Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Day 2 of Wisconsin Road Trip

  There are some very vociferous birds outside the window at Ashley's apartment. They were in full concert mode by 4 AM Saturday morning. Kayla and I tried our best to sleep through the concert, but gave up and got up by 6:30 AM. Ashley joined us for Day 2's adventure. We headed for Beloit, Wisconsin for our first stop at Attic Quilts. It's a nice little shop with a good variety of fabrics, including some repros, but ones I already have. The ladies there were nice enough to point us in a new direction. They asked if we were going to Rockford, IL next. Well, no, but what's there? According to them, the shop of our dreams, Quilter's General Store, full to the rafters with Civil War repros! Yea, we got in the car and sped towards Rockford. Literally, Kayla had to set the cruise control so we wouldn't be stopped for speeding! OMG!!! I knew I was in trouble the minute we pulled into the driveway. It's in a 1875 farm house and HUGE is an understatement. It was love at first sight for us. The outbuildings, fence, and yard were manicured and invited us onward towards the house/shop. One step in the door told us we were in quilter's Heaven. Everywhere we looked, there were gorgeous fabrics and samples set in the homey atmosphere of this beautiful old house. I could have spent the whole day there or, actually, moved in! We did some major retail damage there and I don't regret a penny of it. That's right, so don't try to guilt trip me, it won't work. :-)

                                                     Here we go...

                                 
                                                             Lots of samples in the kitchen.


                                             Everything but the kitchen sink...in the kitchen sink!





                                                                  In the cutting room.




                                                              Don't forget to go upstairs!


This is a quilt made with Jeanne Horton's cheater fabric! You have to touch it to be convinced it's not all pieced.


  Here's my bounty from Quilter's general Store! Yes, that's a BOLT of fabric...it will be my next Civil War dress.
    Quilter's General Store now carries my Orphans of War patterns. It was hard to leave there, but then we were on to Janesville, Wisconsin, where we were originally going before the Rockford detour, But NOT regretted. We didn't think we could top this shop, but then we pulled into the drive of the 1863 house that is the shop, Life's A Stitch! Oh, this was gonna be good!


                                                                  Welcome to Life's A Stitch!

                                                                            Lots of goodies.

                                                             Just look at this classroom!

                                                                              Wow!

                                                       Pinch me, I'm dreaming, right?!
   
                                                                
Behind the cutting table.

My purchases from Life's A Stitch.





   We weren't done yet, not by a long shot! We were on the road again, off to Sun Prairie and JJ Stitches! We made one important stop on the way...

The largest Culvers in the world!!! at Newville, Wisconsin. Here's Kayla and Ashley waiting patiently for me to take a picture before we had our caramel cashew sundaes...YUM! Hey, don't judge, a girl's gotta keep her energy up!

   After  we were energized we got to JJ Stitches with time to spare. And we spent plenty of it there ($$ too!)
The owner of JJ Stitches was working the shop alone and  waited on us. There is a lot of WOW packed in a medium sized shop. You want to take your time and not miss a thing and have a well stocked wallet with you.

                                                                     A tease at the entrance.

                                                                  And in the front window.

                                                      Oh, yea, this is what I'm talking about.

   A look back towards the front. These ladies were so busy shopping, they didn't notice I took their picture.

                                                                               And more...

                        Jean helping us with our purchases. Don't you love the quilt behind her?


                                                  Here's what I HAD to have from JJ Stitches...
  We headed back to Dodgeville with happy hearts, lighter wallets, and empty stomaches. Shop hopping works up an appetite! We ate Kaylas yummy beef burgers, green beans, chips, and fresh fruit. Then we had to have show 'n' tell before getting to the local Culvers before it closed. Yep, twice in one day!

  Lucky for us, Country Sampler in Spring Green , WI, is open on Sunday, 1-4 PM. We got there and found a street festival going on. The place was really hopping. It's a wonderful shop, but was so crowded I couldn't take pictures. You'll have to take my word for it...you WANT to go there.

   My must haves from Country Sampler, 3 yard cuts. I was just there a couple weeks ago, so I could control myself a little. 

   Before leaving, the owner, Jeanne Horton, and I wrote up a contract for me to give a presentation to the new Civil War club she is planning. The date hasn't been set yet. I'll post it when it is decided. The other shops we visited expressed interest in my presentations too, so expect to hear about future trips there soon.

Keep Stitching,
Becky

Monday, June 27, 2011

Where the Wind Blew

    I arrived home from my road trip last night tired, but full of energy! Does that make sense? My brain is on overload. Kayla, my friend who planned this trip and was my "tour guide" did a fantastic job. She is fearless at interstate and big city driving. I'm in awe of her as I'm a little timid of travel. When I got home, I was asked, "Where did you two go?" I replied, "Wherever the wind blew us!" We had no set itinerary, just a few shop ideas and then when a new one was recommended, off we went! WOW! I don't think I've ever had more fun in a 3-day time period before. On Friday, what was supposed to be a 3 hour drive to her daughter's apartment in Dodgeville,WI, took us 7 hours. We were near Davenport when Kayla asked how I'd like to check out Yellow Creek in Pearl City, IL. It was in the new issue of Quilt Sampler. Silly question...of course I wanted to go! Heck, it was only a couple hours out of our way! It's a great shop and worth the big detour.

