Wild by Cheryl Strayed

★★★

I’ve read several books in this same hiking adventure genre. Bill Bryson’s A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail was funny. Southbound, The Barefoot Sisters, #1, by Lucy Letcher and Susan Letcher was fluffy. Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer was some serious stuff.

Wild by Cheryl Strayed

The following review contains some spoilers.

In Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed, I was expecting Bill Bryson mixed with (Wo)Man Vs. Wild. It reads more like Eat, Pray, Love mixed with college liberal’s sexcapades. This book’s soul-baring stuff rode the fine line between whining and brutal honesty.

The thoughts that stuck with me.

She had no experience as a long-distance hiker. None, nada, zilch. She never bothered to even put on her overpacked gear before she stepped foot on to the trail. The whole idea was little more than “an idea, vague and outlandish and full of promise.” The most impulsive decision of her life: to hike the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert, through California and Oregon, to Washington State—and to do it alone.

She does heroin with a guy who is not her husband; she tells us that she really, really loves her husband. I guess there is something that is just part of Cheryl that *makes* her cheat on her husband who she really, really loves.

She brought a whole box of condoms with her, on her hike, to “find herself”! She is still having one night stands with strangers a week before she is at the end of her journey on the Pacific Crest Trail.

She loses one of her too-small REI shoes off the side of the  trail? Seriously? Who does that? Then is MAD when they can’t overnight her new ones because she is in the middle of nowhere.

And the kicker has to be the last chapter when she touches the Bridge of the Gods, and next thing we know, all her intimacy issues have been resolved. Nine years into a stable marriage to a wonderful man, wonderful kids and a wonderful life. The idea that punishing physical activity is the panacea for mental suffering is absurd and possibly dangerous. Such a journey can be a source of strength and self-esteem, but being alone in one’s head while ripping one’s feet to bloody shreds is not a reliable path to resolving childhood abandonment and mistrust of/intimacy issues with men.

I liked and I hated Cheryl at the same time. I admired her for hiking 1,100 miles and, at the same time, resented that she left her husband and ran away from her problems to find herself. All she needed was to stay away from the drugs and to focus on something rather than to linger on how she missed her mom and what a bad wife she was.

I think I’ll stick with Bill Bryson’s humorous style of writing, the next time I find myself wanting to take a walk in the woods.

This book topped the 2012 Best List, by GoodReads readers, as the favorite in the Memoir & Autobiography category. I have to wonder how many readers read more than one of the nominated books….  When I added it to my “to-read” list, I had no idea a movie was being made of it. With all that said, only because Reese Witherspoon will play Cheryl, will I be tempted to rent it….

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Marcia Derse has it Sew Together

I am in love.
Still.
I should say.
Ever since I met her fabulous fabrics a couple of years ago I can’t get enough.

Sew Together Bag @ SewfrenchI bought this pattern a couple of years ago and just couldn’t decide what fabrics to use or even what to use the bag for, which, in my mind, could make a difference in which fabrics I would choose.

Feeling the need for an instant gratification project, I decided to pull some fabric and get to work. Using scraps, from the quilt I made our eldest daughter, I finally whipped up the Sew Together Bag. I created my outer fabric panel using 2 1/2″ squares, with a stripe up the center of tiny scraps. I then quilted it directly to a piece of Quilters Dream Request cotton quilt batting using organic 1/4″ -1/3″ rows. This turned out to be the perfect weight, and body, that this bag needed.

Sew Together Bag @ Sewfrench

And I did use three very different colored zippers for the interior, green, blue and gray, but for some reason they didn’t photograph accurately. I also chose 7 different fabrics for the interior, part of all those difficult decisions it took to make this one. Looking at the finished product, the most important choices, for the interior, are the outer “leaves”, if you will. The rest you hardly see. You can also see that I didn’t opt to add the wool needle landing pad. Obviously, I should have because my needles have automatically landed in that very spot.

Sew Together Bag @ SewfrenchI am so stinking happy to have chosen these fabrics to look at every single night when I am hand quilting. My previous bag was too small and I was constantly pouring everything out to find what I needed. This is perfect for all my needs. I can keep everything organized in different zippered pockets, that when zipped it won’t spill out into my chair. Duh! Marking pens in one pocket, needles in another, thimbles old and older, in the third. Current thimbles, thread, needle-puller and clippers in the outer edges. I am in love!!!

The pattern doesn’t use pictures and doesn’t give as much direction, as even this very experienced sewist would have preferred, but I managed. I did hand-stitch the bindings because as a hand-quilter, I think they look better. I left an open area to attach the end of the zipper tabs and hand stitched them into the seam, also. I couldn’t quite figure out how the pattern developer expected you to do it, so I did it my way.

I’m thinking this bag could be expanded into a really cool travel/toiletry bag. I think I will work on those changes soon.

Have you made one of these Sew Together Bags???

Yet??? Because I think anyone that sews will eventually make a wise decision to go for it.

What are you, or would you, using yours for? Any thoughts, comments or changes for you???

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Picking up my Maple Leaves

Still plugging along on my Maple Leaf quilt. It is hard to believe I started this in May! But I did. I made the top, from Kona cotton in my stash then got side-tracked. One of the reasons I put it aside is because I wasn’t sure how I wanted to quilt it. It had to “come to me”. And it did. I decided to hand quilt it in the Baptist Fan pattern. I think it needed the texture and curves to soften the pattern. I am loving the way it is feeling.

