Thursday, July 27, 2017

Halloween in July is Over

Look what I finished! For a ninety-nine cent thrift shop cross stitch kit, it's pretty dang cute. I'm thinking about maybe tea-dying it and adding a black ruffle around the outer edge, but for now it's done. 

The kit, which wasn't a brand I'm familiar with, only left me with one complaint. There is barely enough room for the design on that pre-made banner. I did my best to center the design and was one stitch too far for the left. Any more than that, and I wouldn't have had room for the letter H.

Other than that, the colors were pre-sorted and there was more than enough of each color.  The chart was large and easy to read unlike the chart I'm using now, which I'll tell you about in a few days.

I'm glad I decided to pick up my cross-stitching again. I'd forgotten how much fun it is.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

{Books and Yarn} Texture

I must've gone through my entire Ralvelry queue trying to find the perfect pattern to use with this yarn...and in the end I'm making those same lace rib socks I've made twice so far this year. But instead of doing two purl stitches between the rows of lace, I'm doing a purl-knit-purl. It's just different enough to keep me entertained, and I love the way it looks.

The Marriage Pact by Michelle Richmond.

Alice and Jake don't intend to join The Pact, it just sort of happens. After he says that he loves weddings, Alice invites a new client to her own upcoming celebration. Soon after that, a wooden box containing a smaller locked box is delivered to their house.  Once they return from their honeymoon, a Pact member comes and explains the significance of the gift to Jake and Alice. It's an invitation to join an elite group dedicated to strengthening the marriages of their members. What could be wrong with that? Plenty.

I absolutely loved this fast-paced thriller. It is dumb of Jake and Alice to sign on the dotted line in the first place, especially since Alice is a lawyer and doesn't take the time to read the entire contract, but real people sign up for predatory time shares and multi-level marketing companies all the time, so I was able to understand how they slipped into the group's clutches. As far as fictional married couples go, these two seem to really care about each other. They're three-dimensional characters who actually communicate with each other. Alice's background as a lawyer and Jake's background as a marriage counselor give them plenty of insight into what's right and what's very, very wrong with the group they've fallen in with. The entire book is told from Jake's point of view, so there's no bouncing back and forth between multiple characters. We know what he knows, and what Alice tells him and, except for a brief teaser at the beginning, things happen in order.

Anything But Simple by Lucinda J Miller

I picked up this one because I was curious. I enjoy the glimpses that memoirs give me into lives different from my own and I always worry that I'm breaking some unknown rule when we're shopping at the local grocery stores owned by Mennonites. Maybe, I thought, this book would help me figure out some of those rules. I came away from reading it with the thought that maybe I've been worrying about nothing. The author's life was interesting to read about and not nearly as different from my own as I would have imagined. She's open about her thought and feelings, but I never felt like she was sharing too many intimate details.

Tangible Spirits by Becki Willis

The dead stay dead. Gera Stapleton is convinced of that fact and not at all pleased to be sent to report on a murder in the ghost filled town of Jerome, Arizona. Everyone but her seems convinced that Mac, the most well known of the local spooks, is the killer.  (They also blame him for problems with the local wifi.) There's a strong romantic element to the plot that reminds me of the Harlequins I used to read and I've never been so concerned about a heroine's driving ability. Tangible Spirits combines an intriguing murder mystery with some really fascinating local legends. I'm not sure I correctly separated the real ones from the author's creations, but I definitely enjoyed having a different view of Jerome than we get when walking through the gift shops on our annual trip down to Sedona.  

Disclosure -- I was provided with advance review copies by the publishers. All opinions are my own. This post is linked to  iknead2knit, and  Frontier Dreams  

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

I'd Forgotten Why I Gave up on Cross Stitch Kits

I used to shy away from cross stitch kits. Given the choice, I'd always buy a pattern and floss. 

Over all the years of not stitching, I'd forgotten about that. Now that I've splurged on so many kits from that estate sale, I remember why I felt that way.  

Unlike the brand new kits I've added to my stash over the past couple of years, this one came with a bundle of unidentified floss. I'm not good at telling the difference between light lime green, dark lime green, and light green. Or light blue, royal blue, light slate blue, and dark slate blue. (And no, I'm not making those color names up, they're all in there.)

So last night I pulled up a chart to convert the Bucilla floss numbers to DMC and used my DMC color card to make sure that  I was matching the right shades to the right color names. I still wound up making some educated guesses, but I think it's close enough, especially for a sunset.

Monday, July 24, 2017

The Challenge of Working With Precuts

I enjoy working with precuts, but they can present some real challenges. 

I thought I'd use this Moda Candy bundle to make a project bag. It's been sitting in my stash for a while, too pretty to actually use in a project (or that's what I'd convinced myself because the ruler print is so absolutely perfect. Last night the solution finally hit me. Sew the squares into two panels and make a bag -- can't mess the fabric up that way, right?

I was going to divide the squares into two piles and arrange the fabrics so that the colors were evenly distributed. Once I got started, it was like a particularly vicious math problem. There are sooo many of those tiny checks. And a bunch of the prints are directional. And the whole thing just started to make my head spin.

I thought I was close to figuring it out, putting my favorite prints on one side of the bag and the others on the back...except for all of those tiny checks. Some of them even have duplicates! Looking at the pictures as I type this, I can see lots of poor choices with the fabric placement, then I think of sewing them together and keeping every square in the right order and facing the right direction and I think I'll just take the boys down to the river instead of struggling with it.

I do love the fabric collection (Moda Potluck) and could do amazing things with a jelly roll or some yardage, but these little 2 1/2" squares may be the death of me. Or may go back into my drawer of fabric that's too good to cut into.


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