Friday, February 27, 2015

Shifting colors

A few months ago, I custom ordered hand dyed yarn by Erica Heftmann, who calls her yarn, "Colorshift" - do check out the link to her Etsy shop for a real treat!

Here's my yarn -  Erica uses pure wool.

Erica sells her yarn in various steps of a color or a color bridge. This was my first time working with anything like this (in knitting - obviously I have done this with Vicki Welsh's hand dyed fabrics for my quilts!) so I chose her 6 step gradation, and asked her to make two extra skeins of the lightest color so make the design I had chosen come out the way I wanted it to.  I chose a very simple design so the color would be the star.  Here's my Corrina sweater front- 

... and back -

The two photos were taken seconds apart, but I think the color is more accurate in the second photo. 

You can see that the sleeves are longer than the body.  I wanted the last color change to come come out at the same place across the arm and body, and I wanted to use every bit of the darker colors.  It took a little experimenting with the first couple of colors to make that happen, and I'm very happy with the way it looks and there were literally only inches left of each color except the last.  (I had the equivalent of a full skein of that lovely pastel blue-violet color.  It's hard to find pastel yarns that aren't for babies so I'll have to turn it into something!)

Even though I finished this several weeks ago, I have yet to wear this sweater.  We've been indoors with the home improvement work, and mostly, this is light weight - perfect for our usual winters, but not this one (brr!!)  I'm sure I'll get to wear it as winter finally cedes to spring though!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Augusta - A block for February, 1865

In January, 1865, Grant ordered Sherman to move troops by boat to assist in the taking of Richmond, Virginia, but Sherman countered with a plan to move his force by land through the Carolinas to hit Richmond from the rear. Sherman's plan was accepted and the movement began on the 27th of January. The enemy was kept guessing as to where Sherman and his army were going, as the various Corps made movements toward several important targets.  The 14th Corps was given the job of making a feint on Augusta Georgia and got within 25 miles of the city.  The Augusta block marks these initial movements of the Indiana 82nd from Savanna.  It is a pretty star block that fits with many of those we have made.

I looked for a block to commemorate this part of the war because of this story from the Regimental History, told by Alford Hunter, brother of the Regiment's commander who had been promoted:

General Hunter, being in command of our brigade, ordered Captain Whedon and myself to make search for water , ... it being very scarce, and, if found, report to the commanders of the regiments of his brigade, so as to relieve the men from the labor of hunting it up, the men being tired, having marched all day, and were ordered to tear up rail road after night. ... We divided forces, he taking the right and me the left, to scour the country back to a road some three-quarters of a mile, there to meet and report success. After riding a short time, hearing a noise in the rear, I looked around and saw the Captain with eighteen other horsemen dressed in blue coming in my rear. I took them to be Kilpatrick's men (he being on our flank), but soon discovered they "wasn't that kind of cats." The outside appearance was all right, but the inside was all wrong. ...  I found,to my horror, that Captain Whedon was a prisoner, and, having promised his wife to follow him through thick and thin, and die with him if necessary, I concluded to go along and look after his welfare, and thus became a prisoner with him.

Alford Hunter was taken to the stockade in Augusta, and spent the next two and a half months in the Confederate prison system, even spending over two weeks in the infamous Andersonville camp before being taken by rail to Florida. He was released on the 28th of April.

Eli Hause with the 52nd wrote to his cousin from Eastport Mississippi on January 30th.  (Eastport is on the border with Alabama.) This letter took much longer to arrive in southern Indiana - Calvin received it on the 10th of February.  But there is no stamp on it and Eli's brother William had just been released from service with an injury.  Eli mentions the letter might be making the journey to Indiana with William. 

This photo of Eli's brother comes from the Hause genealogy page about Civil War service

Lieutenant William Hause

Eli's letter  reports his leg "has got almost well but my eyes are so near smoked out that I can scarcely see the lines as plain as they are...." Eli and Calvin's grandmother died on the 11th of January, and about that he writes, "I was very sorry to hear of Grandma's death but she was getting very old & could not live much longer & we will all go that road sooner or later... " (Polly Maynard had turned 71 just a few weeks before she died.)  Eli later muses, "the papers have a good deal to say about peace they think that the rebs are willing to come to time now but I do not dare to believe half that they say for fear that I will get humbugged."

