Saturday, March 30, 2013

Week 31 - Tinted Chain

This block was chosen to represent this quote:

"The fact is women are in chains and their servitude is all the more debasing because they do not realize it." Susan B. Anthony, 1872

I used a shibori hand dye by Vicki Welsh along with a pale yellow solid and very very dark green print.  The original version of this block used two different fabrics where the shibori is, in alternating horizontal rows.  I used two different striped areas and alternated the direction of the stripes.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Shindig 2013 - The Quilting is Done

We had snow and wind every day this week, so to get a good photo of the full quilt, I had fellow Mountain Jam Circle quilters Alice and Ann hold it up for me when I passed it back to them for binding this morning.

It is not the most flattering photo of either of the two people-subjects, but it was the best one of the quilt.

Here are some closeups of the quilting I managed to take yesterday laying the quilt out on a sheet on the driveway.

 The sun kept appearing and disappearing so there are different exposures.

I used matching threads and each color was treated the same way throughout -

straight lines in the brown,


feathers in the red 


 and three different swirly-twirly background fills in the cream areas.

This last photo shows the backing fabric. 

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Week 30 - Broad Arrow: prison garb

This week's block honors the British women who were repeatedly arrested for civil disobedience so that the dramatic images of them being hauled away by police would keep showing up in front of the members of Parliament.

Unlike prison uniforms in this country which were striped, the British uniforms were marked by a stitched or painted triple line that created an arrow shape, the Broad Arrow of the block's name.  It's not a pretty block, but it is interesting and I haven't seen it before.  I decided to do the four-part repetition version and used some busier, cheery prints that I needed after seeing the photos of the prisoners and thinking of them in those wretched conditions.  

Monday, March 18, 2013

revving up the longarm....

Was December the last time I used my longarm? Well, it's not that I haven't been making things!  Last week, I got the Shindig 2013 Raffle quilt for quilting from Alice and Ann.  The red and white wide backing I ordered arrived the next day.  I took this photo before loading it so I could figure out the quilting design even after I got it mounted on the rails.

 The backing fabric is barely visible in the upper right  of this photo. This should be a straightforward quilting exercise, and I got started today.  This will be raffled during the summer Shindig on the Green concerts, like last year's.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Week 29 - Seven Pointed Star for Australia

This week we recognize the Australian women's movement, which followed New Zealand's and was also successful much earlier than ours.  Like our Kiwi sisters, the Australians helped swell the numbers of marchers in the processions in London and Washington.

The seven pointed star appears on the Australian flag but not so much in quilting patterns.  I drew my pattern with Corel Draw to make sure my design was symmetrical, so I only had one star point template, and could use the three top, side and lower corner background templates twice by turning them over.

I am finally in sync with this block's colors, since William and Mary shares the Australian movement's green, yellow and white! The very rich dark green that Dorry sent stands in for the dark blue field of the Australian flag. The ephemera that Ms. Brackman used to illustrate the history lesson included a green and yellow striped card with information and suggestions for participants in the 1911 march in London that I liked. But I have only one simple stripe with both green and yellow (I know it looks a bit blue in the photo but it is green, truly!). This stripe wasn't all that interesting, so I pieced a bright yellow with it before I cut out my diamond shapes. I have good friends in Australia -  so  I had to make this star special!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

The Bride Gets a Block

We are just starting the fifth quilt in this series of  new-quilts-from-old-blocks challenges.  We did the Dresden Plate (the Bridal Shower), Pinwheels (the Rehearsal dinner), Bow Ties, (Tuxedo Rental), and the last one was Baskets (for the Bridemaids). But this time it's an Album block, for the Bride's Wedding Day Album.

This is a great example of an "Album Block" which have a place for a signature, usually at the center, and they are often used for occasions like weddings, where participants sign their contribution to a group quilt.

