Category Archives: Grandmother’s Choice

Block Forty-Nine: An Arc

An Arc Barbara Brackman Fight For Womens Rights Quilt Grandmother's ChoiceAn Arc: Bending Towards Justice, signals the end of Grandmother’s Choice: The Fight For Women’s Rights quilt project.  Barbara Brackman, quilt and textile historian, has generously given us a block a week for forty-nine weeks, accompanied by short history lessons focusing on women’s suffrage around the world.

Admittedly, the subject is one that fires my interest, and although women are enfranchised in many countries, voting isn’t the end of story.  We still have a long road ahead of us before we can say that we are truly on an equal footing with men, not only in the workplace, but in our daily lives.  This last bit is what helped me finish the Grandmother’s Choice quilt project in a way that I’d not imagined.

Grandmother's Choice Barbara BrackmanDuring the course of the project, I’d been busily planning the layout of my quilt, tweaking the overall concept until I was well satisfied with the design, or so I thought.  Additional fabrics were selected for the setting squares, my math was double-checked, and I settled in to begin the final step of making a quilt top.  As I progressed, my excitement faded, the quilt was not making me happy.

I tried different fabrics and values in the setting squares, but still, no happiness was forthcoming.  I persevered, sure that I had hit some kind of wall in the design process and it would work itself out by the time I was ready to add the borders.  I kept laboring on it until at last – huzzah! – the field was finished, and there it hung on the design wall.  What was my reaction?  I turned my back on it and walked away.  The quilt top was flat, bland, and uninteresting.  Boring.  Time to work out the problem without the disappointment of the unfinished quilt top staring back at me.

Capital T Barbara Brackman Fight For Womens Rights Quilt Grandmother's Choice I continued to check in on the Grandmother’s Choice Flickr group from time to time, watching as the completed quilt tops came trickling into the group photo pool.  I missed the camaraderie of our Saturday morning group.  Together, we had worked through the challenges occasionally thrown our way, applauded each other’s successes, commiserated and made gentle suggestions when we failed.

One day, I was musing and drifting, thinking about all the women we had learned about over the course of the last year, when the proverbial light bulb finally winked on.  We didn’t win the right to vote through the work of any single woman, but through the execution of the battle plans of many women working shoulder-to-shoulder to achieve a single goal.

Girl's Joy Barbara Brackman Fight For Womens Rights Quilt Grandmother's ChoiceThere was a large problem with my quilt, but the solution was simple – scratch the setting squares – all of that extra fabric simply made them shine out as individuals.  The blocks in my quilt needed to be set together, shoulder-to-shoulder so to speak.  You know what happened next… all of the sewing needed to be undone.

My trusty seam ripper and I became the best of friends for a time, but this has allowed me to become reacquainted with some of my favorite blocks.  Many of the instructions that Barbara gave us have found a permanent home in my pattern book to be used another day, in another quilt.

My version of the “Grandmother’s Choice: The Fight For Women’s Rights” quilt project finishes at approximately 68″ x 79″ – or 172.7cm x 200.6cm.

GC5

Block Forty-Eight: Fair Play

For Every Fighter A Woman Worker by Ernest Hamlin Baker. Photo Credit Library of CongressForty-eight blocks down, and only one block remaining.  This week’s block in Grandmother’s Choice: The Fight For Women’s Rights quilt project is in remembrance of the Canadian women who stepped forward during World War I to support the war effort both at home and abroad.  They not only filled the labor force vacancies left by the men that went to war, but also as nurses at the battle lines.  In fairness, Canada awarded women the right to vote in 1917 for the services they provided.

Our foremothers in the United States were no less patriotic, yet they were still denied the right to vote.

WWI ranks highly among the most deadly conflicts in U.S. history.  We suffered a casualty list of 323,155 during the 19 months that constituted our involvement in WWI.  The need for trained nurses was great.

Anticipating the possibility of war, the American Red Cross Nursing Service was organized in 1901 by Jane Arminda Delano, a professional nurse who also possessed outstanding administrative skills.  Jane Delano created the service by uniting the American Nursing Association, the Army Nurse Corp, and the American Red Cross.

Jane Arminda Delano, 1862-1919WWI Nursing poster by Howard Chandler ChristyAnd I Was Talking About What?

