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Thursday, July 21, 2016

Summer Stitching

This was the "Loves Me" kit from M Designs.  To finish it, I sewed on a narrow calico border, then backed it with a purple gerbera print, giving it a wide faux binding.

'Tis the season to move on to Halloween stitching.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Sew Charming

The Charm Bracelet wasn't a very good book, but it did inspire me to dig out the silver sewing machine charm I had forgotten about.  With it I found a scissors charm, and I had a theme for a necklace:

I found lots of bobbin jewelry on pinterest to inspire me, and all those holes in the bobbin were just begging to be adorned with lavender swarovski crystals, silver Bali beads, and a pewter thimble:

Placing the jump ring for the chain on the back of the bobbin helps the necklace to stay positioned correctly.  

I love it when books, sewing, and jewelry come together.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Book Round-Up

The Fortune Quilt by Lani Diane Rich: TV producer Carly encounters a psychic quilter (yup) whose advice turns her life upside down.  I think this novel suffered from the restrictions of its chick lit genre -- short and frothy story with a happy ending.  I would have preferred a longer novel that spent far more time on the relationship between Carly and her estranged mother, and the artists' community she finds herself in.

The Cruelest Month by Louise Penny: This is the third in Penny's mystery series, but the first for me; I couldn't resist the title.  Penny's writing is highly literate and descriptive, filled with characters who are mostly unlikeable but fully realized and fascinating.  There was a sub-plot about the police department that managed to be both compelling and distracting from the main mystery. Apparently that storyline continues through all the novels, making me less likely to seek out the other books in the series -- like I wrote, it was interesting but not so much that I want to read so much more about it.

The Charm Bracelet by Viola Shipman: Shipman structures this story about mothers and daughters around the charms on a bracelet.  It can be an effective way of telling a story, and the characters themselves were interesting, but ... this was not a good book.  It had too many cliches and was poorly written. Misused words, an overabundance of adjectives and adverbs, and awkward sentences made me wish for a red pen.

Midnight in Austenland by Shannon Hale: I didn't even realize this was a sequel when I picked it up, but reading the first is not necessary for one's enjoyment.  It's your standard divorced-woman-needs-to-get-her-groove-back story (why are ex-husbands always such unrepentant jerks?) set in a Jane Austen theme park (do those exist? I bet they'd be very successful), with an Agatha Christie-ish mystery thrown in for good measure.  Said mystery was a little implausible and the book suffered from a surfeit of endings, but it was witty and enjoyable, even laugh-out-loud funny in parts.

The Heroines by Eileen Favorite: The conceit -- heroines from novels occasionally show up in our world to take a well-needed break at Anne-Marie's inn before returning to their fates -- is excellent, and the novel handles the themes of feminism, agency, and adulthood well.  A good chunk of the story, however, takes place in an institution where Anne-Marie's thirteen-year-old daughter is confined when no one believes her story about the heroines; it's effective in its own right, but not nearly as interesting to me as what was going on at the inn.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Red, White, and Blue

I'm not generally into flag motifs and patriotic doohickies, but this year I was inspired to make some earrings for the Fourth of July:

The earrings are based on these* by Happy Go Lucky, which I had booked marked a while ago to make in lots of fun colors. But as much as it pains me to admit, I have a TON of brightly colored earrings, and none at all that were red, white, and blue.

In keeping with my goal to use stuff from my stash only whenever possible, I made do with blue size 8 beads and red and white size 6 beads (poor quality ones, at that, dating from my years in college -- they varied wildly in size and shape).  I am curious to know what size jump rings Kara from Happy Go Lucky used; there was no way I could fit size 11 seed beads on my rings, and even some of the size 8 and 6 didn't work.

I originally tried it with same color beads on each ring, but that didn't look right once the earring was done:

Now I have something to wear! ... for one day a year.  And people wonder why I have a massive jewelry collection.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Book Round-up: Comics Edition

Through the Woods by Emily Carroll: This is a collection of short horror comics with a fairy-tale feel.  Like the best horror, they use tension and creepiness to scare, rather than gore and explicitness.  The illustrations are striking -- painted on black, the colors are mostly muted blues, browns, and greens, which makes the occasional use of red that much more vivid.

Step Aside, Pops by Kate Beaton: The second Hark, a Vagrant collection is filled with Beaton's signature kooky comics that take on everything from vintage illustrations to historical events to 80s pop music. These were lots of fun; Beaton has a knack for off-kilter takes on mundane subjects.

The Caped Crusade: Batman and the Rise of Nerd Culture by Glen Weldon: Weldon's book is a comprehensive tour of Batman from his origins to the present day, covering not just the comics but also the movies, TV shows, toys, and even literary works inspired by the character.  The takeaway from this enjoyable book is that there is no one version of Batman -- every generation and every cultural group latches onto and embellishes certain traits.  Also, Weldon never misses an opportunity to stick it to Bob Kane, the co-creator of Batman, so that's fun, too.

The Sandman: Overture by Neil Gaiman: Gaiman finally wrote another Sandman comic, and it's a treat to return to that world.  This story is a prequel, in a sense, of the original 72-issue comic, showing us what Sandman was up to right before he was captured in the opening pages, and why he was so weak.  The illustrations are lavish and detailed, meant to be explored and savored.  Now I want to reread the rest of the comics, in light of the information we are given here.

Fun Home by Alison Bechdel: Bechdel's highly-memoir of her relationship with her father is moving, wry, and filled with literary allusions.  I particularly love the way Bechdel draws the faces of her characters -- simple, endearing, and quite expressive.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Cross Stitch: the Next Generation

I take Beadboy2 to his soccer matches on Saturday mornings, and sit on the sidelines working on the Sunday crossword.  But one Saturday the paper was late, so I took some cross stitch instead.  One of Beadboy2's teammates had a 5-year-old sister who was utterly fascinated by the pretty flowers I was stitching, so I showed her what to do and she made the following stitches on the leaf:
I told her father that there are cross stitch kits for kids; I hope he picks one up for her.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Adventures in Chain Mail

I went through a bit of a chain-mail obsession a couple of months ago.  The triggering event was the purchase of a package of large black jump rings for a button project; they didn't work for that, so I looked for another use and found a bracelet with the European 4-1 pattern in Chain Mail Jewelry:
Photographing this was tricky.
The original pattern called for alternating rows of titanium and rubber rings, allowing the bracelet to stretch over one's hand.  I just had the rings so I made the bracelet longer.  The rings are inexpensive and kind of scratchy, but it's fun and slinky on my wrist.

Not satisfied with one project, I opened up a mixed bag of rings I picked up ages ago, in all different colors and sizes.  A little bit of math later, I was able to adapt another pattern from the book to make a "crochet mandala":
Unfortunately I don't have the necessary small rings to keep all the rings on the edge nice and flat rather than floppy, so this piece is unfinished.  I could just sew the piece onto felt or something, but I'd prefer to keep it unlined.  I should figure out a solution soon (or find the right rings) because I love the colors.

I had actually made the earrings that go with this back when I first bought the book, using silver:
They are a little stiff, though, because I couldn't quite get the right sizes for the rings (perhaps because there are different ways to measure the rings and it is not always easy to go from one to the other).

I want to make more.  Urban Maille has great kits.  Mr. Beadgirl gave me the kits for three bracelets 10 years ago (sheesh); I should do some virtual window-shopping to see what's new.