Saturday, April 27, 2013

Week 35 - Granny's Choice

We never called our grandmothers "granny" - for us, that term was for a specific character on a TV sitcom.  And the subtitle for the history lesson was, "I'm an Anti-"  I haven't heard or seen any evidence that my great-grandmothers or grandmothers took sides on the Women's Vote question.

I had fun figuring out a mix of prints to use, and I think I finally found a good block for that loud plaid! 

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Week 34 - Coffee Cup

The Coffee Cup block serves to remind us of the days - even during my working life - when women were paid less than men working in the same jobs, and were expected to make the coffee.

Instead of the single cup in an 8 inch block, I made four 4-inch blocks to have a variety of pattern in Dana's green and yellow. At least two of the fabrics  - the backgrounds on the left - came from my friend Sherrye's fabric collection. The little calicos reminded me of the 1970's, the era of the history lesson.  The buttery yellow is also a reminder of my father's mother Mary's kitchen.  I don't remember her favorite foods and beverages, but when she hosted family dinners, she did have a big coffee pot in her yellow kitchen.

I'm thinking about my grandmother and her kitchen because Tuesday this week is the 89th anniversary of Mary's wedding to Francis.

We don't have a formal engagement photo, but my father explains that his mother is holding her ring in this photo so it can count. The photo was taken in the nearby Starved Rock State Park.

We do have a formal wedding portrait from April 23rd, 1924.

Pictured with the happy couple below are Best Man, Francis' brother Martin, and Maid of Honor, Mary's sister Anastasia. We knew her as (Great) Aunt Annie.

It appears this next photo was taken outside on the same day. Everyone is dressed the same and the men have the same flowers.
Lastly from that day, standing with Mary and Francis are their mothers. Francis' mother Paulina (born June 17 1867, died April 25, 1939) is next to Mary, while Mary's mother is next to Francis. We knew our great-grandmother Walentyna. Born on St. Valentine's Day in 1871, she lived until July 29, 1964.  Both of these great grandmothers were born in Poland. Mary and Francis were born in Illinois.

Sadly, Francis did not outlive his mother, dying on February 3rd, 1932.  Born October 4th, 1897, he would have been 27 in these photos.  He left Mary with three children, pregnant with a fourth. Mary managed to raise her four children as a single mother during the Great Depression, working at the town grocery store she walked to.

We don't have many pictures of Francis. These were honest, working class people. I think he's probably wearing the same suit in this photo on a different day.


Mary never remarried. Francis appears to be a happy man in the photos, and perhaps his children took after him:  they are a delightful group who love to laugh at themselves. Dad and his younger brother Francis both look a lot like their father. 

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

A little late for this winter

.... but very early for next, when Niki will start college classes at Northern Illinois University.  These were in the Holiday Vogue Knitting, called "High Boot Toppers."  I thought they were cute and showed them to her and she said yes, she'd like to have a pair.

 You have to put up with my modeling them because Niki lives in another state, and the mannequin who usually does this job for me - well, sadly, she has no feet or legs.  And my boots are no where near "high" so they don't look too much like in the magazine photo.

I used the recommended superwash wool, and Niki picked the yarn color.

These were quick and easy - took me eight days to make the pair.  I hope they will keep Niki warm and chic!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Time for Tea - Quilted

Here are some photos for the benefit of the other four quilters working on this slice quilt project - and Dorry, who had a lot to do with this.  Click on the photos for a higher resolution version.

The whole quilt -  I did undo part of Alice's right-most leaf so I could applique it over the seamline with Ann's - makes a nice touch!
Love how the plate really looks like glass, how realistic the violet appears, the button on the lid of the tea kettle and the "lace" edging on the napkin on that part, how perfectly Ann recreated the whimsical lemon pig, the dimension of the raisins and icing on the Hot Cross Buns ....  and you can really see the dimension of the deck railing with the sun hitting the top.  

I took this at a more oblique angle so perhaps you can see a bit more of the quilting.

This one has the quilt on its front with one side pulled over so my colleagues can see the backing and its scale with the front.

Yeah, it's a little crooked - the checked fabric was not printed quite straight on grain.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Week 33 - Contrary Husband

This block is about a lot more than not getting along with a husband.  It is about how women did not have the right to get away from an abusive spouse, and used the story of Ann Cary Randolph (1791-1826), Thomas Jefferson's granddaughter, who married Charles Lewis Bankhead.  Charles was the son of Ann's grandfather's close friend John Bankhead, but unfortunately, "Charles Bankhead proved to be alcoholic, abusive, and improvident."  Ann's grandfather and mother did not want anyone to know Ann was being beaten by Charles, but it seems unlikely his character was a secret since he was known to carouse in the taverns and stabbed Ann's brother in a public place.  Divorce was just about impossible in Virginia at the time, so she stayed with Charles and died at the age of 35, just a few months before Thomas Jefferson did.

