Tag Archives: quilting

A Redhead With A Leopard-Print Handbag

Colored glamorous shot of Lucille Ball and Arnaz standing.A true blast from the past has been lurking in the back of my brain lately, an episode of I Love Lucy© from December 17, 1955 titled: The Passports.

If by some strange turn of events you’ve never-ever seen this episode (perhaps you’ve been off-world on an exploratory trip to Alpha Centauri), this is the episode where, after finagling a tag-along trip to Europe with Ricky, Lucy finds that she doesn’t have the necessary documents to get a passport. In addition, she’s somehow misplaced the only blood relative who can vouch for her… her mother.

Long story short, after finding that there is no record of her birth in her home town, she goes through the motions of trying to find someone older than her, who knew her as a child.

Lucy locates Helen Ericson Sears Kaiser, the woman who babysat Lucy as a child, only to be stymied when Helen won’t admit her real age in front of her husband. With Helen explaining the situation to her husband in some truly irritating baby talk, all the while calling him ‘daddy’ (Ack! I’m sure I coughed up a hairball during that scene!), the story gets twisted around until Helen and her husband decide that, of course, Lucy was the babysitter, and Helen the child.

[Lucy Trivia: the leopard-print handbag in the photo above made appearances in several I Love Lucy© episodes. Sometimes it belonged to Lucy. Sometimes it belonged to Ethel. But I think that I would luv to have that handbag most of all.]

Determined to make the European tour by any means possible, Lucy decides to stowaway on board the ship in Fred and Ethel’s old vaudeville trunk – a trunk that had been purchased from a man with a seal act, ergo the handy air-hole for ventilation. Lucy tries the trunk on for size, and of course the trunk locks, and of course the key to the trunk is in the pocket of the skirt that Lucy is wearing.

Just then, the doorbell rings, and who should walk in? Why it’s old Doc Peterson, the man who delivered Lucy in (West) Jamestown, NY.

At last, somebody who can identify Lucy! But Lucy’s still locked in that darned trunk…

  • Dr. Peterson: (speaking to Ethel) I couldn’t sign anything until I’m sure that she’s really Lucille McGillicuddy.
  • Lucy: (from inside the trunk) Oh, no.  I am, Dr. Peterson, I am. I’m Lucille McGillicuddy.
  • Dr. Peterson: Well, I don’t know. Uh, I thought she (points at Ethel) was you at first.
  • Ethel: Oh, no, now, you could see her. (points to the hole in the trunk) There’s a hole right there in the trunk. You look right through there, you can see that that’s Lucy.
  • Dr. Peterson: Well, I’ll take a look. (Bends down and looks through the hole in the trunk) Hi… I can’t tell a thing.
  • Lucy: Oh, now, wait a minute, Doc. Wait a minute. (from inside the trunk, Lucy puts one eye up to the hole) Here’s one of my eyes. Here’s my other eye. Here’s my nose. Here’s my mouth. Put them all together and they spell Lucille McGillicuddy!
  • Dr. Peterson: All that is, is an eye, an eye, a nose and a mouth.

Realizing that she’ll never get her passport, never go to Europe, and likely spend the rest of her days locked in the trunk, Lucy bursts into tears. Doc Peterson cheers her up by remembering a song that he taught her when she was a child.

And so, with Lucy singing ‘Skip to My Lou‘ from inside the trunk, and Doc Peterson dancing a jolly little jig, a perfect opportunity presents itself for Ricky to burst into the apartment with a classic, “What’s going on here?!”

And I was going where with this?

Skip To My Lou quilt: by way of sample blocks with an assist from Lucy Ricardo.

ribbon swirl quiltingI’ve spent a lot of time lately – when not rerunning old sitcoms in my head; cleaning the sewing room, and culling and organizing fabric, including some much needed rearranging of storage furniture and worktables. The cleaning, sorting and organizing went fairly smoothly.  I’d reached the point where I could stand back and admire my hard work – all except for three boxes.  What was in those boxes you ask?

Stuff that hadn’t been unpacked since we moved to Oklahoma (cough… thirteen years ago). If pressed to admit the truth, those boxes had been packed up when we left Texas and relocated to Colorado, and then from Colorado to Oklahoma. A time capsule of quilting ‘stuff’, untouched by human hands for centuries… um, maybe let’s just say years.

applique orphan block doodle quiltingThere were orphan blocks and sample blocks and vintage coverlets, but mainly lots of sample blocks.  Sample blocks from my earliest quilting days when I still regularly made sample blocks.  And I clearly remember saying to myself, “Save these, you’ll be able to make an entire quilt with a stockpile of sample blocks someday.”

Well, that someday never came until those blocks and I had traveled down a long, long road together.

I had two choices: pitch ’em or use ’em. Of course I went with the opportunity to procrastinate, and so the cleaning, and the culling, and the organizing, and the generally satisfied feeling of a job being well done went right out the window.

orphan block sampler quilt checkered doodle quiltingSometimes when faced with orphan blocks, the blocks seem to stare right back at me through an (imaginary) hole in an old vaudeville trunk, saying, ‘Here’s my eye. Here’s my other eye. Here’s my nose. Here’s my mouth’, and I can’t see enough of anything that will suggest a way for the blocks to come together.

But making this little quilt was one of those moments when the blocks and I didn’t end up in a standoff, they very nearly jumped into place themselves.

And the truly amazing part of this sampler?  Only one – count ’em one – inset seam. How ever did that happen? Dunno. Some days, and some quilts, just go skipping along like that – even quilts made by a crazy lady who can take a life lesson from an episode of I Love Lucy©.

orphan blocks sampler little quiltstars applique doodle quilting

Whimsy: It’s Icing On The Cake

In my book, someone who turns down the opportunity to let a little whimsy brighten their day is as sad as a lost ball in high weeds.

I’ve been making headway on the patches I salvaged from the scrap bin – haven’t had the time or the energy to cut any more scraps, but I’ve got more than enough to finish up the current project.

pinstripeThe lightweight gray suiting?  After spending too much time dithering, and doing my best Jimmy Durante imitation trying to decide whether to use the right side or the wrong side, I finally decided to go with the pinstripes.

I had so few stripes in the scrap bin – florals I’ve got, with some checks, and a few dots, but I was definitely stripe poor.  I love geometrics and have a tendency to use everything I have quickly, so pinstripes were the only way to go.  You know the rule of five, right?  Large floral, small floral, check, stripe, dot.

Lately, Edyta Sitar has been claiming the rule of five as her formula, but truthfully, decorators have been using it for decades.  And that’s fine; Edyta is a quilting goddess, and I can forgive goddesses quite a bit if they keep the eye candy coming.

Oh, that was kind of off topic.

As I was saying, the 32-patches were stacking up as a result of staying with the leader/ender method, and I had the suiting already cut into rectangles to fit, so I decided to start slapping parts on the design wall.  Then, when I wasn’t looking, this lil’ guy popped in.

Applique Swallows

And before I knew exactly what was going on, he whistled up some friends.  I suspect that these five are outriders for a whole flock, and that makes me just about as happy as a boardinghouse pup.

Whimsy… gotta love it.

Outriders of the flock

 

Oh, Why Not?

So Many Scraps

Everybody is doing it apparently.

It’s being done at Temecula Quilt Co., and they’re doing it over at A Quilting Life, too.  Repro Quilt Lover is doing it in my email inbox – thanks to a well meaning favorite SIL.  Even my friend Katell is doing it over at La Ruche des Quilteuses, but with a slightly different twist.  Yes, it’s that time of the year when every quilter in cyberspace has announced the same pesky resolution, the one that I try to sidestep most every year, because the message is the same as always: LET’S USE THOSE SCRAPS!

All through January, I heard the catechism about organizing and reducing the size of my scrap bin.  As if I don’t carry enough guilt already about the mountain of scraps that sits idle in my sewing room.  Since the first of the year, my mantra has been: I can ignore it. I have ignored it. I will ignore it.

And it’s not as if I haven’t got yardage to work with.  Come on… I just got back from my annual pilgrimage to the Houston Quilt Festival.  When it comes to yardage – I’m flush.

I can be mule stubborn when it comes to not doing something just because I’ve been told that I should do it, but my goodness, that bin fills up with offcuts faster than I can use them.  After much internal debate, I’ve decided (again), that the pile of fabric must lose the contest of wills this year.

But actions always speak louder than words.  It took me a full day to translate a bit of this…

scraps

Into this… so neat, so tidy.

Scrap Tin

Folks,  that’s a whole lot of ironing and single cuts inside that not-quite-filled tin – but a rough estimate tells me that there are about one thousand 2.5″ patches in there.  And that pile of remainders in the upper right corner?  Those will be cut down into even smaller, usable patches.

{{Sigh}}  Why didn’t I start doing this years ago?  Wait.  I did.  But then I gave up after one of my “ooh shiny” moments and moved on to another project that didn’t involve cutting up itty-bitty scraps.

I’ve no plans to drop everything and start another quilt – the last thing I need is one more UFO (unfinished object) cluttering up my design wall.  The master plan is that I’ll use the patches as leader/ender projects.  For you non-quilters out there, that is when you run a few sets through the machine before starting in on the main event, namely the current project, and before you’re finished for the day, you run a few more sets through.  Leaders and enders.  All the while you’re gradually sneaking up on an extra quilt finish.

It’s been a week since I’ve begun taking a whack at the contents of my scrap bin.  So far, I’ve completed nine of these 32-patch units simply by using the leader/ender method.  Where am I going with these?  Dunno, but I’m sure something will occur to me.

Leader/Enders

pinstripeIt’d be nice if the “something that occurs to me” includes this gray pinstripe.  It’s 4 yards of vintage summer suiting that was gifted to me by, you guessed it, Miss G.  But which side should I use?  The right side pinstripe is very nice, but the wrong side has a shot cotton effect that is equally intriguing.

However it works out, I’ll keep one thought uppermost in that fluffy little brain of mine:  this is not a resolution, it’s simply another episode in my quilting adventure.

Crazy lady here, saying toodles and happy trails!

 

 

Still Life With Donkeys

Earlier today, my favorite SIL posed the question: What are you working on?

Honestly?  I’ve been having a love affair with 9-patches.  This weekend I put a check mark on a reproduction quilt top begun ten years ago.  I had the field of blocks complete, and the cheddar sashing mostly done, when I began cutting the wholecloth borders.  Then… full stop.

Now there’s this thing about the fabric I used in the border.  It’s kind of ugly.  But I kind of love it for all of its ugliness, and it was a millennium fabric done for Quilt For The Cure, so it was kind of like guilt free spending at the time.

Sort of.

I had long suspected that it was a reproduction fabric, and I’ve since found the likely source – the backing fabric used on a pineapple quilt, supposedly dating to 1876.  The website where I found the quilt listed is called 1stdibs; a site self-described as “the world’s leading online marketplace for the most beautiful things on earth.”  And the price tag for the quilt?  $4,995.00.

(yowza)

lady liberty 1876 1stdibs

Lady Liberty 1876 1stdibs

A little artistic license was used in recreating the Quilt For A Cure fabric.  We still have the beehive, cornucopia, and wheat – all symbols of prosperity and abundance – but the corn has gone AWOL.  Lady Liberty, her shield, and anchor remain, but Anno Domini and MM were added to the anchor… and that leads us right back to where we started: millennium fabric so ugly only I could love it.

Quilt For A Cure Millennium Fabric

Rewind to ten years ago: I botched the border cuts.  Devastated, I folded everything up – toe-tagged it, bagged it, and forgot about it.

Fast forward to early yesterday morning: I was flipping through an old quilt magazine (American Patchwork & Quilting – February 2005), when I stumbled across the pattern for the not-quite-forgotten quilt.  The pattern is called Civil War Soldier Patch, by Julie Bragg.  What originally caught my attention ten years ago, was that the quilt was based on the dimensions for a U.S. Sanitary Commission cot quilt.  During the Civil War, hospital quilts and blankets were made long and narrow to cover the body, but not drag on the floor, and that translates into a perfectly sized quilt for a couch potato like me.