I nearly always get derailed by WWI posters, the propaganda and iconography are so compelling.  My first experience with this art form was during a visit to the National WWI Museum at the Liberty Memorial in Kansas City, Missouri; a recruiting poster by Fred Spear that shamelessly depicted innocent victims of the torpedoing of the R.M.S. Lusitania on 7 May, 1915.  Simple, yet effective.

lusitaniaThe American public did not want to become involved in a war in Europe, but propaganda posters, a popular method to attract attention and fire patriotism, were soon being seen across the nation.  James Montgomery Flagg, one of the first great propaganda artists, was commissioned to wake America up with a bugle cry for Liberty.

wakeupAnd our government wasn’t kidding about every man, woman, and child.  J.C. Leyendecker, known for his Arrow© collar and shirt illustrations, depicted a young Boy Scout arming a warrior-like Lady Liberty with sword and shield.

USA Bonds - Boy Scouts of America by J.C. Leyndecker.  Photo credit Library of CongressDon’t make the mistake that sex sells was an invention dreamed up by ad men of the television era, it’s been around a long, long, long time.  Howard Chandler Christy, a combat artist during the Spanish-American War, figured if the lure of action, adventure, and heroism in the recruitment posters didn’t float the boats of red-blooded American men, there was a good chance that the pretty girl next door just might do the trick.

Howard Chandler ChristyChristy devised a backup strategy as well… if sex didn’t sell, a pretty girl casting aspersions on American Manhood – Be A Man And Do It – was certain to compel the most craven of stragglers to the recruitment stations.

WWI poster by Howard Chandler ChristyWomen provided additional services to the war effort aside from being used as a reminder to the boys why they should fight.  With approximately 17,000 casualties per month, female nurses, ambulance drivers, clerks, and switchboard operators freed their male counterparts to fight.  Would you like some numbers?

America provided 21,480 U.S. Army nurses, all women, who served on the home front and abroad.  More than 400 of these nurses died in the line of duty.

The U.S. Army Quartermaster’s Service employed 283 bilingual women as telephone operators and stenographers.

13,000 American women enlisted in the Navy and Marines.  305 women served as Marine Reservists in a clerical capacity, while the yeoman recruits served as couriers, draftsmen, fingerprint experts, masters-at-arms, mess attendants, paymasters, recruiters, switchboard operators, and translators.  They received the identical pay, $28.75 per month, as their male counterparts and were treated as veterans after the Armistice.

Need more specific information?  Loretta Perfectus Walsh became the first active-duty U.S. woman in a non-nurse occupation when she enlisted 17 March, 1917.  Walsh became the first woman U.S. Navy Petty Officer when she was sworn in as Chief Yeoman, 21 March, 1917.

Charles Dana Gibson and Clarence F. Underwood were recruited to create posters that helped fuel the the drive for volunteers and funding.

American Field Service by Charles Dana Gibson.  Photo credit Library of CongressBack Our Girls Over There by Clarence F. Underwood. Photo credit Library of CongressOn the home front, a women’s organization called The Woman’s Land Army of America employed over 15,000 women, many college educated, to replace farmers called up by the U.S. military.  A number of well known illustrators and artists provided propaganda posters for the Woman’s Land Army of America, including the man who became known as the the father of the American poster, Edward Penfield.

The Girl On The Land by Edward Penfield. Photo credit Library of CongressThe Woman's Land Army of America by Herbert Andrew Paus. Photo credit Library of CongressDid You Think That I was Off-Topic?

Canada may have seen the logic of enfranchising women who, in peace and in war, did so much for their country.  The United States, however, continued to ignore the lengths that American women were willing to go in service of their homeland.  American women waited 22 months after the Armistice before the 19th Amendment was ratified by Congress on 18 August, 1920.

Fair Play Barbara Brackman Fight For Womens Rights Quilt Grandmother's Choice

Considering The Value Of Time

old clockWhy can’t there be just a few more hours in the day?  And how many hours, exactly, would be helpful?

Four hours for openers, although I could maybe be negotiated down to two.  So many things that I need to do, or rather, want to do, and there just isn’t time enough to get those coveted check marks.

For instance: where do I find the time to build a working trebuchet in the north pasture?  The way I see it, time spent daydreaming is never wasted, and I can’t tell you how much time I’ve happily allocated to the idea of chunkin’ something – a pumpkin, a piano, a Mazda, anything really that’s not bolted down – as far south as possible.

If I’m lucky, and the wind is just right, maybe I could fling something over the south pasture, across the road, smack-dab into my neighbor’s field.  Now that would be really something – and for those of you in the know, you’ll understand when I say that a perfect pitch into that field would include something along the lines of a dead and mouldering cow.  There are a couple of snags to this pie in the sky idea… where to find an aged to perfection dead cow, and who can I co-opt to handle said carcass?

Never mind.  Messy.

Only two weeks left in the Fight For Women’s Rights quilt project.  I’ve been working on getting setting squares made and borders finalized.  I’d be a lot closer to finishing on time if I only had more… time.

