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Monday, September 17, 2018

Rainy Day Tote

I'm in kind of a blogging slump -- still working my way through a dense, 1,000-word novel, stitching various things that are no where close to finished -- but I did make a little tote for Beadboy3. His school asked us to send in a bag with crayons, coloring books, and paper for days when they can't go outside for recess, and I was reluctant to send in one of my canvas bags or buy a new one. Rooting through a tub of fabric, I found a slipcase my mother made for the mattress of the cradle my father made (crafting runs in the family!). The cheery print was perfect for kindergarten, so I cut off the excess fabric, top stitched on felt initials, and added handles made from grosgrain ribbon:
Beadboy3 was so taken with it, he was quite sad he had to leave it at school the first day. "Can I take it home the last day of school?"

Friday, September 7, 2018

The Idiot by Elif Batuman

Batuman's first novel is as finely written and dryly funny as her collection of essays. Selin is a Turkish-American student in her first year at Harvard, a young woman who, despite her intelligence, struggles to understand the world around her -- American culture, adulthood, love, academic jargon, and especially language. Perhaps because she has an aptitude for the latter, she obsesses over the meaning of every word spoken to her, wondering if she can ever truly understand what another person is trying to say. In particular, the painfully awkward, often frustrating, sometimes wonderful exchanges she has with her crush are made worse by her inability to pick up romantic social cues (and his inability to not be a jerk).

It's not just Ivan; Selin doesn't quite fit in with any of the others in her orbit, be they her Turkish relatives, the privileged Americans at her school, her Yugoslavian best friend, the working class Bostonians she tutors, or the Hungarian villagers she spends the summer with. She is like a particularly endearing alien, trying to make sense of life on this planet. Batuman's distinctive writing style -- blunt, deceptively simple sentences -- perfectly conveys the distance Selin feels, aided by descriptions of other characters that rely almost exclusively on their words, rather than physical cues or other behavior that might help us see what Selin can't. Instead we become thoroughly enmeshed in Selin's worldview, sympathizing as she tries to figure out what it all means.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018


There's nothing like a move to force you to confront the ridiculous amount of unfinished projects you've accumulated. Beadboy2's Minecraft quilt and a couple of projects I want to finish soon take priority, but I did find the time to finish two small, long-neglected embroideries.

This was a commercial kit I bought ages ago. I like the pattern quite a bit, but found the fabric to be too coarse for such delicate stitches; it gave the embroidery an angular look.

This was a Mollie Makes kit. The intention behind it was to lightly embroider over the heavy lines to mimic the casual look of modern coloring pages, but that struck me as kind of pointless -- stitching is already coloring with thread -- so I opted for chunky embroidery.

I've got a ton of little floral designs; I think someday I'll sew them all together into a wall-hanging.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Look What I Finished!

The Victoria Sampler's "L is for Librarian:"

L is also for Lawyer, too, so I eliminated an upper and lowercase L under the librarian's desk, and added a set of scales:

Lilacs are my favorite, and the lamb and ladybugs are super cute:

Once I get the necessary bellpull hardware, I think I'll hang it at work.

I have no plans to do the whole alphabet, but I will be stitching W is for Witch (probably not this year, though).

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Bless This ...

A new house requires a new sampler:

This was a fun design that worked up quickly. I love that for the buildings, the designer copied actual buildings (so to speak) from Mos Eisley.

Saturday, August 4, 2018

The Last Minecraft Blocks

I can't believe how quickly these came together!

A ghast and an Ender dragon:

An Elder Guardian and a Drowned:
The Drowned is apparently a new mob, a watery version of a zombie, so I designed it myself from game images. 

Next step is the sashing. Beadboy2 wants silver (i.e. grey) fabric. To add a little interest and to avoid the need for yardage, I'll break up the sashing with scrappy squares at all the corners, using the leftover fabric. I also plan to use the leftovers for a scrappy border.

Dare I hope this will be done by Christmas?

Monday, July 16, 2018

Book Round-Up

A College of Magics by Caroline Stevermer: It's rare that I don't finish a book I start, even if only by skimming, but I just couldn't get into this novel,despite the interesting characters and the bones of a good story. I think that was the problem -- the basics were there, but the plot elements, world building, and magical system weren't fleshed out sufficiently. I stopped about halfway through and just read the final couple of chapters. My copy comes with the sequel, but the idea of trying to read it exhausts me.

Love Lies Bleeding by Edmund Crispin: Another classic mystery, this one caught my interest because Shakespeare's purportedly lost play Love Labour's Won plays a minor role. I would have preferred more on Shakespeare, but it was an enjoyable book.

Girls Are Weird by Pamela Ribon: A novel of young woman experiencing a "quarter-life crisis" just as blogging was becoming prominent. My twenties were filled with different concerns, but it was fun to read about a life going (mildly) off the rails before getting a happily-ever-after resolution.

The Fortune Teller by Gwendolyn Womack: The central character is an appraiser specializing in manuscripts who discovers a long-lost work that purports to explain the ancient Egyptian origin of tarot cards (really a medieval creation), so of course I was intrigued. The heroine was a rather frustrating character because of her tendency to avoid her problems (which caused more problems, of course), but the book was otherwise a fun read.