Sunday, January 30, 2011

A little work and a little history.

    After church and lunch today, I was determined to finish sewing the last 11 of the 72 blocks for "Cozy Cottages." It felt good to be done and to clear off my cutting table, which is actually the bottom half of an antique Hoosier style cabinet. It is a rich warm cherry stained pine cabinet. Randy thought I was crazy to buy it when I had a perfectly good shiny white folding cutting table from Jo Ann's Fabrics that served that purpose already. I assured him this would be ever so much better for me and take less space in my petite 11' 3" x 11' 6" sewing room. It serves the same purpose as a center island in a kitchen. It has a tilt front bin on the right which is perfect to hide a large waste basket in that had taken up floor space before. The bin is large enough to also hold boxes of large Ziploc bags which I use all the time and the box of waste basket liners and any quilt shop bags that are too good to throw out. On the left side are 4 roomy deep drawers. The top drawer holds all kinds of tools and sewing essentials that used to take up table surface and looked like clutter. The second drawer is for any current project or 2 or 3 that I want out of sight yet kept together for easy access. The third drawer holds quilt tops that are awaiting marking and quilting. The bottom drawer holds all my business folders, ledger, bank book, etc. for Orphans of War. I'm not sure Randy's  convinced it was a valuable asset to my sewing room, but I sure am! Anyway, now that all the leftover romance fabrics are put away (in one of those 2 1/2 gallon Ziploc bags), I can see my large cutting mat and the wood surface of my cabinet again. All is right in my little sewing world. I can go down to my quilt frame with a clear conscience.

   Since this year is the 150th anniversary of the beginning of the Civil War, I thought I'd start sharing some history in  each post. I've missed most of January, so I'll put all of the events from January,1861 in this one. The states of Florida, Alabama, Georgia, and Louisiana all seceded from the Union this month. Confederates forced the surrender of Fort Pickens, Fort Sumpter, and Fort Massachusetts. On January 29th Kansas was admitted to the Union.  Still, on January 30, 1861, few Americans had any idea they were headed toward a war of the states that would last for 4 terrible years.

   I collect pictures of people from the Civil War Era. Photos of women and children are more readily available and cost less than ones of men. Actual photos of soldiers are sometimes 10-20 times more expensive. I'll be sharing photos from my collection now and then too.

  These girls are twins, but no names were given. I find their hairstyles lead to the impression that they may have been actresses, saloon girls, or ladies of ill-repute.

This photo has writing on the back, some unreadable: G M Blackford , Flou--ta--- River, KY. They appear to be a mother and daughter. The daughter is on the right. Only younger women exposed their shoulders and wore short sleeves unless when wearing a ball gown. Notice the chattelaine hanging from a chain around her neck and then clipped to her belt. The older woman on the left has no wedding ring and could be an "old maid" sister. The younger woman's dress is of a richer fabric and she has an ornate belt buckle compared to the simple striped ,self-belted cotton dress worn by the older woman.

   Just like their quilts, photos from this era were seldom properly labeled. Another reminder to all of us the importance of labeling so future generations will know who we were and what we made. Thanks for visiting.

 Keep stitching!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Saturday Musings