Also, it’s past time to bring this record up to date.  From the top, reading left to right, the blocks are: Star of Hope, Cats & Mice, Childless Wife, Gentleman’s Fancy, Barrister’s Block, and Heroine’s Crown.

mosaic721Imagine me patting myself on the back – I’ve stayed with the program (mostly) and haven’t taken too many liberties with Barbara Brackman’s blocks… sort of.

This project will wrap shortly, maybe then I’ll have the time to begin working on a trebuchet.  As for the payload?  I’ll find the time somewhere to fully consider aerodynamics.

Trebuchet at Caerlaverock Castle

Quick Update: Grandmother’s Choice

The sun is shining, the birds are singing, and I’m ready to head outside for a bit of puttering.  We’re getting very close to the finish of the The Fight For Women’s Rights quilt project.  Forty-one blocks are complete, with only eight blocks remaining.

Block Thirty-Nine: Endless Stairs

endlessstairsSubstitution Alert!  The Endless Stairs block really needed a focal print fabric.  Guess what?  That’s right… I don’t have a focal print for this project.  I substituted a pineapple block for what I considered, if truth be told, a complete yawner of a block.

Block Forty: Art Square

artsquareTweaking Alert!  Once again a block that featured a large and plain center patch requiring a focal print.  Instead, I drafted a foundation pattern that gave a little more interest to the center.  Hmm… looking at the completed block, I’m reminded of a variation on the Maltese Cross – don’t ask me where my thoughts were roaming that day.

Block Forty-One: Contrary Wife

contrarywifeI was amazed, a fast block to assemble without a need for substitution or tweakage.  With that said, I’m going to color this project update complete and head outdoors.

Block Thirty-Eight: Nonsense

i’ll get to the block later – crazy woman talking

I was recently nominated for the Liebster Award by antarabesque – the award being a way for blogs with small readerships to expand their visibility and to learn more about the individual bloggers.

Originally, the award recipient was required to answer eleven questions about themselves and nominate eleven more blogs in turn… a global chain letter if you will.  In its most recent incarnation, the requirements for accepting the Liebster have been downgraded, recipients needing to answer and nominate only five in each category.

After much consideration, I’ve decided to accept a semi or half-Liebster, answering the five questions with as much sincerity and soberness as I can muster, which as usual, ain’t much.  As for recommending blogs?  You might explore the list of blogs I follow, most are small (under 200 readers), and really, not all of them are about quilting.

How many jobs have you had and which did you like the most?  My daddy was a traveling man, and I married a traveling man.  As a result, I’ve turned my hand to whatever opportunities were available at the time, some were good some weren’t good.  I think it would be far easier to list the jobs I’ve never held.  I’ve never been: a carny, a personal shopper, an astrologer, an eye bank technician, an accordion mechanic, a venom milker, a mall Santa, or an extreme AC repairman – though I will say that they all sound like interesting career paths in one way or another.

What was your favorite school subject?  Please refer back to traveling man in the previous question.  I attended a grand total of seventeen elementary schools, two junior high schools, and five high schools in assorted southwestern states.  I was far too busy trying to keep my grades up, with little opportunity to favor one subject over another… unless you’ll let me count ditching class to go to the lake as a favorite subject?

What is number one on your bucket list?  Living forever.  That ought to help me accomplish whatever is currently in the #2 position.

What do you wish you had more time for? Harness training my donkeys, reading, getting a check mark for every single item that appears on my to-do list, more reading, building a working trebuchet, and yes, even more reading.

Do you collect anything and if you do, what? This was a tough one to answer, so I did a full tour of the house, compiling data as I went (complete with bullets and footnotes).  The results of my findings are as follows: Apparently I collect Dust Bunnies and Unidentifiable Leftovers.

liebstersoapthe saga continues: the fight for women’s rights

Once upon a time, and not so very long ago, there were an abundance of idiotic theories that described the morbid effects of physical exercise on a woman’s body.  Anything from operating a treadle sewing machine to bicycle and horseback riding (astride) – and walking with any other purpose than a slow meander through one’s garden was frowned upon.  All exercise was considered an unhealthy pastime for a woman, both physically and mentally, and if a woman threw caution to the wind by ignoring this advice, medical pundits of the day were certain that she ran the risk of permanent reproductive damage.

NonsenseNonsense is the name of the block that Barbara Brackman used to remind us of the propaganda and social pressures to which our foremothers were subjected.

the true definition of nonsense: micro quilting

Moving further into the realm of nonsense, here’s what I’ve been up to in the last week, the Itty-Bitty Pinwheels pattern by Primitive Gatherings.  The quilt top finished at 10″ square (25.4 cm) with 1″ blocks.  A wonderful way to use scraps, but not so great in terms of my mental health.

