promising future as a novelist.

Cover image courtesy Penguin Random House Canada.

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Needlework Tuesday - Eagle Eyes in the Sewing Room

My readers are wonderful. Thanks for those who left comments on the contest in last weeks Needlework post.  I use my imagination with all my stitching and drawing and I was happy to read your creative answers to what I am making.  I didn't have a chance to do any more work on it, but I do have a proper photo to share.

Guesses of what I am making ranged from: a turtle, a basket and a sun hat.  Great guesses ladies.

 yes, it's a turtle. She's a fair size and will be joined by her baby at a later date.  I still have to do some finish up and add a lovely bow.  I do think that she needs prettier eyes.  That tiny printed eye is just too plain along side her pretty shell.

I used Random.org to select the winner which is Kate.  I will contact her privately to see whether she wants me to make something for her or a book prize from Book Depository.com.

Stay tuned as I'll be having another contest shortly to celebrate my 1500 th blog post.

 Daughter was home on the weekend and she modelled her new socks.  They fit perfectly.

The back of the leg has one repeat of the motif and the bottom features a ribbed area for a better fit.  She says it is quite comfortable as is the short row heel turn.  I'll be using both of those techniques again.

 With the socks complete, time for a new project.  I am making the Radiance Shawl from Knitwhits using Freia long gradient wool.   Lots of counting, but a lovely design with a twelve row pattern repeat. 

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.

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


Monday, 11 April 2016

The Peripheral by William Gibson

I liked the story line but didn't enjoy William Gibson's writing style.  His sentences often didn't seem complete (missing/implied pronouns) and there were many others from which I could drive no meaning even after repeated readings.

The first one hundred or so pages I felt lost with no key to unlocking the secret code.  A glossary of the authors invented terms/processes/items would have helped immensely.  I would have given up early on if I hadn't been reading this for my local book club meeting.  I gave up on trying to understand much of what Mr. Gibson was writing, and settle for following the basics of the plot line, which I did enjoy.

The story starts in some point after 2023 in the United States.  Flynne Fisher is an ex-gamer, but just this once she agrees to sub for her brother and work his shift beta testing a game.  Well, she does it again the next night and this time all doesn't go so well.  Some one in the game is killed in a gruesome manner and she begins to question whether it really is a game. 

The story skips back and forth between Flynne's time and a future time, about seventy years from them.  In the future, Wilf Netherton has some involvement with the death that occurred and it's important to him to protect Flynne from any backlash from that event.

The character of Flynne is well developed and I found her down to earth and likable.  She is very family oriented and ethical.  She sticks to her morals even when large amounts of money are waved in front of her face.  My other favourite character is Conner, a long time friend who is ex-military with multiple crippling war injuries.  He's in your face, does what he needs to with no apologies.

This story made me ponder the role of technology in society.  Change used to be a long time coming, but now, technology seems to change almost over night.  Download a file, a bam, with a 3D printer you can have a new product in hours.  Who's to decide/determine whether this is good or bad.

All things considered, I enjoyed the story line and had no trouble believing the bridging of the time differences, I only wish that it had been easier to read and understand the actual wording.

Cover image courtesy G.P. Putnam and Sons

Thursday, 7 April 2016

The Work Boyfriend by Deanna McFadden

Kelly wants to be making her own films, but instead has been doing publicity for a studio.  She doesn't like her job, drinks too much and is having an emotional affair with Garret, a co-worker.  She is young and should be having the time of her life, instead she is stuck and pondering the what-ifs about her quasi relationship with Garret and with Christian, her high school boyfriend.

I really didn't like Kelly when I first met her.  She was so self-absorbed and heedless of the troubles she was stirring up for others.  She had so much going for her, a good education, a well paying job, a condo and man who loved her, yet she seemed to be squandering it all.  Her redemption started when she revealed her concerns about purchasing her condo with her boyfriend Rob.  That brought out a whole different and responsible side of her,  a side I could like.