Eli asked about mutual friends in other Indiana Regiments and tells of the three members of the 52nd who are going home including William, then mentions, "We are living better now days than we have been doing, we drew three days rations of hard tack Coffee & sugar last night hard tacks are better than boiled corn when we can get enough of them, I used to think when boiling sugar out in the woods if I had to pack my wood a hundred yards it was hard work, but pshaw that was nothing here we have to pack our wood a half mile & up a larger hill than from the creek up to Grand Pa's house on the northwest side or corner of his yard, that is it is as long again but about as steep as that is, how would you like that fun eh?" But he tells Calvin to stay out of it as long as he can, "and when you have to go (if you do) do your duty like a man & you will get a long very well, at least I always have so far."

Sunday, January 18, 2015

January, 1865 - Sherman's March Concluded

With no organized Block of the Month, I'm choosing blocks to go with my own family Civil War stories from here until Eli will finish his service later in 1865.

For January, I chose to make the block we usually call "Churn Dash" these days, but one of the names it has gone by is "Sherman's March."  I made it look a little different with an unusual color placement - the floral strip with bright blue just seemed to want to be used this way.

We made this block in the 1862 Civil War block of the month, when it was called "Lincoln's Platform."  It's a simple block that goes by many names.

Sherman's March honors the men of the 82nd Indiana who had made the March to the Sea that ended in December.  There are no more published letters from the Hayden Indiana soldiers of the regiment, so this marks the end of the first-hand contemporary accounts.  The regimental historian later wrote of their experience, " ...Now, to let the loved ones at home know of their victory and safety, and to hear from the dear ones at home, was the next pleasant task to accomplish. ... We had no men killed or captured in the Eighty- second, and very few sick on the campaign. This was decidedly the finest soldiering it was my pleasure to meet with during my time of service. Plenty to eat, reasonable marching, and just fighting enough to remind us there was an enemy in our front. To give its proper standing I would call it a regular " dress parade" performance from Atlanta to the sea.  (History of the Eighty-Second Indiana Volunteer Infantry by Alf. G. Hunter, 1893. p 145)

As for the 52nd, the Regimental History tells us, "Battle of Nashville December 15-16. Pursuit of Hood to the Tennessee River December 17-23. Duty at Clifton, Tenn., and Eastport, Miss., until February, 1865. Eli Hause started a letter to his cousin on the 3rd of January, though he did not finish writing it for some days He does not mention any fighting or what duties the regiment performed - it is possible he had sent that information to his parents, from whom Calvin would have been informed. The letter is postmarked, Cairo, Illinois.

"As we have got through to the Tennessee River & board of a boat again I thought I would write a few lines to you in answer to your kind and welcome letter of the 11th Inst which found me better off than what I am now; there is some kind of a swelling coming on my left leg just above the knee it has been very sore and painful for the last four or five days so much so that the doctor had to haul me in the ambulance, we reached the Tenn River last evening and embarked today about noon and are now on our way up the River to Eastport which I understand will be our destination 

Jan 4th well Cal they kept moving us around so much yesterday that I could not finish this we drove up to the bank last night and hitched up and are laying here yet and it is now about two oclock, my leg pains me worse today but am in hopes that it will do better soon."

After some mention of friends in Hardenburg, Eli writes, "If I were there I would not be afraid to try you a game of eucher seven up or even a game at eating Buckwheat cakes I think that I could hold you a very close game at either, why didn't you call around Sunday evening and invite me to go with you Monday to hunt Rabbits. ... I did not see much fun Christmas & New Years this season how did you spend the time?"

Eli finishes his letter saying, "well Cal you think that you are a poor scribe if you just knew how much good a letter from you does me you would not think of that, when I get a letter from you with two sheets filled full I sit down and read it over & some time think that I have missed some of the pages and go back and read it over and still it seems so short, well as I have nothing of interest to write I will close this scribbling."

The letter was postmarked Cairo, Illinois, either the 12th or 13th of January, and Calvin received it on the 16th. My great grandfather took Eli's words to heart as he did not take more than a few days to send his next news from home.

Here is a photocopy of the first page of Eli's letter. It's the first example I have of anything other than blank paper.
Wikipedia has this article on the U.S. Christian Commission's role during the Civil War:

Saturday, January 10, 2015

A most comfortable sweater

I finished knitting this sweater back in the middle of November but realized recently I never posted photos of it here.  It is Fylingdales, by Lisa Lloyd from her book, A Fine Fleece.

