Monday, 26 February 2018

Stitch`n Time - I finally used my sewing machine again.

 Oh gosh, it has been so long since I sat down to sew at my machine.  I just haven't been in the groove. Undoubtedly it has to do with not wanting to start anything new while I have so many unfinished projects.  To the creative person inside, that is like having only leftovers to eat day after day.

Tonight is my local quilt guild meeting and we have been asked to bring in heart pillows.  They are to be donated to the hospital for patients who have undergone open heart surgery.  After such a procedure, the chest is very delicate (with the sternum being cut open and spread). The patient holds the pillow to their chest before they cough/sneeze etc.

One lady from our guild has arranged with the hospital and they have given us specific details of what is needed.  An anonymous person has donated funds to purchase a large amount of stuffing. Now it is up to our members to make and stuff the pillows.  I have made three like the one shown and will take them to guild tonight for stuffing and stitching closed.

It may not be a glamorous project, but it is incredibly helpful to those who need these pillows and it did force me to my machine for something other than mending.

 I was at Lens Mills last week and found these rhinestone buckles that are the perfect addition to my new red necklace.  Perfect addition for a minimal price.  Never know what I will find in that store.  They also had two colours of #5 perle cotton that I need for another necklace pattern.   This one was stitched in #10 cotton, kinda thin.
Again, working in #10, this cord for the next necklace is getting close to long enough.  I need at least a metre and am close.  I found a nice flat knot that I think will look great.  Might need some hanging beads for the bottom, but won't know until it's tied.  This is rather fun to do and if I don't like any at the end, I can always pass them along to another.

While I was wandering the net, I came across this amazing site.  For a real treat, you must check out the work by Finnish artist Liisa Hietanen.  She creates sculpture using knit and crochet techniques.  They are mind blowing and so life like.

Thanks for visiting with Stitch'n Time today.  Link up your current needlework visit and I'll be sure to drop by.

Sunday, 25 February 2018

New Boy by Tracy Chevalier

A tragedy. 

Ian is an unhappy, controlling youth who can't stand for others to be happy or to appear to be one up on him.  He sets out to destroy the budding relationship between Osei and Dee.  This sets in motion a train wreck that can't be stopped.

Osei is the new boy in grade six.  As the son of a diplomat, he is used to moving and starting over.  He starts the morning thinking it will be like his many other first days.  He couldn't have been more wrong.

Dee, the golden haired school darling is immediately attracted to him.  She likes that he is unusual and particularly likes his dark skin.

Watching this happen is Ian, the class bully/bad boy.  He can't stand by and let this new relationship happen, nor can he let that black boy become popular.

Grade six should be fun and games.  It shouldn't be subject to one mis-guided child's manipulations.  I like the characters of Osei and Dee.  They had the potential of forming an honest friendship.  The character of Ian is so well developed that I could imagine the entire school falling prey to his manipulations.  He made evident weaknesses in the teachers and management of the school and even magnified them to his own benefit and Osei's detriment.

I am left wondering what the various participants in this tragedy could have done to change the outcome.  Perhaps one less secret kept, and more openness, or was it bound to happen once set in motion.  Either way, it is a haunting tale.

New Boy is a modern retelling of William Shakespeare's Othello, part of the Hogarth Shakespeare series.  Note: you don't have to have read Othello to understand this book.  This is not a childrens book even though the characters are young.

I received and an advanced reader copy of this book from Indigo Books & Music Inc., in exchange for an honest review.


Friday, 23 February 2018

Beautiful Scars: Steeltown Secrets, Mohawk Skywalkers and the Road Home by Tom Wilson

Adopted as a baby, Tom Wilson had asked his mother Bunny if he was adopted, but she never answered.  At the age of fifty-three the truth was finally revealed to him, yet it took him three more years to confirm with his birth mother.

After living an emotionally spartan life with his adoptive parents, the revelations of his birth mother opened up to him a rich and inclusive heritage in the Mohawk community.