Maple Leaves by Sewfrench

I drew up a plastic template with my lines at 1″ intervals and an extra line 1/4″ above the last one, at the top of each fan. That adds up to each fan being 9 1/4″ tall. I couldn’t find a pattern or directions that recommended a certain size/width/dimension so I just winged it. I used my water erasable blue pen and marked the entire top before sandwiching it and then pin basting it. Marking, before pinning, saves so much frustration what with the template and the pins not playing well together. In my eyes, I nailed exactly what I was looking for.

And while looking back at when I created this top, I realize it was during the last Blogger’s Quilt Festival. My prize, for winning, was a $100 gift certificate to Pink Chalk Fabrics, one of my very, very favorite online fabric stores. I have bragged before about their fabulous customer service. Well, I had not used it yet. I think I was waiting to buy something really special, as my prize, and it just “hadn’t come to me”, yet. Then I got a sweet email from Kathy encouraging me to use it with a bonus 10% off their lowest prices, for regular customers. Imagine my surprise, when I went to their website to find out everything was 30% off and they were going out of the fabric business while liquidating everything! I then spent the next two hours filling my shopping basket with $100 worth of goodies. The discount is now 40% off for everyone.

Pink Chalk fabric couponNow, hurry and go see what they have left!

WIP
Let’s Be Social

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I Spy…

I have no idea why my sister and I chose this, thread catching, fabric to be used in a thread infested sewing room, but I suspect it was because it was what we had on hand, at the time. This is my sewing room, go-to stool. The one without casters, that I stand on constantly because I am not quite tall enough to reach the high shelves and the rolly chair is a little risky. I can not tell you how long it has looked this way, but I am sure it has been more than 10 years since we found this cool stool and decided to recover it. Selvage Upholstery by Sewfrench After looking, and cringing, at this pitiful fixture, every day, I finally made a decision on what to use and recovered it, again. I definitely do not remember needing 4 hands to take it apart and put it back together again, but maybe subconsciously I did, that is why it took so long to get it done! Selvage Upholstery by Sewfrench I stitched together some of the selvages with interesting names. I pulled the longer lengthed ones, so I didn’t need to stitch short ones together, from my overflowing tub, and just overlapped and topstitched them together, leaving some of the color showing. I didn’t really see a need for a backing fabric, to stitch them to, not in this application, anyway. If you haven’t started collecting selvedges (what is the proper American English spelling, anyway??) but want to start, I’d suggest you leave at least 1″ of color when you trim them off. Some of mine only had 1/4″ of the actual fabric and those aren’t really usable. Of course, I could have trimmed them like that because that is what we have always done to get rid of the tightly woven, unusable because it shrinks at a different rate, edge of the fabric. Selvage Upholstery by Sewfrench It is fun remembering all the different projects these fabrics were used in. I spy placemats, a travel bag, raincoat lining, a bathrobe, a couple of quilt backs, a pair of slippers, an ironing board cover, another travel bag….. And, of course, all the scraps of these fabrics have all been used in any number of quilts. Selvage sewing Now to decide what to do with the rest of them! Have you created any selvage projects? Have any you are planning on making? Anything cool I should know about???

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A Round Tuit

Posted in Crafting, Decorating, Design, fabric, Finishes, Sewing, Upcycle | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 19 Comments

“Always in My Heart”

For my T-Tapp trainer and dear friend, Michelle. Always in My Heart a Sewfrench originalAptly titled because this is where we carry those who leave this place before what we think of as their time. Always in My Heart a Sewfrench originalQuilted with hugs, and filled with love, because sometimes that is the best that we can do.

Always in My Heart a Sewfrench original“Always in My Heart”
a Sewfrench original
machine pieced
hand quilted
hand appliquéd
52″ x 60″

Previously talked about here and more details on how I cut it here.

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Posted in 2014 completes, fabric, Finishes, Gifts, hand quilting, Quilting, Sewing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Love at First Sight returns

Working on replacing pillows for our sofa at the cottage. This is going to be such a huge improvement I know you will be impressed when it is finished. I have disliked the pillows ever since we bought these sofas in 2002. Just didn’t know what I wanted to do, which direction to go… Not a lot of color, outside of nature, in our space and while I was contemplating colors, for years, obviously… I am finally learning that doing anything is better than nothing. I can be such a slow learner….

Modern neutral pillow by SewfrenchAnother rainy day and finally got around to testing out an idea, and of course I would love it, just when I ran out of the Kona Stone fabric. This is a variation of my White Labyrinth quilt, with blocks enlarged to fit our 24″ pillow fronts.

I loved that quilt from the first second I spotted the quilt before there was even a pattern. And why not recreate a version that I don’t give away?!! And a funny thing about that Zen Chic quilt? It would appear only myself and one other person have ever even made it. My neutral version and a red, Fiery Labyrinth one. Crazy when this is one of my very, very favorite quilts.

White Labyrinth by Zen Chic

More later. When my fabric order arrives. :)

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“Always in My Heart”

My low volume quilt top is finished. I talked about it last week and so much heavy thinking and prayers went into this one.

Always in My Heart quilt by SewfernchIf you feel the tug in your heart, donations are still being accepted at Give Forward.

Always in My Heart by Sewfrench

On to the quilting…

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