     Ahhhh, it's Saturday, that blessed beautiful day of the week that every person who works  (outside the home) dreams about all week. My dreams always include something to do with quilting. Either I plan to piece a quilt, cut fabrics for a quilt, quilt on a quilt, or a road trip to a quilt shop or two. That's my perfect Saturday. Does perfect ever happen...not usually. Reality sets in when I wake up around 8AM as I finally have time to notice things around the house. The laundry hamper is overflowing, there's a basket full of towels that didn't get folded ( from last Sunday, really? Yes, really), I really should pick up a few things, tidy the recycling bins a bit, maybe dust and sweep and vacuum, take the time to pay a few bills, check my emails and orders, empty the dishwasher, load the dishwasher, and on and on. Ok, by about 11:30 AM, I may have the chance to sit at the sewing machine and piece. No, wait, is that my cell phone ringing?#*$@! Where did I leave my cell phone?! Now it's 12:03 PM and I'm off the phone (it was my Mom and I couldn't cut her short) now I'll get to sew. My Bernina is humming along nicely for 5 or 6 minutes when my husband comes up from his man cave and asks innocently enough, " Hey, what were you planning on having for lunch?" The urge to strangle him fleetingly crosses my mind, but instead I say, "I wasn't planning on eating lunch, but I can get you something." If I'm lucky he helps himself to something in the fridge and I stay nestled in my sewing room. Then I have a part time job to do at some point in the afternoon. I drive a parts truck for a local car dealership M-Th evenings and Saturday afternoon. It usually takes 1 1/2 - 2 hours. I've had it for 9 years and it provides me with the money to support my quilting and gardening addiction, er, I mean hobbies. So my real Saturday of relaxed sewing time usually doesn't start till around 3 or 4PM. It doesn't stop me from dreaming each week, however, that this Saturday will be my dream day of nonstop quilter's Heaven. Today I was able to piece 2 complete quilt blocks before noon! I'm sure that was only because my husband had an eye appointment and was gone for over 2 hours AND my phone didn't ring even once.
   Speaking of my husband got me to thinking of the old saying, "opposites attract."  It couldn't be more true than in the case of Randy and me. We are polar opposites in almost every way. He's tall and I'm short. He's athletic. He's an avid bicyclist. He rides on RAGBRAI, Ride the Rockies, RAIN (one day to ride across Indiana), and lots of other century rides (100 miles). He isn't a fair weather rider either. He goes on an annual New Year's Day ride and one called the BRR ride the first Saturday in February each year. Up until a few years ago he played on adult basketball leagues and volleyball leagues as well. The only athletic thing about me is my thimble finger. I keep it limber. My idea of a good workout is a day spent shop hopping hustling  to beat other quilters to the best fabrics. From the looks of my stash, I'd say I'm in good form. Randy is also adventurous in his eating. He loves Chinese food, Mexican food, spicy food. He will try anything and says, "Unless it kills me, what have I got to lose?" I am a farmer's daughter. I'm a meat and potatoes girl. I say, "Why try something new? I know what is good. I'll eat that." Basically, I don't eat anything that ends with the letters "ese." My idea of adventures in eating is Italian, but only pizza, spaghetti, and lasagna. Randy doesn't like to read. For the past couple years he's been listening to audio books and says he's a reader now. I call him a listener. I work as a para-librarian for a reason. I LOVE books and LOVE to read books. I love to buy new books  and have shelves full of them at home. Our TV viewing is a challenge as well. He watches action dramas and sitcoms. I watch History channel, IPTV, and HGTV almost exclusively. Luckily we have a TV for each of us so we don't have to argue about what to watch. Our one main bone of contention is our ideas of free time. Randy likes to go, go, go and always makes plans for his days off which except for biking usually include my participation. My idea of free time is staying home and quilting or in summer tending my flower garden. I make good use of every third Saturday (he works) and all those weekends and days he goes  on bike trips. We do know how to reconcile our differences. I wanted a personalized license plate to reflect my love of quilting. He thought it was a waste of money (and he didn't want people to think he quilted if he happened to be the one driving it at the time.) Wellll,  he finally relented when he joined Iowa Bicycling Coalition and found out you could get license plates with a bicyclist on it with the caption "Share the Road." He said ," Hey, you can get any letters you want if we get that plate." Now my bicycling license plate is IQLT2. Thank you, Iowa Bicycling Coalition! There are other examples of our differences, but I think you have the idea. You might wonder what we have in common or why we even got married. Well, I liked that he was tall and athletic when we met. I like to watch basketball and he was really good at it. We met in an adult Sunday School class. We both were Christians and wanted a Christian spouse. We both loved moving water as in rivers, creeks, waterfalls, etc. We used to live in a house with a creek on one side of the property. After a heavy rain it would become quite turbulent. We would go out even late at night with flashlights to watch in roll and churn as the creek made a turn and went under a highway bridge. I liked that he had traveled. His family always took trips on vacation every year. My family never did. Since being married we have taken a lot of vacations, as we could afford them. We both love the Smokie Mountains and go there as often as we can. Of course, he loves to hike in them, I just love to see them. Oh, well, regardless of our differences, it seems to work for us. He bikes, I quilt, and we're happy that way.  

