Monday, March 17, 2008

A year of experiments

Last I year, I crocheted several doilies using sewing thread instead of crochet thread. Among various considerations, I remarked that it was expensive to crochet that way. However, the variety of colors available in sewing thread vastly exceeds the variety available in crochet thread, so I conceived the idea of holding one strand of sewing thread together with a strand of regular crochet thread (although I came up with the idea on my own, I was not the first person who has ever done this). Using some of the thread left over from an earlier project, I made this.

Frosted Doily

This is the only detail I'm going to show, but I was very pleased with the "frosted" effect, as well as with how much color the sewing thread added. It seems like such a thin bit of nothing, but it shows up well.

Frosted Doily, Detail

I devised a series of experiments involving different combinations of crochet thread and colored thread, and only recently did I complete the last of them. (If you can think of anything I missed, feel free to let me know, and I'll try that, too.) My next project was a single-color doily, using ecru thread (also used in the first doily)and light blue sewing thread. In real life, this doily has a denim effect.

Long \"frosted\" doily in blue

This doily is made with white crochet thread, but uses different shades of sewing thread throughout, and there are no plain white sections.


This project involves using sewing thread on only part of the doily, as an accent, leaving part of it made with plain white crochet thread.

Hexagon in color

Departing from standard white and ecru crochet thread, I tried a "tone on tone" effect, using darker pink sewing thread on part of a doily made with pale pink croceht thread.

Tone on tone

I also used a brighter color of crochet thread with several shades of sewing thread to create very subtle color accents.


And finally, I tried something more dramatic, using black crochet thread and adding a strand of scarlet sewing thread to accent certain parts of the design.


And with that project, I think I can say that my experiments are finished. I've used the technique in other projects, and I will continue to do so. I love having the variety of colors available in sewing thread, and I feel like an artist, painting with thread, when I plan and create my colorful doilies.

And while I'm on the subject, I'm still looking for two more people to join my "pay it forward" project. Go ahead, and give me an excuse to make something pretty!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Reading Log, February 2008

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen -- A reread, for the umpteenth time, and just as good as ever. I'm not sure anyone stands up to rereading as well as Jane!

My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult -- Not a bad story--the kind of book that would make me look for other books by the same author.

Salem Falls by Jodi Picoult -- Well-written, but I did not like the story. Detailed witchcraft makes me uncomfortable (I sent the book halfway around the world via Bookmooch almost as soon as I finished it.), as do stories involving the violation of a children. This is the kind of book that makes me NOT want to seek out other books by the same author. Having reading two books by Jodi Picoult in the same month, it's an even gamble whether I will ever read another.

Last Days by Joel C. Rosenberg -- Sometimes you have books piled up and toppling over in the to-be-read pile, but someone gives you a book, and for no other reason than curiosity, it jumps the line ahead of long-anticipated titles, and gets read first. That's how it came about that I read this book, a sort of Tom Clancy meet Tim LaHaye author. This was all action, something I have little patience with, but it also lent unusual insight into the Israel/Palestine situation, which always intrigues me. The friend who lent me this also lent me another by the same author, but I set that aside for now.

The Road by Cormac McCarthy -- One of the few books I wrote a genuine review for, so I'll let that speak for itself.

The Tale of Beatrix Potter by Margaret Hale -- This was one of my non-fiction books for February. I watched the "Miss Potter" movie, and like everyone else, I wanted to know more. Imagine my amazement at finding this old paperback biography at a used bookstore in Krakow. Both my 14yo daughter and I read this very thorough and interesting account of much more of "Miss Potter's" life than the move could show.

Old Hall, New Hall by Michael Innes -- A well-written mystery, whose ending made me laugh.

Back on Blossom Street by Debbie Macomber -- I've seen and heard this author recommended here and there. It was strictly "okay" and not much more. I think I would have liked the book better if it hadn't practically recapped, in a few paragraphs, all the other books the author has written about the characters. I now have no desire to read those other books.

The Cat Who Played Brahms by Lilian Jackson Braun -- (reread) I was just in the mood for some mindless comfort reading, and this is one of my favorites in the series, because it covers part of the transition of the main character from down-and-out reporter to multi-millionaire.

Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell (audiobook) -- Victorian literture rarely disappoints me. This was a great story, and deserved a proper post and review of it's own. I wish I'd written one!

That leaves me with the insane statistic of having read 10 books in February, which is a short month. However, it should be obvious from this list that most of it falls into the category of light reading, and comfort reading. Some months are like that.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Lady Audley's Secret

Oh dear! The blog has been neglected again. I still have to post my list of books read in February, which was considerable.

In the meantime, I really want to write about about Lady Audley's Secret by Mary Elizabeth Braddon. I listened to this as an audiobook at Librivox. The entire book was read by a single reader who did a marvelous job, and I recommend it highly.

Within the first two chapters, a tension is created that is maintained until the very end. The reader is not told outright, but is given enough hints to know pretty well what Lady Audley's secret is. But we are left to watch the characters with a sort of breathless anticipation. When will A meet B? When will B hear about C? And what, in the end, will the guilty party do when concealment is no longer possible? The writing is very good--very skillful--and the story compels you from chapter to chapter.

At first glance, the story seems as if it might be a tawdry tale--titillating in a Victorian sort of way--but it is not. It is a moral story--a righteous story. A great wrong has been done, and there is a chosen one, compelled by higher forces to act so that the wrong will be revealed, the evil-doer punished, and the innocent comforted to the greatest extent possible. Seemingly chance circumstances bring the secret to light, bit by bit. Be sure your sin will find you out.

Sir Michael Audley marries young, beautiful, orphaned Lucy Grahame. She is charming, generous, sweet, sensitive, and devoted to her husband. Young Robert Audley, Sir Michael's nephew, is half-infatuated with her himself at the first, for she is much younger than her husband, but the inexplicable disappearance of his bereaved friend, George Tallboys is consuming his thoughts. Always an indolent, relaxed sort of person, he is goaded into action and vigilantly pursues every clue that might lead him to the truth, no matter how grievous.

I really do not want to give away some of the surprises in the story, so I will say no more. For those who enjoy Victorian literature, as I do, this is definitely one to put on the "to be read" list. Or, head over to Librivox and listen to it there!