Thursday, September 3, 2015

Audiobook review: Call the Midwife

 I just finished listening to the audio version of Call the Midwife: A Memoir of Birth, Joy, and Hard Times while I was sewing.  What a wonderful audiobook!  I highly recommend it.

Jennifer Worth was a young midwife in postwar London who worked at a convent that served some of the poorest neighborhoods.  This memoir immersed me into a place and time that was almost unbelievable.  The lack of sanitation, somewhat primitive medical techniques, and the patients and their families themselves were fascinating to learn about. 

The nuns were no less interesting than the patients, and I was sorry when the story ended.  I wanted to know more about what became of all of them.  

The story is warm and rich in detail.  The narrator for the audiobook was perfect, especially with the variety of accents.  One of the better narrators I have listened to. 

I just started watching the series on Netflix and I'm a little bewildered that it is presenting the stories completely out of order from the book.  It also leaves out some of the best details of the book.  For example, the young boy who helps teach one of the midwives to ride a bike and accompanied her on her visits went on to become the private security guard for Princess Diana.

If you have seen the series or not, I do recommend this book.  The audiobook in particular, is well worth a listen.

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Wednesday, September 2, 2015

The First Glimpse of Pumpkins

Here is the project I'm working on today.  Some of the leaves are wool, so you can see the basting still in the one in the upper right.  Now that I've taken a picture of it, the 5 looks a bit wonky.  It seems a little tilted.  This always happens to me, placement that looks great right under my nose looks a little off when I step back.

The pattern is "Cinderella Pumpkins" from Fig Tree Quilts.

The air is definitely cooler today, so pumpkin season can't be far.  I found these at Target yesterday: 

Pumpkin spice latte m&ms.  Definitely delicious.  I might have to go hoard a few bags to keep me going through the season.

Linking up today with WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Back to Hogwarts

I've been piecing a Harry Potter quilt over the past few months.  This block with the sorting hat seems appropriate to show you today.  It's September First, the day the students all board the Hogwarts Express and get sorted into their houses.  J.K. Rowling tweeted a reminder of who is riding the train today:

Here in the states, my daughter Drama Girl has returned for her second year at her university with a castle.  I got to see her for five days after her extensive European trip.  Of course I miss her.

My twins are at their respective high schools, and we are all getting back into the routine of September. 

In the spirit of new beginnings and challenges, I have decided to take on a 30-day blogging challenge.  I'd like to get back into the habit of writing each day, and I'm certain that it's going to help me get organized with finishing projects.  Hang in there with me and I will reveal a new Harry Potter quilt block each day.

The quilt is designed by Jennifer Ofenstein and all of the block patterns are available for free from Fandom in Stitches.

Monday, April 6, 2015

My new crochet obsession: Catherine Wheel blanket

This is my newest crochet project.  The pattern is called "Catherine Wheel."  I found a really useful video with instructions here.   The basic stitch isn't difficult at all, but it took me a few repeats to figure out how to finish and start each row.  They're all a little different.

I'm making it on a big hook so it's coming together fast.  When Wasabi Girl saw it she asked if it's for Christmas.  I was hoping to just add it to my stack of blankets by the couch.  Is it too Christmassy?  Isn't red and white sort of classic?  If I have to pack it away with my Christmas decor than I'm going to start another one in different colors.

I keep all the yarn for this project in a big bag.  Hestia loves to burrow in with the yarn.

Here she is, all cozy watching me work. 

I usually work on this in the evenings while I watch something on TV.  I heard that The X-Files will be getting a reboot.  I used to love that show so now I'm working my way through all the old episodes on Netflix.  There are 202 in total.  I don't think I even watched all of them the first time they aired.  I think I sort of lost steam with the whole series when the movie came out.  But for the time being, it's fun to watch the early episodes.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Marmalade quilt top done

I finished this quilt top and taped it up on the window to admire the colors.  I think it looks like stained glass up there.  The pattern is called "Marmalade" and is from the Kaffe Fassett book "Quilts Grandeur."

  I'm still deciding what fabric to use on the back.  If I am likely to display it up on a wall, I will just use something I have around, like a solid.  If I'm going to have it on the back of a chair or something, I might use another Kaffe fabric, so the back is just as pretty as the front.

I'm also debating how I want to quilt it.  I keep coming back to the idea of simple diagonal lines.  Maybe a motif in each large square.  I'm going to print the picture a few times and scribble some ideas.   What would you do?

Having a rainy, cold day here - a rare thing in our part of California.  Perfect weather for stitching.