Imagine this: any Saturday night, with something on TV that is probably too violent, too graphic, likely something by Quentin Tarantino.  The floor is littered with candy wrappers, spilled soda and popcorn.  But my nifty new quilt never has to brawl with movie night detritus, it hangs nicely above the muck.

And I remembered why I’d buried the quilt top – those pesky borders – but I gave myself a stern talking to.  “Get over it, it’s a utility quilt, get it done”, I told myself.  So back up on the design wall it went.

I thought that this morning I’d try snapping an interesting photo or six to share, but real life, in the form of my pair of donkeys, got in the way.  Some photos have just noses.  Some photos have just ears.  But most of the set-up shots have a stealth attack involving one or more donkeys.

Still Life With Donkeys

“Oh.  You wanted to take a photograph of that old thing?  Really?”  So I settled for a standard “let’s spread it out on the grass” shot , sans donkeys.  See the cotton field across the road?  A few more weeks and it’s picking time.

The soldier’s quilt finished at 54.5″ x 84″ (app. 138×213 cm).

Soldier's Quilt

Still Life With Donkey

I’ve also been playing with Miss G’s bag of orphan blocks, fifty two of which are 9-patches.  Let me tell you about those blocks – Miss G, being a housekeeper all her life couldn’t gift me with (probably) old and musty fabrics.  She laundered them all.  And yes, they frayed, but her heart was absolutely in the right place.

So after much blocking and pressing, I cut all fifty two blocks down to uneven 9-patches, and that’s when they began to take on a life of their own.  I decided that a riff on the Sister’s Choice block would be a good place to start, and I knew that I wanted to use two different blocks in the quilt.  But the second block eluded me…  time to go stash diving for inspiration.

When I surfaced, I had found four fabrics: a black gingham, plus three more fabrics that had been given to me (again, from my favorite SIL).  One was a red/white check that reminded me of growing up on the road, seeing the Purina logo on storage silos in the rural towns we passed through.  The second was a bit of gorgeousness: an entire vintage feedsack in blue with a ditzy fan and flower motif.  Lastly, a good green.  Love me some green in everything!

The gingham became points for the Sister’s Choice blocks.  The red check, blue feedsack, and that good green became Hens & Chicks.  The blocks finished at 14″, and the entire quilt top is 70″ (177.8 cm) square.

Twelve of Miss G’s orphan 9-patches down.  Forty to go.

Sister's Choice/Hens & Chicks

Sister's Choice & Hens & Chicks

It Was A Scrappy 4th of July

A typical 4th of July for me?  Long hours anticipating the pyrotechnic portion of Independence Day.

I did my best to dodge all thoughts of mundane chores – mowing being one that could be put off – managing to stay distracted until the time when my in-house grill master could work his magic with the all-American hamburger.  Then, just a short wait for the crump, crump… crump, of fireworks.

Sitting up on our little bit of a rise in a flat terrain, I anticipated good views from both the back porch and the front porch – yay!  If you can imagine me trotting through the house from porch to porch, greedy to see all of the fireworks, then you’ve got a true picture of what a little kid I can be.

In the meantime, the clock would be ticking incredibly slowly, not at all like the biological clock of Mona Lisa Vito (My Cousin Vinnie): “My biological clock is [tap-tap-taps her foot] TICKING LIKE THIS and the way this case is going, I ain’t never getting married.” – so I pulled out some scrappy bits and pieces to fashion a quilt with a patriotic theme, it was the 4th after all.

Inspired by a timely post called Olde Glory, a free pattern from Temecula Quilt Co., our flag and American roses would be my starting point.  Then I stumbled across a few miniature spool blocks left over from an older project.  I had almost all of the components ready to while away the hours.

Mission accomplished – the doll-sized quilt will finish at 18.75″ x 21″ (47.625 x 53.34 cm).

A Scrappy Fourth

Hey – I Found My Stuff!

Miss G, who incidentally happens to be somewhere in the neighborhood of 92 to 96 years young – depending on who’s asking –  has long enjoyed going to estate sales and auctions.  When it comes to hauling her loot home, Miss G gets it there by way of her Fire Engine Red Dodge Ram pickup truck.  She drives it well enough while peeping over the top of the steering wheel (Miss G is five foot nothing, after all), and she does drive it straight as an arrow, if really, really, really slowly.

Coming from a generation that shies away from throwing things out, she sorts through her purchases, then tries to find suitable homes for the items she doesn’t need or can’t use.

Over the last several months, Miss G has decided that I was the candidate mostly likely to use some of the goodies that she’s been saving up from sales: all things quilt related plus sundry items she thought might interest me.

Cereal box templates that were shared between quilters and sent via the US Postal Service.  When could a person mail a letter for three pennies?  The answer is anytime between 1851 and 1958 – but judging by what was stamped on the envelope above, 1940 would be today’s correct answer.

There’s even a wee treasure, a 2½”x4¼” envelope in beautiful condition that’s chock full of Peter Pan fabric samples – colors that go by the names of Copen, Orchid, Canary, Cameo and Coral Bell.

There also seem to be enough pre-cut fabrics ready to be rocked into a Dresden Plate quilt.

Scads of patterns cut from newspapers and magazines, yards of vintage 1920s fabrics (about 90 years old!), with all of the motifs for an Oriental Poppy quilt cut out and many already basted.  You can see in the photo below that even the original pattern has been preserved.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

And then there are the orphan blocks.  Lots and lots of orphan blocks.  I’ve got a stack of Nine-Patch, a veritable tower of Improved Nine-Patch, blocks that I don’t recognize and haven’t identified yet, and so many hours went into making these blocks – they were all hand pieced, the stitches small and even.  So how can I ignore them?  Can I leave them to languish in bins and boxes?  Or should I simply pass them along to another quilter?  The answer to all of the above is, I can’t.

Stacks of orphan blocks

Whaddaya Mean You Didn’t Use Templates?

To kick off my latest personal challenge, I’ve made a quilt out of a few of the orphan blocks.  The maker of these particular blocks knew how to stitch, but was maybe new-ish to quilting.  She or he didn’t bother to use a template, and as a result, few of the circles were actually… um, how will I phrase this nicely?  Circular.  When assembled, there was only one block that was within miles of being circular.

Not a problem – a few down and dirty stitches embroidered onto the top to give the impression of circularity, and “hey presto!”, a primitive style little quilt.  A phrase springs to mind, one I heard while watching White Men Can’t Jump when I was binding the quilt, and when I heard it I barked with shocked delight.  “You can throw a cat in the oven, but that don’t make it a biscuit.”  So here’s a photo of my Biscuit Quilt – it’s not symmetrical, it’s not traditional, but it’s a quilt.

The finished size of the Biscuit Quilt is 45″x54″ (114x137cms).

Biscuit Quilt made from orphan blocks by JoT in 2014

I’m Really Not Changing Horses In Mid-Gallop

Miss G didn’t limit herself to traditional quilting fabrics when she was piling up treasure for me – she also included vintage fabrics from the Key West Hand Print Fabric Shop that began operation about 1960 (think Early Jet Set Chic).  For today’s bonus round of fabric trivia, you should know that the Queen of Prep, Lily Pulitzer Rousseau, had many of her fabrics designed and printed at Key West Hand Print Fabrics.

Just for grins – a short history of the shop can be found here, a pictorial history of the shop is here, and an overview of Lily Pulitzer Rousseau’s link to KWHPF is here.

I am completely open to suggestions when it comes to these fabrics – I think that they will be my biggest challenge to date… smiling pink monkeys kind of creep me out.

Thanks Miss G.  You are a pip!

Key West Hand Print Fabric Leaflet

Key West Hand Print Fabric Cutting Room Floor

Key West Hand Print Fabrics

 

Everywhere I Look, I See Stars

Closeup of Summer Stars 2012 by Temecula Quilt Co.First official finish of 2014 – and is it really the end of June?  The year is half over already.

This little quilt began as a free summer sew-along pattern by Temecula Quilt Co. from 2012 titled, Summer Stars.  I usually begin at least one red, white & blue project in the summertime – and 2012 was no exception – but I didn’t want this one to scream RED, WHITE & BLUE.  Burrowing into my scrap bin I turned up a group of reproduction fabrics with definite possibilities, fabrics with softly faded personalities, and they gave the quilt just the look that I was after.

While I enjoyed making the star blocks that summer anyone who knows me, knows that I’m often compelled to put my own spin on the overall design.  An idea for setting the blocks didn’t spring immediately to mind, so the eight wee star blocks ended up languishing nearly forgotten on the design wall for nearly two years.  Two years!

Inspiration finally clobbered me over the head a few weeks ago and the star blocks came down off the design wall.  I’ve added 9-patch setting blocks plus borders from another repro fabric.  The star blocks finished at 3.25 inches, and the finished quilt measures 15″ x 23″ or 38.1cm x 58.42cm.

Variation on Summer Stars 2012 by Temecula Quilt Co.

First Star To The Left… but of course you know the rest of the J.M. Barrie quote.

Canada Star by Barbara BrackmanAnd if you’re wondering yes, I’m still living in a dream world, a world where I really and truly believe that I can demolish my pile o’scraps.  This has become quite the funny ha-ha joke in my sewing room, and I think even the dogs are laughing at this point.  So clap if you believe.  But clap for me, please, not Tinkerbell.

In the continuing saga of my scrap quilt challenge, first up is the Threads of Memory project by Barbara Brackman.  I’ve pulled every red, white & black scrap that I could find – there are quite a few of them – and the group of star blocks has begun to remind me of a setting for a summer picnic.

I hate to admit what a complete slacker I am, but as of this weekend, I’m two months behind in the Brackman project.  I’ll get off my bigoldfatone soon and get caught up.  Right after the next round of visits from family.  And then there’s the Saucier Family Reunion July 19th.  Right after that.  Maybe.

Do you wonder if I really have a Master Plan for the destruction of the scrap bin?  Certainly, and the following photo will give you an idea of where a major portion of the scraps will find a home.  But scraps aren’t the only items in my sights this year… idle yardage will also get used up wherever and whenever possible.  Example?  I’ve had some American Jane Alphabet fabric in my stash for years, and that fabric is in the process of becoming a border of words that evoke summer for me… a perfect coda for this summer’s string pieced star quilt.

String Pieced StarsPulling together a summertime words border from American Jane Alphabet

John Wayne Always Got The Best One-Liners

It seems forever since I did anything besides paddle around in the deep end of my genealogy pool.  Some people may think that I’m ruthlessly single-minded at times, and that could be a good thing if we were faced with something along the lines of a zombie apocalypse.  But as of this moment in time, in my particular version of reality, that’s not even a blip on the radar.  I do try to journal about things that interest me, and hopefully others as well, but lately I’ve been fully immersed in the whole Ghosts of Family Past thing – fairly heady stuff.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMoving along… Stitchin’ Witches Mystery Quilt-Along is complete and I hope she leads another one soon.  The big reveal with assembly and border instructions hit my inbox last month, so I shifted into D (after spending a couple of late winter months in N).  I was already two blocks behind in the project – plus, I’d never gotten around to finishing the signature block.  For those that are interested in how I completed the siggy block, I let my heart make the decision.  I embroidered it by hand, and I’m mightily glad that I did.

Kaye England Civil War Legacy Quilt The Stitching Witches Quilt AlongAs for borders… since I was working strictly out of my scrap bin I didn’t have the option of a whole cloth border. So I asked myself what kind of pieced border could I make for a quilt made almost entirely of half-square triangles.  The answer was obvious – more half-square triangles, of course.  I had a few ‘reject’ HSTs left over, and with the aid of the Magic 8 method, the remaining 240-plus went quickly.  I found an alternate method – after the fact, of course – to make 4 perfect HSTs at a time in a Craftsy video.