The three mothers in Kelly's life are so different from one another, but each care deeply about her.  They have experienced so much in their lives, that she could learn lots about herself if only she would be listen to them and be honest in her self evaluation.

I thought this was going to be a fluffy book without substance. Lots of shopping, drinking and flirting, but it turned out to be much more.  The Work Boyfriend begs you to stop and take a look at your life to double check that you're heading in the direction you truly want to be going.

Cover image courtesy of author Deanna McFadden.

Tuesday, 5 April 2016

Needlework Tuesday - What the heck am I making?

 My sewing area is littered with bits and pieces of projects, both those I am part way through and those yet to be started.  I vowed at the beginning of the year that I was going to clear up some of this long laying detritus.

I picked up one of those un-started projects last week and have been stitching away.  It's not my usual type of project, but I like the floral fabric, so what the heck.  I figured I'd give it a go.  I am well on the way and it's rather cute.

So what am I making, that's the question, leave a comment with your guess. If any one actually gets it correct, they win a prize, if no one is correct, then I'll select a winner from all the comments. Us your imagination and be detailed.

For the past few years the members of my local guild have made blocks for our outgoing president.  Since our current president offered to serve and extra term, she already received her blocks.  This year, when asked what she wanted, she asked for 4 1/2 inch blocks to help with the setting.  I made four simple ones using batiks as requested.  It's rather fun thing to do for the president.  She gets a gift of thirty of so blocks and can put them together a she desires and then she has a lovely keepsake of her year as our guild president.

Daughter's socks are now complete.  I finished the second sock this morning.  I can't try them on as she has much smaller feet than me.  You'll have to wait till next week for a photo of her wearing them.  They are my first pair of toe up socks.  I enjoyed the process though I'm not sure about the heel yet.  It was done in garter stitch with short rows.  The top is again garter stitch with a icord edge. 

There is a third sock pattern in this Craftsy class, though it's going to wait for a while as I want to kit another project first, a small shawl.    The supplies for it are sitting in my sewing area and it just needs to be done.  One way or the other, I am going to get to the surface of the table.  I sew in my dining room and haven't seen the table top in a few years. Each time I clear it off, I insist that I'm never going to let it accumulate such a mess again, but then I slide and the stack grows ever taller.  eeks.  If only I would finish things and learn to put away the left overs....

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.

Remember to leave a comment with your best guess as to what I am sewing with that lovely floral fabric.  The prize will be chosen specially for the winner and will probably be made by me, though it might be something from Book Depository.  I'll let you know next week.

update: I approved the first comment with a guess, and then decided to remove it so you won't know what any one else is guessing. sorry Audrey.


Monday, 4 April 2016

Sapphire Blue : Ruby Red Trilogy Book 2 by Kerstin Gier

The days keep passing back and forth and Gwen is no closer to understanding the secrets of the Circle of Twelve nor her feelings for the brooding Gideon.  With the help of her friends, she is becoming more comfortable with time travelling, though James, the ghost of a long dead boy, Leslie, her classmate and Xemerious, the ghost of a gargoyle demon can't travel with her.  The inclusion of Leslie helps to keep Gwen grounded in the present.  Her presence shatters some of the mystery of the secret society.

This second installation of the story provides much more plot development.  We learn more about the guardians as well as those who are working against them.   It's still up in the air as to who is good, bad, devious and just plain demonic.  While there are fewer passages describing the wonderful period clothing, there is still enough to satisfy my curiosity. 

As a fencer, I appreciate the accurate details of the sword fights even though they were rather brief.  I can't imagine wielding a sword while wearing a cloak other cumbersome garment, and at my club we only joke about fighting until we draw first blood, figurative blood that is.

I listened to the audio book as read by Marisa Calin, 8 hours 57 minutes.  She did  a good job of the voice characterisation. I was easily able to differentiate the characters and was chilled by the words of one of  the ghosts. 

The story concludes in Emerald Green.

Ruby Red Trilogy
  1. Ruby Red
  2. Sapphire Blue
  3. Emerald Green

author Kerstin Gier's website

Cover image used courtesy Macmillan Audio Books.