Monday, July 22, 2024

books and covers

I fear this is starting to be less of a quilt blog than a book blog, but I promise, I'm going to get to quilting this week.

The next prompt for the Bramble Blooms quilt along came out last week - on Monday afternoon - so I've been pondering and surfing the interwebs for ideas.  I have a few, but I need to get out my stash of fabrics to see what I have enough of and how things might work.  That is on the agenda for today - I'm taking a day off of sewing carrier covers to work on this and a little bit of mending as well.

As a reminder, this is where the second Bramble Blooms quilt now stands:

It's 30" x 30" and I hope to get another at least lap-sized quilt out of this.  My plan for this next round is to do 6" blocks, which would bring it to 42" x 42" - at least.  And with only one prompt after that (which has been hinted at what it will contain), I'm fairly certain I can get this up to a good size.

Somehow, though, the carrier covers keep calling to me.  Maybe because they take little effort to figure out what I'll be making?  Yes, I have to measure a bit and decide how best to use each fabric (one large? two small? etc.), but in general, I know what I'll be doing.  This quilt is a lot more open-ended.

The covers have filled the bin again:

Which means I have contacted my volunteer.  (Yes, they're not packed in there, but the stack touches the top and that's as good a place as any to turn them in.)  When she's in the area, we meet up, so the bin might get more full before she gets them.

No worries.  I still have this:

The second half of the fabrics.  If you're not seeing this in person, it may not look like much.  But I counted the other day and there were over 50 different pieces of fabric in this stack.  And I think most of them are at least a yard, some a lot more.  I'll be sewing for a while yet on this stack, but it's all good. Keeps me out of trouble!

And finally, I finished two books this week.  Let's review!

Though the blurb on the back makes this sound like a lot is going on, it really boils down to two stories that are running simultaneously that one expects to converge at some point.  Story one is about a teenage girl whose mother gets knocked on the head and starts babbling incoherent nonsense.  She and her brothers, all struggling to find their place in the world in a way bigger than most, are tasked with caring for her.  To me the mother is more of a position to start from in all that the young girl must confront - many things that all women confront regularly, but even as a troubled teen, she has much to learn about the way the adult world treats women and how being an adult really works.

The second story is about a young-ish (30-something, I think) gay man who is a music leader at a Catholic church and also works at the local elementary school.  He too is struggling to figure out his life, how to make a living, and how to fit into a world that isn't exactly friendly, particularly in a small town, to his lifestyle.

The stories do converge at the end, but not in the significant way you might expect after having read (and read and read and read).  I felt like loose ends were tied up well enough, though, so that was nice.  The characters were interesting and the story was easy to follow and I did enjoy it overall.  I gave it 3.75 stars because I wanted more of a convergence than I got.  Otherwise, good.

And book two:

This "novel," in my humble opinion, is more like a collection of short stories.  The cast of characters between chapters is the same, and there is an overall progression of stories, but it is a disjointed, confusing collection of words.  Conversations among characters are more often like multiple monologues happening but written in the format of a conversation.  There is no plot to thicken, no problem to solve, no beginning-middle-end.  Just stories.  Sort of.

With that said, the characters were interesting (and I would like to have gotten to know them better) and I think the stories they were involved in had potential, but I really felt like I was just sitting in a crowded room with a bunch of people, picking up random bits of their day-to-day conversations.  I gave it 2.5 stars because I did like some of the characters.

And that's my week!  (I mean, there was cleaning and cooking and work and all that nonsense, but who wants to hear about that when they've got to do that themselves?!)

Happy quilting!

Monday, July 15, 2024


Still no quilting, but the three bins of fabric I received for kitty sewing in May are halfway gone!  Though I don't have a photo of the first pile of covers that came from the stash, I do have the second pile:

This gives you a pretty good idea of how many are there, but not so much the fabrics, so let's try another angle?

There's really no good way to show all of the fabrics, but you get the idea.  There are a lot of covers here, but not quite enough to fill a box for my volunteer coordinator, so I'll keep sewing a bit longer before I contact her and turn them over.