The pattern for this quilt, minus the HST borders, is Kaye England’s Civil War Legacy.  Overall, I’m very pleased with the way the quilt top turned out, especially since I managed to hold myself to the absolute bare minimum as far as tweaking or modifying blocks.  That’s a very hard impulse for me to control, and in most cases I never-ever try to rein in those “how would it look if” thoughts that go blasting through my brain.  For this one, single, quilt, I managed to follow most of the instructions (yay!).

Finished dimensions: app. 60″ x 78″ (152cm x 198cm).

civilwarlegacy

 

Nothing Up My Sleeve… Presto!

butterscotch yellowInterview With A Quilter: by James D. Snoope

I spent the last few miles of my journey checking the rearview mirror, amazed at the rooster tail of red dust that was kicked up in the wake of my rental car.  When not looking back at where I’d been, I focused my attention on where I was going and keeping the small economy car from rattling itself off the washboard road.

I checked my watch, I was still a few minutes early for my appointment.  I’d fought my new boss for this assignment, a much sought after interview with the semi-reclusive quilter, Savannah Threadwell – such an article would be considered a coup in the world of quilt journalism.

A new, leather bound notebook lay open on the seat next to me, a present from my parents after I landed this job, my first real job after college.  I stole a quick glance at the the scribbled driving instructions, nearly missing the last turn in the process.  Gripping the wheel, I made a wide, sliding curve onto the gravel driveway of a rambling red brick house, braking hard to avoid the farm equipment parked there.  The trailing dust cloud caught and enveloped the car – a small blessing, I thought, that I wouldn’t have to see the business end of a bale mover connect with the front end of my car.  It really was a shame that I had declined the extra rental insurance.

In the next moment I realized that the car had not only stopped but stalled, the only sound I heard was the ticking of the engine as it cooled.  When the dust settled, I could see that I had avoided both financial disaster and a K.O. to my budding career.  In my notebook was a photograph that had been procured by our research department and I’d studied it well in preparation for today.  The snapshot had been taken quite a few years before, but there was no doubt in my mind that the woman standing beside the bale mover was Ms. Threadwell herself.

A tall woman.  Her once dark brown hair was worn shorter now, and more than lightly touched with silver.  She was flanked protectively by two yellow-orange dogs.  If they had been cats, the color of their fur would be described as marmalade, but I knew by looking at their hard and alert eyes that no one could ever mistake them for jam sweet doggies.

As I took in the tableau, I noticed that Ms. Threadwell had accessorized carefully for today’s meeting, a shotgun hung easily across her left arm.  With justifiable caution, I climbed out of the rental car and introduced myself, adding, “I’d be wary of casual strangers,too, if I lived as far out in the country as you.”

Savannah Threadwell’s reply didn’t warm me.  She said it quietly, and the words hung heavily in the air before she turned to lead me into her home to begin the interview.  “Strangers don’t scare me.  Zombies do.”

James:  Ms. Threadwell… may I call you Savannah?  I’ve read a lot of stories about the project that you, and many other quilters around the world are working on, a quilt designed by Bonnie Hunter called Celtic Solstice.  I’d like to question you more closely on that subject, but before we begin, could you shed some light on one thing for me?  Did you really say zombies?

Savannah:  Would you like some coffee, Jimmie?  I…

James:  Uh, the name is James.  But maybe you’d be more comfortable calling me Jim.  And thanks, I could use a cup.  Black, please.

Savannah:  Oh, right.  As I started to explain, I don’t worry about strangers so much as I do zombies, Jimmie.  As a point of reference for your readers, I read, and books always make a strong appearance as Christmas gifts.  While what interests me is such a mixed bag – everything from hardboiled detective novels to hard-core science fiction – my one constant is to have a good horror story in the pile.  It really starts the new year off with a bang.  You may not know this, Jimmie, but in the horror market, vampires are un-dead meat, so to speak – zombies are the monsters of choice right now.  So to answer your question, Jimmie, when one has a lively imagination, one must be aware of strangers wandering onto one’s property.  Have one of those peanut butter cookies, Jimmie.

James:  I thought we’d settled on Jim?  Are you trying to say that these books frighten you into paranoid, er, delusions?

Savannah:  Oh no, not paranoid.  Let’s just call it a heightened state of awareness.  Banana bread, Jimmie?

James:  [blink] Okay.  So, regarding your quiltingI’ve heard that Bonnie Hunter hosts a mystery quilt-along every year, beginning on the day after Thanksgiving and finishing with the reveal on New Years’ Day with a link-up party after each weekly clue.  This seems very intense.  As a rule, do you always work at such a pace?

Savannah:  Not at all, Jimmie.  I think that I could best be described as a lazy quilter.  I cut a little fabric, I do a little piecing, and I stare at the progress a lot.  If I worked on every quilt as intensely as I do during Bonnie’s mysteries, nothing would ever get done.  You’ll notice, if you haven’t already, that the Christmas tree and holiday decorations still haven’t been taken down.  Then there’s everything that goes along with the general neglect that you see; a lot of meals out of cans, and the drawers are nearly empty of clean laundry.  Well Jimmie, all of that is just an unfortunate by-product of this once a year quilt bash.  Try some of that canned Spam, Jimmie, it’s a treat.

James:  When making a quilt from a designer’s pattern, do you follow the instructions down to the last detail?

Savannah:  Well Jimmie, it’s all about tweaking the pattern to make the quilt your own.  Sometimes it’s something as simple as adding a border of your own design.  At other times, it’s changing up the block pattern just a bit – a variation, a deviation, or perhaps the process could be best described as a mutation.  Mutants!  First there was Godzilla, then Rodan, and now me.  Fudge?

James:  Yes, please.  Have you ever considered an alternative pastime?  What if you could no longer quilt?

Savannah:  Do I have a Plan B?  That’s a very interesting question, Jimmie.  As a matter of fact, I do.  In the past I flirted with several musical instruments; the harmonica, the dulcimer, but it’s the accordion that has always held a special place in my heart.  I’ve often thought that if all else failed, I could rely on my accordion to sustain me.  Have you noticed how much airtime the song Shipping Up To Boston by Dropkick Murphy’s has been getting lately?  It was used to great effect in Scorsese’s film, The Departed, but now the song has been featured in a mainstream beer commercial – that’s the accordion for you.  Some Vienna sausages, Jimmie?

James:  And your husband, your family, and your friendsare they as supportive as you hoped they would be?  What do they think of your passion for quilting after all these years?

Savannah:  Nuts.

James:  Thanks, but that fudge really filled me up.

Savannah:  No Jimmie, that was in answer to your question.  Nuts… as in nutty.  Everyone I know thinks I’m barmy.  Fruitcake, Jimmie?

celtic solstic bonnie hunter reveal[Edit.: I have one more border to add yet, a scrappy green border that didn’t get done in time for the last link-up party – close, but no cigar.  My version of Celtic Solstice with an extra border will finish at 83″, or 210.82 cm. square.]

I Like Red… A Lot

redwork embroidery toujours l'amour french market threads need'l loveThe color red always makes me hungry… apples, beets, cayenne pepper, cherries, cranberries, currants, guava, kidney beans, pomegranates, radishes, red bell peppers, red cabbage, red plums, rhubarb, strawberries, tomatoes, watermelon – yum!  So how many more food items have I left off the list?

Is there anything more truly luscious than red?

It doesn’t much matter the tone – I like reds anywhere from the reddish-pink to a very nearly burgundy red.  Currently (and that gets me thinking about that red of a different color), I favor the tomato red.

I like reds in hand embroidery.  The image above is a piece of redwork that I finished (mumble) years ago and it’s been languishing in a UFO drawer ever since.  I know that it wants to become a pillow, and I’ve been waiting somewhat patiently for inspiration to strike, but it better strike soon or I’ll have to start referring to this piece as my vintage redwork.  And what if it begins to compost… (gasp)?

If you’re curious, the pattern is from a Needl’l Love book called French Market Threads, and happily it’s still in publication.  There are a lot of fun projects inside, including some quilts that are still on my to-do list.

I like reds in a quilt, too.  Anything from itty bitty pieces in a scrap quilt, to an entirely red quilt (with some neutrals tossed in just because).

Kansas Troubles Kaye Egland Civil War Legacy Stitchin' Witches Quilt AlongAnd as of today, I am all caught up with Stitchin’ Witches Quilt Along.  I have officially pressed the last seam in segment #8, Kansas Troubles. I had the idea that perhaps this would be the segment where I toned down the reds somewhat.  Wrong again.  If anything, I think that I added more red prints than before – that green almost looks like an oversight.

split triangles bonnie hunter celtic solstice mystery 2013No, it’s not red, but I do like orange as well.  I’m still plugging away at the components for Bonnie Hunter’s mystery quilt, Celtic Solstice.  I’ve got everything finished in Parts 1-4, but a mere 5 of the split triangle units for Part 5 are completed (sorry – that doesn’t make for much in the way of scrappy variety for the photo).  I only need 100 total of this particular component, and I’m positive that I can get the remaining 95 knocked out easy before Part 6 goes live on Friday morning.

We’re getting so close to Bonnie’s reveal.

mikado tomatoo seed packetPS – Barbara Brackman has given us a heads-up on a new Civil War BOM that begins January 25, 2014.  I haven’t quite decided for sure, but I’m wavering.

I’m such a soft touch when a quilt along is mentioned.

Where’s My Stuff?

I’ve semi-rearranged the sewing room to make room for the new quilting machine and in the process I’ve managed to misplace most everything – I can’t find my stuff.

I use the word rearranged very loosely.  It was more of a case of “shove this cart over into a corner, and this table over there.  Then stack a few things on top of whatever was most recently moved.  Okay, put a few more things on top of that tower of fabric, it shouldn’t topple over.  Oh yeah, and push this out of the way, too.”  The sewing room has reached critical mass, and I can’t find one thing in all of the chaos.

I could start cleaning this evening, but I think I’ll pull a Scarlett O’Hara – I’ll think about it tomorrow, meanwhile ignoring the mess while I sip on an adult beverage while I sit in front of the biggest time waster of all, my computer.

I’m still hanging with Bonnie Hunter and have spent the weekend hunkered down with Segment Two of the Celtic Solstice Mystery Quilt.  Thank goodness that I’m only making the small quilt which measures 75″ or 190.5 cm square.  The fact that I don’t own a king-sized bed had a lot to do with my decision, in this case size does matter.

If I had opted for the large quilt, I would have needed to cut a total of 1,464 fabric patches to make 244 chevron units.  As it is, I cut 600 patches to make a grand total of 100 chevron units.  Each chevron measures 3.5″ or 8.89 cm unfinished.  Ten more chevron units and I can color this segment complete.

butterscotch yellowI had a last minute change of heart over the yellows.  When shopping my stash for this project, I pulled every piece of caramel colored fabric that I owned.  But within the last few weeks, I’ve been gifted with a number of bags and boxes of fabric and with the occasional surprise of quilting related buried treasure.  (Note: if I could find my stuff, I’d show you).  While burrowing through one particular bag – or maybe it was a box – I found a scrap of yellow fabric that made me think of butterscotch the minute I saw it.  “Too bad,” I thought, “that there’s so little of this fabric.”  I smoothed it out, and set it aside while I delved deeper into the bag (or box).  Soon after, I shouted “Eureka!” while hauling out several yards of the same fabric.

Selecting greens is easy – all greens live together in nature.  Blues can be a bit tricky, and in my world, so can reds, and oranges, and yellow.  So I chucked all of the caramel colored yellows in favor of the lighter, and in my humble opinion, happier butterscotch yellows.

Bonnie Hunter Celtic Solstice

It Followed Me Home… Can I Keep It?

December already… crazy.

midarmI’ve managed to fill my time somehow since my last post.  Mostly I’ve been playing with the new machine that I acquired on the final day of the Houston Quilt Festival.  Oh… did I not mention that a mid-arm sort of found its way to my house?  I’ve burned through masses of leftover muslin and batting since its arrival.  Some might call it practice, but really, it’s nothing but play time as far as I’m concerned.

machine quilting practiceHere’s To Whittling Down That Stack Of UFOs

I’ve been getting check marks on a couple of unfinished tops as well, but I’ve begun with baby steps.  The take-along project from the Houston trip is complete – although it only got taken out of the project bag for show and tell while stuffing my face with pizza one night.  I never got around to actually working on it until after my return.  The little “Giddap” donkey quilt finished at 18.5″ or 469.90 mm square.