I loved this book and Tom Wilson.  I knew nothing about him before I started reading. I was attracted to the story because he had been raised white and only found out as a middle age adult that he is Mohawk.  I enjoy reading books by Indigenous authors,  His re-telling of his life is an easy read, though not always comfortable.  It comes across as the type of conversation you might have sitting around a kitchen table late at night drinking many times refilled cups of herbal tea.

Tom is a down to earth kind of guy.  He is not your glitz and glamour rock star, but the un-assuming neighbour who wants to take care of his family and make music along the way. His humble beginnings are something that most readers will identify with and make you want to see him succeed in his struggles.

If you read only one biography or one indigenous book this year, I highly recommend Beautiful Scars.


Wednesday, 21 February 2018

One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus

A whirlwind that kept me off balance and guessing.

Five seniors are caught with cell phones in class and meet at after school detention.  Within minutes, one of them is dying from an anaphylactic reaction.  Soon the police and a very public media descend to investigate who is the perpetrator of this evil act.

Why would anyone want to kill Simon who had been their class mate for years.  Perhaps it was that gossip app, About That, that he created and used to spread juicy rumours about his school mates.  Each of the other four present had huge secrets that could pose dire consequences for them if Simon were to make his next post public.

This book was amazing.  I was hooked from the opening pages and did not want to put it down.  Details about the four suspects, Bronwyn, Addy, Nate and Cooper, were carefully released.  I found myself continually re-assessing my thoughts on who might be guilty.  About midway through the story, I thought I had it, but still had to determine the why and how.  Not that I didn't keep second guessing myself.

This is a well written debut novel.  The situation and the students felt real.  It had me calling aloud to them and urging them on in their investigations.  I give it top marks and would gladly recommend it to teen and young adult readers.  I eagerly look forward to Ms. McManus' next novel.

I received and advanced reader copy of this book from Indigo Books & Music Inc., in exchange for an honest review.


Monday, 19 February 2018

Stitch'n Time: Something New, Crocheted Jewellery

Hubby and I took a little road trip last week for a few days.  At one of our stops, I spied this barn quilt on the side of a sporting goods store in Clare, Michigan..  I thought I might see more of them in the area, but that was the only one.  Turns out that there are over thirty blocks in the area  and there is a map available from the Clare County Arts Council if you are interested in following the route.

Back at home I've been working on a few projects.

I had most of this done last week and only the final ribbing to complete.  It is made with Cascade Sateen Worsted, which is soft to the touch. I definitely want to work with this yarn again. 

 The dress code at work changed recently and most of my clothing is now black.  How boring.  We are allowed to bright it up with scarves and of course we can wear jewellery.  Since I enjoy my stitching time, why not stitch some necklaces.  This was a very simple repeat pattern of double crochets.  I happened to have a very large ball of #10 red cotton with a silver thread.

I have yet to join the ends, but first I am deciding whether to add some sort of pendant.

Also in that random collection of cones of cotton, I have one of #10 pink and white.  The cord is made of a round of six front post double crochets.  The pattern is from an ancient pattern from Annie's Attic: Strings'n Strands.  I'm not making the necklace as shown, just using the instructions for the cord.  At this point, not sure how I'll complete this.  Three options I am considering: add a pendant, tie a chunky knot, at a crocheted flower and leaves.  Lots of options.

I haven't done much in a the area of jewellery making.  Over the years I have made a few barrettes. but not much else.  Once I started looking, there are quite a few patterns available for stitching necklaces of various types.  I could enjoy this for a while.

I'd be interested in viewing any of your posts of jewellery that  my viewers have made.

Stitch'n Time is a regular Monday post where I share my stitching projects.  Mister Linky is waiting below for you to join in the fun.

Friday, 16 February 2018

Nancy Drew Girl Detective: En Garde #17 by Carolyn Keene

It's probably been forty years since I last read a Nancy Drew novel, but when I saw this one, I had to read it.  I fenced for a few years with my local club and wanted to see how the author handed the subject.

