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Thursday, October 29, 2020

Squash Squad II

 The next in Sue Spargo’s stitch-along. Blue Hubbard:

Queensland Blue:

Baby Boo:

Four more to go!

Sunday, October 25, 2020

Spooky Skulls

 I've been more focused on stitching than beading lately, but I did pick up a couple of kits from Candie Cooper to make some seasonal jewelry.

A pendant:

This was super fun to make. The skull is quite heavy and needed a sizeable tassel, which I made from silk sari strips, copper chain, beads, and various copper charms, using the toggle part of a clasp to suspend it all under the skull. I love the colors in this kit -- fun but not so overtly Halloweenish that I can't wear it at other times.

Skull and key earrings:

These skulls have a more rustic look than my Day of the Dead earrings, which pairs nicely with the vintage-looking keys and bits of sparkle.

(The other pair of earrings were made with leftover beads from the pendant kit.)

Sunday, October 18, 2020

Pumpkin Patch

 These were super easy to make; the base is a styrofoam ball, with a bit of the top and bottom cut off and a hole dug into the top. Then place on a fat quarter of fabric (I used recycled sari silk) and fold it up around the ball and shove the edges in the hole. I used small pins to keep the fabric in place for extra security. Glue on a pumpkin stem (painted, perhaps) and you're done! The idea came from one of those holiday decor mags, but I don't remember the name of the person who came up with it (sorry, Ma'am!).

 One I sent to my mom, and the other joined my Pumpkin Row:


Have I mentioned I love fall?

Sunday, October 4, 2020

Squash Squad

 Sue Spargo has a new stitch-along called Squash Squad, and who am I to say no to yet another project?  It will consist of nine squares, one per week. As usual, I'm working from my stash.

No. 1, Spaghetti Squash (but that's not what spaghetti squash looks like!):


 No. 2, Long Island Cheese Pumpkin (I bought a real one today! On Long Island!):

I'm not sure if I'll be able to keep up the whole nine weeks (remote learning is AWFUL) (not the teachers and staff, they are amazing and trying so hard), but I'll try. I do a lot of cross stitching this time of year because of all the cute ornaments, and it's nice to have an embroidery project going for variety's sake.

Monday, September 28, 2020

Piranesi by Susanna Clarke

 Clarke's long-awaited second novel is nothing like her first, the very British and esoteric Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. Piranesi is weird and haunting and gorgeous, a meditative narrative suffused with innocence and melancholy. It's the story of a man wandering a vast House with infinite halls filled with statues, flocks of birds, and oceans that rise and fall, who slowly realizes the world is not what he thinks it is.

Piranesi is an innocent who delights in the world around him -- the endless rooms, the tides, the marble statues representing every human thought, the birds winging through the air and the fish swimming in the seas. He writes everything down in his journals with the enthusiasm of young explorer, but earlier journals have very different accounts from a life he does not remember. As the memories come back he is both made and unmade by them, until two different lives are at odds within him. That tension dominates the last section of the book, but despite everything Piranesi retains what The House gave him -- the capacity to notice the world around him, to take it as it is and find value in every detail.

It's a skill that all too many people have lost, and that some of the other characters are seeking, but they misunderstand it as a putative source of power. For Piranesi, it is a form of inner strength, and indicative of his basic decency. Clarke has taken a genuinely disturbing premise and turned it into a quiet celebration of creation.

Monday, September 21, 2020

Autumn Leaf

 Lolli and Grace has a lovely freebie on her website: an autumn leaf to embroider. I intended to use some lovely autumnal silks from my own stash, but then I actually saw how Anne used a fabulous color scheme of DMC cotton, and changed my mind.

Teal and navy aren't traditional fall colors, but long and short stitching with so many different colors created a kind of thready pointillism, and I love the effect:

I love this leaf so much!

Friday, September 11, 2020

How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe by Charles Yu

 Yu's critically acclaimed novel is unlike any I've read in a long time. The narrator, also named Charles Yu, is a time machine repairman living in Minor Universe 31, a science fiction universe abandoned by its creator and so a little fuzzy around the edges. Yu's father, an early time machine innovator, has disappeared, and his mother lives in an hour-long time loop of a peaceful dinner with her son. Yu himself has been living in the present-indefinite tense for the last ten years, stuck in an emotional rut. This changes when he finds himself in a time loop and struggles to break it.

The plot is not really the focus of the book, however. Fictional Yu spends much of the narrative ruminating on the past, his relationship with his parents, and more generally on finding meaning in a universe where you can travel back in time but you can't actually change the past. Yu's narration, recursive and repetitive as he works out this thoughts, adds to themes. Adding another layer, his future self gives him a book titled "How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe," excerpts of which stud the novel and which fictional Yu reads/writes/remembers all at the same time.

It's an impressive novel, one which plays with metaphysical and philosophical ideas while also being deeply personal, and I can see why it is so highly regarded, yet it left me cold. I admired this book greatly, but I didn't love it.