Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Tuesdays Tomes: The Blue Lagoon by Henry De StacpooleVere

Tuesdays Tomes is a weekly book review of vintage books available free on-line.

The Blue Lagoon by Henry De Vere Stacpoole

I’m not sure what’s going on here…I’ve never taken a long ocean voyage nor have I been to the South Seas but here I am reviewing another shipwreck story. This 1908 book is quite different from The Coral Island which was a simple adventure story; for here there are interesting philosophical asides and speculations on the nature of love, religion, and nature. The author, Henry Stacpoole spent more than 40 years in the South Seas as a ship’s doctor and his ruminations are thoughtful. One I particularly liked:

Memory cannot produce a picture that Imagination has not retouched; and her pictures, even the ones least touched by Imagination, are no mere photographs, but the world of an artist. All that is inessential she casts away, all that is essential she retains; …She is a painter, but she is also a poet.”

The basic story is that young Dick (about 7), his cousin Emmeline (6) and his father are sailing to San Franscisco from Boston when their ship must be abandoned due to a fire. They end up in separate boats, the children with one of the deckhands that had befriended them aboard ship while the father is with the Captain. The boats get separated with the children and Paddy eventually arriving at a small island (the father is rescued by a ship). I enjoyed Paddy, he is wonderfully portrayed and I think the most defined character in the book. I especially liked his way with the children and there’s a lovely bit about him making a new skirt for Emmeline.

We watch the children grow up on this island-no early rescue, no pirates -simply their daily life and how they deal with both the good and the sad that happens.

This highly intelligent book, wonderfully read by Adrian Praetzellis, can be downloaded as a free audio-book here or as a free e-book in pdf. or kindle format here.

LOL! Check out the last names and there’s one plot error at the end of the book-see if you catch it.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Drunkard's Path Quilt Finished!

This quilt was put on hold for so long but its now finished! Completely quilted and bound! In the end I was so pressed for time I quilted simple parallel lines 1/2" and 1" apart as the final border quilting.
As good as the front looks, I think the back is just gorgeous! Its hard to see in the photo but the triple ring "flowers" just appear out of nowhere in the midst of the hanging diamonds and I just love the look. I'm glad this quilt isn't going anywhere but on our bed.
Here's the quilt folded on a chair. You can see the four different quilting designs I used: the parallel lines, the cable, the hanging diamonds crosshatching and the triple circle free motion design.

You can see my tutorial for using Marti Mitchel's rotary cutting templates for the Drunkard's Path here.
Special thanks to P at The Way I Sew It: seeing all your free motion design experiments inspired me to have a go with the triple ring/circle design and I'm so glad I did. It took a long time and used a ton of thread but oh, it looks so good! I'm definitely starting to love machine quilting.

I'm linking up to Finished for Friday at Lit and Laundry and Sew and Tell at Amylouwho. Hop on over and see all the wonderful finished this week.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Beginning Two Bright Modern Quilts

There's been some exciting and unexpected news: I'm off to Boston next week! A shout-out from the kids is why. Tali's Mom has been with them since the twins' birth but she's leaving on Sunday...I'll get there on Thursday...they want a few days to try it out alone ! (But apparently not too many days! LOL!)

Sooo Jane has been put on hold and I've been having fun making some quilts for the girls. What a pleasure to be just quick cutting and sewing fabric!

I made a quick stop at Moda Bake Shop because I knew I wanted to make a modern quilt and that seemed like a good place to look for a quick and easy pattern. Sure enough, there was just the thing from Jaimie at Sunflower Seeds. I used her block design but I changed the size because I had only just so much of the bright fabrics I wanted to use and a lot of it was already cut into 5" lengths (leftover from a commission quilt I did).
The other quilt I've been aching to make for a while...yes, one of those coin quilts that I've seen just about everywhere. Well, here's my start on it. Its a bit of a mixture of a coin quilt and a string quilt because I've used different width strips! I wanted the twins' quilts to be different and yet the same and I'm getting there-different patterns but many of the same fabrics and the same bright summery feel.
Now its time for the borders and I'll have to work out something for the first one as my blocks are a lot narrower than in the original.

I've also finished the machine quilting on the Drunkard's Path (finally!) and I'm sewing the binding down. Yippee!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Tuesdays Tomes: A Cowboy Romance: The Duke of Chimney Butte by George W. Ogden

Tuesdays Tomes is a weekly book review of vintage books available free on-line.

The Duke of Chimney Butte by George W. Ogden

This cowboy romance is entertaining right from the get go and is a combination Western, comic novel and romance. Young Agi college graduate, Jeremiah Lambert decides “to make his fortune” and save up enough for a farm by being a peddler of the magnificent “All-in-One” gadget but things don’t go quite as he expected. His sales territory is the Bad Lands and after 15 days and over 500 miles, he’s sold just 7 - houses being very far apart indeed. He’s been reduced to walking-his bicycle! has a flat tire-when he comes across the cowboy camp and his future takes a different turn.

