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Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout

Olive Kitteridge is a collection of linked stories, most set in a Maine town and all either featuring or mentioning the title character.  Strout captures the feel of a small New England town, and each story is moving in its depiction of the ordinary pleasures and heartbreaks of life.  But it is Olive herself who is the standout of the collection.  She is unlike any other female character I have encountered -- brittle, complicated, abrasive, passionate, and hurting.  She can be remarkably insightful in some ways, as when she acknowledges how much fear rules her life, or with her ability to see right to the heart of people she has only just met.  Yet she can be unthinkingly cruel, and is frustratingly blind to the effect her manner has on others.  Given how often people inanely debate whether a female character is "likeable," Olive Kitteridge is a revelation.  These stories, and Olive herself, are utterly captivating.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Mmm ... Donuts ...

The one on the left is made of felt, pattern from the Winter 2010 issue of Quilts and More. The right is crocheted, from the issue 65 of Mollie Makes (I modified the pattern slightly by replacing some of the single crochet stitches in the last round of the frosting with double and triple crochets, to add an organic feel).

Friday, September 16, 2016


Cacti appear to be the newest craft trend, popping up everywhere; and who am I to resist?  The Crafty Chica had a post that served as inspiration, so I grabbed some sage green yarn and crocheted a few:
I used patterns (or parts of them) from here, here, and here.

Coincidentally, the free kit with issue 68 of Mollie Makes included two mini hoop frames and eight cactus patterns.

I started thinking about how to bead a three-dimensional cactus, but I'd better set that aside for now, to focus on seasonal crafting.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

The Silver Witch by Paula Brackston

Joining the Inspired by Reading Book Club seemed like a no-brainer; I've been inspired more than once by what I read.  I won't be able to participate every month, but I look forward to those times I can.

August's selection was The Silver Witch by Paula Brackston, about a young widow who moves to a small house by a lake in Wales, and learns she has an unexpected connection to the lake's past.  A book with magic, folklore, and archeology is right up my alley, and for the most part I enjoyed the story.  Tilda is the widow in question, and Brackston does an excellent job depicting both her depression and her growing powers as she realizes that she is descended from a witch -- Seren -- who lived by the lake hundreds of years ago.

However, for a novel about powerful women there were odd gender politics.  The only other women of note in Seren's story are the main antagonists, who are, of course, jealous of her beauty and power and especially the love the local prince (married to one of the women!) has for her.  The nameless women of the village don't fare much better; Seren makes her contempt for their ordinary lives quite clear.  In Tilda's story, there are practically no women at all; even Tilda's mother (who never actually appears) is apparently only tolerated because of Tilda's love for her father.

The story was nonetheless enjoyable, and inspiration hit right away.  I had picked up an issue of Chain Maille Jewelry, and in it were instructions by Rebecca Mojica to make a Celtic Spikes pendant.  The pattern called for colored rings but I only had silver rings in the right sizes, which was apropos.  I strung the resulting pendant on a length of green velvet:
That's not text from The Silver Witch; I had to return it to the library
Silver and green work quite well for the lakeside setting, the moon, and the heroines themselves.

I look forward to seeing what everyone else made!