There are so many different fabrics, though.  They span decades and some are cute and fun and pretty and others are not something I think I'd have bought even in their heyday, but someone obviously did.  And sometimes you just need that perfect color and you suffer through the less than ideal print.  I'm sure there are uggos in my stash, too, so I try to be kind to the woman who left these behind.

While I'm sewing, Lily, the goblin, gets into things.

She was squirreling around under my ironing board and I wasn't sure what she was doing, but glad she wasn't chewing on the cord for the iron (I've caught her and Salem and even Freddie doing that lately), so I thought all was well.  Then I noticed this bottle of distilled water was leaking...

She CHEWED THROUGH THE HANDLE!  (It's half empty here because I poured as much as I could into another jug before I realized what she had done.)  Yesterday, a few days after the incident, I also noticed there is a puncture in the cap.

Goblin for sure, but she caught me a mouse this morning, so I forgive her.

I made it to the new bookstore during their grand opening on Saturday and picked up a book I've been wanting, but patiently waiting for, hoping to find it at a used sale sooner or later.  I splurged for the hardcover because why not support a local business that does something I'm happy to have in my area!

I've enjoyed many books by Barbara Kingsolver, but so far my favorite is "The Poisonwood Bible."  I don't think I've read a book by her that I didn't like, so this has much promise.

And since one of my readers asked about the books I've purchased, I thought I'd share a little here about my recent read from the stash - I'll try to do a little blurb about each book, but am no literary critic, so please forgive anything strange.

It tells a story of a researcher who finds a mysterious box of objects on his desk when he arrives to a short-term posting in Paris.  The objects trigger stories and photos of many of them are included in the book, which is a nice touch, but the story itself jumped around a lot and I had a hard time following what time period I was in and who was narrating.  That might have been me, but much of the skipping around is resolved in the end and perhaps a second read would go better.  (But I'm not up for that.)  One other strange thing is the footnotes that are extensive and important to the story - usually they're just references to other documents or little tidbits and you can mostly ignore them, but these you had to read because they told a part of the story.

In all, it was interesting, and I gave it 3.25 stars (on the Storygraph app) because of the difficulty I had with the time periods jumping around so much and a feeling that at the end, though the jumping around part what somewhat resolved, it just ended.  A lot was left to imagine and while that is okay, I wanted a little more.

My newest purchase will be added to the cart-o-books and selected randomly, so maybe you'll get a review soon, maybe not.

PS I'm still waiting for the next Bramble Blooms prompt, but Audrey, the gal hosting, is having quite the summer.  It's all good.  She never promised it would be fast paced or even scheduled regularly.  It gives us all plenty of time to get each step done without feeling we're pushing through just to be ready for the next prompt.  I suppose I could work on the cornerstone applique blocks for the first quilt top, but...

Monday, July 8, 2024

quilty sewing - what is that?

Since my last post, I don't think I've sewn anything quilty!  If it wasn't for the cat rescue sewing, I might have forgotten how to use my sewing machine, but not to worry, the ginormous stack of fabrics is getting smaller.

Salem would like to take you on a trip down memory lane with this Laura Ashley-like fabric that was in the donation.  I remember the days of these long dresses in large florals, sometimes with large bows tied just above our behinds, but maybe not too fondly, since I'm not much into the girly stuff!  Salem, however, is very gentle and sweet, so perhaps this suits her better?

When they aren't "helping," the kitties can be found snoozing on this sofa-chair in the sewing room.  Usually there's at least one cat, sometimes as many as four, gracing this soft landing spot.  It works nicely for me, too, as they're out of the way.

Salem would also like to show you this very pretty blue fabric.  It is one of my favorite colors and was a hard one not to squirrel away into my stash.  But it's meant for the kitties, so it gets used for the kitties.  (And really, I don't need any more stash!)

Lily also "helps" with fabrics and ironing and whatnot, but she is embracing her goblin phase of life, and rarely sits still long enough for me to even snap a photo if I was ready, never mind having to get up and pick up the phone and get it unlocked and the camera app open.  So you mostly will see her when she is sleeping.  I love her kitten curiosity and craziness, but I do look forward to the goblin phase ending.