Before I received this block, I had been thinking it was about time I actually chopped one up and made something completely different out of it, or appliqued over it.  Then I opened the envelope with my block, and thought "This is unusual!" because it was nice and flat and almost square. That might have changed my mind about cutting into it.  But then I put it up on the design wall and stood back for a better look.  Oops - my quilting companion of long ago may have been accurate enough with her outcome, but I don't know how she managed it, with that one part of the central "x" shortened as it is.  The seam allowances all appear to the be regularly sized, so that is a mystery!

I've been looking through my fabrics for inspiration, and my designing tools for ideas.  This block so far has me stumped.  But I may well be cutting it into smaller pieces for this Wedding Album quilt.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Kiwi Woodland finished!

I blogged about this Carol Sunday-designed sweater when I started it, and last week I finally got the sleeves and buttons sewn on. 

 Here's another view, in the sunlight to best show the yarn color -
 If you look at the next photo showing the back, you should be able to see the clever way the designer varied the stitch design - it's open lace below the waist on the body, below the elbow on the sleeve - but the same trellis pattern continues without the holes as you knit each piece upwards.

Here's my attempt to capture this design feature.  As always, click the photo for a closer view.

This is the yarn that came from Kerry in New Zealand last year, finally in wearable form. For this particular yarn, possum fiber is blended with merino (also a specialty of New Zealand) and silk, making it extremely soft with a delightful and unique brownish-gray halo created by the possum fur.  Follow this link to a New Zealand government website listing with a photo describing this non-native possum pest.   I only used 2/3rds of the yarn Kerry sent me to make this long-sleeved cardigan. What shall I do with the rest?

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Week 28 - Ocean Waves

My Dad informed us this week that Dana is engaged. The block might have prompted another wedding-related post - but since I don't know when Dana is getting married, or if maybe she's having a destination wedding someplace (she's traveled a lot already!) I decided the history of Barbara Brackman's friend's service with the WAVES during WWII better related to my own history.  With the war in the Pacific as the focus, I chose a couple of Asian prints (the one in the lower corner was in a package of fat quarters from my sister-in-law Joanna) and a pack of green hand dyes I bought probably ten years ago to give the block a little motion.

This is not quite the William and Mary green.  I bought it to go with the decor in my Reston house, which is the one Dana will remember from some of the family gatherings - Thanksgiving and her father's 50th birthday to name two.

So back to a little about the quiltmaker and writer of this family history: when I finished college, the best opportunity for me with my language major was as an analyst with the Defense Department.  I worked there for a couple of years, quit and worked as a contractor on a joint military installation in Germany, then moved to Hawaii where I worked for the Navy.  About the only proof that I was a direct Navy employee is a letter that came with a check for a special service I performed, sent to me after my last day there. (this is just the letterhead and first line.)

Then I went back to my previous job in the DC area - here are a couple of photos taken at awards ceremonies in the 1990's - I cropped out the other people in the photos.  The first one is a folder with a check inside for my support to a cutting-edge research project.  Flags always show up in these photos.

And finally here's a photo I cropped so we could see the U.S. Navy's flag.  The occasion was a medal ceremony - I earned it for support to the Balkans war in the mid-1990's.

I never served in the military, but worked as a civilian employee or contractor in the Defense industry my entire career.  Thanks to the women of the previous generations, I did not suffer discrimination for being a women in that world.  By the time I was hired in 1979, the language specialist field I was in was just starting to include a lot of women, and became female-dominated by the end of the next decade.  But the environment in general was mostly male and women in upper management certainly were the exception in the early years.  I witnessed many changes, however, as women moved up ahead of me.  In particular, by the late 1980's/early 1990's, new rules were instituted that allowed management to punish my co-workers for sexual harassment.  What we women suffered was not usually blatant - the common issues were disrespectful remarks, to include catcalls and whistles, that were stomped out, permitting us to perform our jobs without having to put up defenses of our own.  