Leaving off selling the All-in-One, he joins up with the cowboys, wins himself a horse, makes both friends and an enemy and gets a new moniker: The Duke of Chimney Butte, usually shortened to just Duke. On Sundays, the boys like to go and race the trains…now they usually race the slower moving freight trains but not Duke, oh no! As he’s flying fast, he sees a young woman cheering him on from the train and waving a handkerchief. His horse speeds up even more and Duke gets his trophy-the handkerchief and a hankering to meet that lady. So off he goes, with his friend Taterlegs to follow the train line and try to find her.

I’m not going to tell you any more and you really need to read it to get all the humor of the bicycle, etc. but just let me say, there’s never a dull moment and there are not one but two girls: Vesta Philbrook and Grace Kerr!

Wonderfully ready by Mike Vendetti, he really has the perfect voice for a cowboy book, you can download this free audio-book here or the free e-book in pdf. or kindle format here.

The most disconcerting thing about reading vintage books is how racial slurs or epithets can suddenly appear. Here the author uses negative “racial” characteristics to portray one of the bad guys (he is part Native American) and has another bad guy utter racial slurs. What was he thinking? Was this an attempt to make them unsympathetic? But how so? We can see the utterer of racial slurs negatively but what about the author’s own use of racial stereotypes? Was he “just following convention” – i.e.,in a Western, the Indians had to be bad? I think I have to read more by this author and see if this comes up again.

BTW, The Duke of Chimney Butte was made into a movie a year after publication in 1921…no moss grew under young Hollywood’s feet-they knew a hit when they read one!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Finished! Last two rows of Jane

I've done it! Here are the last two rows of Jane...row Land Row M!
Some thoughts on my Jane experience...one of the reasons that I think this quilt is so fascinating is Jane Stickle's use of "negative space". In many of the blocks, she reversed the usual placement of the design fabric and the background fabric. I found thinking this way -about negative space- was very helpful in figuring out how to sew a block.

I know I haven't written much about the process I used so I thought I'd finish up the posts on the Jane rows with a "process report". The seventh block in row M was a wonderful chance to use negative space. I decided right away that applique was the easier way to go but applique what? the pink design fabric or the white background fabric. Once I looked at the block that way-it definitely made sense to applique the white fabric. So I started with a 5" x 5" square of my pink fabric and basted on the four white "leaf" shapes.

You can see that I like to needleturn with a drawn line. How did I position the pieces? I traced the design from the book onto an overlay (just tracing paper) and positioned the pieces under the overlay and basted them. Next photo-leaf pieces appliqued.
Next I traced the outer shape of the white background fabric onto a 5" x 5" piece of freezer paper (with the 1/4" seam allowance marked to help with placement over the block in the book), cut out the middle, ironed it to a 5" x 5" piece of white fabric, drew my sewing line...
and here you can see the white fabric with the center cut out-leaving a seam allowance and basted over the pink square.
Here's the block with all the white fabric appliqued and only the 4 pink leaves left to do.
How easy was that! Only 5 white pieces to applique, no tiny points to try to stuff the seam allowance under which I would have had had I appliqued the pink fabric!

Hope this was interesting and maybe even helpful. If you're doing a Jane quilt-think negative space! I've started looking at the triangles and I've already spotted several where I can use this approach.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Tuesdays Tomes: A Day at the County Fair by Alice Hale Burnett

Tuesdays Tomes is a weekly book review of vintage books available free on-line.

A Day at the County Fair by Alice Hale Burnett

A Day at the County Fair is another book in the young children’s series about the town of Merryvale: a girls’ tale this time. What a terrible book!! Poor little girls if this is what they had to read and to look to for role models.

The story opens with Mary pushing Jerry on the swing.

"Oh, push it harder, much harder, so I can go away up to the tree tops," cried Jerry. "Don't you just love to fly through the air this way?"

“…I'll give you a fine swing (too)," promised Jerry. "You'll think you're in an airship."

"Indeed you won't," protested Mary. "It's horrid and makes me feel ill.

And there you have it…exactly what is wrong with this book. Young Jerry’s spunk is immediately put down.

Beth invites the girls to go on a day trip with her Uncle Billy to the county fair. At the fair, the girls ride the merry-go-round, eat ice cream, watch boys chase greased pigs for a prize, watch other boys climb greased poles for a prize and buy a raffle ticket for a prize (The message being that only boys may be active.)

Jerry even says at one point, “"Lots of times I've wished I were a boy," sighed Jerry. "Nobody ever seems to mind what they do."

Even the dialogue is a big disappointment-in “Christmas Holidays at Merryvale” (a boys’ tale) the boys came alive and each had a distinct and interesting personality…here the girls are just ciphers for how girls are supposed to be-not real children at all. And just in case any little girl reading this has not quite got it yet, here are the last two lines of this dreadful book:

"You're the very best uncle in the world," she told him. "We've all been happy, but I've been the happiest of all."

"You always will be, Beth, because you have found out that the greatest joy is in doing for others."

