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Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Sometimes it's about Texture

The pendant is an inexpensive one from Michael's.  The three strands of the necklace are a silk ribbon, size 6 seed beads, and a metal chain with large links.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Book Round-Up

The Blood Knight by Greg Keyes:this is the third in the tetralogy, and things finally pick up for some of the storylines.  Anne stops reacting to or running away from things and begins to take control of her life and destiny;  Stephen keeps reacting rather than acting, but he also learns quite a bit about the power struggle underlying world events, which means we learn it too.  Other storylines, however, lag -- Leoff's big role was in the second book so he has little to do here, and Aspar continues to bounce around from one quest or task to another.  Given his prominence in the books, and certain hints, I assume he has an important role to play at the climax, but there is little preparation for it, as far as I can tell.

The Born Queen by Greg Keyes:a mostly satisfying conclusion to the story.  Keyes had some unusual ideas and concepts that made for an interesting world (including the idea that the secret, dangerous power kept hidden from man really should be kept hidden).  Unlike some other readers, I was also satisfied with where various characters ended up, Stephen being the only exception.  The problem wasn't his motivation for his actions in the last book (I thought that made sense, given what happened), I just wanted something different for him.  I do wonder how far in advance Keyes plotted out the narrative; over the course of the four books, characters and plot elements that appeared crucial in earlier novels were sidelined (or vanished entirely) at the climax, and there were some abrupt changes in focus, meaning, and significance.  The impression I got is that Keyes had some key concepts in place from the beginning, but that the story got away from him (or perhaps he just changed his mind).  Nonetheless, it was an enjoyable series.

Akhenaten: Dweller in Truth by Naguib Mahfouz:a slim novel about Akenaten's rule, told from the perspective of the people around him -- family and friends, supporters and enemies and opportunists.  I've always found this brief period of Egyptian history utterly fascinating and completely mysterious -- how much can anyone truly understand the actions and beliefs of another, whether 3000 years ago or in the immediate aftermath?

Saints by Gene Luen Yang:the companion volume to Boxers, and just as awesome.  Four-girl's journey parallels ___ as they both struggle with religious belief, the injustices and cruelties of life, and ordinary adolescence.  Yang is a Catholic, and so it's clear where his sympathies ultimately lie, but his telling of this historical event is nuanced, fair, heartbreaking, and even a little funny.

The Book Stops Here by Kate Carlisle:I picked this up at the library on a whim; it's the 8th ( I think) in the "Bibliophile Mysteries" about a bookbinder who keeps getting caught up in murder investigations.  The prose was a bit over-written, and there was some serious wish-fulfillment in some aspects of the bookbinder's life, but it was an enjoyable read with some fun tidbits about rare books, which of course I loved.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Button Hoop Sampler

Doe-c-doe has a wonderful floral pattern with lots of circles for displaying buttons, so of course I had to make one for myself -- cream wool on taupe linen:

My first thought was to use a variety of stitches, including buttonhole and the pretty laced backstitch for some of the circles:
But it looked too busy.  I then tried stem stitch for the outer circles (having used split stitch for the inner ones):
But the combination of the twist in the thread and the direction I stitched resulted in a ropey look I didn't like at all.  So I went back to split stitch, and that really was the best look:

The finished hoop is on the wall with some other button projects.  A yo-yo and button nine-patch from a long-forgotten quilting book:

A button wreath from a long-forgotten craft book (my memory is great!):

And a framed display of three vintage mother-of-pearl buttons given to me by a sewing buddy (thanks, Maura!):

Monday, March 2, 2015

Tango Bracelet

Mr. Beadgirl gave me the Tango Bracelet Kit for Christmas, and here it is:

Between this, the flower earrings, and the candy canes, I've done a lot of beading with the herringbone stitch, and I've come to love it.  It's versatile (as these three projects show), it works up quickly but is still sturdy, and it has an interesting texture.  I must do more!

Monday, February 23, 2015

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

I know, I'm way behind on this one.  I'd been meaning to pick Gone Girlup for ages, and even managed to avoid any spoilers, but I never got around to reading it.  Then I started seeing previews for the movie last summer, and wanted to see that; but of course, I had to read the book first (I always have to read the book first).  I requested it from the library; so did every other person in Queens, so I didn't actually get it into my hands until December (I know, I'm late with the review).  (No, I haven't seen the movie yet.)

It's really good!  I'm not generally a fan of thrillers, but this is smart and well written.  It's also a sharply witty novel, as Flynn expertly satirizes modern romantic relations, the over-privileged, and the media (and people's obsession with it).  The first half alternates between Nick's first person narrative of the events following the disappearance of his wife Amy, and Amy's journal entries from the start of their relationship up until the disappearance; the dual narrative continues in the second half, in a different form.  It becomes clear rather quickly that neither is a reliable narrator, and part of the fun comes from trying to figure out who is playing whom, and what the next twist will be -- a bizarre, insane riff on the typical "he said, she said" depiction of a relationship.  Both Nick and Amy are highly intelligent and deeply, deeply flawed, and I alternated between wanting to see them succeed and fail in their manipulations.  Not until the very end did my detached (they are horrible people) enjoyment turn to horror when I realized an innocent party would someday pay for all that happened.  That thought left me genuinely distressed.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Whimsical Herringbone Flower Earrings

The problem:
I loved these earrings, but the deep purple finish on the size 11 beads wore off.

The inspiration:
I pulled these socks on, and thought the color combination needed to make its way into my jewelry box.

The solution:
The pattern is "Whimsical Herringbone Flowers" by Bonnie O'Donnell-Painter, from the October 2006 issue of Bead & Button.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Lots o' Hearts

I took the two beaded hearts from last year and attached them to a third heart, made from even bigger beads:

A felt Scandinavian heart basket (I need to fill it with something):

A simple heart pendant, pattern from the Purl Bee:

I quilted and finished the heart quilt:
Rather than my usual faux binding, I decided to practice with a real binding made from bias strips I cut myself.  And ... I need the practice.  There are some unfortunate lumps and tucks, partly from last of skill, partly from rushing to finish while the baby napped, and partly from using a batting I don't normally use.  Oh well.