Search This Blog

Thursday, April 25, 2024

Bead Candy Eggs

Cath Thomas has a wonderful modification of her bolas tutorial to make beaded stripey Easter eggs. So of course I made a bunch (you can't stop at one!), playing around with colors and sizes: 

 I've got decades of experience in mentally flipping stitching instructions from left to right, because I'm a lefty in a world of righties. But this tutorial defeated me; there was no way I could figure out the join until I finally turned my beadwork inside out to force it to match the images in the tutorial.  The zipping up, though, is the best part 😍.

Friday, April 12, 2024


 Cherry blossoms are beautiful and I wanted to make a little hoop of them:

I free-styled a branch with snippets of brown wool felt, then cut little flowers out of pale and very pale pink wool-blend felt and stitched them down with dark pink stitches. As soon as I find a wooden 5-inch hoop I will rehoop it, and maybe iron the cotton fabric, haha.

I work on this little hoop every spring, choosing a couple of the blooming trees and bushes in my neighborhood to represent:

Most recently I stitched the cherry blossoms and large yellow flowers at the bottom, above the pink knots. 

I'm lucky to live in such a pretty neighborhood.

Monday, April 8, 2024

Book Round-up

The Eighth Detective by Alex Pavesi: This was an interesting novel -- a mathematician devises seven necessary conditions for a mystery and writes seven short stories to illustrate them before disappearing from the public eye. Eventually a young editor seeks him out to get his permission for a reissue, and the novel consists of the seven stories alternating with their conversations about them. There are, of course, twists to be had and secrets to be revealed. It serves as a minimalist contrast to the maximalist Everyone in my Family Has Killed Someone, which elaborated the (technically unnecessary) tropes that populate most mysteries.

The Little Village of Book Lovers by Nina George: an unexpected treat mailed to me by an acquaintance. That it was a sweet paean to good books and a simple life was a given; that it was also wise and funny was not. It's magical realism, too, so of course this was perfect for me.

Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery: my next (out of order) purchase to replace my tattered paperbacks. As an adult I have a newfound appreciation for both Montgomery's characterizations and her sense of humor.

The Sinister Pig by Tony Hillerman: I didn't love these as much as the earlier ones; too much time spent with the bad guys and not enough for Bernadette Manuelito to do. I did enjoy it, though.

Tuesday, March 19, 2024

No Two Persons by Erica Bauermeister

This was a original and moving novel about reading; more specifically, how no two people will read a book the same way. It's tightly structured, taking us chapter by chapter through the creation of a book -- the author's inspiration and creation, the agent who recommends publication, the actor who narrates the audiobook, and all the readers who pick it up. Amusingly, not all of them actually read it; one artist resents its popularity and the fact that it was her mother who gave it to her; nonetheless, it becomes a part of her masterpiece sculpture.

There are other elements besides the book that link the stories together, such as a traveling nurse who knows several of the readers, an essay written by one that inspires another, the image of slipping under water. These are, I think, ultimately unnecessary, because the crux of the novel is how each character encounters the book and is affected by it. For one, it inspires hope, for another, it forces a change of perspective, for a third it represents a life-long achievement. One character finds healing and another wrestles with a long-buried trauma. All of them come out of their encounter on a new path. I can't think of a better way of demonstrating the power of a good book.

Saturday, March 16, 2024

Honeycomb by Joanne Harris

 I discovered this book by pure happenstance; I had no idea Harris, most famous for writing Chocolat, had written a collection of fairy tales. There are fables and just-so stories, but the bulk are fairy tales of the kind that used to be told, with fairies -- called Silken Folk -- who are as capricious as they are beautiful. Many relate the adventures and misdeeds of the Lacewing King, a prince of the Silken Folk who steals the Spider Queen's crown, aids the Clockwork Princess, and spars with the treacherous Harlequin before finally meeting his fate. Linking all the stories are the motifs of bees and honeycomb, by which stories are transmitted through the nine worlds. "This is a story the bees used to tell ..."

The stories are elegant but also deeply cynical. Kindness is rare, and virtue is never rewarded. A set of fables inspired by Animal Farm illustrate modern ills such as fascism and influencers, and the morals can be heavy-handed; others simply reflect the cruelties of the world. Each story is by itself clever and amusing, but read collectively they wear on the soul. What a shame to see such beauty in nature, in insects, in storytelling, but not in humanity.

Sunday, March 10, 2024

Emily Wilde's Map of the Otherlands by Heather Fawcett

 The second in Fawcett's series was just as delightful as the first. The fairies in this novel are enchanting, dangerous, and illogical, just as in the old stories, and as a result humans take different approaches to dealing with them: some try to bargain with them, some placate them, some do their very best to ignore them. 

And then there are people like Emily Wilde, who want to study them. Emily makes for an unusual protagonist: she's a brilliant academic but a terrible people person, and often has to rely on her friend (and fairy prince in exile) Wendell to smooth things over. She's very good at getting herself into and out of danger, but she's no warrior princess and sometimes she needs to be rescued. She's dorky and prickly, and some of the funniest scenes are because of her own obliviousness. 

Emily is not the only scholar this time around (Wendell doesn't count, he's too lazy to actually learn anything); she's joined on her adventures by professor Rose, who is a welcome addition to the story. He is more experienced than she is but also more conservative and old-fashioned in his approach, making him a good antagonist who is nonetheless an ally when it counts. I don't think we will see him in the concluding novel, but maybe I'll be pleasantly surprised.

The covers of the American editions are gorgeous, and having embroidered a pendant based on the first novel, earrings made sense for this one:

Maybe a pin for the last one? Or a bookmark.

Friday, March 8, 2024

A Bit of Crochet

Well, more than a bit. I lost on the bus the wonderful hat my mom knit, and because of her arthritis she can't make me another (and I'm terrible at knitting, so that's out). It was big and slouchy and perfect for covering my ears, so I set out to find an hat to crochet that would be easy to adjust for maximum coziness. The "Ribbed Wonder" fit the bill; I especially liked that the rows are vertical, making it super easy to adjust for my giant head. Of course, I was so focused on the width I didn't pay attention to the fact that it is much too long for me, and I have to cuff it twice to avoid looking like "Dumb" Donald. But I love it!

 I find it amusing that as I've learned how to crochet I've gone from a ridiculously complicated hat to a moderately complicated one to the easiest possible style.

I also needed a way to store in my shower bars of soap that are likely to melt away if they can't dry properly. With only the vaguest idea of what to look for, I stumbled upon the notion of soap savers, and found an easy one to crochet. I didn't have any fancy linen yarn but acrylic seems to do the trick, and if it doesn't last I can always make another.

I still have to finish my sweater. Two years and counting!