Saturday, December 29, 2012

Week 18 - Cheyenne

This week's block recognizes Wyoming, the first territory or state to grant the right to vote to women, in 1869. This powerful image called The Awakening from 1915 was part of the story.  It depicts the West lighting the way for the oppressed women in the East.

This image is from the Library of Congress. 

The Cheyenne block design let me use a photograph from the William and Mary collection of Creative Commons licensed images I wanted to incorporate in Dana's green and yellow quilt. The Tribe is the sports team name.  It stands for union and comradery, which I thought went along with the idea of the illustration above.

 The photo is of a logo decal on a bus stop. I brought up the green just a little in this photo to print it on fabric and make it go with the commercial leaf prints I had in my fabric collection. 

My fabric placement probably makes more sense if you view it on point, as it will be set in the quilt.

Monday, December 24, 2012

A Quilt for Lyn

Brother Roger's daughter Jen, having completed only a quilt or two before this, decided to make one for her sister Lyn who recently moved into a drafty house. Jen is a working single mother of two who recently bought a house, so she recruited other family members to help. I volunteered to provide the backing and batting and said I could do the quilting on my longarm so it would be easily finished in time for Christmas.

Jen had already picked the pattern and deep blue and autumn colors for Lyn.  I looked through my stash and picked a couple of fabrics I thought could add sentimental value to the project: a blue music print I used in Roger and Laurie's Civil War quilt, the red-orange fabric we used on the back of the comfort quilt we gave Brother Jeff and his wife Joanna after their daughter and grandson were killed, and an orange fabric Lyn's cousin Niki used for her quilt. I threw a few fabrics from Joyce's latest quilt in the box  - some of those I used in my own projects as well. Lastly, I sent a blue and white print purchased in Egypt by my Dad while traveling there on business decades ago.  Mom made a summer shirt from the fabric and wore it a lot. Lyn and Jen were both very close to my mother so I thought that print in particular could have a place in Lyn's quilt.  Somehow, Jen managed to include just about everything I sent her.

I asked Jen for photos of the fabrics she bought so I could buy the right backing fabric, and gave her a deadline in early December for piecing the top.  She beat it by almost a week.  I sent her photos like these next two while I had it on my machine.


I took a photo of the quilt before I put it in the box to ship it back to Jen. Lilly was the Acting Quilt Model that evening. (Like almost all my photos, clicking on them will give you a larger view.)

Not only did Jen put the quilt together, she also wrote a lovely poem to go with it.  Lyn received the quilt at the family Christmas gathering at Joyce's house on Sunday - and it is reported she was so touched she was in tears. 

I really enjoyed working with Jen on this quilt for Lyn!

Week 17 - Mother's Delight

This being Christmas week, I have to think of my own mother with a block named Mother's Delight. So I chose two of the fabrics she picked for a lap quilt I made for my parents a few years ago, thanking them for giving all five of us children piano lessons, as well as a second instrument, and an appreciation for music of all kinds. 

For Mom and Dad's quilt, I started with the piano print.  The small living room in our house had a cut-down concert grand in it for many years. The big piano didn't leave room for much else, so during those years, the family Christmas tree was short and wide so it could be placed on top of the piano,  the gifts piled on the floor underneath.

Mom and Dad came to the Washington DC area for a visit before I got the quilt started, and I asked for Mom's input to the plan.  I had pulled a much more colorful group of fabrics together, but Mom was set on using only the greens and golds with neutral accents. I bought a couple of new prints to add to the mix, including a light green roses print.

That and the green instruments are the two fabrics I started with for this block.

The yellow music print I used here was one I acquired after making the quilt for Mom and Dad.  Dana also plays the piano, and like her Dad and my Dad, the trombone.  Sadly, though that dark green has its place here, there is no trombone for Dana, nor a saxophone for Mom. Mom's main instrument was her voice anyway.  She was most comfortable singing alto, but could sing soprano as well if the choir director needed her to.

I don't think this is the prettiest block I've made for the quilt, but I hope the dimensional qualities can be brought out when I quilt it.

Monday, December 17, 2012

The Knitting Group Holiday Party Gift Exchange

One member of our Monday knitting group is the party instigator, and she decided to host a December gathering at her home. She also decided that we would have a gift exchange, and the gifts should be items either that we made ourselves, or they could be "recycled" items.  That was easy for me - none of the ones who were coming are quilters.  The dollar value was small, so I made mug rugs.  When knittters and weavers make mug rugs, they are usually coaster sized.  But for some reason, quilters always make them much larger - well, they will say that provides room for a cookie.  These are about 6x8.

Some of the members don't celebrate Christmas, so I picked a winter theme and named the set "Appalachian Winter Sky."