It's a long oversized sweater made with an Aran weight yarn. I usually knit a medium size for myself, but this one was so big I made the smallest size and it fits very loosely and feels comfortable. I bought this discontinued yarn from a fellow Ravelry user who was moving and sold it to me at a very nice price.  I was going to make my Silver Belle sweater with it, but couldn't get the right gauge.

This sweater was easy to knit (those are the simplest of cables) and went very quickly once I devoted  time to it.  The ribbing at the bottom really pulled in and the welting below the cable and seed stitch part was very wobbly and ugly until I blocked the completed sweater.

 I wear it over lighter sweaters inside the house all the time, and it sometimes goes outside with me too.
Looking at my photos you're probably wondering what color is that anyway?  Well, I think the photo below captures it.  The manufacturer called it "light blue" but it's really a pale grayed blue-purple.

I only used about half of the yarn I bought. The rest of the yarn would make another very nice sweater!

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

WWI - December - Heavenly Puzzle

This is the last block in this series.

All the red and blue fabrics in this interesting block are from Vicki Welsh.  I used foundation paper piecing for the four corners which helped keep the points sharp.  

I'm going to miss working on this series  even the leaves.  After a few months, I knew the whole rhythm and allotted the time for the applique, never trying to get the entire block done in a day so I didn't find that job as tedious as I did in the beginning. 

Service records for the majority of our WWI veterans were burned in a fire in at the Federal Records storage facility in St. Louis in the 1970's, so precise information on my four great-uncles who served is unfortunately not as easy to come by as for Civil War veterans. Their tombstones list their units, though without much precision.  There is information about the Army's organization and where the elements served available at Federal libraries scattered around the country.  The University of North Carolina Asheville is supposed to be one of those places where the public can access that information, so that will be a project for me, perhaps before I get the quilt completed. As it is right now, I'm not sure any of the uncles actually shipped out to Europe.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Threads of Memory - December 1864

This month's Rochester Star block is a nine-patch star on point giving us interesting shapes for the corners -

I enjoyed picking the fabrics and making this block, the last in Barbara Brackman's Threads of Memory series. Next year, she is doing something completely different so I'll have to choose my own blocks to go with family Civil War history from 150 years ago.

Sherman's army's March to the Sea  ended on the 21st of December when they captured the port of Savannah.  The 82nd's regimental historian recorded that in the latter part of the march, they went through mostly flooded rice fields. There was a lot of work in making corduroy roads for the troops and their wagons to pass over the water. By the time they were laying in for the siege, their supply train had nothing left, only foraged rice to sustain them.  He commented that the horses seemed to like the rice better than the men.  The rebel army did not surrender but departed Savannah on the night of the 20th. Sherman's troops had left a 40-50 mile wide track of desolation behind them, and the 82nd suffered no casualties on the campaign.  They enjoyed plenty to eat once they were in camp.  An undated letter from Billy to his sister Carrie says, "We have a firstrate good little house and a good fireplace in it.... We have had no cold weather here to amount to anything. The ice has been 1/4 of an inch thick 3 or 4 mornings." Billy reminds his sister he has but 7 months left to serve as he closes his letter.

I do not have a letter from Eli with the 52nd Indiana to my great-grandfather Calvin from this time in  1864, but, like his November letter, there was one published in Rodger Ruddick's book.  Eli wrote on the 11th of December from Nashville, Tennessee, full of questions about life at home. He asks about the pumpkin crop in Indiana, saying "When we were in Missouri, we had stewed pumpkins several times, but it is played out with us now." He wishes he were back in Indiana to eat buckwheat cakes and molasses, but he doesn't think he'll be there any time soon. Calvin must have told him about going to dances because Eli would have gone too. Then he tells Calvin a prayer from their nights out on raid in Missouri:  "Every time I lay down to sleep, the greybacks all around me creep, and if they bite before I wake, I hope by God their jaws they break." Later he describes current conditions: ".. we are suffering with the cold very bad and the wood is getting very scarce near camp. I don't know what we will do in a few days if the weather still keeps cold, we will freeze, I grief, but I live in hopes of a better time coming."

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Threads of Memory - November 1864

This block is yet another version of the star we did last month and in in August.  I fussy cut every piece of this one, though the star points don't show it very well.

The red and white print fabric, of which I had only a 10 inch square, drove the fabric choices.