  I promise my next blog will be more on topic! Keep stitching,

Sunday, January 23, 2011

What a week!

  This week was a surprise. We were supposed to have semester tests all day Monday and Tuesday at the high school. Mother Nature had other plans. Some freezing drizzle followed by snow overnight on Sunday rewarded us with a snow day! In my vocabulary that translates as a quilt day! And that's exactly what I did, or I pieced all day and quilted at the frame all evening. There were leftovers from Sunday's dinner so I didn't even have to cook. What a blissful day it was. Now, I wouldn't want my high school principal or our supt. of schools to think I look forward to snow days like the kids do...that would be too immature of course. I merely make good use of my time and if I'm not able to work (darn it!) then I might as well quilt and if I happen to enjoy it at the same time, wellll.... If you know either of these gentlemen, don't say anything. It'll just be a secret between us, ok?

   I  didn't have the "crazies" out of my system yet so I dug out some "romance" fabrics I collected a few years ago and started making crazy blocks out of them. I made 29 blocks on Monday. Let's just say I was inspired by those rosy florals. I even tried to make some "free style" cottage blocks. That was fun, so I made some more. Now the intended quilt has a theme. I have a niece in sunny California who lives in a cozy California cottage who needs this quilt and so it will be called, "Cozy Cottages" even though it will have only a few blocks with cottages among the other crazy blocks. As of today, I've made 53 of the needed 72 blocks. I'm a little obsessive compulsive when I get started on a new project  as you can tell. Here are some pictures of the blocks.

                                                              I went a little crazy!

                                                                            A closer look.

                                                                            Cozy cottages.

 I'm enjoying  a little time at the quilt frame. The quilt is Reap the Whirlwind, one of my patterns for Orphans of War. I quilted some every night this week and have rolled the quilt several times. I'm  almost ready to begin quilting on the third row of blocks. There are six rows with five blocks in each row. This quilt will be my travel sample for this pattern.

                                                                A closer look at the quilting.

                                                                    And closer still.

                        Hours later and I'm still at it! And yes, that is a jumbo bag of M&M's behind me! A quilter needs a little nourishment to keep going, you know.

  On Tuesday night Kayla called and asked to stop by to show me something. OMG!!! She had a lot to show me. She had a goodie bag full of projects she'd been working on and a top her daughter, Ashley, had made completely from scraps I had given her. I call myself her fairy quilt-mother. When I was her age and teaching myself to quilt, I wish I had known a mature quilter who could have shared her talent and scraps with me, so I share with her. NOT that she needs my help with quilting! Ashley has quilted since she was 9 (I believe) and is very good at it. She has made piles of quilts (she's only just turned 21) and they are all beautiful. She loves scrappy quilts and I go through a lot of fabric and end up with a ton of scraps. It's fun to give them to her and see what she creates with them. I told Kayla it was like a mini quilt show and asked if I could take pictures of them for my blog. She was too shy to pose with the quilts. Here they are for you to see. Aren't they gorgeous?

                   Kayla's quilt show. One finished, one quilted needing to be bound, one pin-basted ready to quilt,  and 2 tops only.

The darker "Nine-Patch" in the back left side is Ashley's. It's full-size and should have had a full-view picture to do it justice.

   Our district had a Teacher Work Day on Friday so I didn't have to work! Guess what I did! Well, of course, there was a road trip first to a couple of quilt shops with another friend, Jane. After some hearty shopping we returned to her house to see her current projects. I wish I had remembered to take my camera. She had some real beauties to show me. Her husband is retired from the Air Force and they spent 14 or so years in Europe so her quilts have a distinct flavor. She worries  that they look busy, but I think they are rich and lush, very "English Cottage." Jane's favorite is William Morris fabrics and she has a nice collection of them, many bought while stationed in England. I'll see if I can't convince her to let me snag a few photos of her quilts for a future posting. After a light lunch at Jane's I came home and cut new fabrics to piece more crazy blocks. I woke up Saturday and spent the morning piecing even more.