The colors go with the mugs we've been collecting, so I also took a shot of each one modeled by a different mug.

A contemporary mat with a leaf-mug

An Ohio Star with a drip glaze pattern mug

A Christmas Star with more leaves

And the last rug is string pieced and has the mug from our local Mangum pottery on Main Street.

These are so small, I quilted them on my DSM.  If you don't think about longarm quilting machines, you probably never called yours a "domestic sewing machine" - but among industrial machine owners, we just use the abbreviation, DSM.

We drew numbers and picked our packages.  Ann from Wales who lives in the neighborhood knew which package was mine and chose it.  She seems delighted with the little "rugs".  The back side is a dark blue print with silver snowflakes - I forgot to take a photo!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Week 16 Capital T

This block serves as a reminder that the first women to come to the women's suffrage movement were associated with the temperance movement, dating to the mid-19th century. I tried to highlight the star in the center instead of the four spikey "T" shapes, and chose a large flower for the center of the star. The other fabric choices include a toile and two green 19th Century reproductions. 

In my personal family history, I have to acknowledge Aunt Alice's birthday this week on the 19th - she would have been 98 this year.  I don't have the original of this photo of Faye and baby Alice - it must have been taken in early 1915. Aunt Alice used it for the chapter on Faye in her family history book.

But I do have a few other delightful photos - illustrating that parents in the 'teens of last century took photos of their children just as they do today -

My mother always pointed out that her sister Alice was their mother's favorite, evidenced by all the photos of Alice as a baby.  There were so many interesting ones, I had a hard time limiting the ones to post, so I'm including quite a few - this one must have been in a frame.

It's hard to recognize the adult Aunt Alice in those baby pictures, but I can definitely see her in this next pair. These were taken when she was two and a half.

Here's one of Alice with a cousin -

 Just one more - Aunt Alice with her younger brother called Buddy, born a year after Alice - so this was probably early 1916.

 I wonder if someone in the family knitted those little hats?  It was not Faye - she crocheted, but I don't believe she knew how to knit.  Someone else taught my mother to knit. Faye taught me to crochet, and my mother showed me the basics of knitting.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Week 15 - Centennial: New Zealand's Victory

On September 19, 1893,  the women of New Zealand won the right to vote.  In our history lesson, we saw how the women of New Zealand then carried their success in marches for Women's Rights in Washington DC and London. The centennial block was chosen to recall the 1993 100-year anniversary celebration of New Zealand's "honorable position as the first country to enfranchise all women in all elections."

My block this week thus departs from my Grandmothers' stories to pay tribute to our Kiwi sisters.

We have many quilters around the world making these blocks and sharing them in a group on Flickr, but I suspect not many other U.S.-based quilters have the benefit of a collection of fabrics from New Zealand.  I have two pieces of the Kiwi print from my dear friends Dorry and Kerry, sisters who live in the U.S. and New Zealand, respectively. For something like 8 years now, I have been participating with them in an International Round Robin group. Jo, another of the Remarkable Robins was born in New Zealand but now lives in Melbourne.  She sent me the yellow and green floral print. The beautiful golden yellow flower is the Kowhai, New Zealand's unofficial national flower. I was pleased to see that one of the print's motifs was sized to perfectly fit the center of the block.  I could have made the star a more powerful element, but I think I like how joyfully the fruit and flower combination seems to shout its Kiwi heritage more than I need it to be a star.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Week 14 - Brides Knot

This week's block is Bride's Knot, and the discussion was about how women, under British common law,  lost their property rights when they got married. Everything they owned or earned belonged to their husbands.  This practice ended in the U.S. by about 1900 as the states each passed legislation allowing married women to own property.

However, for my block I am continuing to celebrate my Grandparents' 99th Wedding anniversary a few days ago, and chose some fabrics that reminded me of my Grandmother's living room, as it was decorated in the late 60's and early 1970's.

My grandparents had moved off the Waterman farm into a bungalow with the front porch fully enclosed in windows, on Pierce Street in Elburn. Faye did all her own decorating, including the wallpapering. Although she used generally neutral colors, she had a large green leaf patterned area rug.  She chose the stylish Avocado Green and Harvest Gold for accents.  The leafy pattern of the darkest fabric in my block serves to remind me of the rug. The other fabrics I chose to use with it have ornate patterns accented with gold , which she also used tastefully.

Faye was a skilled needleworker.  Probably in the late 1960's, she crocheted a two-sided afghan for her front room. It was folded over the back of the Davenport - a common word for sofa for people of her age.  She continued to make this style of afghan, and give them as gifts even when she was losing her eye sight.  My sister has one in colors that went with her townhouse in the mid-late 1980's.  But I got the original one -

It has been used and washed over the decades but it is large and warm and we have it in our bedroom where we can put it over the covers on a chilly winter night.  I photographed the entire afghan here on my "Davenport."