Friday, January 16, 2015

What I Learned While Starting 15 Projects in 15 Days

finish #1: freebie from Bent Creek
  1. Starting a project is the hardest part.  Aristotle said "well begun is half done" (maybe without the rhyming). Just getting all of the fibers and fabric organized for each project took weeks of effort.  But the payoff to all the careful organizing was a palate of great colors to work with and the perfect fabric all ready to go.
    A Christmas Carol by Cross Stitch Collection Magazine
  2. It's hard to make time for myself a priority.  I tried to get an hour of stitching in first thing in the morning after my routine chores were done.  I felt the pull of a dozen different things calling me all the time.  The payoff was huge though, in my sense of purpose and accomplishment each day.  
    Animal Advent # 9 by Brook's Books
  3. Everybody starts small.  It has been a revelation to see the other stitchers display their work on our facebook page.  Most of us only got a few dozen stitches in each start.  Yet some of these projects will go on to be enormous and epic.  I think in my mind I imagined that the people who do these types of projects have some superhuman power that lets them do thousands of stitches a day.  No.  We're actually all the same.  It's about showing up and sticking to it.
    "Gift of Peace" by Lavender and Lace
  4. New supplies are a lot of fun.  The multiple trips to the store for floss (I need to go again today!) has actually been as much fun as getting a new box of crayons used to be when I was a kid.  Luckily, it's a cheap thrill. 
    "Alice and the Mad Hatter" by The Floss Box
  5. I have enough cross stitch patterns in my stash to probably last me the rest of my life.  All the free patterns on Pinterest haven't helped.  I am confident that I will never need to search far for some new project to do.
    "Poinsettia Elegance" by Dimensions
  6. If I tell myself I'll take a break "just for a minute" I'll never get back to it.  Quick lunches turned into lunch/laundry/errand/read a book.  It takes a lot of self-discipline for me to sit back down and quiet my mind again once I've interrupted it.
    "Night Owl" by Prairie Schooler
  7. There are patterns for everybody.  See my ground hog day project above.  I have loved watching other stitchers display their work and their goals.  We all have different tastes, and I respect everyone who devotes so many many hours to this hobby.  I'm pretty sure a lot of my choices fall in the range of very silly.  I also seem to have an obsession with Christmas.
    Animal Advent #10
  8. I love my ott-light.  I could not live without it.  Some stitchers like to work by a sunny window, but I need bright, clear light to really see what I'm doing.  I also use the magnifier attachment a lot.  Some of these projects feel like doing brain surgery.
    "Bookseller" by Mill Hill
  9. I cannot stitch without some coffee in me.  I'm a morning person, but I really can't get my brain around fine details before some caffeine has hit my system.  I will miss you holiday blend.  Hello French Roast!
    "Once Upon a Time" by the Frosted Pumpkin Stitchery
  10. Facebook is my biggest distraction.  I can't even imagine how much I'd get done if I had the self-control to quit looking at everyone else's progress.  Also cat videos.  I'm an addict.
    "Give Thanks" by the Frosted Pumpkin Stitchery
  11. Every stitch matters.  I tried to get as far as I could each day.  Some days this didn't look like very much at all.  Family needs, cleaning routines, life, and sadly facebook all took time.  But every stitch that got done brings me closer to finishing everything. I'm especially reminded of this looking at the people who started enormous projects. Every minute is worthwhile.
    "Bless our Home" by Country Cottage Needleworks
  12. My quilting has fallen by the wayside.  Now that the initial 15 days are complete, I'm going to balance my work going forward and get back to doing some quilting.  It's fun to focus so much on one hobby, but I love my other pursuits too.
    "Haunted Hotel" by Mill Hill
  13. Making my brain switch gears every day seems like good exercise for it.  I worked on many different types of fabric, different types of charts, different levels of difficulty.  This is so different from how I usually work on a project.  I will enjoy going back to working on something intensely for days at a time, but I think it will also be fun to mix it up a bit more in the future.
    "Autumn Harvest Festival" by The Frosted Pumpkin Stitchery
  14. Working on this challenge has helped me deal with missing my oldest daughter who is so very very far away in Scotland right now.  My hobbies have always been my therapy, and this particular challenge was so absorbing for my brain and my time that I couldn't dwell on missing her.
    "Story Time Sampler" by the Frosted Pumpkin Stitchery

So now what's the plan?  I will work on whatever strikes my fancy that day, although at the moment I think I will get some of the smaller pieces done first so I don't actually have all of these in rotation at the same time.  It's nice to have one off the list already.  I'm a little behind on stitching up the Advent Animals.  If I want to finish it up this year, I have 17 more to complete.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

More stitching starts and a reading challenge

Today's start is from Frosted Pumpkin Stitchery.  A super cute small piece for Thanksgiving.  I almost finished it, but ended up going to the movies with Jungle Boy this evening.  It will be fun to pick this up next time and finish it up.

Yesterday was not as productive, but still a start:
It's just the door from a Country Cottage Needleworks piece called "Bless Our Home."  A nice patriotic little cottage to finish up before summer.

Now for a fun book challenge.  Go check out Bringing Up Burns for her 26 book challenge for 2015.  She has a fun list of prompts to help you pick books.  The first is "A book you own but haven't read" which is a LOT of the books on my Kindle, not to mention my big reading pile.

I picked 12 Years a Slave by Solomon Northup.
This one will also fit the categories of "A book that was made into a movie," "A book by an author you've never read before" and "A book that was based on a true story."  See how fun the list is? 

It reminds me of the book bingo challenge my kids did back in middle school.  They had to get bingos by reading different genres.  This challenge lets you read whatever genre you like, and makes it a lot of fun to pick the next book.

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