   My son, Isaah, is home for the weekend. I made a big pan of  lasagna with garlic toast, Isaah's favorite, for dinner. He and my husband, Randy, are downstairs watching the "big" football game, something about who will go to the Super Bowl, I think. They came upstairs long enough to fill their plates and it's the last I've seen of them. I promised to join them after I blog only because my quilt frame is down there and I can spend the rest of the day and night quilting undisturbed . I don't understand football, but I can pretend to enjoy it while quilting. It will be the perfect ending to a week full of quilting. I'm off to the quilt frame!

  Keep stitching!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Another deadline met!

    Don't you just love it when you actually meet a deadline or achieve a goal you set for yourself? I wouldn't say I'm a procrastinator, BUT I do seem to take things right down to the wire getting things done. I just seem to always have a dozen projects going at once and I get more motivated when I'm about to run out of time. I mentioned in an earlier post that I wanted to get the quilt, Poison Crazy done and shipped in time for my niece, Melissa's birthday. I stayed up till 1AM Saturday morning sewing on the label and binding so I could ship it to Maine on Saturday. See, right down to the wire again! It's always such a good feeling to finish a quilt and  even better to give one away. I don't know why I put off those final steps to finish so I can feel good more often. My only defense is , I HATE to do the binding, every stitch of that process is a pain to me. I would rather quilt a whole other quilt than sew the binding on one quilt. Some people hate to cut out a quilt and some (really strange) people hate to do the hand-quilting!!! Just kidding, to each their own, I say. We all have our favorite parts to making a quilt and as long as we're making quilts, who cares? I love to hand-quilt and can't wait to get a top pieced so I can get to that stage. Some quilters love the piecing process, but hate to quilt and pay someone else to quilt the finished top. That's something I love about quilters. We're all so different but so alike in our love of quilts.

    Isn't it fun how when we attend a big quilt show or go to a quilt shop and meet a total stranger and yet "feel" like you know them and they are a "friend" just because they're a quilter? I've met quilters at shops or quilt events and felt an instant kinship with them, but because they live in another state or even another country, chances are I won't ever see them again, but I'll never forget them. Quilting is a sisterhood that non-quilters can't understand. I'm just incredibly happy to be a part of it. One thing about this sisterhood is there's always room for another sister or two or three or... We love to share our passion for quilting and encourage new people to learn to quilt. I really can't imagine NOT quilting. Quilting (in some form) fills my spare moments when I'm not working and still awake. What do people do with all their free time if they don't quilt? Do some people actually watch commercials?! That's when I jump up and run into my sewing room to sew a quilt block. I can get at least 4-6 blocks done in an evening by sewing only during commercials. My husband still doesn't understand that I can watch TV while sitting and quilting at the quilt frame. I feel guilty if I only sit and watch TV. I think, I've wasted valuable time when I could have accomplished something instead. Do you feel that way too or am I really weird? I know what my husband would say if he read this of course! He convinced me to "watch" 2 movies with him yesterday, because I had put a new quilt in the frame facing the big screen and I knew I'd have 4 hours of uninterrupted quilting time. He was happy to have the company and I was happy too!

   I'm sharing pictures of Poison Crazy with you. I'm usually terrible about remembering to take pictures of my quilts before I give them away. Having a blog now helps me to remember. Thanks for stopping by!

Keep stitching!

This is Poison Crazy sewn of Civil War reproduction fabrics in poison green and navy, crazy-pieced style.

                                                                  View of the entire quilt.

I always sew a detailed label on the back of my quilts. I wish the quilt-makers of  the quilts in my collection had made labels for theirs.

                                             An old pie safe storing many of my antique quilts.

                                          An old red ladder holds some of my antique quilt tops.

                                      A red and green pieced and applique block from the 1850's.
    A Little Jo quilt I made a few years ago. I love to use poison green and cinnamon pink together!