Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Book Review: Cupboard Full of Coats

A Cupboard Full of Coats by Yvvette Edwards is an unhappy story, mostly about a mother-daughter relationship, but also other relationships in their small circle of friends, all of which are abusive or very distressed. Despite its sad theme, I enjoyed reading this book because of the good writing. It's told through the daughter's eyes, switching between her current age of 30 and her younger age of 14. This transition between time periods is done well, and I was interested in reading further to watch the story unfold.

I give it four of five stars for the good writing, even though I felt ambivalent about how unhappy it was, and the fact that there were no "heroes" in all those mixed up relationships. I kept hoping someone would see the light.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Some Sewing

Time has flown, and it has been too long between posts. I'm happy to be back to my little blog. I will now show you some of the sewing I have been doing and which I have neglected to post here at blogland.

One of my small groups learned how to make these funky birds, and I have had fun continuing to make them past our little project that we assigned ourselves. I have a few more that I haven't even photographed yet. These will go into a quilt soon (I hope).

I made these blocks in February and sent them off to Texas, but they never arrived. If, for some reason, they landed on your doorstep, wouldn't you love to return them to me?

This is new fabric which I bought on Thursday, and made this bag on Friday. (The fabric is from Free Spirit.) I love how the bottom turned out (just a happy accident in my world).

a smaller, kid-size bag

some quilt tops for Quilts Beyond Borders- will be quilted by another volunteer

The first two (below) were donated to a free clinic in this area. The third is mine, for now.. I'm deciding where it should go. And the fourth is one of my most recent Works in Progress.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Book Review: Prudence

Prudence by David Treuer -- A good writer can show you a picture of what's happening, show you the surroundings and you can feel what the characters feel, all without the language shouting at you. That is what happened in this book. It is beautifully written. Reading good writing warms my heart and soul.

Set in northern Minnesota, characters include a POW camp for German soldiers during WWII, a Chicago-area couple who own a summer resort across the river from the camp, their son, some of his friends, both Indian and white, and various local residents.

The story comes around and loops into its many threads, kind of like real life does. People are affected by a tragic accident; it stays with them for the rest of their days; Nazi atrocities even make a quiet visit to this remote town several years after the end of the war. Humans have a way of loving, living, and hurting each other, and this book shows it all from the inside out. Great book.

Friday, March 10, 2017

All My Groups

Over time I have become involved in several quilty groups... so many of them! No wonder I'm so busy.

I am a member of an online group, Sunshine. We support two programs with quilts for kids. A large percentage of what I make goes to the Sunshine programs. The needs are on-going, so there is always a quilt in the works. I just made this quilt top. The crumb blocks were made by another Sunshine member, Lois, and I added the whites and put it together in this zipper pattern.

I am a member of a local guild, Minnesota Contemporary Quilters. There are many very talented artists in this group, and it is a good challenge for me, attempting to stretch my wings and try some art quilting.
a man quilt by Carol H. of MCQ

MCQ encourages small group participation, so several of us started a new group called Loose Threads. We've been together about two years now. We try to create challenges, attend classes and lectures, learn new techniques, share information we learn in other venues, sometimes we have sewing days together, and always we include going out for lunch. We have such fun!
Loose Threads visiting a studio in Wisconsin
This fabulous pink Victorian house was made by Sunny. She is very talented and prolific. I have learned a lot from her.

My cousin and I got connected to a quilt group that meets at my other cousin's church. They meet once a week, but because it's such a long drive from us (40 min. for me, an hour for cousin).. we don't make it there every week. This group is called Stitch 'n Rip Quilters. The picture below is one of the members, Rita, who already made a quilt top from some of the blocks being posted by Pat Sloan (Solstice Quilt).

Another small group which we call Cute as Buttons has only three members. We started it kind of on a whim. We have done a couple of challenges with each other, and we always go out for lunch. Picture below is Beth and Kathy, holding a round robin we all worked on. This one belongs to Kathy.

I started a once-a-month sewing day that meets at my church. It's a loosely formed group of friends who enjoy getting an uninterrupted time for sewing and enjoying group camaraderie. We call ourselves Orange Quilters. It's kind of weird to name our group, because several of us overlap membership in one or more of the above groups, but it's just fun to have a name for who we are on that monthly gathering.
Sally and Andrea sewing at church

Once I consciously thought about all the groups I'm in, I realized why I feel so busy. On top of this, I need time at home to sew the projects I work on for the above groups, and I do volunteer work through my church and other organizations. Sometimes I babysit for my "bonus grandson." I also still work part-time, but luckily it is very few hours. So life is full, and I always have things to work on and practice my creativity. Life is good!

Monday, March 06, 2017

Book Review: What She Left Behind

I decided it was silly to continue calling these book reviews "Friday Books" when I rarely get the review posted on a Friday. If you want, you can still search for all my reviews by using the tag 'Friday Books,' but I'm going to start calling them Book Review. It has been a long time since I read a book per week to be reviewed on every Friday. Since those days I have slowed way down on my reading.

The book I recently finished is What She Left Behind by Ellen Marie Wiseman. The premise is interesting.. what life was like inside an insane asylum back in the 1930s and 40s, especially for women. Back then women were sent to asylums for a number of reasons which today we recognize as normal and not a mental illness at all, or being something that is treatable outside an institution: depression, mood swings, being too assertive, or just annoying someone. Involuntary placement was not uncommon.

The author did a bit of research to find out what life inside was like; she set her novel in Willard Asylum which was a real place in central New York, near Ithaca. My sister lives in that area, so I found it fun to find familiar place names in this novel.

It started out interesting, but it dragged on for too long. It was predictable, for the most part. Part of my prediction was wrong, but mostly it was correct. The best part of the book was the last couple of chapters when the tension and mystery escalated. Otherwise, I was glad when I finally finished the book.

Now I am curious about the actual place on which it was based. I'm going to do a little of my own research, and will also ask my sister what she may have heard or observed about the place (which was closed long ago, of course).

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

An Excellent Quilt Show

I am now a former member of this Dakota County Star Quilters guild that puts on an annual show in a local museum. It feels funny to say that, because I was a faithful member for about 16 years! I found myself getting busy with another guild and decided I didn't want to split my loyalties. My "new" guild is the MN Contemporary Quilters, and I find it to be a good challenge for where I am in my quilting life, so I did not renew membership at the previous guild.

Anyway, I went to this year's show and really loved it. This year they decided to collaborate with Minnesota Modern Quilt Guild, so the quilts on display are of a wide variety from traditional to very modern. What fun!

My camera battery was dying, so I only took a few pictures. I'll probably go back to the show again and will take more the next time.

by Rosemary Root
I believe this one is by Nancy Bekedam

I don't know who made the next two:

The first one below is the Bonnie Hunter mystery, made by Nancy Bekedam. I don't know who made the next three.
This last one was also by Nancy Bekedam (yes, she is prolific).. she does longarm quilting and this one is BEAUTIFULLY quilted. I voted for this one for Viewers' Choice Best of Show.
I'll have to go back and get a better shot of this one.
And there are many more that I want to show you! Stay tuned.