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I keep telling myself not to buy any more fiction books at the moment as I have such a large pile to read and a great local library.

However I keep seeing great new titles which fit with this challenge and WH Smith has this habit of doing a buy one get one half price offer. And they look so pretty on the shelves, all that literary loveliness just waiting for me to take home.

So I failed to resist temptation on a recent trip out for a placement visit when I popped into WH Smith for a packet of mints and came out with two titles – one has not been read yet but is also for the challenge.

This is book 13, a book with a female heroine and is Miss Carter’s War by Sheila Hancock. I know of Sheila as an actress and think that this is her first fiction book.

Miss Carter's War

I really enjoyed it but it was very different to what I was expecting. The ‘blurb’ gives the impression that it is about the heroine’s experiences just after the Second World War but it covers a much longer time frame with lots of references to the social history that I grew up with.

I also found it very interesting as a story about a teaching career as a lot of the things the heroine experienced were things that I have been through in my now 28 years of teaching. Can’t believe I have been doing it for so long – and still love it!

While waiting for our recent flight to Copenhagen, (which was delayed by 3 hours) , Mum and I just went for a browse again in WH Smith and despite me asking her to restrain me the same thing happened again. Slightly less guilt this time as we went halves on the books we bought.

This was one of our purchases which I have just finished,  book 18 which is a book with a blue cover, Mrs Hemingway by Naomi Wood. It is the story of Ernest Hemingway’s four wives and their relationships with each other as well as with him.

Mrs Hemingway

I have not ever read any Hemingway though know of his interest in the Spanish Civil War so have always meant to read him and will add him to my list now as I was very interested in the descriptions of his writing in the book.

The early parts of the book also have Scott Fitzgerald in as they socialised together and The Great Gatsby is also on my list to read and to see the latest film adaptation.

It took a while to get into the book as I was not very sympathetic to the characters at first but by halfway through I was hooked, partly due to the descriptions of their lifestyles from the 1920s to the 1940s where most of the book is set.

Again I think I liked it because it is another side to a story you know, of how the war affected people, in this case Ernest and his third wife who worked as war reporters.

So far I have read 8 out of the 26 books in the last four months, (as well as quite a few other non-challenge books), and have been enjoying the slightly different focus. I hope that you have found the reviews interesting as well and it has inspired you to read different things.

A couple of weeks ago at knitting my friend Emily gave out copies of two books that she had been sent for World Book Night, the idea of this is to distribute copies of the books you are sent to people who then pass it on to others, something Mum, Ellie and I do all of the time.

There were a couple of people said they didn’t really read and I thought that was so sad. I couldn’t imagine a life without books, or blogs which I consider just as wonderful as reading fiction. They did take books and hopefully will get hooked which is what the campaign is all about.

Hope that you have a lovely Bank Holiday weekend if you are in the UK , we are off to Ashby de la Zouche Castle for an event.

I am very pleased to say that I have this afternoon finished the surcoat I have been making for Jamie. Much more time needed than I had first allocated partly due to needing to sew the lining in 3 times ! Will be back next week with pictures of it in action, (I do hope it fits!)

Take care and thanks for visiting.

Book challenge number 22 is a book with pictures. As well as making things I love to read about the history of craft and none more so than the history behind quilts.

I have a growing collection of books on quilt history, both in the UK and US, and this is my latest acquisition which I have absolutely loved reading.

Wisconsin Quilts – History in the Stitches by Ellen Kort is a brilliant book as not only are the quilts wonderful but this was part of a special project to document quilts so they were brought by the current owners, often the descendants of the original makers.

This means that there are the stories and sometimes the pictures of the women who made them which is amazing as so often that information is lost.

Wisconsin Quilts

As expected many are stories of hardship, of women leaving families as new brides and moving west, to Wisconsin and then sometimes further west to Wyoming and Oregon as well in search of a better life. The quilts are beautiful and so detailed in their execution, all hand pieced and hand quilted.

These are three of my favourites, a Star of Bethlehem from 1856, a Rose Wreath from 1865 and a Grandmother’s Flower Garden Path from 1932 during the Depression.

Wisconsin quilt book

Wisconsin quilt book 3

Wisconsin quilt book 4

There are lots of deaths of children from disease and of husbands from accidents, injuries and later the Civil and First World Wars.

The quilts that they made so different from the ones we make today, from whatever they could find in the way of fabric, saving and reusing every scrap where we have the luxury of yards of new fabric to choose from.