I used the last of the three birds that show up on this green toile fabric, with the darker fabric enclosing it to go with the symbolism of this block.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Tea time!

Back in February, I joined up with a group of four local quilters who wanted to make a "slice" quilt for the Alliance for American Quilt's 20th Anniversary Quilt Contest. The quilts will eventually be auctioned in an on-line a fund-raiser, and the contest rules ask that the entries be 20x20 inches, and include the "20" theme.

My part was to find a photo that could be cut up and made in four parts to make a small quilt that would make a good impression in the thumbnail image auction buyers would be looking over.  I spent a lot of time on a variety of ideas, looking for free-to-use images on the 20 theme. What about 20th anniversary?  The traditional gift is china so I was looking at photos of plates and teapots and coffee services, which often show up in little quilts, but I didn't find anything I liked.

During the last week before my deadline, Norris helped - we went scouting for a good colorful photo opportunity. We headed to Main Street Weaverville.  There is nothing at 20 S. Main but this space between the town hall and the former fire house.

So we headed to 20 N. Main, where there is an art gallery featuring works by local artists.  Still on the china theme, Norris took this photo in the back with his cell phone. I worked at recoloring the brick to a brighter red, but getting a well framed shot with a surreptitious cell phone camera?  It was just not going to make a great quilt.

We remembered  the old mill wheel on the Reems Creek near Lake Louise was recently repainted, and what luck - it has 20 spokes!

I wondered if my photos didn't have just too much going on for a 20x20 inch quilt made in pieces by four people.  I then looked on line and found a really beautiful photo  taken in warmer weather with beautiful greenery in the scene.  My photos just seemed dull after seeing that one, but the photo is labeled "All rights reserved" and by now, I have no time to ask for permission to use.
I staged some photos back at home.  I have two pieces of inherited china, including this plate I thought was "quiltable".  It was probably hand-painted by one of my ancestors, and doesn't have so  much detail to interpret like my other inherited china plate. 

But even on my red chair, it was a yawn for a quilt.

Maybe I could take the plate on a picnic.  After a trip to the grocery store where we picked up a loaf of bread and strawberries to add to the mood, I took this photo in the back yard, with my one piece of inherited china layered on the blue plate ...  Still maybe too much detail for the thumbnail version in the on-line quilt auction.

I whined in an email to Dorry, wondering how I could do my part for this project.  Happily for me she was not too busy with deadlines of her own and got involved.  She read the contest rules and sent a couple of interesting photos, like this next one.

She counted 20 items, and included some subtle 20s - such as the clock which, for a final version, would have been set up to read 8:20,  (If it's 8:20 P.M. that's 20:20 in military time.)  But I figured my four quilting friends would kill me if I gave them this level of detail to do.

I then mentioned to Dorry that Norris had had an idea to depict 20 with the Roman numeral, two X's, and we had looked high and low for that - fences? Railroad crossing signs? The water wheel spokes?  But I hadn't found anything satisfactory.  Within what seemed like minutes of sending that email, Dorry surprised me by taking some photos of her Easter treats on various combinations of plates and mats.  We melded that idea with some from her earlier tries and, on a windy day, she posed her dishes and buns outside.

I printed her photo in four vertical slices and gave them to the quilters last month. Today, I have the four pieces ready to be sewn together and quilted - all four did a great job on their parts, and the details are simply exquisite!

The extra wide seam allowances are causing the large jags in the diagonal lines of the napkin, so I'll wait to take better photos of it when I finish my part. I think it will make a delectable entry and one that someone will be sure to bid on in the auction.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Old Town

I don''t know how most sweater designers come up with names, but this designer, Carol Sunday, lives in Northern Illinois, so this Old Town sweater name is probably about the Chicago neighborhood somehow. 

But my sweater lives in Western North Carolina, so I posed my mannequin in front of the view and the chimney on the deck this morning.

This sweater had an original construction, with only the sleeve seams to seam up. You started at the center back and worked out for a bit, then you did some on the lace trim coming around to the upper chest, and then completed each side of the yoke and shoulder. 

Ever lengthening short rows as you knit down from the shoulder point were used to shape the cap of the sleeve. This was the really interesting element to the construction.

After you pick up the stitches at the bottom of the yoke to knit the body, you add a lot of extra ones, giving it the look of gathers. 