                                                                      One step in the door!


                                             Looking to the left, lots of patterns and samples.
                                                                    
                                                                     And to the right. More!


                                                                  And lots of stuff in between.


             Kayla posing next to a kit she'd seen in the article and had her heart set on. Isn't it yummidy?



         This  antique signature quilt is on temporary loan to Yellow Creek. I loved it! Wonderful inked signatures in the muslin centers.


  We spent a long time there shopping and chatting with one of the the owners, then we were off to find our way to Dodgeville again. We got to Ashley's apartment at 8 o'clock , popped the chicken dish that Kayla had brought in the oven and had show ' n' tell  of our goodies from Yellow Creek while it baked.

                                                            My purchase and, yes, it's yardages! 



  After supper, we got out the GPS, and the Quilter's Travel Companion and started plotting our plan of attack for Saturday. I'll post about our Saturday adventures tomorrow. I need to get sewing on quilt #3 for Love and Valor.

Keep stitching!
Becky

Friday, June 24, 2011

Road Trip!

   I had a wonderful time last night speaking at the Threads of Friendship Quilt Guild meeting in Bloomfield, IA. They are a great bunch of quilters. I enjoyed seeing the show 'n' tell portion of their meeting (my favorite part!) It's a challenge to set up my display each time, because every facility has a different layout. This one was in the Christian Church Fellowship Hall and was very spacious. I had plenty of room and could spread out! I was set up in time to take these pictures before I changed into my costume.


Besides antique quilts and reproductions I've made, I display vintage Civil War photos and clothing.



       I take advantage of any display opportunity...here I draped quilts over their cart of extra tables. Who wants to look at tables when you can look at quilts?!


The framed piece in front of the table is a fragment of an English paper-pieced hexagon quilt my sister bought for me in Maine last year. My Sissy is very generous! The fabrics are a diverse group of 1860's prints including lots of madders.The papers are still in it and the plexiglass is on the backside too so you can see the papers, odd bits of newsprint, letters, prescriptions, play bills, etc. Very interesting.


My Civil War Images quilt (a different toile fabric in each center, pattern # 004) draped over a chair with a framed group of Civil War soldiers photos, a couple with their wives.


The quilt in the center is my Reap the Whirlwind (pattern #009) with vintage CW children's clothes. The blue dress is actually for a boy of about  2 years of age.

   This morning I'm packing for my weekend trip to Wisconsin. I have to wait till 1 PM (poor me!) to be picked up. Kayla is getting off work early at noon. She has one of those jobs where you have to work year round (poor Kayla!) unlike lucky me who gets summer off. :-)

   I have my camera packed with extra batteries so I promise pictures of our trip! I need to finish packing. I'm taking my current book project to work on in any spare moments.

Keep stitching!
Becky

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Book Work!

   Inspiration is coming fast and furious. I've learned when it hits me, I have to run with it or lose it. I've been known to jump out of bed in the wee hours and sketch a block or write a story idea before it fades from my mind after a few hours sleep. If I'm driving and an idea forms, I pull over to the shoulder and write on whatever scrap of paper I can find, even a receipt or napkin. Once it's captured on paper, I can't wait to hit my fabric stash and put rotary cutter in motion. I've been out of school for 2 weeks and I've made two quilt tops for the Love and Valor book so far, one is at the quilter's, Kym Ward, who is a fabulous machine quilter. She has agreed to quilt all the quilts for the book. I can't hand-quilt them or the book wouldn't be done for 2-3 years! I started on the third quilt this afternoon. I made a sample block in two sizes, settling on the smaller of the two, and added a pieced border  to test the pattern idea. It's a baby quilt, so it won't take me long to sew it. I'd like to have most, if not all, the quilts sewn by the time school starts on August 18th. Am I crazy?!

        A sneak peak at my works in progress. Pieces laid out and iron hot, ready for action.


I use a graph sketch book to draw my first drafts of pattern ideas and jot down measurements as I cut and sew. Sample blocks made and hung for inspiration.

These are the fabrics I'm using in the baby quilt. When Jacob Ritner left for the war, he and Emeline had an infant daughter that had not been named. She was several months old before they decided to name her Kitty. This is a baby quilt for baby Kitty. The blue star fabric to honor her father off fighting for the Union, is an old Marcus Bros. print that was produced in 1987. This was before they started labeling prints as reproductions.


   I'm speaking in Bloomfield, IA tomorrow night for the Threads of Friendship Quilt Guild. I packed my car tonight, because I have to take my Mom shopping for a lift chair tomorrow morning (an hour and a half trip each way)and get home in time for my haircut at 1 PM and leave for Bloomfield by 3:30 PM. It will be a longgg day as I won't get home till around midnight. Whew! I'm wore out already just thinking about it. Then Friday I'm going on a weekend road trip with a friend to visit quilt shops in NW Illinois and Southern Wisconsin. Yippee! I'm sure I'll return with lots of purchases and new ideas. I plan to take my camera this time!!!