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Civil War Block of the Month - March 1863 Shouting Yankee Doodle

This block is usually called a Pinwheel, but among the alternate names are Millwheel, Water Mill and Water Wheel.  Those names serve as a reminder of my ancestors. Shep and Billy's father Hiram (my great-great-great grandfather) and Uncle Anson built one of the earliest mills in the area around what became Hayden.  The town history includes the family creating dams and millponds to power the mills. It was a successful business due to the family's enterprising nature, and the good fortune of a rail line coming right through the log yard of Hiram's mill in 1859.  The railroad allowed the family to sell lumber to large operations in Cincinnati that produced fencing, ties and railroad cars.  Shep's profession on the army rolls was listed as "Carpenter." We know he helped his father run the milling operation after Uncle Anson got sick and sold his share of the business to Hiram.

The Hayfields book includes early March letters from both Shep and Billy to their brother Henry.  Henry must have asked about his brothers' and the other soldiers' political views.  Billy's letter is datelined "At the hospital, Murfreesboro, Tenn, March 1st 1863." Billy writes, "...I don't think you will find half the abolitionists here that you will back there, in fact, I know you will not. I heard they had passed a conscribed law in the north, but if they have, I hardly believe it will ever take effect. I hope not anyhow, but however, there are a lot of gas bags back there that I would just like to see waging along with a knapsack through the dust. I'll bet they would not be so darned keen for war next time anyhow...." He tells Henry and his family he has not been paid because the Regiment is out on picket (and apologizes he didn't pay postage for the letter.)

Billy also describes seeing a soldier drummed out of the service with his head shaved, being paraded at the point of the bayonet in front of about a thousand spectators.  He says, "I believe I would rather stay in the service than to be mustered out of the service, I want to go home with a good character and a good head of hair. This man also had the letter "D" branded on his cheek which will remain as long as he lives." He concludes the letter reporting "I am getting stout and fat. I weigh 128 lbs. yesterday." 


One of the other Hayden soldiers in the 82nd writes to his wife at this time that he is glad that a doctor they know and have confidence in is now with the regiment. He claims they are living first rate, specifically they get "the best kind of smoked hams and biscuits."  

Shep is with the 52nd Indiana at Fort Pillow on March the 5th when he addresses Henry's question, echoing Lincoln's words,"I am for the Union with or without slavery if Peace and Union can be restored with slavery the same as it used to be.  I am satisfied for it to be done but if it cannot be permanently and honorably settled without freeing the Negroes, let that be done." 

Later in the same letter, Shep, sounding like political commentary about our government this week, writes, "I see by the late papers that there has been a Conscription Bill passed in Congress and all it lacked of being a law was the president's signature which I suppose it has undoubtedly got before this. Well, I have thought for some time that if we intended whipping the South we would have to have more men. The Republicans say that the Democrats are opposed to a draft but I do not pretend to believe all they say. I think that we should stick to what we think to be to the interest of the Government whether we be Democrats or Republicans."

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Week 27 - Grandmother's Dream

This block, when set block-to-block in a quilt, reminded me of a quilting motif I created after a trip to Biltmore House - I believe the design was in the woodwork though my notes don't include which room it was in.  Here's my interpretation, in the quilting of a small shadow trapunto wholecloth:

The design in question is the background fill "behind" the feather motif.

With the fantastically decorated Biltmore in mind, I was drawn to some of my more ornate fabrics, and thought about dividing the long pointed pieces that form the cross of the center with seams to further replicate the Biltmore-inspired design of the blue and white wholecloth.

I hesitated to do that because the piecing of this block is already a challenge, even though it only has 16 pieces.  The trouble is, every single seam is a dreaded "Y", and my idea of splitting the bars would not eliminate any of those.  Then I realized I had this shaded fabric that would give the dimensional quality I wanted.

Many piecers deal with Y-seams by hand-piecing, but I have never liked sewing by hand. I just gave myself plenty of time for the cutting and marking of each seam intersection.  I would probably not make a whole quilt of this block (even though I didn't mind quilting the design at all!)  At this scale - four times larger than my quilted version, I will  have to put some interesting quilting in those large shaded areas. Perhaps my Biltmore-quilting inspiration notebook will come in handy when I get to that point.