Nancy was attending a fencing match that her friend George is competing in, when one of the fencers is injured.  Was it an equipment failure or was it sabotage.  She is pulled into an investigation in the hopes that her friend and the other members of her club won't get injured.

For the most part, this story read just like the books from my youth.  Nancy and her friends solving mysteries in a fairly straight forward manner.  There were a few technical errors with regard to the fencing details.  Only an experienced fencer would notice them, and they did not impair my enjoyment of the story.

While this is part of a series, you don't have to read the earlier books to enjoy this one.  The author introduces the returning characters, Nancy's family and friends, and those that are part of the mystery are all new.  These books are written for a 9-12 audience, though the material is suitable for a younger, more advanced reader.

Cover image courtesy Simon and Schuster Canada.


Wednesday, 14 February 2018

The Journey of Little Charlie by Christopher Paul Curtis

1850's South Carolina

Little Charlie was anything but little.  At twelve years old, he stood well over six feet tall and weighed as much as a grown man.  This served him well when working in the fields with his share cropper parents.

After his father's untimely death, Charlie reluctantly agrees to go with the overseer at the neighbouring farm to retrieve some escaped slaves who were now living in Detroit.  Little Charlie could never have imagined the profound impact that this journey would have on his life.

Author Christopher Paul Curtis has spun a tale that could have been pulled straight from the history books.  Set at a time when the United States was still divided on slave ownership, Little Charlie quickly begins to question many of the lies he had believed about coloured people.  The biggest revelations come when he has a conversation with Sylvanus Demarest, the young black man that he and the overseer are attempting to lure back to Detroit. 

This is a well written and researched story that illustrates some of the horrors of the slave trade.  While there is yet much to be atoned for, this book is a welcome addition to the existing narratives I've read previously in my quest to learn and understand more about the events of that complex time.

I received and advanced reader copy of this book from Indigo Books & Music Inc., in exchange for an honest review. 


Monday, 12 February 2018

Stitch'n Time - On a Roll

 It was wonderful to cuddle under my newly finished afghan.  I started this back in 2014 as part of a crochet-along hosted by Red Heart Yarns.   The solid colour blocks are made in a variety of stitches which has resulted in some nice thick fabrics.
 The outer edge is made from a very simple pattern.  Single crochet- chain two- single crochet all in the same stitch, then skip the next stitch and repeat.

In the summer this will be added into our camper for extra cuddliness when out and enjoying our camping adventures.
With that project completed, I wanted a small one that I could complete in a shorter time frame.  Last fall I had purchased a kit for a cowl.  Perfect.  I contained the pattern and Cascade Sateen Worsted weight yarn.   Since daughter and I spent some quality stitching time together this weekend, I am almost finished.  I have about one inch of ribbing to do yet and then cast off.

After this, I determined to do some quilting.  I did very little last year, even though I did purchase a new sewing machine.  Not to sure why I hardly sewed a thing, perhaps I just needed a break.  I do have a few projects I want to finish. The first won't take long and then next, probably less than ten hours.  It would be great to get them done so I can move on to a special sewing project that I am making as a special request.

Do you make special request projects?  Mostly I like to do my own thing, but occasionally, I find that I can't say no to someone.  This one I never even considered 'no'. I knew I wanted to do it and bring joy to the recipient.   It will include some simple piecing, perhaps some hand applique and quilting and a secret added touch or two.  On top of that, I'm going to enjoy making it and especially, giving it to her.  You'll have to wait for photos though since I have nothing to show at this moment.

Thanks for joining me for Stitch'n Time.  Mister Linky is waiting below for a link to your current Stitching project.

Friday, 9 February 2018

The Lost Rainforest: Mez's Magic by Eliot Schrefer

Wonderful story with adorable characters that readers are going to fall in love with.