Giddap: The Democratic Donkey Quilt Reproduction of a vintage quilt patternAnd the Itty Bitty Pinwheels quilt gets a ta-da, too.  This one finished at 10.5″ or 266.70 mm square.  You remember this one, maybe?  The one that very nearly drove me insane while I was working on it?  The one with the 1″ blocks?  Yeah, that one.

itty bitty primitive pinwheelsReds: Gotta Love ‘Em

And segment seven of Stitching Witches Quilt Along is sewn up.  After much consideration (aka: sitting and staring for hours when I probably should have been doing something else), I came to the conclusion that the green check fabric demanded just a little too much attention.  A “Do-Over” was declared.  The red is not nearly as exciting as the green, but the final version of the Corn & Beans block is more in keeping with the overall look of the mystery quilt so far.

Stitching Witches Quilt Along Corn and BeansStitching Witches Quilt Along Corn and Beans

How About A Whole Bunch Of Scrappy Fun?

Last, but not least: the day after Thanksgiving also signaled the start of Bonnie Hunter’s 2013 Mystery Quilt Along.  Bonnie’s 2012 Mystery Quilt, Easy Street, was so much fun, and turned out so well that I decided to join the party again this year.  It’s not a block a week, or a block a month, more of a… make 188 of these units this week.  Don’t know how or where these particular units will fit into the overall picture, but I know from experience that eventually, they will.

Celtic Solstice Bonnie Hunter Mystery 2013 The entire project is a little intense, but in a very, very good way.  Last year, we finished in 6-7 weeks.  I adore working on a schedule, I wish I could push myself to piece like that a little more often.

Another reason I’ve looked forward to Bonnie’s next mystery quilt is her scrappiness.  The last thing that I need to do at this time of the year is go out and buy more yardage.  Bonnie makes color suggestions but puts a lot of emphasis on using scraps, the more the merrier – and boy howdy, scraps I’ve got!

It’s not too late to join…

Easy Street Bonnie Hunter 2012I’m sitting here writing about the Bonnie Hunter 2013 Mystery, when all of a sudden, it hit me – I never posted one single photo of the Easy Street top from last year.  Here’s a sneak peak before it goes into the machine.

Do You Ever Wonder Why?

Sitting here this morning, curiously wondering how some quilt blocks got their names.  Occasionally, the name suits the block and other times the name makes no sense whatever.  Ohio Cluster is the name of this block – the cluster part I get.  But Ohio?

According to folklore, the Ohio Cluster block was used by abolitionists as an indicator pointing north towards freedom on the Underground Railroad.  Note my use of the word, folklore.  Although there was certainly a network of routes and safe houses in place during the 19th century, many quilt historians and scholars of antebellum America have questioned whether quilt codes were fact or fiction.

Ohio Cluster Stitching Witches QAL FlickrWhat else am I working on besides the Stitching Witches QAL?  Later this week I plan on a run down to Houston for the International Quilt Festival.  In anticipation of being completely stoked about all things quilt related, I’m pre-cutting fabrics for a take along project.  I wanted something interesting, yet small-ish, so I decided to pick from my ‘gosh-I-really-need-to-do-this’ list; a semi-vintage pattern that was last published in the Kansas City Star in 1977.

Why semi-vintage?  Because I was around in 1977 – coincidentally, I was in Kansas City in 1977 – and if I dropped the ‘semi’ part, that would be conceding that I’m vintage, too.  As if.

Democratic Donkey

A Donkey pattern similar to this was published in the Kansas City Star newspaper in 1931. The pattern was published in response to requests for a pattern representative of the Democratic party, due to the upcoming 1932 presidential election. “Giddap, A Very Democratic Donkey” was designed by the Ladies’ Aid Society at the Sedalia, Missouri, Congregational Church. Kansas City Star patterns were syndicated in many other states, making the Donkey pattern available to many people. — Great Lakes Quilt Center, Michigan State University Museum

And in case you haven’t seen what we have lurking in our pasture… here are Pepper and Donkey Hotie (pronounced Don Quixote), the inspirations for my version of the “Giddap” quilt.

Donkey

Still Living It Up With Color

Quilting in serial form.  Ever tried it?  Most folks call it a quilt-along, but it is after all, October, and I’m feeling like a serial quilter – ooh, scary.  On offer today is the next installment in the exciting saga of The Stitching Witches Quilt Along.

First up is the Montgomery segment.  This is to be our ‘signature’ block, and I haven’t decided what I’m going to put in the blank space at the center of the block.  Wait.  Let me clarify that last statement: I have all kinds of ideas of what I’d like to put there, but I’ll have to do a little winnowing before I can fit what I’d like to see in that small space.  Then there’s the application method: Pigma Pen? – that’s the easy route – Or hand embroidery?  Decisions, decisions.

Spoiler Alert: the pen will end up the winner… guaranteed.

Montgomery Stitching Witches Quilt Along Kaye England Civil War Legacy Scrap QuiltsNext is Yankee Pride.  I don’t usually have large prints suitable for a fussy cut center hanging around in my stash, but I turned up a floral that worked just fine.  I may have erred when selecting fabrics for this block, in particular, the small leaf print that I used to border the red star.  In hindsight, I probably should’ve used a fabric with higher contrast.  But do I think that the low contrast is enough to cry do over?  Nope.  I adore that wee print, so it’ll stay.

Yankee Pride Stitching Witches Quilt Along Kaye England Civil War Legacy Scrap QuiltsTune in next week for another installment… same Bat time, same Bat channel.

Batman Quilt Along Stitching Witches October 1966

Warning: Sunglasses May Be Required

The year long quilting party celebrating the Fight For Women’s Rights is over.  Now what?  For starters, I have no projects in mind that include yellow.  I’ve also joined another QAL, but this time I’m making a scrap quilt.  Am I having fun with it?  Boy Howdy!

Kaye England Civil War Legacy Quilt The Stitching Witches Quilt AlongIt’s such a relief to wallow in color again.  I’ve been diving into my fabric bins and pulling out bits and pieces and yardage in reds and greens and browns.  The only other restriction that I have is that the fabrics must have fun together.  So far so good.

Kaye England Civil War Legacy Stitching Witches Quilt AlongPulling fabrics for a scrap quilt can be likened to a surprise visit from an old friend.  In the photo above I see several fabrics from two different quilts that were made for my nieces.  Loved the fabrics then, still lovin’ them when they pop in again.

You might want to link over to Flickr and browse the group pool at The Stitching Witches Quilt Along, which is hosted by the one, the only, the original, Stitchin’ Witch.  What?  You were expecting someone else?

While you’re there, you might want to consider joining our group – don’t be shy, there aren’t any divas to be found among us, and it’s not too late to catch up.  All the details can be found at the Flickr Group, but in a nutshell: it’s a Mystery Quilt Along, and once a month on or about the 13th, Stitchin’ Witch will email you the pattern and instructions for the next segment.

Kaye England Civil War Legacy Stitching Witches Quilt Along

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?

Blocks Thirty-One And Thirty-Two

What, another twofer?  Yes – seeing as how two weeks ago my iron did a full gainer off the ironing board (long story having to do with my bigoldfatone).  That one event put a halt to all things quilt related, and it took so stinkin’ long for the replacement dry iron to arrive.  Methinks the vendor made a tidy little profit on shipping costs judging by the length of time it took to get here vs. the $$ I paid.

Block Thirty-One: Tinted Chains

The title Tinted Chains, refers to the circumscribed lives of women who were bound to husbands, families, and homes; chattel, denied the right to voice an opinion at the polls.

I pulled in a new fabric, a medium gold plaid, to replace the orange fabric that I 86ed.  No matter how hard I coaxed, the orange just wouldn’t play nice.  I probably spent more time auditioning fabrics for the Tinted Chains block than it took to make, but I do admire the finished piece.

Tinted Chain Barbara Brackman Fight For Womens Rights Quilt Grandmother's Choice

Block Thirty-Two: Mr. Roosevelt’s Necktie

The block is called Mr. Roosevelt’s Necktie in reference to the Bull Moose (Progressive) Party’s use of the women’s suffrage plank in the failed 1908 presidential race.

Is it a necktie?  Or is it a doggy treat?  My first impression of this pattern was a dog bone – try as I might, I can’t get that image out of my head.  I’m all about the more traditional bow tie pattern, and I admit that I’ve reached the point where I actually kind of enjoy Y-seams, but I don’t mind adding a variation to my pattern book.

Mr. Roosevelt's Necktie Barbara Brackman Fight For Womens Rights Quilt Grandmother's Choice

Much can be done by law towards putting women on a footing of complete and entire equal rights with man – including the right to vote, the right to hold and use property, and the right to enter any profession she desires on the same terms as the man… Women should have free access to every field of labor which they care to enter, and when their work is as valuable as that of a man it should be paid as highly.  Theodore Roosevelt, 1913

Block Thirty: Broad Arrow

Okay, fun subject today… let’s talk about prison uniforms, those items of clothing that were designed with a two-fold purpose: as a mark of shame and to make escape and avoiding recapture difficult.  (yippee-skippy)

Great Britain once used the Broad Arrow symbol, either stenciled or sewn onto clothing, to mark a person as a convicted criminal.  Here in the United States, stripes were the usual mark of a convict.

Either way the uniforms were decorated – arrows or stripes – they instantly shouted ‘prisoner’ to anyone that saw them.  So how does this relate to last week’s block in the Grandmother’s Choice quilt project?

In Great Britain, as here in the US, many suffragettes were willing to risk imprisonment to draw attention to the movement.  Once released from the prisons or workhouses, the members of the Women’s Social and Political Union turned the Broad Arrow into a badge of distinction, proudly wearing replicas of their uniforms in public displays to draw even more attention to the fight for women’s rights.

Mrs. Pankhurst and Christabel Pankhurst in prison dressWhen deciding on fabrics for my Broad Arrow block, I wanted to include a stripe as a nod to the women in the United States who used the same strategy – demonstrations utilizing passive resistance that resulted in arrest, conviction, and imprisonment to promote public awareness of their demand for the right to vote.  (oops… the queen of run-on sentences strikes again)

Broad Arrow Barbara Brackman Fight For Womens Rights Quilt Grandmother's Choice

Take us home Mr. Sulu.  Full impulse power…

In other words, I’m going to make a sharp left turn away from reality and let you have another peek at the way my brain works.

Whenever I ponder prison stripes – and I don’t really ponder them too often, but when I do – my thoughts often wander over to memories of Krazy Kat, a comic strip created by George Herriman, that ran as a daily from 1913-1944.  Ahem… that was before my time, but my thanks go out to the many devotees who kept the strip alive until I could stumble across it.

The strip took place in Coconino County, Arizona, and the storyline revolved around a love triangle between Krazy Kat, a mindlessly happy creature who absolutely adored one Ignatz Mouse, and Offissa Pupp.. who was patently ignored.

Ignatz absolutely despised the naively curious Krazy Kat, and the one joy in his life was to “Krease that Kat’s bean with a brick.”  Krazy Kat always misinterpreted the brick bombings as a sign of Ignatz’ love.

Krazy Kat at Wikipedia

Meanwhile, Offissa Pupp – the Limb of Law and the Arm of Order – was always on the lookout for a chance to nab Ignatz and toss him in the pokey.  The strip would often end with Krazy disconsolate and alone, muttering, “Ah, there him is playing tag with Offissa Pupp, just like the boom compenions wot they is,” and Krazy Kat, the poetic clown, is left pining for her “L’il Ainjil.”