This quilt was made from advertising flannels given away with tobacco products in the 1920s.

Wisconsin quilt book 2

One of the quilts was made in England from scraps of velvet fabric saved by one of the needlewomen who made Queen Victoria’s bonnets.

Unfortunately too dark for me to photograph properly it travelled to the USA with its maker Kitty Weekes in the late 1840s when she went to join her brother Thomas and his friend George in Wisconsin. She helped clear land and build a house and married George in 1855 at the age of 44.

There are however so many similarities between us and those women, quilts made for celebration such as births and weddings, quilts made with friends for company, quilting being a little bit of ‘me time’ at the end of a hard day, though my hardest days at work cannot compare to being a pioneer farmer’s wife in the 1800s.

There are also quilts made to raise funds for war efforts, both the Civil war and the First World War like this one – an autograph quilt to raise money for the Red Cross.

Wisconsin quilt book 5

I have been watching the Poldark series on BBC TV and many of the Cornish miners emigrated to Wisconsin when the mines began to decline and worked in lead mines there.

This is how the West was truly won, the hard work of all those men and women who set out alone and worked through cold winters and lonely times.

The book is a brilliant portrayal of the social history of a new state covering the late 1700s to 1943 and a really interesting read.

I have recently finished another book about emigration which has a personal connection so will post about that another time.

Thanks very much for visiting.

I blame Amazon, all you are doing is checking if they have a book and putting it on your wishlist for future reference, a sewing book recommended by one of my new favourite blogs,  Did You Make That?

Then when you are updating your wishlist there is a little message that says, ‘get yourself a little something’ , and you think, ‘no Amazon I am being good’, as I have 27 books in the, ‘to be read pile’ , already.

But then you see that something you have had on your wishlist for ages has gone down to a ridiculously low price AND it is being sold by one of the charity book sellers and it is Easter and you don’t really like chocolate so no-one has bought you any so it is really an Easter present to yourself :-)

Anyway it is done and it is on its way and I could have worse vices than a small book addiction I suppose.

I have bought Flower Power Patchwork which was reviewed in one of my quilt mags a while ago, looks like it will be really good for using some of my beautiful Liberty fabric.

Flower Power Patchwork

It is a gorgeous weekend here and I am very much enjoying the sunshine, I replanted my hanging baskets yesterday and they are looking very pretty.

April flowers

I have also made very good progress with the re-knitting of the cuff for the #knit for winter mittens that I first blogged about a couple of days ago.

Knit for winter - Cuff knitting

It worked much better with the Debbie Bliss yarn and I have now picked up all of the stitches and am ready for the knitting in the round stuff.

It doesn’t seem to fit very well on the circular needles, seems to be a bit too small for me to actually knit with – maybe I am doing something wrong but think I need to use the DPNs instead, shall wait until knitting group on Tuesday for more advice.

Well must go now as the bin men have just been which means I can put the washing out for the first time this year – very exciting, my life is so rock and roll ;-)

Thanks for visiting and enjoy your sunshine if you are lucky enough to have some.

The focus of this challenge was a book with a great first line and I kept thinking of one of my all time favourites, Pride and Prejudice, ““It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.”

Not knowing how I was going to beat that I pondered for a while then came across this in our  staff room book exchange.

Me and Mr Darcy looked like it might fit the bill and I loved the opening line, “it is a truth universally acknowledged that a single girl in possession of her right mind must be in want of a decent man, there’s just one problem….”

Me and Mr Darcy

I have read Alexandra Potter’s books before and enjoyed them and after the last two wanted something a bit lighter to read. I have loved all the other ‘based on Pride and Prejudice’ adaptations such as Bridget Jones (not read the zombies one though, don’t like zombies!).

One of my favourite movies is the Bollywood version – Bride and Prejudice with the beautiful Aishwarya Rai which has some brilliant scenes with excellent dance music. Here is a link to one of my favourite dance scenes on You Tube.

Aishwarya-Rai

It was a great read and a realistic romantic novel if that makes sense, I liked the heroine and thought that the rest of the characters were well written, the way the Darcy and Elizabeth storyline was adapted was very clever as well. All in all an enjoyable read.

Am spending the rest of this weekend doing alterations on one of Ellie’s medieval dresses and finishing off more hexagon gifts (and expecting my lovely son home this afternoon!)