Many of the people who have knit it have said they want to knit another, but I'm not sure.  There was a lot of knitting from the underarm down with nothing to do to make it interesting, just the lace and  regular increases right next to the lace to give it a sort of waterfall front -- the stiff mannequin is not really showing how the front drapes in real life.  The lace is done in a simple four row sequence. If I make it again, it will be because I want something brainless to do that results in a pretty sweater.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Civil War Block of the Month - April 1863 - Asylum

In the Dixie Diary, Sarah Morgan felt forced to leave home with what the family could fit into a trunk.  I made my block with the Union blue in the center to honor my ancestors.

On April 7th, Billy wrote a letter to his brother and sister from the General Field Hospital near Murfreesboro, and reported he is feeling "bully this morning, couldn't as to feel any better." He doesn't know when he will be sent back to the regiment but he is not going to borrow any trouble about it. He is nursing four men, one of them a wounded Rebel.  He describes him, "He is a strong southern man but says they will never get him to fight any more...  ...they don't expect to ever whip us, they are only fighting to see if some foreign nation won't help them after awhile.  He also says that they also have hopes of the north dividing and getting to fighting among themselves. But he says that the south is getting more and more divided every day."   Billy doesn't know whether to believe him or not adding later, "I know nothing about politics and war."

Shep's sisters Joanna and Carrie, and his mother wrote him a letter on April 12th and 13th.  Joanna's part tells of a buggy accident the day before, involving my great-great grandmother Dorcas W.  The horse got scared and ran over the buggy in front, throwing two of the three women riders as well as those in the first buggy "in a pile."   Dorcus saw the accident coming and fainted before she fell out.  "Of course, she was hurt very bad and did not come to her right mind until this morning."  Carrie has begun to study Butler's Grammer which she thinks she will like better than Pineas, and says they are thinking about going to Muscatutuck a fishing some Saturday. She wishes Shep and Billy were there to go along, then adds, "what good does it do to wish. I don't want you to come until you can come honorable. I really hope you will soon whip the South and all our noble boys return to their once happy home."

Shep's mother's letter is touching because it's clear she fears she will never see either Shep or Billy again. She also mentions their father is "very bad off with his old complaint, he can hardly get about. Is not able to do any work, think I never knew him so bad." She doesn't know what they will do for help on the farm, "unless we dress Carrie in male attire and set her to plowing" because hands are very scarce.  She talks about the status of crops in this cold "backward" spring, saying the peach trees are beginning to bloom, they are very full of buds. "Don't know as there will be any peaches. If there is, would like to have you come home and eat peaches but we don't know who will be in the land of the living by that time."

 In contrast with younger brother Billy, on April 17th, Shep writes a letter to Joanna from Fort Pillow, full of his awareness of the politics at home and on the front.  He starts by saying he's not all that anxious to leave the garrison duty for "I am sure we have as good times here as we could ask for. Plenty to eat and plenty to wear. Not much to do and as a general thing, very healthy."  He then goes into the point of his letter.  Apparently Joanna talked about wearing a Butternut breast-pin which he asks her not to do, saying he wishes the people of the North would not fight amongst themselves.  "But I do not consider when one calls me a Secesh or Butternut (because I am a Democrat) that I am justifyable in wearing a Secesh badge or doing anything to encourage the South and create discord in the North. The present administration may do things that we think is not right but is it not better to submit to it and let them have their way until we can honorably elect other men in their places?"  He does not believe the South will accept any settlement, only on "terms to suit themselves and to do that would only leave us just as bad off as when we commenced. Let that be as it may, it is not worth while to be trying to whip a set of Rebels and at the same time sympathise with them. It is true we should love our enemies but we can do that and put down the rebellion and that by fighting too, for that is the only way that I can see for it to be done."  He knows his family wants him and Billy to come home safely but "this great war is upon us and we cannot get rid of it until one side or the other gives up. But which side that will be depends upon the Union or dis-union of the North.  If the North will unite with a determination to put down the rebellion I believe it will soon be done but with part of them pulling one way and part the other, I believe we will never whip the South." 

Week 32 Mr. Roosevelt's Necktie

This week's was the interesting story of how political Theodore Roosevelt was in his support of women's voting rights, starting from his senior thesis at Harvard on the subject.  He became President when William McKinley was shot in 1901, then won the 1904 election and retired for 1908.  In 1912, he decided to come out of retirement and ran under his own Bull Moose party, and, since by then six states had granted women the right to vote in Presidential races, he finally endorsed women's right to vote in the platform. Although he lost to Woodrow Wilson, California and Washington, two states where women could vote, supported him.

I had been looking for a block that would provide a good way to combine the lemon fabric I bought for this quilt, and the lemon fabric given to me for it by Dustin of the Flickr group. I liked the version of this block where two fabrics visually twist together to form the necktie, so this was my chance.

I think the lemons make a great tie-in to the California vote reference.