John and Billy with the 82nd were placed under the cmomand of major General H. W. Slocum. In early November, they prepared for the march to Savannah, passing through Atlanta on the 15th. That night, the regimental history records, "the light from the burning city made our camp as light as day. Details were sent in to check the fire. The more details the brighter the light." The brigade was treated to some fine music by the brigade band while the fires burned. I guess Billy, listed as "musician" on the Regimental roster, was among those playing.

The marching orders were to cover 15 miles a day, destroying railroads on the way.  This map illustrates the routes of the four Army Corps - John and Billy would have been on the heavy line identified as the 14th Corps.  The 82nd did witness attacks by Rebel cavalry and were involved in some fighting, particularly during the earlier part of the march.

This map is free to use, from the Wikipedia article on the march at

I do not have Eli's letter to Calvin from November 1864, but it was published in Rodger Ruddick's book.  Eli, with the Indiana 52nd  wrote on the 25th, datelined, "On the boat, Prairie, down the river." He tells his cousin "this has been a hard trip on me, we have walked about seven hundred and fifty miles. Was gone just fifty days and was marching just forty days out of fifty."  He lists the Missouri towns they passed through on their way to Kansas and back - they did pass through St. Charles, the location of the story behind our block this month. Eli comments on the election, "I am sorry that the abolitionists won the Presidency this time, but it can't be helped now." He goes back to the march, saying that his feet are so sore he can just barely get around and he has pain in his right hand from a wart he had had knocked off over two weeks earlier.

Then Eli tells Calvin, "I saw some of the prettiest prairie land in Missouri that I ever saw. I have seen the biggest part of the state of Missouri this trip and this is some of the prettiest land that I ever saw in any state. I think that if this war was over, I could find a home in the state that would suit me first rate." There was not always enough food - one day they had flour and a little piece of fresh beef, "just about enough for one good meal for a day rations and all the way that we had to cook the flour was to mix it up in some water and salt it a little and bake it in our frying pans."

Eli asks his cousin to write more often - even if he can't write while on the march he can get letters from home. He closes his letter, "... give my love to all inquiring friends and retain a share for yourself, Yours truly, Eli to Cal Direct by way of Cairo, Ill."

I included the closing of this letter because it is the same way that Eli will finish letters to Calvin in the early 1870's, when he and his future wife Jennie will have started a family and struggled to make a living in Missouri.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Austen Family Album - Block 34

I did not care one bit for this block - Queen Charlotte's Crown. So I played with stripes.  I really like the way my version looks in the thumbnail where I changed the block design slightly to do something a little different.  I'm showing it to you in the smallest thumbnail because it shows the effect best.

My personal stamp on the block was to have two different stripes meet up going across the block from lower left to upper right.  The rest of the block is just background to that, and my photo shows that some of my seams are off.  I really did hurry through the cutting and piecing.

In the original block, the upper right and lower left squares were made of half-square triangles which met the "crowns" in Y-seams at the inner corners.  I don't really mind doing Y-seams anymore, but I did mind the block and thought it would be interesting to play the two stripes into each other in a more yin-yang coloration.

I like it a lot better now, so I'm thinking I should correct my sloppiness.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

WWI - November - Mother's Dream

I don't know why this block would get that name - I do know I like how this one came out.  I used foundation paper piecing for precision on all those 1 inch half-square triangles.

The red fabric in this block is different from the others in the series, but my blocks are all made with slightly different reds. I love the drama of  Vicki Welsh's shibori stripes in the four squares, so I chose a commercial print for the more subdued blue version in the center square. The red fabric in the long rectangles with a more subtle stripe was not from the same piece but it was also dyed by Vicki.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Austen Family Album - Week 33 - Corn and Beans

This is not the only block that goes by the Corn and Beans name -

I like how this one came out with that symmetrically arrayed stripe.  Funny, that stripe was the main reason I decided to participate in this block of the week project - I had used it in my tablet cover

and thought it would lend itself to this block-by-block quilt.  But I only used it in maybe two other blocks. The print is actually trickier to use than average - in fact the two horizontal bars in the block are colored slightly differently than the two vertical ones.  It's a subtle difference that will it probably never be noticed by the casual viewer.  But cutting other areas of the stripe, it would be noticeable and I would have had to waste so much of it for the blocks I thought I'd use it, so I just didn't.  There still isn't much left.

The dark blue mottled fabric with its unpredictable flashes of light is what makes this block work for me though.