Cheerfully read by Kara Shallenberg, you can download (LOL if you really must!) this free audio-book here or read on-line the free e-book with illustrations here.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Tuesdays Tomes: Buttered Side Down by Edna Ferber

Tuesdays Tomes is a weekly book review of vintage books available free on-line.

Buttered Side Down by Edna Ferber

I usually don’t like short stories-I’m just getting to know the characters and poof-that’s it. Done! But I did enjoy this collection of short stories by Edna Ferber. Yes, I finished some of the stories itching to know more but on the whole, they were very satisfactory in themselves and quite entertaining.

From the humorous “Bush League Hero” to the poignant “One of the Old Girls” this collection of 13 stories is well worth reading (though you may want to skip the horribly tragic last story-I didn’t make it to the end). The dialogue is wonderful and the slang just rings, “Hey, kid!” Edna Ferber’s descriptive powers are amazing. In “Maymeys From Cuba” she made me see a common vegetable in a totally new light-”…a choice head of cauliflower, so exquisite in its ivory and green perfection as to be fit for a bride’s bouquet.” Will you ever look at a cauliflower the same way again?

I really enjoyed her little side comments about short story writers, descriptions of clothing in books and more. These comments often introduced the stories and I felt like I was having a conversation with a dear friend, a writer, who was letting me in on the secrets of her craft.

Beautifully read by Madera, you can download this free audio-book here or the free e-book in pdf. or kindle format here.

Monday, March 7, 2011

More Jane...the end of the rows is in sight

Here are rows J and K finished! Only two more rows to go...these were really very quick and easy rows.
This block in Row J was the first Jane block I did...
and in honor of Jane Stickle, I hand pieced it. It and the applique blocks are the only hand sewn blocks.
I've mentioned that I've been using scraps...well, this center square-in good antique quilt tradition, has been pieced from two smaller pieces. LOL! I love it!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Money Talks: a sovereign and two-bits

Reading all of these vintage novels I've frequently come across money terms that raised the question- "What does this mean?"

Old English money was very interesting...I knew a guinea was a pound and a shilling-sort of a super pound but what was a sovereign. Now I know- a sovereign is a pound-but a gold coin.
It's easy to understand how much more could be purchased then than now with all the little bits English money was divided into.
A pound=20 shillings
A shilling=12 pennies also called pense...so that's where thrupence comes from (3 pennies)
Another puzzler: A crown...what is a crown (sounds like a lot to me)...well its 5 shillings which makes a half crown=2 1/2 shillings but no, its 2 shillings, 6 pense.

2 shillings was called a florin (sounds Italian!) and sort of nicknamed a two bob bit....ah, is this where the American two-bits comes from? Now I know, from watching lots of Westerns, that two-bits equalled 25 cents and could buy a shave and a haircut!...or maybe a bath...but where did the name come from? Was there a one-bit (12 1/2" cent coin?)

Well, it seems that the two-bit coin came from something else entirely-from way back in colonial times and the Spanish milled dollar. This coin was actually cut into 8 pie shaped pieces...yep, pieces of eight! and one piece was one-bit=12 1/2 cents.

And here's my two-cents: I've been interviewed by Micki of Irish Muses-I'm her March Star. Micki has a lovely blog and she brings us all the news from her corner of Ireland.

And Johnny Cash says, "Here's two bits"...

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Tuesdays Tomes: What Maisie Knew by Henry James

Tuesdays Tomes is a weekly book review of vintage books available free on-line.

What Maisie Knew by Henry Janes

Young Maisie’s parents, Ida and Beale Farange, are divorced. She at first lives with her mother but when her father decides to sue for custody, the court awards him custody…that is until it becomes clear that Maisie’s mother had paid her father not to sue for custody at the time of the divorce and that he could not now pay her back. The upshot is rather Solomonic…she will live half the year with each parent.

This sounds at first very modern…shared custody except that it turns out that neither really wants Maisie as much as they simply don’t want the other to have her. Its rather much for six year old Maisie but she quickly knew not to repeat the nasty things each says about the other.

As the years pass-with Maisie passing from one parent to the other as it suits them and not all in any regular way-Ida marries Sir Claude while Beale marries Miss Overmore, Maisie’s former governess. Her step parents show Maisie more affection than her parents and she truly comes to love Sir Claude.

But the idyll doesn’t last…

I couldn’t decide if I should laugh or cry at all that goes on. Poor Maisie-the only one she can really rely on is her elderly governess Mrs. Wix and she slowly comes to know it. While all the shenanigans are simply discreetly referred to, this 1897 novel is rather an eye opener on what really went on in the Gilded Age. It is really a very modern novel-in the issues it covers if not in style and I wonder if a modern author would have the same ending.

I was never very sure how old Maisie was after the beginning and that was a bit disturbing…is she eight, ten, fourteen at the end of the book?

I’ve never read any Henry James before (yes, shame on me, I’ve seen the movies!) so this was a first for me.

Wonderfully read by Elizabeth Klett, you can download this free audio-book here or the free e-book in pdf. or kindle format here.