review: Wise Craft Quilts

Wise Craft Quilts

Wise Craft Quilts: A guide to turning beloved fabrics into meaningful patchwork by Blair Stocker

So many people I know have quilts like this – created from shirts and other items that have special meaning. I have not seen many books focused specifically on these, though, so this is nice to see. Stocker offers 21 designs using a variety of types of material, including baby clothes, a wedding dress, table linens, and even bike race numbers (used to create a picnic blanket). Surprisingly, a t-shirt quilt is not among the projects here, but there are tons of instructions for creating those online. Many of these projects could be adapted to use whatever material you want to use – it wouldn’t have to be reuse of something existing, or could be a combination of reuse and purchased fabrics. There are a lot of options here, as well as inspiration for repurposing existing materials.

full disclosure: I borrowed this from my local public library, the Chippewa River District Library System


review: Quilting is My Therapy

Quilting is my therapy

Quilting is My Therapy: Behind the Stitches with Angela Walters

I’m not generally one to use patterns for quilting – I prefer to make things up as I go or get a general idea from something that is traditional (like a nine-patch) and then figure it out on my own from there. I do, however, love to get inspiration from looking at the quilts others have made, and this book is perfect for that. Exquisite quilts from a variety of quilters are pictured and while they all feature the intricate and very busy long-arm quilting that I don’t choose for my own projects (this is Walters’ specialty, I believe), the quilt patterns themselves give me lots of ideas. The running story of Walters’ own journey to becoming a quilter has some inconsistent punctuation and a number of what read to me as quilt-snob sentiments (she’s entitled to her opinion! I just don’t find it constructive for me as a reader), so I preferred to focus on the quilts themselves.

full disclosure: I checked this book out from my local library


review: New Small Garden

new small garden

New Small Garden: Contemporary Principles, Planting, and Practice by Noel Kingsbury, photos by Maayke de Ridder

My goal is to turn our yard into all garden, but our yard is so large that I’m taking it in small chunks, so I’m thinking about it as a series of small gardens. This will hopefully allow me to get each smaller area established and in a place where it’s relatively self-sufficient so I can move on to the next one and eventually have them all be in that state of self-sufficiency.

Determining how to divide up the space into these smaller gardens is a bit of a challenge, but it’s also fun, and this book is helpful in figuring out how to design the smaller spaces so they feel at least a little bit planned/on purpose. The photographs are beautiful and they’re taken from vantage points that really allow you to feel how it would be to walk through the garden. Of course the gardens pictured are also lovely, developed spaces where the plants are thriving. There are lots of little tips throughout (your garden really also includes any space you can see in any direction, so work with the background or decide to block it out with plantings, etc).

One of the things that I have figured out over the years is that pathways are one of the most important pieces in defining a space, and a wide variety of path surfaces are featured here. Some of these pathways are grass, but the book is very clear in pointing out that if you have lawn, it will almost certainly be the most time-consuming thing to maintain in your garden. This gets back to my plan of eventually getting rid of grass! We have a few spaces where we’ve seeded mini clover and it is just getting established. It only grows to about 4″ high so it can be mowed if you want to, but really doesn’t need to be. I am all in favor of this sort of walk-on-able green plant.

There are a ton of other areas covered in this book that I am certain I’ll be back to refer to. I highly recommend this book!

full disclosure: I checked this book out at my local public library


gardeny goodness

My own gardens are looking rather sad at the moment – most of them are still little seedlings since I just put seeds down after the walkways were finished, and with the ridiculous heat we’ve had I haven’t been out to weed in weeks. (The crab grass situation is out of control tbh.) However! I spotted a bee-you-ti-ful garden yesterday while I was on my lunch break!

Butterfly garden at the local PL is looking gorgeous

This is the back entry to the local public library (where I used to work until about a decade ago) and it is so lovely! So many of my favorite native plants are growing here and despite the ridiculous heat this garden doesn’t look parched at all! So inspirational! I really hope we get some cooler weekend mornings sometime soon so I can get out and do some dirt work without getting heat stroke.


Free Comic Book Day 2014

Last Saturday was Free Comic Book Day. As per their usual, our local public library had a wide array of programs and activities leading up to and on Saturday. We were pleased to pick up some free comics (well, K mostly – despite my appreciation for them, I’m not a huge reader of comics), take in a few activities, and attend the panel discussion about all things Marvel.

me and an Imperial Spy at FCBD 2014

One of the members of the Great Lakes Garrison 501st Legion, Michigan Chapter, was there for photo ops. It was awesome to see a ton of kids cosplaying and getting their photos taken. There were also a lot of games and activities that we left to kids of appropriate ages.

Free Comic Book Day at Veterans Memorial Library

One of the fun things happening was that the library had held a contest for which patrons could create their own superhero poster, and the entries were on display in the Library Annex community room. I snapped a few of my favorites, including Thunder Woman! Look how she rides her thundercloud to water the flowers, with her hair flowing dramatically in the wind. That’s my kind of superhero.

Free Comic Book Day at Veterans Memorial Library

Name of superhero: Awesome. What more needs to be said?

Free Comic Book Day at Veterans Memorial Library

Bubble Spider Woman likes spiders!

Free Comic Book Day at Veterans Memorial Library

SkySea: Jumper of Peace. Bonus points for using fabric to make the cape!

Free Comic Book Day at Veterans Memorial Library

The Marvel panel was interesting. It was moderated/hosted by Joe Sommers, a professor from CMU (my alma mater), and the panel was composed of three graduate students from the English Department. Some time ago, Sommers acquired a shield that was used in the filming of the first Captain America movie and had it there to show off and pass around. That was neat, but he was surprisingly reluctant to share any details of how he came to have it, which was a bit of a bummer. It was more of a Q and A rather than a discussion of any specific topic by the panel, and the audience asked a lot of questions about upcoming Marvel movies (or movies they hope will be forthcoming). It was interesting to hear what people are looking forward to and interested in.

I was especially interested when one young audience member brought up the topic of women in comics and comic-based movies. She asked how the panel members felt about the representation of women in comics media and how they thought that women could play a more evenly balanced role. The panel’s answer was pretty much, “support women with your entertainment dollars,” which, while certainly a factor, is not in my opinion going to solve the root problem. Until the pen-holders and dollar-holders include more women, we’re going to continue to see a male-dominated industry. We live in a patriarchy and just buying tickets to see a Wonder Woman movie (if such a thing were ever to even come to be) is not going to solve all our problems. I’d have liked to hear the panel encourage that young woman (and others) to get involved in creating and doing herself, and I hope that there will be some women on the panel in future years.

(Note: you can kind of tell from this photo that one of the panel members is cosplaying as Wolverine, which I thought was great.)

me and Kristin at FCBD 2014

Of course my favorite thing was seeing Aquaman, AKA my pal Kristin, who helped put together the day’s awesomeness. She recently spoke at C2E2 about libraries doing FCBD programming, which you can read all about over at Lisa‘s. All in all, it was a fun day and I’m very glad to have a public library who does so much neat stuff.