My Itty-Bitty Pinwheel Quilt

Feeling A Wee Bit White Rabbit-ish

Lately, I find that I’m often running behind myself, but this is my big chance to play a little catch up.  Here are blocks thirty-four through thirty seven in the Grandmother’s Choice quilt project, in clockwise order: Coffee Cup, Granny’s Choice, (Not A) Sunbonnet Baby, and Nameless Star.

mosaic

I wasn’t crazy-happy with two of the suggested blocks in the last four weeks – first up, there was the Coffee Cup block, which was a pieced cup and saucer with an appliqued cup handle.  It seemed more mug than cup, so I opted to draft my own applique block instead – a fairly easy fix.

Then there was the Sunbonnet Baby (groan).  My godmother’s mother was either a close friend or perhaps simply a pen pal of Bertha Corbett, creator of the Sunbonnet Baby.  For whatever reason, the two women corresponded, and several of Corbett’s letters were carefully preserved, framed, and proudly displayed on the ‘wall of shame’ in their family room.  Here’s an example of what the letters looked like, the only difference being the content.

Owing to my early, and unavoidable exposure, I managed to develop an overwhelming sense of twee with all things connected with a Sunbonnet Baby (seriously, there was no way to get around seeing the Corbett letters, when all I really wanted to do was watch the Wallace and Ladmo Show on television).  Imagine my dismay when I saw that block thirty-six was an homage to those very same little darlings.  I simply could not go along with that plan.  In the words of Frank Morgan who played the palace guard in The Wizard of Oz, “Not no way!  Not no how!”  Blasphemous as it may seem, I have fairly strong feelings on this subject, as you may have guessed.

The theme of week thirty-six was Testament of Youth, and instead of a Sunbonnet Baby (shudder), I opted for a block designed by Aileen Bullard and published in the Kansas City Star in 1932.  The original block called for yarn ringlets (probably à la Shirley Temple), but yeah, I had to fix that, too.  The block is very cute any way you look at it, but it’s a cuteness that I can live with.

Granny’s Choice was a breeze, and I think that it made up into a really interesting finished block.  I enjoy looking at blocks that suggest a whirly-twirly kind of movement, and the blades in this block certainly do that – I can easily imagine using the Granny’s Choice pattern for an entire quilt.

Nameless Star was a fun block to plan and piece as well.  But… there I was, face-to-face yet again with a large, plain center patch – and so help me, I cannot resist tweaking those large expanses of fabric.  A pinwheel center seemed the proper way to go.

Backtracking for a minute

So who, exactly, were Wallace and Ladmo?  Oh my, what you missed not growing up with that wacky duo.  It was kid TV at it’s best, a program that ran for 35 years (April 1, 1954 to December 29, 1989) on KPHO-TV Channel 5, in Phoenix, Arizona.

The name morphed over the years, beginning with It’s Wallace?, updated later to Wallace & Company, and finally finishing up as The Wallace and Ladmo Show.  No matter which title ran in the opening credits, it became one of the longest running, locally produced children’s television shows earning nine Emmy awards in the process.

I think, perhaps, that I’ll save the full story of Bill Thompson (Wallace) and Ladimir Kwiatkowski (Ladmo) for another day.

Wallace and Ladmo

Block Thirty-Three: Not-So-Contrary Husband

contraryhusbandActually, the name of this week’s block is Contrary Husband, and Barbara Brackman selected this block to remind us that not so long ago, it didn’t matter how rotten a man was, if you married him, you were stuck.

Any property you brought to the marriage became his.  Money?  You guessed it, his.  Land?  His.  If you had children with him and decided to leave him?  Yeah, he got the offspring, too.  What if he beat you?  That was your tough luck, because your family and society in general were just as likely to turn a blind eye to his execrable behavior as well your bruises and broken bones.  Divorce you say?  That wasn’t happening either.  The callous old saying, “you made your bed, now lie in it,” seems so much more cruel used in this context.

I’m in such a good mood, I believe that I’ll pull a Scarlett O’Hara regarding this week’s block topic – I’ll think about it tomorrow.  We’re on vacation this week and we’ve been having some high times around the home place.  I’ve had the opportunity to get some flower beds cleaned out and seeded, and the dogs are enjoying the extra freedom.  The donkeys are ready to get shed of their winter coats – it’s amazing how long they’ll stand still when I have a brush in my hand – and one of the two people that live here has been battling the epic number of tumbleweeds dropped on our place by the last few windstorms (psst… it hasn’t been me).

Barbara Brackman Grandmother's Choice Contrary Husband Template

Ms. Brackman’s pattern called for a solid square in the center, but I couldn’t leave it there.  That large center patch was crying out for me to be contrary and add my own touch… why not?