Thinking about the Pierce Street bungalow, I wondered what it looks like today, and checked Google Maps.  Too bad the folks at Google have not taken their camera down Pierce Street, but I did enjoy seeing the overhead image. It's the light gray house in the center of the image. Someone has finished off the former attic space and created two bedrooms and an additional bath (I learned from a description of the property).  I don't remember any porch gable when my Grandparents owned the house.   I wonder if subsequent owners have also converted the porch into a regular room.  If they did, they probably don't know they could have grown amazing African violets there -  assuming they had Faye's talent with indoor plants.

I was interested to see the oval is still visible in the back yard. That is the concrete edging of a former croquet court.  Fielding used it for an extensive flower and vegetable garden.
Now I wonder if Joyce, current keeper of the family photos, has any pictures of Faye and Fielding's living room, in color? I'm pretty sure we have home movie footage of the beautiful sunken garden in the back yard.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Week 13 - Everybody's Favorite: Universal Suffrage

This week's history lesson focused on the evolution of Universal Suffrage, particularly in the United States.  The block, called "Everybody's Favorite" is not one I've ever pondered before. It has a slightly tricky area, where the small triangle meets the stripe - the white color in my block.

I chose to make the slightly more elaborate original version of the block - I like the way the white stripes create a focus on the center. Again we have an "x" to signify voting.

But for my own history lesson, I have to turn back to my grandparents whose 99th wedding anniversary is this coming week on November 27th. I posted the one early photo of the two of them back on Week 1 -  but here's another.  There is no date associated with this photo, but they both appear to be very young:

It's too bad there aren't more pictures! But we do have a good story from their wedding in Aunt Alice's ancestry book. She says they were married at Faye's house and spent their wedding night in the little house on Fielding's farm. Their friends surprised them with a charivaree that included dynamite. The exuberant noisemaking resulted in the breakage of some of the china they had received as wedding gifts.

Although Faye also had a great sense of humor, I suspect the rowdiness was somehow related to Grandpa's - here's an undated photo of a party -

I don't know if Fielding was the guest of honor, but he's sure making himself the center of attention - cropped so you can see his expression:

And that's Faye in the dark clothing directly behind him, wearing her smile.

On a less raucous note, here's a family photo from Faye and Fielding's 50th Wedding Anniversary -
May, Fielding (Buddy), Alice, Fielding, Faye, Loris and Myra

This is the formal portrait they had taken for the occasion. 

By the time Fielding died in 1982, they had been married close to 69 years.  Faye would have been 71, and Fielding 73 at the time of this photo.  Neither one of them dyed their hair!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

It's winter but

... about two weeks ago, I finally finished this little project -

I didn't get to take it outside for photography while the landscaping work was creating chaos, but that's over. 

I worked on it during my social knitting time on Monday evenings, and off and on when I needed a break from the much more complicated Tapestry sweater.  Then Operation Colorstorm took up all my knitting time for a few weeks. 

This sweater, Ylva, designed by Elsebeth Lavold, has some really interesting details - this cabling at the waist front and back,

and the rope-like cable around the armholes, up the center front and splitting to encircle the neckline.

The yarn is a silk and wool blend that was easy to work with.  But now it's Thanksgiving and there are no sleeves on it, so I'll put it away till spring.

Meanwhile, I've finally started working with the New Zealand Possum yarn Kerry sent late last winter. It's such a special yarn, it needs to be used in a special garment. I chose another beautiful design by Carol Sunday who designed Tapestry that I recently completed.  This one is called Woodland. (The link will take you to Sunday Knits and the full description of the sweater.)

This sweater is complex, but not on the same order of difficulty as Tapestry. I should be able to wear it before the winter is over. 

Many of my Monday-night knitting companions are also spinners and whoever I sit next to becomes extremely interested in this possum yarn, examining the knitted fabric as well as the skein. They particularly note the halo, which isn't as evident in the skein as in the fabric.  It doesn't show particularly well in my photos but I tried to capture a bit of it here with the macro setting on my camera. The halo appears to be a mix of brown and gray and, though they aren't familiar with possum they know merino and silk so they assume the possum fur does not take the dye nor the twist the same as the merino and silk content of the yarn.