It is sunny Spring day, still chilly out but the crocuses and daffodils are in bloom here so it is very pretty. Borrowing Ted the dog to take for a little walk later as well.

Happy life! Hope you are all having a good time and thanks for visiting.

 

I am having a very, very lovely week so far. I have been sent on a writing retreat by work to finish part of my doctorate at a most gorgeous place, the Gladstone’s Library in the pretty village of Hawarden in North Wales.

Hawarden 13

Hawarden 14

There are lots of books – this morning I was working in this amazing place.

reading-rooms

And also not one but two castles just down the road (pictures in a minute) and a beautiful church with stained glass to die for.

The food is amazing and I am having a lovely time getting to know some of the new colleagues that have joined us at the University recently – there may be visits to the pub and wine involved in that bit :-)

I am feeling very relaxed and happy and making great progress with the writing (which is the whole point of being here!)

The library was set up by William Gladstone who was Prime Minister four times in the Victorian era and whose family home is this modern castle, sadly not open to the public.

It reminds me a lot of Boddelwyddan Castle  just along from here where we have been lucky enough to do a couple of events. It is quite possibly by the same architect.

hawarden new castle

But I did get to go for a walk in the parkland surrounding the old medieval castle which was very lovely, on a mild Spring day with lots of these gorgeous flowers everywhere – well we are in Wales!

Hawarden 2

Hawarden

I went for a little walk in the village as well past the old House of Correction and a lovely fountain.

Hawarden 3

Hawarden 4

Hawarden 5

The church, St Deniols, was very nice with an extensive old graveyard with some sad tales to be told from the gravestones of war and childhood death. And an amazing surprise inside, stained glass windows by Edward Burne-Jones and William Morris.

Hawarden 6

Hawarden 7

Hawarden 8

Hawarden 9

Hawarden 10

Hawarden 11

Hawarden 12

I am seriously considering staying (not least because Ofsted are due at any minute!) but may have to go home soon so I can still fit in my jeans as there is lovely breakfast, lunch and tea plus morning coffee and afternoon, both of which may include cake – only to be polite of course.

In one of the corridors is a stitched piece by the local WI celebrating the village’s history.

Hawarden 15

Hawarden 16

Hawarden 17

However I do have Ellie’s velvet dress to alter for the start of the season at the end of April and a couple of other things to make so it will be (reluctantly) back to normality on Thursday.

Meanwhile I shall enjoy!

Hope you are all having a lovely week and thanks for visiting.

I am having a lovely week so far mainly working from home which was fortuitous as a long-awaited Amazon order arrived today and I was in to sign for it :-)

Hexalicious book

I ordered this title, The New Hexagon by Katja Marek, as I saw a review of it in one of my quilting magazines and am very excited. I love the fabric choices which make the front cover blocks look like one of those kaleidoscope toys I had as a kid.

Regular readers will know that I have a bit of a hexagon addiction going on at the moment and have done lots of things with ordinary hexagons.

I am now experimenting with diamonds making some little pin cushions and needlebook gifts and was looking for more things to do now that I am more confident with this English Paper Piecing lark!

I bought this other book below, Quilting on the Go by Jessica Alexandrakis,   for my Mum as a Mother’s Day present and it is a very good basic introduction to the craft with lots of useful templates and ideas for small and large projects.

Quilting on the Go

However I wanted something a bit more challenging for me, well just look at all this deliciousness ;-)

Hexalicious book 5

Hexalicious book 2

This is actually called the Hexalicious Wall Quilt hence the post title and I love the bright colours and the border fabric!

Hexalicious book 3

The patterns work equally well with more subtle fabric though as in this example.

Hexalicious book 4

So happy! Am taking this to knitting group tonight to share with my friends, I am sure Helen the premier quilter amongst us will be very impressed.

Right back to work now, coffee break over ;-)

Thanks for visiting and see you soon.

I am very much enjoying this challenge as it is making me get around to reading those things that I have always meant to read plus so many unexpected others.

I am doing it out of numerical order but have created a little list of books that I am intending to read and am highlighting them as I go – I do love a bit of organisation!

Number 10 on the challenge is ‘A book set somewhere you have always wanted to visit’ and this book fulfils that category and also another personal target of finishing a book you have been lent. I love how talking about books to people brings up such unexpected joys and this one was prompted by my finding of another book by this author in a charity shop this summer.

