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.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

{Estate Sale Tempations} ALL the Cross-Stitch Kits

Do you drive past garage sales because they don't have much stuff spread out on the lawn or driveway?  I do that all the time, but maybe I shouldn't. Because I never ever would have stopped at this one if I hadn't seen the Craigslist ad with a box of what looked like old cross stitch kits with "$3.00 Each" written across the front. 

And I would have never known what I missed out on. 

There were several boxes of kits. The ones for three bucks each, the ones for five bucks each (supposedly because those were more expensive kits, but I couldn't see a rhyme or reason to which was where), and the ones for fifty cents each. Those are the ones in the top picture.

In the box of five dollar kits was a plastic bag full of little kits. I could see one of the Mill Hill Halloween kits and what looked like a bunch of the smaller beaded kits. All for five dollars. (That worked out to thirty-five cents a kit, in case you're wondering.)

I looked through the boxes of three and five dollar kits and almost bought one before realizing that it was embellished cross-stitch, which isn't my style at all, and then bought the stuff from those first two pictures, all for ten dollars, and went off to do the grocery shopping.

All the way through Winco and Costco I kept thinking about the yarn. It was a dollar a skein, which is probably the least expensive way I'll ever be able to try that ruffled novelty yarn...and the sale was due to end soon, so maybe they'd be negotiable on the prices. The ad did say "Everything must go!"

When the lady saw me looking, she said I could have the yarn for two bucks if I took the whole bag. At that point, I wasn't even sure any of the ruffled stuff was left, but for two dollars I'd happily knit scarves for the library's annual mitten tree.

And then she told me that the kits were marked down to two dollars each...

Instead of asking myself what I was absolutely sure I'd get around to stitching I went through and picked out all of the kits that even sort of fit my taste. Did I mention that none of these have been opened?

The whole haul only cost me twenty-six dollars and I doubt I took half of the kits they had, not to mention whatever was there on Friday. I doubt I'll ever stitch them all, but I can always pass them along or resell them or, for what I paid, use the  fabric and  floss for something else.

As for those other sales I've driven past.... I doubt they had anything like this!

How about you? Do you judge yard sales from your car window?


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