Sunday, April 13, 2014

Sister's Choice - Austen Family Album week 2

I have always liked this one -

Both the shibori stripe and the periwinkle are hand dyes from the fabulous Vicki Welsh.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Mug-rugs for Cindy and a new block of the week

We had a birthday party for Cindy on Friday. It was suggested we could bring gag gifts, but I'm not good at those so I made her a pair of mug rugs in her black bird theme that go with the black and tan accents in her house -

The bird was an image labeled for non-commercial reuse with modifications. I printed it on a treated organza and used a low-contrast tan and white Japanese tree print to back it. The mug rugs are about 6x8 with minimal straight line quilting and a single fold binding to finish them off.

I started a new block of the week program by Barbara Brackman today that I won't be blogging about in detail. The theme of the weekly stories is Jane Austen. I'm not really an Austen fan - I read some of the books because they were available in recorded book format from the library but otherwise I probably would never have read them.

The block was called "Bright Star" on the blog, but I've always seen it as "Rosebud" - a block I don't care for. The two contrasting small triangles always just look awkward to me, so I disguised them with my choice of floral prints. The stripe doesn't go with the flower theme but I think gives the pinwheel a little energy.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

A new Challenge Series begins

Dorry is always the one to come up with these great ideas and organize groups of quilters to stretch and create quilts beyond our comfort zones! We finished the June Bride series when the Bride finally had her day, so now we're on to a one-year-long/four quilt project that will also have vintage quilt blocks as the starting point.  This series is based on the seasons, the first being Spring.  I got my block a week or two ago.

We are to include the color Green in these quilts. I thought I might be able to use some of the green and yellow fabrics I had for Dana's quilt, but that was before I saw this particular pink. Except for the fabrics than included black, most of the fabrics I had looked too toned compared to this coral sort of pink and I didn't want black for spring.

I looked at my floral prints that included bright pink. Since pink and green are a common combination, I get a feeling that for me, starting with these would take something away from the challenge. I've taken that approach before, with two of the fabrics in this group, actually. The roses on the left would be a challenge if I were to incorporate all the tonal browns, so I was leaning that way, but I'm not sure the combination would read 'spring' very loudly in a 24"x24" quilt.

You might rightly protest that the peony on the lower right is not a fabric.  It's a card Dorry sent on another recent occasion, a print of a watercolor by Great Falls Studio Artist Linda Jones. The bright pinks with the dark green is a winning combination. Linda's palette adds a touch of orange and a hint of purple to the mix -- but I used that in my Reston quilt based on the fabric just above it.  I haven't quite decided yet, but have spent some time on color-palette websites to get an interesting and challenging combination that might not be found in my fabric collection.

After the colors decision, the problem of how to incorporate the vintage block in a quilt remains. I have made no secret of the fact that I prefer geometric fabric shapes just make geometric patterns without trying to represent real objects like a boat. I cut up the last of the June Bride blocks to use it like fabric - but only because I hadn't done that before and wanted to try it.  I think for this quilt I will try to use the original shapes, if not all of the original piecing. We are as always supposed to use just about all of that vintage block for the challenge. Hmmm.... I wonder what kind of block uses that boat-bottom shape?

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Threads of Memory - Month 3: New Garden Star for Catherine White Coffin

Our Threads of Memory history stories are from the Underground Railroad. Today's  block honors the Coffin family from North Carolina who moved to Newport, Indiana to operate a way-station that offered shelter and clothing to escapees.

New Garden Star

They operated out of a meeting house they named New Garden for the place in Guilford County, North Carolina they left behind.

I have no soldier letters from Shep and Billy for March. After the Meridian Campaign, according to the regimental history, veterans, which Shep would have counted among, were absent on furlough during March and April, leaving Vicksburg on March 4th and arriving home March 17th. I hope that Shep was able to enjoy some time with his family while the newer recruits went on the Red River campaign.