Of course the strip had many other wonderful characters that popped up here and there:  Mrs. Kwakk Wakk and Bum Bill Bee, Don Kiyote (an aristocratic coyote) and Walter Cephus Austrige, just to name a few.  But I know what you’re thinking… how much fun could it be reading about a perpetual victim of abuse where everyone uses an idiomatic vocabulary?  Lots.  You always knew how the strip was going to end – love always finds a way – and the joy, as in many things, is in the journey.

To our softhearted altruist, she is the adorably helpless incarnation of saintliness. To our hardhearted egoist, she is the puzzlingly indestructible embodiment of idiocy. The benevolent overdog sees her as an inspired weakling. The malevolent undermouse views her as a born target. Meanwhile Krazy Kat, through this double misunderstanding, fulfills her joyous destiny. — e.e. cummings

If you’ve never before heard of Krazy Kat there are several books out there that celebrate the comic art of George Herriman.  Who knows, you might just enjoy the antics of Krazy, Ignatz and Pupp as much as I did do.  Here are some other sources you might find interesting:

Krazy Kat (overview at Wikipedia)

The Comic Strip Library

[bokrazykat107.jpg]

Block Twenty-Nine: Australia’s Star

A seven-pointed star for Australia.  You figure out the geometry on this block, I can’t, it’s well beyond my poor math skills.

Australia Barbara Brackman Grandmother's Choice Fight For Women's Rights

This is version two – my first try ended up in the trashcan accompanied by a stream of invectives you’d do well not to even try to imagine.  I’m sure that a few choice words are still lingering in the sewing room, there’s a cloud shape hovering up near the ceiling, violet streaked with black.  Occasionally a rogue syllable comes tearing out of the cloud, goes bouncing off the walls, and just generally has fun hearing its own sly echo (insert gremlin-type cackle here)… oh the shame.

I’m glad I gave the block a shot – two shots to be precise – but I’m happier still that the block is complete.

Block Twenty-Eight: Ocean Wave

Ocean Wave Barbara Brackman Grandmother's Choice Fight For Women's RightsThere isn’t a lot that I can say about this block.  Out of all of the blocks we’ve completed so far, I can easily say this one is my least favorite.  It was a super easy block to do, and maybe that has something to do with my apathy.

I may have to break down and rummage through old quilt books and patterns for a substitute, though I’d prefer not do that.  A little voice… er… my own particular form of logic suggests that there’s no way of knowing what Ms. B has in store for us in the next twenty-one weeks and I’d surely hate to duplicate a block.  I think I’ll leave it for now and try not to look at it much (so shut up little voice in my head, okay?).

I’ve finished the Easy Street top, and of course it was misting the day that I had the time to photograph it.  I will, however, get that done this week – pronto.  I’m so ready to get back to work on several other projects that are pending, but that’s not news.  What quilter doesn’t work on multiple projects simultaneously?

Since Easy Street is off the design wall, I put up the Grandmother’s Choice in its place.  Bad news: I’ve scotched the orange fabric, it just wasn’t cooperating as I’d planned.  I’m now in the process of re-working seven blocks that had orange in them.  Not a lot, true, but so many of them have Y-seams, it may take me a bit to wade through the stack.

But not this evening.  The sun is over the yardarm an hour earlier today (Spring Forward – yesss!), so I think, perhaps, that I’ll declare the cocktail hour officially open.

Block Twenty-Seven: Grandmother’s Dream

Grandmother's Dream Barbara Brackman Fight For Womens Rights Quilt Grandmother's ChoicePlease don’t even ask me how many Y-seams are in this block, truthfully, I lost count.  Careful marking and pinning, s-l-o-w machine stitching, and a constant reminder to breathe got the block done.

It seems to me that my version of this block has a bit of the rosary about it.

All Barbara Brackman had to do yesterday morning was mention Caroline Garlinghouse Houghton’s three daughters: Katharine, Edith and Marion, and all thoughts of women’s suffrage fled my fluffy little head.

That was the exact moment when my brain vapor-locked, because I knew that the eldest daughter, Katharine Houghton Hepburn (a suffragist), just happened to be the mother of Katharine Hepburn (of silver screen fame).

I dutifully finished Barbara’s blog, but much as I love writing about the women’s rights movement, I love old movies more, and I absolutely adore Kate.

Yeah, I could have gone for one of the glamour shots, but Kate was so much more than just another pretty face.  On second thought, I don’t think that pretty is an adjective that should be used to describe her… pretty she wasn’t.  Kate was a handsome woman, her angularity was striking.  Her unique looks set her apart from other actresses of her era and was just one more item in her bag of tricks that she used to great advantage.

Of course her movies can make me laugh and they can make me cry, and sometimes I’ll even find myself doing both simultaneously, but Kate was exceptional at involving the watcher – if only vicariously – in an emotional gauntlet.

How about a top five list, done in no particular order?  Trust me, picking only five was tough, because all of her movies are personal favorites.

What’s not to love when Hepburn and Grant are teamed up?  Holiday (1938) is a classic meet-cute with an angle.  Boy meets girl, boy falls in love with girl, boy meets girl’s eccentric sister.  This was definitely a movie that made me laugh with delight, but if you screen it, keep that box of Kleenex handy.

While watching Alice Adams (1935), I suffered acute embarrassment, the kind where you’d just just as soon melt away, somewhat like the ice cream Alice serves up to impress Arthur Russell (Fred MacMurray).  Spoiler Alert: ice cream was not an outstanding choice for a leisurely dessert in a pre-central air summer heatwave.

I was so embarrassed for Alice that I was tempted to change the channel just so she could have some privacy.

Suddenly, Last Summer (1959): screenplay by Tennessee Williams and Gore Vidal (who had an uncredited appearance in the movie).  Oh, and what a supporting cast – Montgomery Clift, Elizabeth Taylor and the always eerily odd Mercedes McCambridge.  This movie has more dark twists and turns than a roller coaster, and Kate nailed the performance of a cold and calculating woman.   She was the personification of an overprotective, controlling mother, who always managed to turn a blind eye to her only son’s many faults.

The realization of what lengths people can go to when spurred by avarice, even turning against family, absolutely chilled my heart.

Lucky you, I’ve shared two stills from Sylvia Scarlett (1935).  One of Kate as Sylvester…

…the second of Kate as Sylvia, and why yes, that would be Cary Grant costarring again.  [Note: Hepburn and Grant teamed up a total of four times in Sylvia Scarlett, Bringing Up Baby, Holiday and The Philadelphia Story.]

An undercurrent of fear brought on by helping an embezzling father stay one step ahead of the law, a naive first love, and perhaps best of all, a comedic line that dances throughout the movie.

Kate costarred with Burt Lancaster (yowza!) in The Rainmaker (1956).  A snapshot of a  single day in the life of a plain woman who reaches the conclusion that a lonely life stretches ahead of her.  Galled by bitterness when she realizes just how much her father pities her, and with no one to call her own, she sees herself an outsider, locked into a spinster’s limbo.  Lizzie Curry is a woman empty of hope until Bill Starbuck, an outrageously flamboyant flimflam man steps into her life.

Now your mileage may vary when it comes to favorite movies by Kate The Great, and some of you will wonder at the absence of a single Hepburn/Tracy vehicle – even though they teamed up in nine outstanding movies – but a major consideration in my selection process was the thought, if someone had never seen a Hepburn movie, which five would I recommend?

So t-t-that’s all folks, all that’s missing is a fade to black… but I have always favored a big finish whenever possible.

Block Twenty-Six: Ladies’ Wreath

Perhaps my post from earlier this week regarding my great-grandmother was more timely than I knew.  Louise was mother to a step-son, fifteen biological children, and one foster daughter.

By coincidence, this week’s block in the Fight For Women’s Rights quilt project is Ladies’ Wreath, in remembrance of all the women who destroyed their health, or worse, died, by overburdening their bodies through childbirth.

Ladies' Wreath Barbara Brackman Fight For Womens Rights Quilt Grandmother's Choice

It was called the social purity movement

In the late 1800’s a form of thinking took root in middle-class American and European homes.  A movement was born that became known as the social purity movement (social was a euphemism for sexual).  This movement fought to abolish prostitution, pornography and other immoral sexual practices.  Additionally, the movement sought to outlaw any form of contraception between married, consenting adults.

Here in the US, birth control in whatever form you practiced was legal up until the passage of the social purity movement backed Comstock Act in 1873.  After that point in history, any form of contraception was not only morally but legally condemned.

Here’s a tasty little factoid for you: After the Comstock Laws were passed, it was illegal for a physician to discuss birth control or even suggest contraceptives to a patient.

And Then Margaret Sanger Stepped Forward

Birth control in the early to mid-20th century was still a risky proposition, but a few drug stores sold condoms as “rubber goods” and diaphragms as “womb supporters”.  Pamphlets were discretely passed around, but a few radicals, free speechers, bohemians, libertarians and utopians among whom Margaret Sanger numbered herself, took a stronger approach as demonstrated in this 1926 advertisement:

1926 US advertisement. "Birth Control"

Beginning in 1916, Sanger not only wrote and openly published periodicals discussing birth control, but founded birth control clinics, which inevitably led to her arrest, conviction, and imprisonment in a workhouse for distributing information on contraceptives. Sanger continued to openly campaign against the Comstock Laws, which she felt contributed to premature death in women and the dangerous practice of self-induced and back-alley abortions.

Major changes were effected less than fifty years ago when in 1965 the Supreme Court ruled that it was unconstitutional for the government to prohibit a married couple from practicing birth control.

Margaret Sanger died in 1966, but she lived to see the Comstock Laws abolished, safe contraceptives made available, and a small portion of women’s personal rights restored.

Small progress, I know, but there is still the fight for women’s rights going on, world-wide, and we’re still swinging away.

Note: If you’re money minded, contraceptive use saves almost $19 billion US in direct medical costs each year.

Sources that I found interesting:

Ladies’ Wreath

Margaret Sanger

Birth Control In The United States

Comstock Laws

Social Purity Movement

Block Twenty-Five: Carrie Nation

Carry Nation, 1910.

We’re just past the halfway mark in this quilt project; twenty-five down, twenty-four to go.

According to Barbara Brackman, this is a Kansas City Star pattern from 1940 celebrating Carrie Nation, who was known for her radical and militant actions against the use of alcohol.

Was Carrie Nation a genius working for the temperance movement, or simply a lionized psychopath?  Hard to say since we can’t get inside Carrie’s head, but looking at the photo at left, I’m leaning towards the latter.  If I met this woman in public, I’d probably be tempted to cross to the other side of the street to avoid her – she frightens me in a Stephen King kind of way, definitely not a person I’d want to bump into during an alcohol fueled free-for-all.  Maybe it’s the hatchet.

A super easy block this week, and the patches were small enough that I was able to use scraps that I scrounged from my itty-bitty pieces pile.  Scraps don’t leave much room for fussy cuts, but the way I see it, those little orts cost just as much per yard as the large piece of fabric did, so why not save ’em and use ’em.  Isn’t this part of the quilter’s ethos?  If not, it should be.

Carrie Nation Barbara Brackman Fight For Womens Rights Quilt Grandmother's Choice

The 4-patches remind me that I still have a nearly complete Easy Street top on the design board (as if I could forget).  Have I mentioned that there are one hundred and ninety-two 4-patches in Bonnie Hunter’s quilt?  Indeed there are.  I need to take one final look at block placement, then wrap that project up and move on, it’s time.

Speaking of moving on, color me out of here – my sewing machine is singing its siren song again.

Block Twenty-Four: True Blue

I’ll try very hard to keep a lid on things today.  Barbara Brackman’s latest block, True Blue, recalls the term bluestocking which was applied to women (and men) of the 18th century.  Specifically, women that formed literary clubs.

Bluestocking (noun): a woman having intellectual or literary interests.  — Merriam-Webster

And we all know what happens when you educate a woman, they invariably begin to form opinions and get ideas of their own.  Ideas bigger than what’s for supper.  Bigger even than whether or not in their opinion broccoli is superior to green beans.  Next thing you know, they’ll want to discuss more than books or poems, they may actually become knowledgeable about finances and politics… my, my, my.