Finn, Freddie and Toby also supervise, but they're older and much less crazy, so mostly they just steal my chair, lay on the floor behind the chair so I can't move it, or sleep on the chair/sofa.  (I sit there sometimes, too, and read, which means I have a pile of cats helping, but snuggles are okay.)

Since the carrier covers aren't very interesting to show, no photos of anything finished there, but trust me, I'm making a lot of them!

What I do have to show is my annual 4th of July book sale haul!

The sale is still being divided up into smaller sales throughout the year, and this year they've let members of the friends of the library group shop on the day before, but I still found a lot that seem to have potential.  Nothing on my "want to read" list, but I learned a LOOOONG time ago that this was not the place to show up with a list.

34 books in all, which is a few more than I anticipated, but they all (just barely) fit on my cart where they're stored until I read them, so all is well.

And the reading of books is where Gabby excels.  She is VERY good at destroying bookmarks.  I have to hide them from her, or she snags them and hooks a claw into them and then tears them apart with her teeth.  I think she's part gerbil (though her method is probably more carnivore).

This weekend a new bookstore will be opening in my little town and I'm excited.  They'll have new and used books and maybe I'll allow myself to splurge on a new book every so often to help support them?  (Perhaps if they have gift cards, this could be where I direct family who don't know what to get me for birthday and holidays...Barnes and Noble is great because you can get just about anything online, but local is great for a whole other set of reasons...)

Time to get back to the sewing - or reading?

Happy quilting (and sewing and reading and cat snuggling),

Monday, June 17, 2024

bramble blooms 2 first prompt complete

Most of what has been going on in the sewing room lately are carrier covers for the cat rescue.

With loads of help...

Lily looks to be taking instruction here, but really I have no idea what she is doing.  She does look very serious, though I'm pretty sure the only thing she is serious about is causing chaos.

Here she might be though to be inspecting the cover prep for quality of workmanship, but more than likely she is again trying for chaos.

Finn seems to be doing some quality inspection as well, though maybe he's just putting some extra love into the process?  Or furs.  Probably just furs are being added.

That mom got a deal somewhere in her travels and brought me close to 10 yards.  That large of a piece is hard to wrangle even without a spazz-attack kitten trying to "help" but it made a lot of the large size covers, which is nice.

In other news, the Bramble Blooms 2 project moved along.  Last time I posted, the applique pieces were all cut and pinned.  I worked every night with a goal of three pieces.  That would essentially be one block, but since I did all of one color before moving to the next, some days were bigger pieces (and longer sewing sessions) than others.  But I made my goal and got them done in just 9 days.

Then on to sashing - because I knew they needed it.

(Finn helped, of course.)

This flower fabric has been in my stash for a long time (it was originally a border for the APQ Buddies swap quilt) and it was tossed in the Bramble Blooms bin with little expectation it would get used.  I contemplated it for these blocks somehow, as I wanted this top to be a bit more modern-feeling than the last one, but it was just too busy.  I think it ended up being perfect for sashing.  The colors aren't quite the same as what I sewed with, but it evens things out and brightens it up some and I think it looks just fine.

It took a few hours (doing outer sashings always adds extra time, though the seams weren't THAT long this time), but I now have the center done!  Those cornerstones are a dark green, though it looks black here.

Currently it measures 30" x 30".  More will be added, as with the first project - this is a medallion-style quilt.

I had no more than snapped this photo when Miss Salem claimed this one, too...

(And the green background is about accurate here - apparently the trick to using a phone camera is to add a black cat that will confuse it enough to represent the colors correctly?)

That's all the sewing.  The next Bramble Blooms prompt is due out the end of this month or early next month, which is fine.  I need to finish appliqueing the cornerstones I plan to use on the first one (I've decided it IS getting a border) and there are plenty of other things to keep me busy now that summer is here and I have a (small but still weed-ridden) garden.

Happy quilting!