You may remember I went to Bridgnorth on the steam train with my friends in August and we had a wander round and went into a couple of charity shops, my favourite sort of shopping ever!

I am not keen on shopping generally, I like shopping for food, especially now there is just me to buy for and I have lots of time (shopping for food with small children is not so much fun!) However I cannot bear to waste time in malls or clothes shops, most of them seem overpriced and full of ugly clothes.

But show me a row of charity shops and my little heart leaps! There could be all sorts of joy just in one shop – a new top (39 floaty tops is not too much is it?), new books (to add to the 23 already waiting to be read) , vintage embroidery to add to the stash (well it won’t go off will it?)

And there is always the chance of a completely unexpected find, last year I got these beauties from one of the shops in the village at an amazing £25 for the pair.

candlesticks

They are my pride and joy in the living room candle collection (I have to keep a close eye on them as various friends really like them as well!)

Plus the pleasure of knowing that you are donating money to a very good cause rather than just some company’s profit, you are saving things from landfill, giving people’s hard work in stitching a new lease of life and a hundred other reasons why charity shopping is so much better than normal shopping.

Not to mention saving money – why pay £40 for one top when you could have 10  (that does explain the 39 in my wardrobe!)

I digress – on the trip to Bridgnorth I picked up ‘The Forty Rules of Love’  by Turkish author Elif Shafak, intrigued by the write up on the back and started reading it on the train home.

The Forty Rules of Love

It was one of those ‘can’t put down’ books that really makes you feel you have found something amazing and I had it my pile to pass on to my Mum as it is full of the most beautiful sayings based on the work of a Sufi mystic and poet Rumi.

I mentioned this book to one of my trainees this year and offered to lend it to him as he is interested in Rumi’s writings and then another trainee who is Turkish offered to lend me one of the author’s books, ‘The Bastard of Istanbul’.

The Bastard of Istanbul

I would love to visit Instanbul one day and so this book came to be included in my list. It is a very interesting read as it deal with the lives of a Turkish family in Instanbul and an Armenian family in the US so lots of insight into an area of history I know very little of.

It did not have much about Istanbul in it but was a very engaging story and I would like to read more by this author, her Amazon page is here if you are interested.

It was similar in some respects to book number 20 ‘A book everyone but you has read’, this one is , ‘A Thousand Splendid Sons’ by Khaled Hosseini, mentioned to me by lots of people and an international best seller.

A Thousand Splendid Suns

Both books deal with the lives of women (and both are women who were born illegitimate) and this one was very, very thought provoking deal with some very harsh realities of life for the women of Afghanistan in the 1990s.

The sort of book that everyone should read because it gives another perspective to the all the things we see on the news and in dramas. Not an enjoyable read in many ways but a powerful story.

It also links into another of my life goals which is to visit every country that ends in ‘stan’. Stan means country or land  and there are currently seven,  Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Khazakstan, Turkmenistan, Pakistan, previously many of these were part of the Soviet Union.

These may not be on everyone’s holiday wish list as they are countries that are more often in the news for negative reasons but they hold such beauty and history and hopefully I will be able to start on this list soon. This is one of the reasons why, just look at the majesty of these mosque buildings in Registan which was the ancient city of Samarkand.

Uzbeiksitan

I am just finishing off the editing on the last of the goldwork pictures then will post those, meanwhile there is serious work to be done so had better get to that rather than dreaming of travels!

Take care and thanks for visiting.

I have just got back from a great week in Spain and have so many fab pictures of embroidery to sort out for you. I have of course been doing lots of reading and have completed Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel , the first one of my challenge. That was the book by an author I hadn’t read.

Wolf Hall pic

I enjoyed it but would probably have benefitted from not reading it late at night after work, even though I knew the storyline I still got confused at times as I was often too tired.

I enjoyed the alternative perspective to a story I know well and the sense from the book that he (Thomas Cromwell) as with all the other characters didn’t know how significant their actions and their period in history would be. I am looking forward to watching the TV series now and drooling over all the Tudor costume.

Book number 3 is one that I chose for its cover , this was One Moment, One Morning by Sarah Rayner which was one of my charity shop purchases while in Spain.

I loved the photo on the front and while it does not really illustrate what the book is about is a lovely image and does reflect some of the content.

One moment One morning

It was one of those ‘moment in time’ books that fascinate me, the idea that a single thing can happen which changes lots of other things and it was a really thought-provoking story. I read it in a day it was that good and luckily I had a day to read – I love being on holiday :-)

Have also read another from the list and have started a 4th one, will post about those later along with all that wonderful embroidery!

