Search This Blog

Monday, July 30, 2012

Vintage Quilt

A long time ago, I won a give-away from another blogger, and she sent me an assortment of vintage scraps.  Before I sorted them into my stash I thought it would be fun to "memorialize" the collection with a small quilt.  I kept it very simple and just cut out two sizes of squares, and sewed them into a double four patch:

I had some "vintage" fabric of my own, a blue calico from my mom's stash, and so I used that for the back.  Instead of quilting it, I tied it at each of the intersections.  The only new fabric is the binding -- I had just enough leftover from the apron.
This will go on my Wall o' Quilts by the stairs, the spot for all my small projects that I don't know what to do with.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Monday, July 23, 2012

Magic Apron

Mary Brooks Picken was a busy woman; she was founded the Women's Institute of Domestic Arts and Sciences in 1886, was author of dozens of books, patterns, and articles on fashion, sewing, and other "domestic arts," and was highly influential on women all over the country.  Sadly, I had never heard of her until Stitch Magazine's Spring 2010 issue featured Amy Barickman's Vintage Notions, a book devoted to Picken. 

The magazine also reproduced one of Picken's "magic patterns," an apron made from one yard of fabric.  The pattern is certainly ingenious -- fold the yard in half diagonally, mark a few measurements, cut out the apron, sew one seam (at the neck), sew on ties, bind the edges with bias tape, and you're done.  In honor of the vintage-y-ness of the project, I picked a pink 30s reproduction print and red and pink gingham for the binding:
The whole thing took just a couple of hours, and was very easy.  Even the binding, which is normally my mortal enemy, gave me no trouble (well, except for the two corners).

I recommend Barickman's book, too.  It's filled with lovely illustrations, more magic patterns (some of which are intimidating), old-timey advice, timeless advice, recipes, ideas, and musings.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Book Round-Up

The Celtic Riddle and The Etruscan Chimera by Lyn Hamilton:  These are two volumes in Hamilton's Archeological Mysteries series, which I am reading out of order because my library does not have them all.  Hamilton's writing is not great -- there are so many clauses, phrases, asides, and tangents in each sentence, I need a road map to get to the period at the end. Moreover, The Celtic Riddle, despite its reliance on a rich vein of Irish mythology, was fairly boring; the "key" to the riddles was figured out early in the book, leaving some not-very-compelling murders for the remaining mystery.  The Tuscan Chimera, on the other hand, was a fun and fast-paced caper.  The plot twists came so quickly and enjoyably, it didn't matter plausible they were (answer: not at all).

The Moving Toyshop by Edmund Crispin: This is a well-known example of the "locked-room mystery" subgenre.  As is often the case in this type of story, there is only a pretense at realism; instead the focus is on the ingenious solution, something Crispin's certainly is.  He also has fun with the Oxford characters, and even tosses in a few meta-references to the genre in general.

Young Romance: the Best of Simon and Kirby's Romance Comics: Time was, romance stories were a huge segment of the comics industry.  This volumes collects just a few of the ones created by Jack Kirby (better known for his work in the superhero genre) and Joe Simon, from 1947 to 1959.  The volume includes an introduction and historical overview of the genre, both of which try just a bit too hard to explain how romance comics really weren't sexist.  On the other hand, the comics really are not as sexist or offensive as a modern reader would expect.  They are, however, deeply conventional in their treatment of romantic relationships.  They are also a hoot to read. 

While I'm at it, I also recommend Truer than True Romance: Classic Love Comics Retold, where Jeanne Martinet replaces all of the original dialogue and narration in the comics with her own, leading to absurd and hysterical stories ("Too Dumb for Love!" "I Hate My Hair!" "Loving Gay Men!").

Hot Button by Kylie Logan: The second in the Button Box Mystery series wasn't quite as engaging as the first, but it was still a fun read, and now I want to go to a button convention.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Friday, July 13, 2012

The Master of Heathcrest Hall by Galen Beckett

The last volume of the trilogy was as good as I'd hoped, and by the end of the book I was having a hard time putting it down for such unimportant things as work, sleep, and attending to the Beadboys.  There was a fair amount of exposition from heretofore hidden characters, who solved certain mysteries via explanation.  Technically, that's not great writing, but I didn't care because I'm the kind of dork who loves exposition and reads encyclopedias for fun.  Beckett also has a tendency to end a chapter at a cliffhanger and resume the narrative after the cliffhanger was resolved, having the characters tell us in the past tense what happened, creating an anti-climactic vibe.

But these are quibbles, made up for by the satisfying plot and some great characters.  As I wrote earlier, Eldyn was engaging, and he did ultimately have an important role in the defeat of the bad guys (although I don't think it warranted the amount of time spent on him).  Ivy, the heroine, was a real protagonist and not just a love interest or a Damsel in Distress.  She was smart, kind, capable, honorable, and thoroughly likeable, albeit a bit boring in her perfection.  There were also some delightful or fascinating minor characters scattered about the narrative; with the exception of one of Ivy's sisters, none of the people felt underwritten.

The star, however, is Rafferdy, and it was a real treat to see his development from twit to hero.  He started out as the typical rake -- over-privileged, superficially charming, selfish, and determined to avoid any shred of responsibility.  But something about this life was boring.  He could not help noticing that things were getting worse for ordinary folk.  He loved and honored his father too much to refuse to take up his work when the time came.  And as his magical talents strengthened, he became more and more convinced that he had an obligation to use his power (both as a magician and as a lord) to help others.

Sometimes Rafferdy was just trying to live up to his father's expectations, and sometimes he was trying to make himself worthy of the woman he loved.  But mainly, it was simply him realizing that there was something wrong with the world and that he had to do something about it.  Rafferdy is one of the best heroes I've encountered in a long time, and the best thing about these books.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Nothing Finished . . .

So I guess I have to show works-in-progress.

Remember the Paisley Pumpkin?  I had surrounded it with a crazy-patch border, and I'm now embellishing it:
A small project with lots of color and variety to keep me from getting bored -- perfect!  It might actually be finished by October, too.

Details, clockwise: Beaded couching, cretan stitch with detached chain stitches, chain stitch, feather stitch with beading tacking down giant rick-rack:

More feather stitch with beading (my favorite), plastic "barrettes" that hold two strands of hair making them useless couched down and with detached chain stitch leaves, buttons and beads,  net stitch tacking down a piece of embroidered gold netting, laced back stitch:

Sequins and beads, chevron stitch, ruched ribbon with little metal flowers:

Even more feather stitch with beads, and shisha mirrors (the pre-embroidered sequin kind):