True Blue Barbara Brackman Fight For Womens Rights Quilt Grandmother's ChoiceI did promise to keep a lid on it, didn’t I?  Oh, well.

Today’s block was a super easy block to complete, and a good thing for me that it was.  Another member of our Flickr group sent up a red flag on the instructions.  The block finished over-sized instead of at 8 1/2 inches (sigh).  So, it was a pencil, graph paper, and calculator for me this morning.

More distressing news, I’ve caught the bug – the Downton Abbey bug.  I’ve finished season one and began streaming season two today.  At this rate I’ll burn through season three as soon as it’s available on Amazon Prime, and where will that leave me?  Haven’t had to deal with the not-so-patiently-waiting-foot-tapping-is-September-ever-going-to-get-here? kind of anticipation since the Kiefer Sutherland series, 24.

Shucks – I survived eight off-seasons wondering what Jack would do next without turning into some kind of zombie that sits in front of a blank TV screen tearing old magazines into thin strips – I’ll survive this as well.

Block Twenty-Three: Girl’s Joy

Girl's Joy Barbara Brackman Fight For Womens Rights Quilt Grandmother's ChoiceI need to quickly upload my photo and add a very brief narrative of the block which is also called Maiden’s Delight.

I suppose in the dumbing down process of the English language, maiden translates to girl, and delight equals joy – that seems simple enough.

But… once upon a time, I remember sitting in my truck, absolutely dumbstruck, while listening to an NPR program – unbelievable!  Somebody had come up with the bright idea to re-write Little Women by Louisa May Alcott in what they decided was a more user-friendly language.  A language that young girls of the late 20th century could better understand.

My guess is that there were too many words of more than one syllable for this person’s liking.

There was one stand-out idea for reworking Alcott’s book – scrapping Beth’s death scene and starting again from scratch – because what young girl of today would understand the allegory of Beth’s little wild birds flying away?  (I think it was at this point that my jaw dropped.)  Seriously?

I did a kind of hit-and-run internet search and couldn’t find anything except a few Cliff’s Notes versions, so hopefully the author couldn’t find a publishing house to pick up the book.  Either that or the book was published, but it so badly tanked sales-wise, that we’ve been able to erase it from our collective memories.

Thankyoulittlebabyjesus!

I’ll leave you with those semi-snarky thoughts because I’m bound for the barn.  I’m needing a shovel and a few tools – there’s a wee issue with a leaky frost-free hydrant that needs sorting out.  Oh wait, I was going to tell you why today’s block related to my ramblings on Little Women.

Did you know that Louisa May Alcott was a strong supporter of women’s suffrage, and that she was the first woman to register to vote in Concord, Massachusetts?

And lastly – or finally, depending on your point of view – if you’ve not read Little Women, no matter your age, do yourself a favor and read it.  Do your daughters a favor as well, give them your copy when you’re finished – or better yet, read it together.

Headshot of Louisa May Alcott

Here are some Louisa May Alcott sources you might find interesting:

Encyclopaedia Britannica

Wikipedia

Orchard House

Obituary (from the New York Times)

Block Twenty-Two: Jack’s Delight

Jack's Delight Barbara Brackman Fight For Womens Rights Quilt Grandmother's ChoiceNo appliqué or curved piecing this week.  Back to basics with Saturday’s block, with the addition of half-square triangles just to keep things pointedly interesting.  Not nearly as many HSTs as the block called Old Maid’s Ramble from a couple of weeks ago, but there are a fair amount all the same.

Thinking about buzzwords and jargon this morning – the shorthand form of communication between two people who share the same field of interest.

HST, FQ, BOW, UFO, QAL, ripping or frogging… and there are many more.  A quilter can be just as guilty of using abbreviations and buzzwords as a rocket scientist.  Who doesn’t enjoy being able to get a point across quickly with the added attraction of cloaking the subject in mystery?

Still working my way through the Easy Street quilt.  I’ve finally begun joining blocks, but sadly, there won’t be a sneak peek this weekend.  Have I mentioned that at times I can be incredibly optimistic – a regular Pollyanna?  No, really.  It’s true.  I’m at the halfway point, so hang with me.  The wait won’t be very much longer.

There’s a fair breeze blowing this morning and the sun has decided to shine.  I may just whistle up the dogs and go clear tumbleweeds off the fence line.  (Hmm… perhaps I should have written those last two sentences as a couplet.)  Anyway, back on-topic.  We learned our lesson the first winter in Oklahoma, tumbleweeds will push a fence over if you let them pile up.  The breeze will carry them someplace else, although there’s a high probability that they’ll be back again once the winds shift.  At least the fences will be out of danger and our property will be a little more respectable looking for a while.

So what kind of odd jobs do you have piling up that you’d just as soon avoid, but can’t because we’re all supposed to be responsible adults?

Block Twenty-One: Parasol

A guilty pleasure this business of blogging.  All of the things that I could and should be doing – oh well, this is so much more pleasant.  Today is a bank holiday, and in my case, that translates into One Free Play Day.

I could be doing some housework: dusting, vacuuming (meh).  The sun is shining brightly, so I suppose I could even wash a window or two.  Somehow that doesn’t quite fit the definition of a play day either.

I could do a little quilting… but alas, I’m out of thread.  I live in the wilds of southwest Oklahoma, so this is an event of major proportions, nearly epic.  Obtaining an item as simple as a spool of quilting thread may not sound like a big deal to you, but it is.  The nearest spool of thread is 38 miles away (61.155 km for my friends who use the metric system).

Lucky for me I had just enough thread to complete the latest block in the Grandmother’s Choice project.  The block is called Parasol, and it refers to the way that the suffragists turned a completely feminine fashion accessory into a public relations vehicle.

Chrome Yellow And Ivory Accented With Black.

In the early part of the Twentieth Century, parasols or sunshades were still an item very much in use.  The suffragists took advantage of the opportunity to put slogans, invites to suffrage teas, and other announcements on their parasols.  How could you not notice these mobile billboards bobbing down a street or gliding along in an open carriage or car?

Barbara’s block is a very pretty little block, and enough of a challenge to keep me entertained.  I look forward to using this pattern in my second quilt with the Liberty of London fabrics.  The Liberty fabrics are so feminine, and they will be perfect for a dainty parasol.

Barbara Brackman’s Parasol Block

But this week I needed a little more of a challenge, so I started playing ‘what if’ and nearly ended up with more of a challenge than I could handle.

I know that you’ve read how much I abhor handwork, I’ve said it over and over and over.  But yesterday I was completely revved up over an idea that had occurred to me – an idea to use the photo of the suffrage parasol for my block, and a deftly wielded blowtorch couldn’t have kept me from doing this block the way I envisioned it.

I used just a smidgeon of artistic license in converting the photo to a workable block, and now my quilt makes so much more sense.  I think that I’d like to add a bit of Seminole patchwork – one of my favorite piecing techniques – to the outside of this block.  Soon enough, I’ll have a medallion block ready to set into the center of the quilt.

Parasol Barbara Brackman Fight For Womens Rights Quilt Grandmother's Choice

Techniques used: Curved paper piecing, hand applique, hand lettering and one french knot.

Block Nineteen & Twenty: Old Maid’s Ramble and Memory Wreath

Oh, the holidays may be over, but here it is mid-January and every time I turn around, it’s somebody’s birthday.  The festivities don’t end on New Year’s Day around my house, but I still manage to squeeze in time to piece.  I’d lose my ever-lovin’ mind if I didn’t block out some time for quilt blocks.

Old Maid's Ramble Barbara Brackman Fight For Womens Rights Quilt Grandmother's ChoiceFirst one off the desktop for show-and-tell is Old Maid’s Ramble.  So many possibilities when playing with fabric placement and so much fun to piece.  I am not, however, fond of trying to press the many layers of fabric in a block this intricate.  Thick seams – phooey!

I’d also like to add that I was given a tripod for Christmas, a huge improvement over the stack of books and cigar boxes of varying, but extremely important widths that I used previously as a camera stand.  I think Santa was afraid to borrow a book out of the permanent stack for fear that I’d never be able to get my old ‘tripod’ exactly right again.

I used the new tripod for the very first time when I shot this block.  The initial thing that I learned (after the fact), is that it really helps to point the camera at the subject.  Funny how that works.  Shooting at less than spot-on straight will make thick seams appear even thicker than in the real world, and will make seams look offset – double phooey!  Can’t complain too much, I’m having a tremendous amount of fun playing with my new toy.

Memory Wreath Barbara Brackman Fight For Womens Rights Quilt Grandmother's ChoiceSecond offering today is Memory Wreath – large pieces, lots of room for fussy cutting, and few opportunities to screw up the shot when tripod time rolled around.

I have to make an admission here – I’ve been taking a break from the Grandmother’s Choice project with a mystery quilt by Bonnie Hunter called Easy Street.  I’ll also admit that about halfway through the project, my interest was cooling rapidly.  I was not in love with what I was seeing on my sewing table.

I’ve begun to assemble the blocks and I’m very excited by what I’m seeing on the design board.  This is definitely going to be a flash quilt.  The quilt is made up of two blocks, A & B.  Block A consists of seventy-seven pieces, Block B, only sixty-nine pieces.  Seriously flash.

Hopefully in the next few days – dang, that was my optimistic other personality speaking there – let’s say maybe next week, I’ll have the top complete and will be able to give you a pre-quilting sneak peek.  Actually, I can’t wait to see it myself.

Blocks Seventeen & Eighteen: Mother’s Delight & Cheyenne

I’m caught up.  Did you hear the soft echo of a woohoo a little while ago?  That was me.

Mother's Delight Barbara Brackman Fight For Womens Rights Quilt Grandmother's ChoiceI began this block, Mother’s Delight, last Saturday, but I spent most of the day fussing with fabric placement.   When that happens, I know that it’s going to be a long road until I see the checkered flag – a long and pot-holed road.

So how much of a yawner has this restricted color palette become?  The scrappy quilter in me wants out badly – I just need to push through this wall that I’ve slammed into, and keep sewing (classic crash dummy mentality in action).

Cheyenne Barbara Brackman Fight For Womens Rights Quilt Grandmother's ChoiceToday’s block is called Cheyenne, and when I look at my finished block I’m reminded of a running figure.  The name of the block plus the image puts me in mind of New Year’s Day, 1978.

I was in Cheyenne, Wyoming and it was snowing – no, that needs repeating, but with a little more emphasis – it was snowing.  It may well have been the worst snowstorm I’ve ever experienced.  If not the worst,  it was easily in my Top Three.  (Oh, for crying out loud, who scores blizzards?)

Just as the airport was closing, I caught a commuter flight out to Denver.  It was a twin engine, six-seater plane and we flew so low during that storm, we skimmed fences.  When things would start to get dull, a chunk of ice would tear itself loose from one of the props and bounce off the fuselage.  The truly unfortunate part of this story is that there weren’t any in-flight services, (although I could have used an adult beverage or five on that flight).

My final layout design for this quilt is coming together nicely and I’ve decided that I need far fewer blocks with orange fabric in them than I’d originally thought.  You’ll be seeing a lot of chrome yellow & gray, chrome yellow & black and chrome yellow & gray & black combinations in the very near future.  Lots of them.

I ran across another wonderful vintage illustration for the suffrage movement over at Barbara Brackman’s blog.  She was referencing Western states generally, and Wyoming in particular – a pioneer state in votes for women – as leading the fight for women’s rights.

The illustration was done in a popular palette of the U.S. women’s suffrage movement, gold and ivory accented with black.  Still love the colors, and no matter how loudly the insane scrappy quilter inside me screams to be set free, I’m going to stick to my guns and keep plugging away.

Thanks for the inspiration, Ms. B – I needed that spark today!

Mental Soundtrack Courtesy Of R.E.M.

maya2Christmas week already.  The end of the Mesoamerican Long Count Calendar has come and gone, and the world as we know it didn’t explode with a neo-Hollywood FX big bang, nor did it wink out of existence with a tired little squeak.