There are day animals and there are night animals.  No one would ever dare venture outside at the wrong hours, it's just not done.  Mez is a black panther, a night walker.  As his first birthday approaches, he finds himself awake and alert during the daytime hour.  Even though he knows it is wrong and that he could be banished from his family, he decides to go outside during the day.  It is then  that he meets another shadowwalker (one who fins it natural to go outside at the wrong hours) and learns of an ancient enemy that is awakening.  only the shadowwalkers can save the animals of the rain forest from this dark and dangerous power.

I fell in love with this story and it' characters from the very first pages.  Author Eliot Schrefer managed to combine the cute cuddly appeal of young animals with human like personas and make it very believable.  I could easily imagine Mez meeting up with Rumi the tree frog, and them becoming friends and companions.

From a parent point of view, there are lots of good things contained in this book.  Mez's twin sister Chumba has a birth defect which in the real would would have caused her to have been rejected by her family.  Instead, Mez has become herfierce protector.

Mez meets a wide variety of animals during this adventure.  Most would naturally be either his foe or food.  Though he is uncomfortable and suspicious of many of them at first, with time he learns to accept most of them and becomes the best of friends with several.

Each book in this series will be told from the point of view of a different animal.

I received and advanced reader copy of this book from Harper Collins Canada in exchange for an honest review.


Wednesday, 7 February 2018

Max Tilt: Fire the Depths by Peter Lerangis

This book has everything that adventurous middle grade readers are looking for.  An awkward 13 year old student, a tag along baby sitter, mysterious clues and a submarine.

Even though they barely know each other, Max and his older cousin Alex make a great team.  They almost seem to know what the other is going to do next, or else they both are good at adapting to surprises. 

Max is the great great something grandson of Jules Verne and Alex is his great great something niece.  She comes to watch Max when his dad accompanies his mother to the hospital for treatment.  Finding that the family is in great financial hardship, Alex encourages Max to help her find items within the house that they can sell to raise some funds.  While searching, they come across a mysterious chest  that Max speculates belonged to Jules Verne.  This starts the two of them on a daring expedition that takes them places they couldn't have imagined.

This is a fun story that should appeal to both male and female readers.  The mystery is complex enough to engage older middle school readers and the humour is age appropriate.

I received an advanced reader copy of this book from Indigo Books & Music Inc., in exchange for an honest review.

Cover image courtesy Harper Collins Canada.


Monday, 5 February 2018

Stitch'n Time - Reasons to Stitch in a Timelty Manner

 I was reminded of an important lesson today, yarn colours are not available forever.  I started this project in about 2014.  I completed all the blocks at that time and thought I had enough left for the borders.  Oops.

I did the first two rounds in the green and had 1 metre left .  That was close.  I wanted to do seven rounds in the variegated yarn.  After three and a half rows I was out . A quick trip to the store should take care of that as I had checked that Red Heart was still making that colour.  Just because they make it doesn't mean the stores in my area actually stock and sell it.  Well, I learned they don't.  Okay, next option, purchase more of the blue.  Easier said than done.  There are lots of blues out there, but finding the exact one, nope.  I did manage to find one left over ball at a store, but it wasn't listed in their stock.  Lucky for me.
I have one and a half  balls of the blue to finish the final three rounds.  Should be ample (she says with her fingers crossed).

When I purchase fabric for a quilt, I always buy oodles extra. can't have too much fabric is my motto, but when it comes to yarn, I can only make a lame guess.  I do know that I never have enough when I purchase exactly when the pattern instructs.  One ball extra is usually enough, but not always.  One pattern I needed 3 more balls than stated, but my project ended up the correct size.  When I contacted the publisher with my findings, I was ignored.  Made the afghan a second time and knew to purchase lots extra.  Needed the same amount the second time.    Hopefully I have learned my lesson and will either purchase ample supplies, or I'll finish in a more timely manner in the event that I require additional skeins.

If you click on the first picture you should be able to view an enlarged photo and see the details of the solid blocks.  They are each different stitch patterns.  Those blocks are much more firm that the granny squares.  This is going to be a warm blanket which I am thinking will find a home in our camper.

I hope that you manged to find some Stitch'n Time this past week.  Mister Linky is waiting below for a link to your current needlework post.