Keep Stitching!
Becky

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

It's a Miracle!

   I believe in miracles. How about you? I had one last week on June 8th. A featured item in my display at my Civil War presentations, is a quilt made by  a Union soldier, Christopher Staffinger, Orange County, IN, who was shot through the mouth at the Battle of Stones River, TN, and was bed-ridden for 23 months recuperating. I bought the quilt at his last daughter's estate sale in 1977. I'd never been able to locate any descendants, in fact, I thought there were none.
  On June 8th, I checked my emails and it rocked my world! I had an email from the great great great great granddaughter of Christopher Staffinger! :-O Her uncle lives in the Quad City area and had read the wonderful article that Alma Gaul wrote about my presentations with mention of the one I was to give on June 12th in Davenport. He contacted his niece who is their family genealogist. She didn't know about the quilt and asked her grandfather, Robert, who was Christopher's great great grandson. HE didn't know about it either! He was the nephew of the lady who the estate sale was for. She had left her entire estate to a friend instead of family, having no children of her own.  Robert had actually been at that auction and didn't bid on the quilt since he didn't know of it's story. He bought a family cook book and a rifle that Christopher brought home from the Civil War.
  I literally had goosebumps from head to toe when I read her email. I emailed back with great excitement and assured her that I had loved and tenderly cared for the quilt the last 34 years and planned to donate it to the Lincoln Museum in Springfield, IL, after my death. Five descendants attended my presentation in Davenport on Sunday. It was a magical moment when I asked them to stand up. The audience gasped and gave them a rousing applause. Many, many pictures were taken of us together with the quilt and we had a good visit. They have invited me to one of their homes in Carthage to meet Robert who is in frail health and couldn't travel Sunday. They are gracious enough to have offered to make copies of all photos and documents they have of Christopher. I've been blessed to have met them and they are so supportive of my plans for the quilt.
 
At long last I have a picture of Christopher Staffinger, PVT, 38th Infantry Volunteer, seen here before the war. He was 17 yrs. old when he enlisted in 1861.


This picture was taken approx. 1880 of Christopher and his wife Margaret Jane (Beatty) Staffinger. The family told me that Christopher wore a full beard for the rest of his life to hide his facial injury.

  
   Needless to say, Sunday's presentation was the best ever, at least for me. Having Staffinger family members there was a tremendously emotional experience for me and the audience as well. It forever changed my presentations. I now have new information and photos to enhance the story of Christopher and his quilt. To think of all the years I longed to find a photo of Christopher or discover a descendant and now, they found me! Miracles do happen! Believe.

   After I meet with the family, I'll have more to share. In the meantime, I'm working on "Hardtack and Coffee", the first quilt for the Love and Valor book. I have to add  the last 3 rows today and the top will be done. Then the hard part begins, writing the directions for the pattern. I better get to work!

Keep stitching,
Becky

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Let's Get this Party Started!

  My first full day of summer vacation! Yippee, yahoo, yassah! Sorry, I'm a little excited about it. I was so excited, I woke up earlier than on a school day. :o I knew better than to try to go back to sleep. It's party time, so I got up at 5:45AM ready to go. This morning I watched a movie (Jeremiah Johnson with Robert Redford) while sewing the binding on my Cozy Cottages quilt. The movie was only 2 hours long, but the binding took me 4 hours. As I've mentioned before, I hate to bind! It's torture I'd avoid at all cost if only a quilt could be called finished without it :( Oh well, it's done and on it's way to Santa Barbara to my niece at last.

   I worked on blocks for the book today too. I now have 90 made. I wish I could show them. Maybe I'll take a picture of pieces so you can at least see the fabrics. I've named it, "Hardtack and Coffee", a staple in a Civil War soldiers diet. The quilt is very scrappy, assorted shirtings and prints of rich reds, golds, browns, navy, and random bits of poison greens.

  I'm giving a presentation in Davenport on Sunday and have a lot to do to get ready for that, but not today. Today was play time. Not tomorrow either. I am taking groceries and cleaning products to my Mom. She has been suffering from back pain this past week and is still not up to going out herself. Friday will be "crunch time" and I'll type new notes, pack my display items, and practice my talk. I probably don't need to, but it makes me feel more confident when I run through it once at home. If walls could talk, my house would spout Civil War facts and quilt stories.

   The state of Tennessee voted for secession today, 150 years ago. My paternal ancestors were from Tennessee and I'm sure some of them fought in the war. Chances are there were Lillards fighting for the Union and some of them on the Confederate side too. Tennessee was divided in it's loyalties even though it officially seceded from the Union.

    Here are a couple photos of Civil War soldiers from my collection. The first is an unidentified Union officer. I'm not good at recognizing rank, so I can't tell you what his was. He looks a little war weary, doesn't he?



   The next photo, also unidentified, is of a young Confederate soldier from Montgomery, Alabama. He looks so innocent, I'm sure it's his recruitment photo, before he's seen the horrors of battle.






   Maybe I'll sew a few more blocks before I go to bed. After all, it's summer...no curfew! :)

Keep stitching!
Becky