Oh, those crazy Mayans – I do hope they were able to anticipate the misinterpretation of their calculations, and got some enjoyment out of their little prank (insert Mayan chortle here).  I’m really enjoying  the mental image of a crowd of doom shouters desperately seeking last minute Christmas gifts.

Are you looking for a last minute gift for that reader on your list?  You might consider B-Sides And Broken Hearts by Caryn Rose.  If the title for today’s post didn’t get the music playing in your head (come on – you know which song I’m talking about, don’t you?), then I guarantee that with B-Sides, you will have a mental soundtrack blasting from the first page to the last.

2012 has had some low points, both Dick Clark and Twinkies died (well played, Mayans).  Want more?  How about a remake of Total Recall?  But here’s the nadir – Encyclopædia Britannica has decided to discontinue issuing a bound edition (sigh).  I really love eBooks, but THE encyclopædia?  Anathema!

I don’t have a Grandmother’s Choice block for show and tell this weekend – I have half of a block.  I spent a huge chunk of yesterday fiddling around with color combinations and that’s about it.  When I have the block finished, it will have to be another twofer, or maybe even a threefer post.  I’m feeling very lazy, possibly because the insanity of ringing in the New Year is just around the corner, and the thought of everyone trying to make and keep resolutions just wears me out.

Okay, color me lazy and jaded.

I have made some progress in the design department for a final layout of the Grandmother’s Choice quilt – it’s all about the borders at this point.  Just click here to see where I’ve landed border-wise.

Nothing else going on in my world, so I’ll close with this wish: that everyone has a low-stress holiday, one that’s filled with peace, that you are surrounded by friends and family, and that you enjoy a liberal sprinkling of warm and fuzzy moments.  — Jo

P.S.  If you didn’t figure it out, here’s the video.

Grandmother’s Choice: It’s Another Twofer

Centennial Barbara Brackman Fight For Womens Rights Grandmother's ChoiceBlock Fifteen: Centennial

Ah… nothing like a cold to make life a little less interesting just when you’re gearing up for the holiday season.

I located enough energy last weekend to keep current with Barbara Brackman’s quilt project, just enough.  I spent a fair amount of time on the couch afterwards admiring the happy orange fabric in this block.  It was me, the block, the TV tuned to Turner Classic Movies, and a jumbo box of Kleenex.

This block was used to commemorate the centennial celebration in New Zealand – the first country to grant women the right to vote in 1893.

Capital T Barbara Brackman Fight For Womens Rights Quilt Grandmother's ChoiceBlock Sixteen: Capital T

The T is for Temperance.  Apparently, many women came to the suffrage movement from the temperance movement.  For those of you unfamiliar with the term, it was a social movement that urged the prohibition of Demon Rum.

One notable woman was Sarah Pellet who was known as a mighty temperance speaker.  Sarah was firmly convinced of the soundness of the movement, so much so, that she traveled out west during the Gold Rush to address the men in the California gold camps.

I could tell you more about Sarah Pellet, but I think Barbara Brackman did a fine post on the subject, so why not jump over to her blog when you’re finished here?

I’d like to share with you today a little story about my great-grandpappy Eugene, who could’ve given us a first-hand account of gold mining and the temperance movement.  I’ve mentioned him in passing before, but here’s a bio written by his daughter, my grandaunt, Henrietta Aspasia Saucier Pace.  Just click on Henrietta’s Story: Part One.

Block Fourteen: Bride’s Knot

Bride's KnotThis week’s block in the Fight For Women’s Rights Quilt Project is: Bride’s Knot – Invisible Women.

We revisited the subject of women losing possession of everything they owned, even the clothes on their back at the moment they married.  The bride instantly became a chattel, another piece of personal property with no rights of her own… an invisible woman.

This block happens to be a variation on one of my favorite patterns, Churn Dash.  It’s a versatile block, with so many different possibilities, and all dependent on fabric color and placement.

If you’d like to see some different interpretations, jump on over to the Grandmother’s Choice Flickr Group.  The blocks may just knock your socks off.

I could have added in some more colors and made this a lot more intricate and interesting, giving it a true knot effect.  Instead, I kept it simple, using the chrome yellow to represent a plain gold wedding band.

Block Thirteen: Everybody’s Favorite

Still motoring along with Barbara Brackman on her 49 week quilt block project.

Some weeks the quilt patterns give a really smooth ride – interesting and challenging.  Other weeks I’ve felt like a participant in a demolition derby.  Y-seams and hand applique´… (sigh)

English: Competition at the West End Fair Demo...

Competition at the West End Fair Demolition Derby, Gilbert, Pennsylvania. Photograph by Bill Lowenburg.

Knowing that the upcoming block was the 13th in the series, I anticipated some kind of new and inventive vexation – not that I’m superstitious in the least.

After filling up with high-test caffeine on Saturday morning, I strapped on a virtual crash helmet, cranked up the computer, idled over to Barbara’s blog, and… butter my buns and call me a biscuit!  To my delight, Saturday’s block was more along the lines of driving a tricked out 1970 black over yellow El Camino SS454 with a 4-speed box – fast and fun.

Barbara Brackman Grandmother's Choice Block 13

oops… Did I Miss A Block?

Grandmother's Choice SchoolhouseBlock Eleven: Little Red Schoolhouse

To illustrate on what level my mind often operates, let me tell you what I was thinking when I was making this block —

I see a schoolhouse… I see a schoolhouse in the woods, in a valley, in the winter, at twilight; and inside, the lamps are lit and the schoolroom has yellow wallpaper.  (A little childish?  In the immortal words of Bugs Bunny, “Eh, could be.”)

Perhaps you’ve noticed that a couple of new fabrics have tiptoed into the fabric pull for this quilt.  Probably not – gray is gray, right?

Grandmother's Choice BreechesBlock Twelve: Little Boy’s Breeches

In today’s post, Barbara Brackman brought up the subject of a failed attempt at women’s dress reform in the mid-19th century.

The idea was simple: Out with restrictive clothing such as crinolines, corsets, hoops and long skirts.  In with Turkish Trousers covered modestly with a much shorter skirt.

Does it not seem odd to you that women got the right to vote well before society accepted such a little thing as women wearing slacks?

Have You Ever Been Beguiled By A Color?

Recently, I was at La Ruche des Quilteuses reading a post regarding the flax plant.  The original post is in French – thank you Google Translate – and it was there that I saw the photograph.  To say that my jaw dropped would be a very poor description.  Smitten?  Certainly, but it was more, I was amazed, thunderstruck, gobsmacked, and yes, beguiled, by the watery greens in a field of flax in bloom.

I found myself drawn back to that photo repeatedly.  I decided that I wanted to celebrate the color the best way I knew how, with textiles, in a quilt.  I confess that I am a green lover, and you won’t find a shortage of greens in my fabric stash, but I was looking for a very particular color of green.

I spent hours burrowing through every bin, box and bag of fabric that I own, and then I found it.  A length of vintage fabric that I’d picked up for a song a few years ago.  It was one of those fabrics purchased without even the foggiest idea of what it was going to be used in.

Seen up close, the fabric is a particularly virulent poison green overlaid with a grass green on white, but when you stand back it all blends into a gentle watery green.

Once I had my treasure at home, I kept trying to use it in a variety of scrappy style quilts, without success.  It looked wretched with everything.  The last time that I had it out attempting to make it play nice with all the other fabrics, I folded it up and with a sigh I put it away.

I was fairly certain that I wouldn’t be seeing that fabric surface again for a while.

But here it was on the cutting table – unfolded and seemingly compliant – what if I just kept it simple (stupid) and paired it with white?  For a pattern, I could use a two-block combination, Snowball and Nine-Patch.  The pairing is a little old fashioned, but when used together it makes a dandy flower pattern, plus, I’d have all of that lovely negative space to work with when the time came to quilt it.

And now, on with the opera. Let joy be unconfined. Let there be dancing in the streets, drinking in the saloons, and necking in the parlor.   — Groucho Marx: A Night At The Opera (1935)

We don’t have a season that most folks would call Autumn here in SW Oklahoma.  No glorious show of color to bring down the curtain on a growing season.  We do have Fall, if by that definition you mean that all the leaves turn brown and fall on the ground (it usually happens overnight accompanied by a crash).  And of course the wind was up when I wanted a morning shot to play up the soft color in the quilt top.  No surprises here, the wind always blows in SW Oklahoma.  The only place outside that I could find where the top would hang and not flap, was the lee side of the donkey’s loafing shed.

While it’s not a perfect replica of flax green, ‘I done my best’ with what I had, and I was able to use up every last scrap of that lovely poison green.  No more frustrating moments trying to force this fabric to be a member of the chorus when all it truly ever wanted was to be a diva.

English: Sibyl Sanderson, American opera sopra...

Sibyl Sanderson 1864 – 1903 American opera soprano

Block Ten: New York

Feeling deliciously lazy today – it’s day one of a whole week of vacation.

I began my Saturday as usual with a full tank of caffeine and Barbara Brackman’s block of the week, Grandmother’s Choice: The Fight For Women’s Rights.

According to instructions, the upper left corner was supposed to be either a plain patch, or a small pieced star.  I decided that a bit of variation was in order – so I drafted out a wee version of a block from a few weeks ago.

The X to represent casting a ballot.

Tuesday, November 6th is our day to vote here in the U.S.  Do vote.  Voice your opinion.

P.S.  Ask around – do any of your neighbors need a ride to the polls?

Block Nine: Brick Pavement

Today’s block is in remembrance of the March 3, 1913 women’s suffrage parade in Washington, DC.

The event was organized by the suffragist team of Alice Paul and Lucy Burns (no, I did not say Burns and Allen), who secured endorsement from the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA), but were required to raise funds to support the project elsewhere.

The parade was to take place the day before the inauguration of President-elect, Woodrow Wilson and the reason given was: “to march in a spirit of protest against the present political organization of society, from which women are excluded.”

In short, they hoped to draw attention to the fact that it was time for a federal amendment supporting the right of women to vote.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/0/00/Suffrage_march_line_How_thousands_of_women_parade_today_at_Capitol_1913.jpg

Illustration from New York Evening Journal. New York, NY: Star Co., March 4,1913 p. 2, col. 4.

It was to be a gala turnout and a peaceful one, led by Inez Millholland, a labor lawyer.  The parade was comprised of nine bands, more than twenty floats, four mounted brigades, and 5,000 suffrage delegates from around the world.  The parade was to begin on Pennsylvania Avenue, and events were planned to cap the event – a pageant at the Treasury Building, and Helen Keller was to speak at Constitution Hall (yes, I did say speak).

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/a/a4/Official_program_Woman_Suffrage_Procession_Washington_D.C._March_3_1913.jpg

Illustration by Dale for the National American Woman Suffrage Association.

NAWSA parade, March 3, 1913. Photo courtesy Library of Congress.

NAWSA parade, Washington, DC, March 3, 1913. Photo courtesy of Library of Congress.

Who Knows What Evil Lurks In The Hearts Of Men? The Shadow Knows!

Much as I’d like to take a sharp left turn to a more pleasantly nostalgic subject –  note the reference to an old radio program – I won’t.  Like a lot of people, I tend to view the past through rose-colored glasses.  Simpler times, right?

Apparently the mere thought of five thousand women with a mission struck fear in the hearts of American men.  After traveling just a few city blocks, the marchers found themselves blocked by an assemblage, most in town to attend the inauguration.  The men were not hampered by the local police; on the contrary, they were often abetted by Washington’s Finest who happily joined the festivities by heckling and harassing the marchers.

The crowd blocks forward progress of the NAWSA parade. Photo courtesy of Library of Congress.

The parade continued, the marchers often having to pass single file through the crowd of men until things got out of hand.  The marchers were physically assaulted, and according to reports, it took two ambulances six hours to locate and remove one hundred injured marchers.