I probably wouldn't have thought so much about it, but their studied observations make me appreciate the depth of the texture the yarn creates.  Everyone also marvels how soft it is to touch!  This rose color is a favorite of our resident felt-hat artist and she also loves the halo.  I'll have to be careful she doesn't try to get me to trade her a hat for a sweater-- I don't even wear hats!!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Week 12 - Little Boy's Breeches

With this week's block, we reflected on 19th Century women's clothing styles and how pants for women would have been liberating compared to the style of petticoats and cages and crinolines. (there was no mention of corsets!)  The four corners are shaped a little like pant legs, but I had a hand dyed fabric from Vicki Welsh I thought would make an interesting flower out of this block.  This is a very tricky block to sew with lots of inset seams to match up.  Only one of my four corners at the center is really nicely done. I used a beautiful leaf print from Dorry to set it off and perhaps that distracts enough from the little piecing issues. The center is a daisy from a fabric my friend Sherrye gave me. It's really ridiculous I have used only this 2.5 inch piece - she gave me five yards of it!


The history lesson reminded me of this photo of my my Grandmother Faye - in the basketball field with relatively short skirts - but skirts, nonetheless.  Dana, a talented soccer player, will probably find this photo interesting.

In 1908, Grandma played on her high school's first basketball team.  Notice I did not say "first women's" basketball team - the boys didn't have a team until 1914.  By the time I knew my Grandmother she was close to 70 years old and not particularly athletic so this story was always a source of pride about her.  She always said her high school's was one of the first women's basketball teams in the state of Indiana. I'm not sure, but she may be the figure closest to the camera in the photo above.

This next photo was scanned from an undated newspaper clipping. Grandma is on the far right with her head resting on her hand.  Behind her and one over is her sister, May, who died of complications during pregnancy in 1916. The young girl with big hair bows at the center is Grandpa's sister, Carol, whom I remember and can easily recognize.  Carol's bows make it obvious she's the one holding the ball in the photo of the nine young women on the field.

Ethel, just to the left of Faye, with the basketball beside her, is also one of Fielding's sisters and was one of young Faye's closest friends.  Our family tree contains four of these pioneering athletes.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Week 11 - Schoolhouse

Today's block honors Lucy Stone, who in 1847 graduated from Oberlin College, the first in the nation to offer degrees to women. Lucy paid her own way through school with her earnings from teaching. 

On Dana's father's side, all her grandmothers were teachers.

My mother's mother Faye taught from the time she finished school until she was married, 1910 to 1913. The photo below, scanned from Aunt Alice's book, is the same photo that the local historical society in Hayden Indiana used in their article on teachers - I am guessing it was her high school graduation photo, 1910. She was the only student in her class, and went on to a 12-week teachers training course at the Indiana State Teachers College in Terre Haute that summer.  She taught grade school in Spencer Township where she grew up, and in a one room school in Patoka 130 miles away.

My father's mother Mary also taught school. She finished high school in 1918 and attended Junior College in LaSalle-Peru, then went to the State Teachers college in Bloomington Illinois.  My father believes this is her graduation photo and would date from about 1920 or 21.  She taught at a country school in nearby Lostant Illinois, then later, she taught 2nd grade pupils at Jefferson public school in LaSalle.  This school was only three or four blocks from her home and had all 8 grades. My Dad thinks she probably taught one or two semesters before her wedding in 1924.


Mary, born in 1901, was the middle child in the family of nine. Two of Mary's sisters were nuns and they were also teachers: Weronika born in 1894 who became Sister Mary Egidia; and Florentina born in 1898, who became Sister Mary Charissima. 

My mother -Dana's grandmother- and her sisters, our Aunts Alice and May also taught school.  I am using this photo from 1940 of the whole family - Faye and Fielding with their five children.

Faye and Fielding with Loris, Alice, Fielding (Buddy), May and Myra
Our Family Historian, Aunt Alice, had been a teacher in a one room school until she was married just a few years before this photo was taken.  My mother would be about 13 here so just about finished with grade school at the time. Aunt May was the middle child after Alice and Buddy.  Just one year older than my mother, Aunt Loris, on the left, became a nurse.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

La Vie en Rose

This little quilt is done -

Well, not quite - there's no label on it 

and the hanging sleeve is not ready.

I quilted the center Lady of the Lake with a Wild Rose triangle continuous line motif by Anne Bright, echoed around the outside to set it off on the piecing. I finally settled on a peach thread, picking up on a color that appears in that print I used in the pointy triangles.
The border alternates three red fabrics and two blue rose prints. I didn't do any elaborate quilting with them.

My self-imposed rule for these June Bride Challenges is to use only fabrics I already have and I stuck to it.  Except for the binding and narrow spacing strip where I used a batik with heart motifs, the other fabrics for this Bridesmaid Basket turned Lady of the Lake are rose prints.  The very romantic La Vie en Rose is the song that came to me when I contemplated naming it.  Here's a Youtube video of Edith Piaf singing it live.  You can find other versions, including some of her singing in English or with English subtitles, but I love this one for the way she gets the audience to join her at the very end.  And I can understand the lyrics even though I don't practice my French very often.