Take care and thanks for visiting.

I love reading, it might even be more of a favourite thing to do than play with fabric and thread :-) Books are my constant companions and always have been, my childhood memories of the Saturday morning visits to the library every week and the joy that I found getting lost in the world of books have turned into an adult passion for reading.

It is the most wonderful thing to do and I am very bad at not resisting the temptation to buy them all the time, from Amazon, from charity shops, there is always room in this house for another book!

I came across this challenge while doing some blog catching up today – the original post is at this blog but I think I will join in and update my progress here and on the challenge Facebook page.

Here is the list of books.

26 Books

I think 26 in a year will be reasonable to do (given that on my holidays to Spain I can do 5 in a week!)

My first book will be one that I have just started – was thinking that this could have been number 2, ‘a book made into a movie’, but strictly speaking it is a TV series’, so this book will fulfil number 6, ‘ a book by an author you have not read before’.

Last year while on our National Trust holiday Kerry and I wanted to visit Montacute House but it was closed for the filming of a Hilary Mantel book , ‘Wolf Hall’, a novel about Thomas Cromwell. I love the Tudor period (would re-enact it if I had the time to make the costumes) so we promised ourselves we would look out for the TV series which started last week.

By coincidence there is a new charity book stall in my bus station – I was going to resist the temptation as I have so many books to read but didn’t and found a brand new copy of the book there. I decided to record the series and read the book first.

Number 1 on the challenge, ‘ a book you own but have never read’, will not be hard – I think I have 24 in my book stash at the moment!

Hope you might be inspired to join in, thanks for visiting.

Hello everyone and a very happy 2015, I know I am a bit late but this is my first post this year so I hope you all had a great time.

I have just finished reading a book called ‘A Different World’ by Mary Nichols , a very good story about World War 2 which is set partly in Warsaw so it was interesting to read about that side of the experiences of people under occupation.

It struck me that this was a good title for this week’s post as I am sitting here watching the snow fall in lovely Marsden and last weekend’s view was this from our picnic on the beach.

Spain New Year beach and boat

Spain New Year beach

Not that I mind the snow (as long as I can get to work on Monday) as what better excuse is there for sitting with a fleecy blanket, some good TV (Game of Thrones Season 3) and some more hexagons!

Ooh and Ellen has said I can have some of the Baileys she inadvertently left after Christmas so I might be making myself a sneaky hot chocolate later :-)

I had a lovely time as always in Spain and really enjoyed the time I spent with Mum. I helped her choose a new sewing machine and was showing her how to cut out her first bit of quilting.

We also had great excitement as we found the quilt shop in Alicante which is the nearest we could find to where Mum lives  (thank god for the miracles of the internet!).

The shop is called Patchwork and Quilting and we met the owner, a lovely lady called Ana Camara, who despite saying her English was not very good talked to us for about 20 minutes about her visits to England (one to the Festival of Quilts) and about all her shop.

Spain New Year  Quilt Shop 1

She runs workshops as well as sells fabric so if you are every in the area do go and visit. This is a link to a map  of the shop.

She has an excellent range of fabric and I was very pleased to find this yard of Robert Kaufman print which co-ordinates with the panel I bought from Harrogate.

Kaufman baubles

Kaufman baubles 2

I had a very relaxing time walking and cycling in the sunshine, admiring all the gardens and pretty flowers, this is one of my favourite gardens and gave me the inspiration for the cactus planting at my house (they are very tricky to weed though, lots of ouch!).

Spain New Year Cactus garden

Spain New Year Cactus garden 2

Spain New Year Cactus garden 3

And this poinsettia bush looked really good in contrast with the purple bougainvillea next to it.

Spain New Year Poinsettia bush

While we were in Alicante we came across this replica of a galleon which had amazing doors – I expect my pirate re-enactor friends would love to have trip out on this.

Spanish Galleon

Spain New Year Galleon 2

Spain New Year Galleon 3

Spain New Year Galleon 4

Spain New Year Galleon 5

Right will get back to watching the snow fall and piecing hexis – am working a baby quilt for one of Ellie’s friends at the moment with the scrap stash that I bought from Simply Solids.

Will do a full tutorial post when it is finished but here is a preview – how cute are those cars!

hexagons car print

Thanks for visiting!

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