Red Cross Ambulance, NAWSA parade in Washington, DC, March 3, 1913. Photo courtesy of Library of Congress.

Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson responded to a belated request from the chief of police – Stimson authorized the use of a troop of cavalry from nearby Fort Myer to help control the crowd.

Ahem – take one more look at the photos – seriously, just a troop?  That’s what, 120 mounted men or thereabouts?

Newspapers the next day were outraged by the humiliation and injury suffered by the marchers – just so much fuel for the fire being fanned by Alice Paul.  It seems to me that Alice learned her lessons well during the time she spent in England with those militant suffragettes – a workable formula – passive resistance, met with predictable violence, drawing syndicated newspaper attention to further engage the moral outrage of the average citizen.

Do you see a pattern here?

A heartfelt thank you goes out to Barbara Brackman, who manages to spark my curiosity and fire my imagination every single week.

Block Eight: Rocky Road To Kansas

No rabble-rousing today, no raised fist for women’s solidarity, if you want a snippet of history to go with today’s block, check out Barbara Brackman’s blog.

When I was finishing this block, I had the nagging feeling that it reminded me of something.  Once I saw the photo, I realized what it was – it’s a piñata – all it needs is tassels!

Now you guess what I’ve got on the brain…

Could it possibly be homemade enchiladas and a big pitcher of margaritas?  Oh, yeah!

Block Seven: Alice’s Flag

I really enjoy fussy cutting, but I may have pushed the envelope a little far today – the pattern was too irregular for cutting five repeated segments.

A couple of the motifs turned out well, others have a squashed look.  The points aren’t exactly sharp and it does wobble a bit, but lucky for me, little flaws like these will quilt out.

No matter how long you’ve been quilting, it continues to be a learning process – and I’m happy enough with the block that I won’t cry “do-over”.

Alice Stokes Paul (Or – Where Did I Hide That Soapbox?)

Today, Barbara Brackman reintroduced me to Alice Paul (b. January 11, 1885 – d. July 9, 1977).  Intrigued, I started exploring further and discovered that Alice Paul was an extremely well educated woman: a BA in Biology at Swarthmore College, an MA in Sociology and a PhD in Economics from the University of Pennsylvania – not stopping there, she earned an LLB from the Washington College of Law at the American University, Washington, DC – zowie!

Alice Stokes Paul, circa 1901

Alice Paul got her chops in activism working alongside Emmeline Pankhurst and other women that caused controversy up, down, and across England, using militant tactics to further awareness of the suffrage movement and secure the vote for women.

Oh yeah, we’re talking seriously dedicated suffragettes here.

Returning to the US, Paul joined the National American Woman Suffrage Association, but when her tactics started to create tension among the leaders, she and that organization parted ways.  With the help of a few of her colleagues and funding from Alva Belmont – a multi-millionaire and socialite – the National Women’s Party was formed.

Mr. President How Long Must Women Wait for Liberty?

The NWP began an active campaign of non-violent protest, and on January 10, 1917 they moved the action to the White House.  Alice Paul and a dozen other protesters simply held banners stating their demand to the right to vote – these women became known as Silent Sentinels.  The picketing lasted until June 4, 1919 when a joint resolution of Congress passed the 19th Amendment.

They picketed for two and a half years.  In all weather.  All day.  All night.  Every day except for Sunday.

Silent Sentinels – National Women’s Party picketers outside the White House

During that time Alice Paul and other Silent Sentinels were assaulted, arrested, convicted and imprisoned at the Occoquan Workhouse in Virginia.  Alice Paul was sentenced to seven months, and for two weeks she was held in solitary confinement on a diet of bread and water.  When too weak to walk, she was removed to the prison hospital where she began a hunger strike.  Others joined her.

By her refusal to eat, and afraid she might die, doctors prescribed a program of mandatory feedings – three times a day for three weeks a tube was forced down her throat.  I suppose a diet of raw eggs and milk would keep a person alive.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch… the assault on the Silent Sentinels continued inside the Occoquan Workhouse.  Guards brutalized the women – they were dragged, beaten, kicked and choked.  Newspapers began to report the treatment of the protesters which helped to create more support for the suffrage movement.

Wasn’t this an ugly piece of American history that we were never taught in school?

Alice Paul survived imprisonment – she served her sentence, and on release resumed the fight for women’s rights.

It is incredible to me that any woman should consider the fight for full equality won. It has just begun. There is hardly a field, economic or political, in which the natural and unaccustomed policy is not to ignore women…Unless women are prepared to fight politically they must be content to be ignored politically. — Alice Paul, 1920

Alice Paul celebrating the ratification of the 19th Amendment – August 18, 1920.

Here are some sources that I found interesting:

The Alice Paul Institute

The Sewall-Belmont House Museum

Jailed For Freedom by Doris Stevens

Block Six: Aunt Eliza’s Star

Barbara Brackman gave us a lovely block to work on this week – a pattern that dates to Martha Washington’s era.  In addition, Barbara related a brief history of Martha’s granddaughter, Eliza Custis.

At age nineteen, Eliza married Mr. Thomas Law, and she may not have made the most suitable choice for a husband – you see, it was said that Mr. Law had a reputation.

The marriage eventually failed due to Mr. Law’s open infidelities, and in the process of divorce, Eliza not only lost the property she brought to the marriage (including property supposedly protected by a prenuptial agreement), but her only child as well.

Children, like a woman’s inheritance, remained with the man after a separation or divorce… In punishing his wife by forbidding her to see her daughter Law was following social and legal tradition on both sides of the Atlantic. His brother Lord Ellenborough, chief justice of the King’s Bench, set British precedent for the male’s sole right to custody in an 1804 case, returning a child to a violent man because the father “is entitled by law to the custody of his child.”  — Barbara Brackman

Until well into the 20th century, with very few exceptions, a woman lost everything during a divorce.  It didn’t matter why the marriage failed, loss of child custody was the likely outcome.

After reading Eliza’s story, I found myself in a retrospective mood when I began selecting fabric for Aunt Eliza’s Star.  One very quiet block was the result.

Block Five: New Jersey

I have to admit that I went to Barbara Brackman’s blog this morning with a sense of dread and just a little trepidation.

As a matter of fact, it was my other half that wondered out loud about today’s block before I did.  Not that I’m not pleased with last week’s block, I am, and I’m mightily happy with both versions, but I will admit that it was a challenge.

During The Fight For Women’s Rights, there were the law-abiding members of the suffrage movement who were known as suffragists, and a sub-group, the suffragettes – and thanks to Paul McCartney, most of us have heard of the latter.

The suffragettes were the more militant arm of the movement and by taking such actions as chaining themselves to railings, setting fire to mailbox contents, smashing windows and occasionally detonating bombs, they made sure that notice was taken.

Anarchists?  Maybe just a little around the edges, but if I had lived during the period of history that we’re saluting with this quilt, I would have been honored to have been numbered among them.

So for all those women that made sure that I could voice my opinion in the voting booth, I decided to make my mark boldly.  I’m tickled pink (or should I say orange?) with this block – the X represents the mark made on a ballot, and I intentionally tried to echo it with smaller versions made by the pattern in the background fabric.

Crazy woman needs to start on version two – and with a waggle of the fingers and a blithe toodles, I’m off to the cutting table.

Block Four: Sunflower

Sheesh… this one was just a bit of a challenge for someone that hasn’t done hand applique in over 10 years – and now week four is under my belt.  I don’t have a lot to say, just awfully glad that I don’t have to hold my breath any longer.  It’s done, it’s done, it’s done!

Okay, so I have one thing to say about it; while I greatly admire hand applique, I think that I’d just as soon somebody hold a blowtorch to my feet and force feed me raw pig intestines while Lawrence Welk golden moldies play on a continuous loop rather than do hand work.

That does sound a little harsh – but… have I mentioned that it’s done?

Block Three: Union Square

I was cutting fabrics bright and early yesterday morning shortly after Barbara Brackman posted the instructions for the third block in her 49 week quilt along.

Why so early?  Because I joined up with a handful of other crazies in the group and decided to make two different quilts, (and an idea occurred to me this morning – a palette for a third quilt – but I’m going to resist that particular little voice).

If you’d like to see how the blocks are looking together as sets, just click here.

Block Two: Amethyst

Here’s the second block in Barbara Brackman’s quilt project recalling The Fight For Women’s Rights.

As a matter of fact this is block two, v. 2 – the first attempt wasn’t great color-wise, so I’m not even going to post it here.

Y-seams (sigh).

I don’t have a lot to say about Y-seams except for one little piece of advice: while you’re making this block, keep reminding yourself to breathe.

Call me insane, but I’m seriously considering making two blocks a week.  I love the colors that I’m using in this quilt, but it does seem a little formal.  I’m thinking something scrappier in a second quilt – maybe try some down and dirty color techniques.

Then again, there is that small collection of fabrics that I purchased at Liberty of London.  I’ve been saving it for something special (close to 15 years come to think of it), and maybe now is the time to pull it out of my stash.

I’ll have to consider this for a bit.

Block One: Grandmother’s Choice

Barbara Brackman’s newest block of the week, a much anticipated project recalling The Fight For Women’s Rights, kicked off on Sept. 1, 2012.  That date just happened to coincide with the Mayo Family Reunion.

Much as I love my family and enjoy seeing them, I have to admit that I found myself slightly distracted from time to time.  Of course I was daydreaming about color choices and placement – shame on me!

Today, as the last house guest pulled out of the driveway, I threw a final wave over my shoulder and dashed to the sewing room – a fun way to wrap up the Labor Day Weekend!

Barbara’s instructions were spot on, always nice to find that someone tested the pattern before publication.  Thanks Barbara, Becky and Dustin!

Click here to read more about my take on this project, and here to see how I’m progressing with final layout ideas.

Pretensions: A Quilter’s Haiku

In my world, quilting is a humble art. Originally, it was an article made for the home, something to cover a bed, warm the body, filler for a blanket chest or linen closet. Today quilting has blossomed into an art form. Fiber artists have taken the basic utility item and turned it into a fabulous creation of the imagination. But whether you make traditional quilts or art quilts, it’s a pastime that can overtake every moment in life, awake and asleep. Here’s the admission – I quilt.

Fabrics fragmented then sewn together
united with thread in a pattern imagined
warm the body and soul.

Quilting: A Cog In The Economic Machine

Once upon a time, home sewing was an economical way to put clothes on your back or decorate your home. Have you checked out the prices of fabrics lately? Granted, the so-called quilt quality fabrics are very nice, but hasn’t anyone besides me noticed that the price per yard has gone through the roof? I’ve seen some really beautiful fabric this year… at $11 a yard.

So you want to make a quilt big enough to sleep under.  8-10 yards to make the top, the back and the binding for a quilt, (oh come on, you can do the math here).  Crazy!

I am a ruler addict. I’ve got big ones, little ones, square rulers, rectangular rulers. Rulers to cut diamonds. Rulers to cut hexagons. Rulers rule.

Earlier this year I read an interesting book on quilting, Making History: Quilts & Fabric From 1890-1970 by Barbara Brackman. I highly recommend the book, an informative and entertaining read, a nice little overview of fabrics used in American quilts.

Have you seen How To Make An American Quilt? It has a stellar cast, Ann Bancroft, Alfre Woodard, Jean Simmons, Maya Angelou and Ellen Burnstyn for starters. Add Winona Ryder and Dermot Mulroney to the mix and what’s not to love? Beautiful cinematography. Warning: watching this movie while you piece will guarantee you a soggy block, so keep a box of tissues handy – a definite weeper.

Speaking of movies and quilts, have you ever noticed how many quilts are staged in movie sets? For me, quilts convey a sense of home, of comfort, and describe a basic sense of levelheadedness in a character. Look for them and you can spot quilts everywhere, in movies about urban dwellers (You’ve Got Mail), westerns (The Angel and the Badman), and period fantasy pieces (Nanny McPhee).

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I wonder if Kevin Bacon has ever co-starred with a quilt and where exactly, would that lead me today?