The 82nd was still in the vicinity of Chattanooga.  The regimental historian, Colonel Hunter's brother Alfred, wrote that their duty after the battle was to guard the area of Ringgold, an important point for the eventual march against Atlanta.  Alfred tells one story from March:

"During our stay at this point, some time in March, a snow six inches deep fell, and two Ohio regiments formed in line of battle some distance apart facing each other, and opened a snowball battle. It was real exciting to see them charge and counter charge, and finally commence capturing their enemy and carry them to the rear. The men became as earnest in the battle as though it was an actual enemy confronting them. There was much blood spilled principally from noses and all appeared to enjoy it very much."

Alfred also tells a complicated story about getting an extra ration of potatoes for the 82nd that were shipped in barrels to the Indiana troops.  It sounds as though potatoes were much appreciated and not part of the rations.  

from the Library of Congress collection: Boxcars and depot with Federal cavalry guard beyond, Chattanooga Tennessee.


Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Four Identical Little Memory Quilts

When my family was going through my mother's clothing to sort what some of us wanted to keep and what should be taken to the local thrift store, I came across a blouse made of a fabric I instantly recognized. My father had brought it back from a trip to Egypt decades ago.  I had personally not seen my mother wear the blouse, but based on the frayed parts around the collar and sleeve seams, she had worn it quite a bit. Because I lived away from the area, I asked my geographically closer siblings if they had seen our mother wear it, and they did.  The blouse was a great example of her excellent sewing skills, but, with its large boxy shape and kimono sleeves, was out of style and too worn out to be useful as apparel -- indeed, based on its location in the closets, she had not worn it for some time herself. The blouse seemed too precious to me to turn over to the thrift store, where no doubt, it would be thrown into a stack of items for sale by the pound to the industrial rag industry.  The fabric is a very fine Egyptian cotton plain weave - what was a quilter to do?

I turned into not one but four quilts, one for each of my siblings.  I thought the hieroglyphics lent themselves to this classic strippy design with a simple on-point nine patch block. A current fabric line called Legacy, with Egyptian motifs in blue and gold gave interest to the setting triangles, and very thin cuts of a classic stripe separated the original blue and white cotton from the pieced areas.  The size of the quilts (about 25 inches square) was determined by the length of the strips I cut from the fronts and back of the blouse.

I had long ago planned to make an Egyptian-themed quilt and collected several prints in fat-quarter and full-yard pieces.  The two largest of these wound up on as backings.  Carl got this one, because his living room has long had a print of the mask of King Tut on display. 

These quilts were finished several months ago, but the other three waited in a dark closet for a couple of months here in North Carolina, while Carl's quilt went on display in the "Something Blue" exhibit Dorry curated for Art Space in Herndon Virginia.  Dorry has sent Carl's quilt on to him.

Jeff's quilt got this camel print for the backing. I thought it would appeal to his wife, Joanna.

Joyce and Roger's quilts got another print from the Legacy fabric line - I thought I took a photo of the two quilts with the back of one and front of the other showing, but I can't find it right now. Here's a swatch of the print -

Some parts of the sleeves of Mom's blouse are already in a quilt that granddaughter Jenn made for her sister Lyn last year (pictured at this link) and I have a few more of those sleeve pieces in my collection yet. My family members do not have to display the little quilts on their walls - they can use them on a table, or put them in a drawer, but I feel much better that the fabric that my Dad personally brought back and that my mother worked with and wore might stay in the family for a few more years.

Monday, March 17, 2014

WWI Block of the Month - Block Three: Dog Tooth VIolet

The story and photos that went with the block this month were interesting, but I missed the connection between the Dog Tooth Violet block and the soldier's experience.  Perhaps these blocks were chosen merely for their patriotic flair.

I have not made this block before, but it is a pretty one. The wreath is intended to overlap the piecing, and I'm getting used to that. I put the block together yesterday, but didn't even get a start on the applique, even though all the pieces were ready to fuse and stitch.  I have found that glue-basting the stem is the best way to hold it in place for the machine applique. The fusible I was working with does not hold.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Never too early ....

.... to start planning for summer. The Mountain Jam Circle quilters met several weeks ago and purchased the fabrics for this year's Shindig on the Green quilt. We are following an Eleanor Burns pattern that requires some assembly before the cutting is completed, but Alice got the first part of the cutting done.  We met for a yummy lunch at her house last week so that I could get some of the remnants to make a block for the center.

This block includes all the fabrics that will appear in the quilt.  I used the basic idea of the block Eleanor Burns used, but made it slightly more complex to incorporate all the shades of blue in what I hope looks like a transparent overlay of a light blue frame on point set over a Missouri Star.  I have found two related blocks "Noon and Light" and a version of "Royal Star"  - but surprisingly, no traditional pattern that is exactly this combination of squares and triangles.

This is a 12 inch block. Alice and Ann will be piecing the rest of a lap sized-quilt around it.  Should be a beauty!

Monday, February 24, 2014

A hat for Marvin

When Marvin saw the hat I knit for Norris, he said he wanted one just like it.  "Just like it," I wondered, "the same shape, the same texture, the same color?"  NO!  Not the same color!

Marvin needed a KU Blue hat. This blue was the closest I found in an easy-care worsted weight. Marvin's hat is a slight improvement on the earlier model, for which I was short of yarn. There's more room in the crown.

I mailed the hat off last week - it arrived on Friday when Marla and Marvin were getting ready to leave on vacation. They went to the beach in Florida. I don't think Marvin needs the hat there - and this winter is probably over in Chattanooga. But he'll have it for any chilly weather next year.  Rock-Chalk-Jayhawk!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Threads of Memory - Civil War 2014 Block Two - Mercer Star

February's block is a combination of two traditional blocks, a large Ohio Star with a small North Star for the center.The Ohio Star is a reminder that the 82nd Indiana was the only one from that state in a brigade of Ohio regiments by the time of the Chattanooga campaign. 

I'm still trying make sure I put a stripe or a plaid - or both - in each block. The reverse toile print I used in the background of this block was purchased to back a wall quilt a few years ago. but I really like it here. The two red fabrics were recently purchased at a tiny quilt shop in Chickamauga.

I don't have any news from Shep with the 54th in Tennessee, but Billy wrote to his brother Hiram from the camp at Chattanooga on February 9th, telling him he is well and cooking dinner of beans and "corn dodger." They are living fine with plenty of dried fruit, potatoes and onions. (Onions were prized by Civil War armies both for their flavor and the vitamins.) Billy reports that a depot full of quartermaster stores burned that morning, having caught fire from a cook shanty. His unit was ordered to carry out the goods. "We didn't get more than half of if carried out, the balance was burned. The fire broke out about 4 o'clock in the morning."

from the Library of Congress collection, a Federal Camp by the Tennessee River, Chattanooga

Billy continues, "I think that the Rebel Army is about used up. They have to keep 3 and 4 picket lines between their Army and ours, to keep their men from coming over in squads of hundreds, and they break through sometimes anyhow. The pickets are formed of those that are most hostile to the U.S." Billy has also just seen one of the largest bears of his life. The bear and his keeper were captured at Knoxville and are performing for the troops. Six mules pull the bear's cage on a wagon. Billy expects to get paid soon.  Since he has enough money to last until next pay day, he's going to send his earnings home.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

WWI Block of the Month - Block Two - Love Entangled

.... or is it "The War at Home" - the newspaper article about the block gave the latter name, while the pattern instructions call it Love Entangled.

I looked it up in the authoritative Brackman catalog of pieced blocks - she has it as Love Entangled from a source that would have provided that name in either the 1960's or 1970's.

I really love Vicki's hand-dyed shibori that I used for the larger pieces in the pieced block.  The pattern called for a large red square and blue triangles. My pieces all came from the same fat eighth I got as part of a group of multi-colored fat shibori fabrics I bought from her a while back. The little corner squares are also from Vicki, while the twelve little red triangles are from a hand-dyed fabric purchased at a quilt show years ago.

It is rather interesting to take so much time making all those little pointy triangles only to place appliqued leaves so that some of the points get covered up. I did make the stem and leaves a little more distant from the block so as to minimize that effect this time.  It took longer than usual to put this block together because I got my all the leaves, stems, circles, and stars prepared for the remaining blocks.  Let's see, twelve blocks, 34 leaves per block....  I don't really want to know how many leaves that is.